Jordan Jensen, EdD, is a professional speaker who has addressed/worked with over 15,000 people in over 400 audiences middle, high school, and college student as well as professional audiences. in the US, Canada, and UK.
Dr. Jensen is the author of three books, including the recently published “Self-Action Leadership: The Key to Everything“, a reader-friendly, popular version of the material in Jensen’s dissertation, making his Self-Action Leadership theory and model easily accessible to a general audience.
Dr. Jensen is one of several invited authors who will be speaking and signing their books at the OCD TEXAS San Antonio conference Oct 19 & 20.
For additional information about the author and the book, please click here.
OCD IS HELL
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
– Susan Evans McCloud
As is the case with most mental turmoil and disorders, my suffering with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression has been, is, and will continue to be experienced almost entirely beyond the purview of other people
Consider the following obsessive thoughts I have had at one time or another:
- Taking off all of my clothes and running around inappropriately in a public setting like church.
- Making inappropriate sexual advances on someone to whom I am talking.
- Shouting, screaming, cursing, or inappropriately confessing something terribly personal and/or embarrassing in a public setting.
- Throwing my wallet, keys, or cell phone off a high bridge where I could never retrieve it.
- Throwing myself off of a high bridge, or cliff where I would plunge painfully to my death.
Such examples are not even the worst of it. Consider the following, far more disturbing, cognitions:
- Hacking my brother up with a hatchet.
- Shooting and killing my mother and/or father while out target shooting.
- Stabbing my wife while she is cooking in the kitchen.
- Throwing a baby off a balcony onto the merciless concrete.
- Driving head-on into an oncoming car, or cranking the steering wheel of my car forcing it into a rollover while driving at or beyond highway speeds.
- Driving off a guardrail-less road atop a steep mountain cliff.
- Shoving a friend or loved one off a hiking trail near the edge of a perilously high and rocky precipice where they would certainly meet their death.
- Placing my hand down firmly on a red-hot stove.
- Slamming my face into the steering wheel of my car, or other hard, sharp surface thereby breaking my nose.
Such grisly thoughts are abjectly abhorrent to any human being in their right mind; they are likewise reprehensible to me. Nevertheless, all of these thoughts, and other unwelcome cognitions like them, have all served as insidious intruders into the pathways of my thought processes at one time or another.
OCD impacted my scholastic performance through my honesty obsession. When it came to my schoolwork, I began to take honesty to a whole new level that was way beyond even what teachers and administrators expected. For example, when I would receive an assignment, I would assess what I perceived were the necessary standards required to complete the assignment honestly. These standards were largely self-imposed and went beyond what the teacher required. Such standards set up various requirements (compulsions) to properly compete an assignment with integrity. Because of the extra mental stress and physical effort required to adhere to my own self-imposed “rules,” I would sometimes neglect to finish and turn in an assignment because to do so “properly” was not worth the effort it required. It was easier emotionally and spiritually to just not do the assignment and take the zero. It was much less stressful for me to get a zero on an assignment than it was to feel I had somehow cheated the assignment and earn points dishonestly.
A concrete example of this bizarre phenomenon occurred my sophomore year in high school. I had enrolled in an Advanced Placement (A.P.) American history course. I was the only sophomore in a class of juniors and seniors. One day, we were instructed to write an essay. I had not done the reading for the assignment and decided to just do my best on the essay using background knowledge and common sense. I did not consult anyone else and did all the work myself. When I got the paper back, I was pleased to see that I had scored a 92-percent to get an A-grade on the paper. This self-satisfaction was soon replaced by an even more poignant emotion: guilt. I was convinced I had not earned the points in an honest manner. In my mind, perfect honesty required adequate reading, studying, and pondering on the topic, all preceding my efforts to then write the essay. Merely getting the right answers would not cut it for me; I needed to pay the price to acquire the knowledge that should precipitate effectively articulating the right answers in a well-thought out essay; merely guessing was tantamount to cheating. To make matters worse, this paper was one of the last assignments and grades of the semester.
Considering I received a D-plus grade for the fourth and final quarter, I reasoned that it was altogether possible that my ‘A’ grade on that last essay was perhaps the only points keeping me from failing the class. I then reasoned that had I gotten the grade I really deserved on that paper, I would maybe have gotten an F-grade rather than a D-plus grade. If I should have gotten an F-grade, then I would become ineligible to run cross-country the following quarter of my junior year. That summer, I replayed this theoretical grading points scenario over and over in my mind. I worried about it; I stewed over it; I felt guilty about it. What to do?
Having already established a pattern of eventually going to confess and apologize for whatever was obsessively chafing at my conscience, I finally gave in a few days after school started my junior year. I actually went to talk to my A.P. American history teacher. Even at the time, there was a part of me that questioned the perceived necessity in doing so. I recognized she might think I was a little bit crazy. After all, who worries about things like this? I understood rationally that my behavior was greatly removed from that of students who attempted to blatantly cheat, and was within the realms of what other, upstanding, and honest students would do without thinking twice about it. Not wanting to appear a fool, or worse, a crazy fool, I was guarded and stealthy in approaching my former teacher about my concern. I do not even remember exactly what I said, but whatever she said, I was able to walk out with sufficient reassurance to go on my merry way and not let the issue cause me to doubt my legitimate eligibility any longer.
A natural joy killer, depression has not only accompanied my experiences with OCD, it has also morphed into its own unique strain of obsessive thinking. This strain of obsessive thinking is one of the most nefarious in that it seeks to stamp out joy wherever it attempts to blossom in my life.
This unusually diabolical strain of OCD has often made it difficult to experience, much less enjoy for any significant length of time, those moments of spontaneous joy that crop up in life for a variety of reasons. This joy-killing process looks something like this: I feel joy for a few short seconds; then, almost as soon as the joyful feelings or thought has passed, it is immediately sabotaged by what can be described as a metaphorical artillery barrage and simultaneous frontal infantry assault of the mind. The bullets and shells come in the form of obsessive thoughts aimed at destroying the joy. It is as if the obsession shrieks at me saying, “Listen here dumb ass; don’t you know joy is unacceptable around here? Here’s something really unpleasant to think about; now ruminate on it till all your damn joy is smothered!”
This particular strain of OCD has exerted a ubiquitous omnipresence throughout all other strains I’ve experienced. Indeed, it seems to be the very essence of OCD itself. It is eternally committed to precluding, sabotaging, devastating, and destroying as much peace, happiness, and joy as possible.
From ages 13-17, I did not know I had OCD. I just thought that I was “weird” and “different” from everyone else. I hid my obsessions and compulsions as best I could. In time, I was able to obtain a diagnosis and proper treatment for my OCD. The results have been life changing. Now I have more than just hope, I have a life that I can control and direct, rather than being a victim of OCD.