In episode one of Hope for Anxiety and OCD, Carrie Bock discusses the reason she started a podcast for Christians struggling with anxiety and OCD. She shares her own personal story of loss and how her faith in God got her through it, learning more about His character along the way.
- Learn the inspiration for Hope for Anxiety and OCD
- My story of going from a religious person to a spiritual one
- When life turns out not as you planned it, but somehow better
Resources and links:
For more information on foster care and adoption in the US:
Transcript of episode 1
Hi, my name is Carrie Bock and I’m the host of Hope for Anxiety and OCD podcast. Two of my most defining characteristics are that I’m a Christian and I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor.
It’s been an interesting journey being caught between two worlds, so to speak. If I use anything in addition to the Bible, I’m too secular for some Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Bible. It’s my guide for life. You know, the big stuff like how to be saved, love God and others, find spiritual peace. However, there are many things the Bible never taught me that I had to figure out that was important in life like how to change a tire or pick which college I was going to go to, or how to cook salmon in the oven just right. I’m not going to find these things directly in the Word of God. I have to go elsewhere for that information. That’s okay because all truth belongs to God. Put lemon slices on top of the salmon. Trust me. It’s delicious.
If all truth belongs to God, that includes every psychological study that’s ever been done on how we learn, what motivates people towards positive behavior, how the brain and the body are affected by trauma, [and] the methods of therapy that are effective for different disorders. The list goes on and on. I could totally geek out about all of this, but in certain therapists circles, if you start to mention Christianity, some therapists look at you a little sideways and start talking to you about how many people they have in their caseload who’ve been traumatized by religion. I get it. So now you know, I’m a misfit who doesn’t fit in. I don’t fit in with the Christian counseling community because I’m too secular for them. I don’t fit in with the secular counseling community because I’m too Christian for them. It’s okay. My conscience is clear that I can have all of Jesus and all of the really good therapy techniques too. Enter my clients. Of course, I can’t tell you all about them. That would be a major HIPAA violation.
Let’s just say that I specialize in treating trauma, anxiety, and OCD. My clients aren’t all Christian, but among the ones who are, some have repeated similar statements people have told them about Jesus and therapy. Some are secretly in therapy because it doesn’t feel safe to talk about it in the church. Some are ashamed to be struggling with anxiety or OCD as a Christian wondering if it makes them less spiritual for having these struggles in the first place. They have verses memorized about anxiety. They’ve been told all kinds of things from church leaders about not seeking secular counseling and medication is wrong, and to just pray and read their Bible more. Others are told they’re struggling because they don’t trust God enough.
I’m so sick and tired of these negative, shameful and non-biblical messages being sent to Christians that I can’t stand it. I can’t stay silent any longer. I want to scream from the rooftops, “You can have Jesus and therapy!”
Anxiety affects people physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Each of these domains must be addressed in order to find healing. How can I love God with all my heart if I am stuck in anger due to past trauma? How can I love God with all my soul If it is dry and thirsty, lacking connection? How can I love God with all my mind if it’s plagued with worry? How can I love God with all my strength If I don’t take care of my physical body?
It takes time for my clients to unpack these negative messages and evaluate them based on scripture. I guess you could say this podcast is for my clients, but it’s not really. No offense meant to any current or former clients listening here. This podcast is for all the people I may never meet but who need to hear that it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to take steps towards greater health and freedom.
Hope for Anxiety and OCD exists to reduce shame, increase hope and develop healthier connections with God and others. I invite you on this journey as I interview pastors, Christian leaders, therapists, and everyday people who found hope in the midst of their mental health struggles. I want you (yes you) to help me out along the way.
What burning questions do you have about the intersection between faith and mental health? Who do you want me to interview? What topics are important to you?
Feel free to reach out anytime via our website: www.hopeforanxietyandocd.com. I’ve already recorded some shows that I am super excited to share with you. We’re going to be talking about unanswered prayer, how to rule out potential physical causes of anxiety, help for parents who have anxious children, [and] different types of therapy techniques that can be helpful for anxiety and OCD.
