Subject: Tormented by Obsessive Guilt, and Checking Compulsions I am a major perfectionist, who had severe symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder approximately five years ago, which included compulsive checking, hand-washing, fear of germs, and alternate repetitive behaviors (such as repeatedly flicking light switches). For an extremely long time, these symptoms mysteriously vanished, until approximately one week ago. Recently, five years later, my checking compulsions have returned, and I've noticed a bizarre new "guilt obsession". Every day, I will spontaneously feel extreme guilt for doing something highly insignificant (such as thinking a "bad" thought). After countless hours of reprimanding myself- or compulsively apologizing in my head, the guilt will spontaneously subside, only to become replaced by other unexpected guilty thoughts a few hours later. These recurrent, illogical guilty thoughts leave me feeling highly ashamed of myself, exhausted and depressed. Could this "guilt obsession" be related to my perfectionism, or obsessive compulsive disorder (scrupulosity)? How can I stop spontaneously feeling ashamed about everything I think, and do? These uncontrollable "checking compulsions" and "obsessive guilty thoughts" are driving me absolutely crazy, and draining all of my time.
TeenHealthFX thinks that it is important for you to meet with a reputable mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, clinical social worker or clinical psychologist who can meet with you and give you an accurate diagnosis of what you are dealing with. Once you are properly diagnosed you can get a better idea of what treatment methods will be most effective for you. Depending on your diagnosis and some of the factors contributing to your symptoms it might be recommended for you to be in individual therapy, family therapy, and/or take psychotropic medications to help alleviate your symptoms.
FX can appreciate how difficult this is for you to deal with and that all these thoughts and feelings are leaving you exhausted and depressed. Because we know how tough this is to live with, we want you to get the treatment you need to help you get better and we do not want to you to deal with this alone any longer. So please speak to your parents/guardians as soon as possible about setting up a consultation with a mental health professional who is experienced in working with teens and with obsessive-compulsive disorders.
One of the things that will be helpful in addressing this problem is to consider what you have experienced in your environment and in your relationships with others that you are in a self-punishing place with this guilt. Have you been related to by others in shaming way? Often this can leave people dealing with extreme feelings of guilt. Are there things in your life, or relationships in your life, that have left you feeling angry in any way? Many times anger is an underlying issue with depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and unhealthy guilt that is self-punishing in nature. There are many factors which have contributed to what you are experiencing – and a qualified therapist who you experience as warm and non-judgmental will be able to help you tease them out and effectively address them.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.