OCD Poetry

Cherry’s Prose

Writing has helped me break free from OCD. In 1994 my therapist told me to keep a journal. Then he showed me a poem, written by an anonymous person with an anxiety disorder. "I will ask you to write a poem in a couple weeks," he said. I can’t write, I thought.

As promised, my therapist asked me to write a poem. and bring it to our next session. It was supposed to be about loving myself. At home, I opened my Bible to Psalm 139:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-11. What better place to be inspired to love? I wrote On Acceptance and Growth . . . Reflections on Psalm 139:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-11.

I guess it was good, because my therapist liked it. "How long did this take you to write?" he asked. "10 minutes," I said.

He was surprised. I let him wonder over it for a while, then told him I was inspired by Paul and David from the Bible. More poems followed. They seemed to flow out of my pain as I struggled with OCD. Perhaps you can relate. As I broke free from OCD, my writing became less poetic. I guess this is good because, though my poems expressed my anguish and struggle, I know they lack whatever it takes to make good poetry. I’m no poet. In fact, I don’t know enough about poetry to know good poetry when I see it!

 I’m Not Crazy
By Cherry Pedrick

I’m not crazy, not really.
I know I act strange at times.
I know I ask too many questions.
I know the door was locked, and you watched me turn the car around . . . again . . . to check the lock . . . again.
But I’m not crazy.

Her hands are red and raw.
She hides them in her lap or behind her back.
But still, she wonders if they’re really clean.
"I did touch the door knob, not with my hands, of course, with my sleeve.
But now I’ve touched my sleeve."
She needs to wash her hands again.
But she’s not crazy.

"Don’t come in. Well, okay, come in.
But don’t look around. Don’t judge my house."
He knows he has boxes of paper, magazines,
And newspapers cluttering the rooms.
But he knows where his taxes from 1962 are . . . and the utility bills . . . and the canceled checks.
But he’s not crazy.

She walked through the door, but she didn’t do it right.
She knows it was the eighth time.
"One more time, I’ve got to get it right."
If she doesn’t do it right, something may happen to her mother.
But she’s not crazy.

My mind wanders when you’re talking to me.
When you look at me strangely,
I pull my thoughts together and try to concentrate on your words.
But I can’t quite give you my full attention.
My mind is filled with worries and fears I can’t seem to release.
But I’m not crazy.

We’re not crazy, not really.
We know these behaviors and thoughts aren’t normal,
That they’re irrational.
But we do them anyway.
Do "crazy" people know they’re acting irrational?

No, they act and think with ignorance of their strangeness.
They don’t see your stares or hear your whispers.
They don’t hear the other children laugh.
They don’t see their families’ worried faces.
Oh, the bliss of not knowing, of not caring,
Of not longing to stop checking, washing, hoarding,
Ritualizing and worrying.

But of course, we do want to stop,
We do want to be "normal" like you.
We dream of a day without these tortured thoughts.
I will leave my house without worrying about the lock.
And she won’t have to go through a door more than once.
His house will be clean and her hands will be healed.
My mind won’t be filled with worries and fears.

It’s not a dream.
With therapy, medication, prayer and putting my life in God’s hands,
My dream has come true. Well, almost.
I have a few strange behaviors and I still worry at times.
But doesn’t everyone?

I remember the stares, the whispers, the worried faces and the laughs.
Each day, the memories fade a little more.
But I remember so well, the kind support, the gentle encouragement,
And the firm insistence that I resist my temptation
To quit trying and give in to my compulsions.
I remember the times my loved ones laughed with me

When I was finally able to see the humor in my behavior and thoughts.
They rejoiced in my success, even my small steps toward success.
Most of all, I remember the love and prayers.
They prayed when I couldn’t.
They loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

I think I speak for many with this strange illness called OCD,
"Thank you who have supported me and others with OCD.
Without you, our recovery would be slower.
We might not see the need for recovery, we might lose hope."
To those who laugh and stare and whisper – to you I say, "I’m not crazy."