There’s something for everyone. Every show is unique and special and I pray is a blessing for the person that needs to hear it that day. There is also something I want you to know about the guests on this show. It would be easy to assume that every guest on a Christian podcast is automatically a Christian. This show is a little bit unique and different because as I talked about in the beginning, we’re combining two different worlds. Some of the guests are Christian and they are combining the worlds of counseling, psychology, the Bible, Christianity, the church, and it’s so valuable for us to hear that information. There are other people who have valuable, helpful counseling information that I also wanted to include on the show, or who are friends of mine and don’t follow Christ, the Bible, or Christianity.
The really cool part of that I think that has opened up is an opportunity for us to learn how to talk to people who believe differently than we do and how to ask important spiritual questions. I’m fully prepared for this podcast to probably upset somebody, but that’s okay. Jesus ended up upsetting a lot of people. So as long as I’m doing all that God has called me to do, we’re good.
Now that I’ve introduced the podcast, I’d like to tell you some background information about myself, so you can get to know me, the host a little bit better.
I grew up as a shy kid seeking to fade into the background. My dad likes to tell the story about how we went to a new church and everyone knew who my brother was and that my parents had a son, but they had to tell people that they also had a younger daughter. Let’s face it, the kid that got seen also got in trouble more.
Growing up in a conservative family, I was pretty conscientious about things like right and wrong. There were lots of fears about doing the wrong thing and getting in trouble.
I made the decision to follow Jesus and make Him Lord of my life at eight years old, but I put on Jesus, my experience with other adults. If I do wrong, I’m going to get in big trouble and God will be really mad at me. He seemed harsh and mean in some of the Bible stories, and I was scared of Him. What did God want from me? Whatever it was, I knew I was probably going to mess it up.
Being the quiet shy kid also made me the observer. I was keenly aware and had a heightened sensitivity to other people’s emotions, and I didn’t know how to handle them at all. My sensitivity caused me to take everything personally.
It’s a little rough in the making friends’ department when you’re quiet, and you tend to get bullied more. I used to replay social interactions over and over in my head and always felt a little awkward.
Did I become a therapist because I was the person everyone naturally gravitated towards with their problems? No way. But if I had studied the DSM at the time, I probably could have diagnosed my high school class. All joking aside, it was the opportunity to take psychology in highschool that steered me away from the path of becoming a sign language interpreter towards well, I don’t really know, other than I thought psychology was the most interesting thing I’ve ever studied, and I wanted to help people. Mom said helping people is not a career. So you have to narrow that one down a little bit more.
I was a religious person into adulthood, running around, doing the good things, hoping that my works were going to keep me in right standing with God. I believe I was saved by grace but after that, it felt like I was under the law all the time, and God was just waiting for me to mess up. That’s a non-biblical, messed-up theology by the way.
As a religious person, checking boxes of all the things I was supposed to be doing, was exhausting. I completely missed the heart and intimacy of having a relationship with Jesus.
In 2013, my husband and I had gotten the phone call we’d been waiting for. Department of Children Services or DCS asked us if we would like to take two girls: a five-year-old and an eight-year-old into our home. We were ecstatic. I had a dream previously that I believe to be from God about having two daughters. We were led to believe by DCS that these children would most likely not have an appropriate family placement to go back to.
We gave the girls several different options of things they could call us, and they decided they wanted to call us mom and dad right away. I was not expecting that. We all seem to be enjoying the new normal of our instant family life. I even got asked where babies come from on my first week of parenting.
The girls came during the summer and we helped them get ready to start a new school year, at a new school. There’s something really profound about having two children call you mom, eat at your dinner table and play in your front yard. But at the end of the day, they aren’t your children. My heart didn’t know the difference, and my heart would be completely broken six weeks later when DCS lost in court, and the girls immediately went back to their family. We weren’t even informed there was a court date, so we were in complete shock to find out that we had a few hours to pack up all their stuff and get them to the DCS office.
