How to cope with a compulsive disorder
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In the October 1986 general conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "It is contrary to the order of heaven for any soul to be locked into compulsive, immoral behavior with no way out."
These suggestions may be helpful in overcoming compulsive behavior:- Remember always that the Lord loves you and wants to help you.
- Have faith that the Lord can help you become free of compulsive behavior, even if it takes time and continued diligence on your part. Be willing to keep trying.
- Pray for inspiration; pray that the Lord will lead you to resources that will help you overcome the behavior.
- Don't submit to any treatment that seems contrary to the gospel or which the Spirit warns you to avoid, even if it is recommended by a professional.
- Don't condemn yourself. Don't give in to discouragement. Remember that the Lord has promised to bless us as we are faithful in our afflictions. (See D&C 58:2.) Allow the Lord to comfort you.
- Keep the Word of Wisdom in spirit and letter. Eat healthy foods and get enough rest. Give your body and spirit the best possible chance to overcome its afflictions.
- Keep the commandments. Pray and study the scriptures often. According to the OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Resource Center, research shows that changing one's actions can actually change the chemistry in the brain, helping to alleviate imbalances which can contribute to compulsive behaviors. - Kathy Grant, Provo, Utah
What we did:
Being plagued with a compulsive disorder is a disaster not only for the direct damage it causes, but also for the continuing effects of not being able to rid oneself of it. As a missionary, I often see the success of those we teach who tackle their compulsive vices head on.
The key is to not beat yourself up about it, but to get back up and keep listening for the Lord's advice. The Lord has the victory already prepared. We simply need to keep channels open to receive the plan. When we humbly substitute our will for the Father's, we'll receive His plan for attack, and thus the victory will follow. As the Lord's promise indicates in Ether 12:27, humility and trust need to be present along with our sincere desire to stop our compulsions. This will bring about the end of our disorders! It is a true promise, of which I can testify solemnly. - Elder Jason P. Chavez, Brazil Campinas Mission
Get help. If you can't get help from your visiting teachers, home teachers, bishop or stake president, get help some place. There is help out there.
Study the nature of your family behavior. Get all the information you can. Study, read, learn and listen. Don't put it off.
Problems of compulsive behavior only get worse. They don't go away. If you're dealing with someone else's behavior, you can't pray away his/her moral agency.
In the type of situation I am in, spouses are often the first to seek help. I found no help until I went to a support group. There I found others with my same problems of loneliness, distrust and feelings of unlove. I started working on my problems of compulsive control and co-dependent behavior. I learned that faith in God was really letting go of fear. I learned to turn my problems and fears over to God. I asked His help, and I learned not to take back the problems the next day. I learned I was worthy of God's love no matter how others treated me. Through attending my support group I learned to truly be honest with my feelings and talk freely about the steps, stages and problems of my recovery.
Turn to the Lord, then do what He says. Learn to care for yourself. If you deal with someone with a disorder, then reject the behavior, not the person. - Name and state withheld
Do positive things
After I had some legal troubles because of my compulsive behaviors, I started coping by doing positive things throughout the day such as prayers and reading the scriptures or other uplifting books, watching appropriate television shows and listening to wholesome music that helps me to reflect and relax. I also try to keep busy and keep my thoughts clean and away from negative situations or circumstances that would lead me to succumb to my bad behaviors. Applying the teachings of the Church helps me to learn how not to continue the compulsive behaviors that I have had for 15 years. It is a hard and long journey, but it can be done. - Name withheld, Washington
I carried the painful and silent disorder of compulsive over-eating for many years alone because of pride and fear of rejection. I finally swallowed my pride and sought help. Through a 12-step program of recovery, I came to truly understand my disorder and that there are certain foods that trigger this problem. I now stay away from those foods and eat three healthy meals a day and enjoy life in-between. Either you control your disorder or your disorder will control you. - Joyce Dayley, Lake Hopatcong, N.J.
Lord will assist us
I suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) from 1979 until about 1982. They were the most challenging and devastating years of my life. I am happy to say that I have recovered and am grateful for the experience I had of dealing with a serious mental illness.
There are different manifestations of OCD, and I was a "checker." For example, I felt compelled to check the stove over and over to see if I turned it off. I received help through the following ways:
- Getting good psychiatric help from an LDS psychiatrist. It is imperative to obtain help from a mental help specialist in this area. OCD can disrupt not only the patient's life, but also all those around him/her.
- Having the support and prayers of friends and family. OCD patients know that what they are doing or thinking is not "normal." They may even act "normal" to those around them, but their inner life is full of fear and turmoil.
- Receiving medication and following a behavior modification program. The person must learn to think "normal" thoughts again. The family should be very involved in the behavior modification program so they will be properly trained in how to assist the patient with their recovery efforts.
After my recovery from OCD, my husband and I had three more wonderful children, I went back to school and am a practicing registered nurse. I have a testimony that if we do our part by seeking the proper help, have faith that the Lord will assist us and by doing all we can to take back control of our lives, we can return to good mental health. - Nancy K. Smith, Los Alamitos, Calif.
How to checklist:
1 Seek Lord's help, be humble, willing to change.
2 Strive to keep commandments; seek strength in scriptures, prayer.
3 Seek professional help; learn about your disorder.
4 Don't be discouraged; take care of yourself, fill life with wholesome activity.
WRITE TO US:
May 24 "How to select and plan a project for the July 19 Churchwide day of service, commemoration of the sesquicentennial."
May 31 "How to have an enjoyable family vacation."
June 7 "How to encourage reverence during Primary."
June 14 "How to help children, youth suffering from clinical depression."
June 21 "How to observe the Sabbath when your job requires you to work."
June 28 "How to curb the amount of television time in the home."
July 5 "How to positively influence the lives of children who are not your own."
- Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help young people show respect for authority in school," "How to be emotionally self-reliant," "How to place people above tasks."
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