I Can . . . I Will . . . Replace Those Weeds with Beautiful Flowers!
By Cherry Pedrick

I am burdened with floating anxieties.
They are nameless fears that seem to float in the air like seeds of ugly weeds.
They take root in my mind and are watered with thoughts and fed by worries
They poke through as seedlings, barely recognizable but gaining in importance.
They grow into more worries with names and faces.
Fully grown, they are very difficult to be rid of.
But the sooner caught the easier I can rid my mind of them.
If only I could blow them away when they’re still floating in the air,

Then reach out and replace them with the seeds of beautiful flowers,
Good thoughts and memories, blessings of today and yesterday.
I could . . . well, I can . . . let them take root in my mind
And grow into dreams and goals, plans and commitments.
I will fill my mind with these so there’s no room for anxiety, fears and worries.


by Cherry Pedrick

I am overwhelmed with fear, though there is nothing to fear.
The fear wells up from my heart, filling my entire being.
It takes my breath away and paralyzes my limbs.
My thoughts are consumed with fear and dread day and night.
I am powerless to control it, for it controls me, threatening my life.
To whom can I turn? Where can I find solace?
I will turn to my Lord, who made me and knows me.
I will give Him control of the fear that has controlled me.

Indeed, I have given Him control of my whole life
. . . over and over again  . . . then taken it back.
But He is faithful and merciful. He accepts me and understands me.
He takes control of my fears when I release them.
But, Oh its so hard to release them,
It’s so hard to trust Him completely,

So hard to give Him control.


by Cherry Pedrick

Peace eludes me . . . like a butterfly fluttering about,
Resting on my shoulder, then flying off again.

I reach out for it, almost capturing that elusive peace . . . but not quite.
Then it flitters away.
When I look for it, and pursue that peace, it vanishes, no where to be found.
As I give up, resigning myself to a life without peace,
I glimpse a fluttering from afar.
Hope awakens in my soul again and I reach out to touch it.

I run towards it, hoping and reaching, but again, it eludes me.
I look inward and feel a gentle peace arising from deep in my heart.
It grows stronger, filling me with joy and relief.
I rest in the comfort of this peace and joy.
But it doesn’t last, again the peace eludes me.

Finally, at last, I look upward.
I cry out to my God, I ask, and he gives.
A tremendous request for me, but a simple gift from Him.
Peace that surpasses all understanding fills my heart and mind, my body and soul.
I wait for the peace to elude me . . . but it doesn’t!
I end my search for peace where it should have begun.
I put my hand in God’s, knowing that His peace will never elude me . . . Unless . . . unless I let go of His hand,
But He is always there, waiting to hold my hand again,
To fill me with His wonderful peace,
Peace that surpasses all understanding.


On Acceptance and Growth. . . Reflections on Psalm 139:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-11
by Cherry Pedrick

My Lord has searched me and knows me.
He knows when I sit and when I rise.
He perceives my every thought.
He watches me at night and during the day.
He is familiar with all my ways.
He knows every word I speak.
He guides me and cares for me,
Even in my darkest times.
For He made me, every part of me.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I know this because all that God makes is wonderful.
He made me the way I am for a purpose.
What right do I have to question how I was made?
If God can love me just as I am,
Then surely I can love myself.

Love is patient, Love is kind.
I can be patient with myself when I make mistakes,
When I am not perfect.
I can be kind to myself,
Treating myself with dignity, love and understanding.
When I was a child I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
I’m an adult now and will put childish ways behind me.
But I know there is still a small child inside me.

That child is scared, vulnerable, anxious and insecure.
I will comfort that child, praise her and help her grow into a healthy, mature adult.
I will guide that child to talk, think and reason more and more like an adult.
But that child will not control me,
With my Lord’s help,
I will control the child and the child will learn and grow by my example.

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