My husband and I came home to two empty rooms, one decorated with Monster High and the other with decals of a boyband. I can’t even remember which one now. A behavior chart was stuck on the door. Whatever we were trying to correct at the time, suddenly didn’t matter anymore. I wasn’t prepared at all for how to handle this and the physical pain of loss was so deep that it sent me to the doctor’s office. I had never felt anything like that before. I now jokingly say that was the day I spent $200 on bloodwork to find out that I was going through grief.
Other foster children came in one over the next year. Meanwhile, several foster parents we were connected with were in the process of adopting their first placements. I was very discouraged. Why wasn’t God allowing me to have the gift of family? I felt like God called us into this foster care and adoption journey but really questioned His plans.
In the fall of 2014, we received another sibling placement; this time, a boy and a girl. It was looking like they might become a part of our forever family, but what happens when you check all the religious boxes, believing you’re doing the right thing, and then something goes terribly wrong? It happened to me on what should have been a normal Sunday in January of 2015.
I threw my cell phone against the wall and swore before bursting into tears. I’d gone in my bathroom in hopes that my foster children wouldn’t hear the phone conversation. My husband of nine years was telling me that he was done and wanted to divorce.
I knew that our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t see divorce in our future anywhere. That hadn’t even been discussed at all. Wait a minute God. I married a believer. We’re in church every Sunday. We’re in a small group. We pray at every meal. We read Bible stories with our foster children. How in the world did this happen?
My head was spinning. I had so many questions for God and most went unanswered. Why didn’t he answer my prayer to restore my marriage? Then divorce devastated me. Not only did I lose my husband, but my dreams of having a family were gone in an instant.
I went from being a household of four to all alone, looking for roommates to pay a mortgage, in survival mode. My thoughts kept me up at night. Where did I go wrong? What should I have done differently? I couldn’t sleep or concentrate at work. I had no energy and felt hopelessly sad, all symptoms of depression.
I made the decision to take an antidepressant for six months and I can confidently say it was one of the most healthy decisions I’ve ever made for myself.
I carried around a lot of shame regarding being a divorced woman in the church. I remember thinking “my life is over now.” I didn’t mean that in the suicidal sense, but I didn’t see any kind of positive future for myself. What godly man is going to be with someone who’s been divorced?
I had a lot of emotional baggage to unpack from childhood and beyond. Sometimes, that meant talking through my thought process, and sometimes that meant reprocessing trauma with EMDR therapy. It was this process of unpacking the baggage that caused me to experience God in new ways. It was as if there were clouds blocking my view of the sun and when they moved, I could see the sun clearly. God hadn’t changed, but my view of Him is less cloudy now. My faith doesn’t just have knowledge and rules. It has heart and understanding of the depth of the love of God, and the promise that He would never leave me.
I found God as a good father who had blessed me in many ways, and some I just couldn’t see yet. I also had a greater understanding of grace that God showed me as I walked through dealing with my own sin and how that impacted my relationship. I could connect with Jesus knowing that He understood suffering and pain that’s both physical and emotional.
I’m thankful for my pastors, divorce care recovery group, therapist, primary care, physician, and close friends. They all played an important role in my recovery process.
Today, I am thankful for my divorce, not that it happened but how God used that experience to shape my character and view of him. I’m a more thankful, positive, and compassionate person due to what I’ve been through. I want to help Christians recognize that they can have the abundant life Jesus talks about in John 10:10.
I invite you to think through what is holding you back from that abundant life. I’m happy to tell you that five years after my divorce, I met the most amazing man, and we were married in October of 2020. You’ll get to meet him soon on the podcast as he’s graciously agreed to appear with me on an episode about anxiety and dating- more my anxiety than his.
Thank you so much for listening. I pray that this podcast is a blessing to you today, and whatever you’re facing, know that you are loved by God and never alone.
Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling in Smyrna, Tennessee. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum, and audio editing is completed by Benjamin Bynam.
Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.