I finally opened up to a priest, and it went terribly wrong


The first time I came on here I came here because I was experiencing terrible POCD symptoms. After starting therapy and feeling almost close to normal, I decided the time had come to finally open up to a priest and look for direction in order to tackle the spiritual end of my OCD( again, the spiritual side of things. The medical/psychological end I am looking help for with professionals). A coworker of my husband’s and family friend battled horribly with drug addiction and gave me the name of his director, who he said received him with kindness and gentleness after what he called " a horrible life of sin". I figured this sounded like a compassionated priest, and took up all my courage and made an appointment with him. It was one of the most painful 20 minutes of my life. I opened up to him as best as I could and explained my illness to him, but he became extremely upset and told me he couldn’t help me. That I needed a doctor not a priest because this was clearly a psychological issue and not a spiritual one. I told him I knew that, but that I was just looking for direction in the spiritual end of it, but he just got up and told me that he didn’t feel qualified to help me. He covered his face and very exasperated asked me to please leave. Needless to say I left in tears, and despite my husband’s best efforts I have been feeling awful all day and I just cannot stop crying. I don’t mean to complain about this no-doubt kind, priest. I respect him deeply just because he is a priest of Our Lord’s, but I wish things were different. I feel that most priests( in my experience) would be more likely to help me if I was an addict than with my mental illness, and it is a completely lonely road. I feel like I have no hope for peace or salvation. Who can I turn for help, if I Our Lord’s representatives run away from people like me?


He’s not a psychologist. However, he did handle this poorly. It sounds like he has no expertise in this area and that he panicked.


I can imagine how difficult this must be. I suppose that ultimately it’s better for him to admit he is unqualified than to try and direct you and do harm due to his inexperience with OCD. Did he offer the names of anyone he did think would be qualified to help?


And I know this, and I truly wasn’t expecting him to be. Like I explained in my post, I’m seeing a therapist and psychiatrist, however, part of my treatment requires me to have a confessor. I wanted help with spiritual direction with my life and illness. OCd is phycho/spiritual and I need both sides for recovery.


No,but I understand him. Like I said, he became upset and probably didn’t even think of it at the moment.


wow, that is rough. i’d’ve expected better from a parish priest

i feel bad for you…


As a fellow victim of OCD, you can be assured of my sympathy. People who don’t have OCD just can’t understand how utterly terrifying these bizarre thoughts can be and how fragile you can be in this condition. I feel so bad the Priest did not know how to deal with your needs. Clearly he was overwhelmed and confused by your problem. I think he could certainly have handled such a traumatic situation better.

But don’t give up if you feel you need spiritual direction. There is someone who can help you.

But OCD is not a sin and you don’t need to confess to unwanted, intrusive thoughts or even give details about them in Confession.

(Perhaps the type of OCD you brought up might have been a sensitive subject, with the various clergy abuse scandals)


I wish I had such confidence. I am just so afraid that the thoughts are truly sinful, and that at the end of my life they will have made all my confessions invalid. Even then, I don’t feel it in me to look again. As I’m sure you know, going through a bad spike is terrible, and I almost dragged myself there in the first place. I feel so broken and almost contaminated. As if it had been Our Lord himself who sent me away. and the thought comes " what if it was? What if it was Him who sent me away?" I know it’s a sensitive subject, but shouldn’t it be all the more reason for it to be helped with? I’m so lost. I don’t know what to do at this point.


You take the advice of this Priest. He told you he was not qualified and you needed professionalmedical help.

That is very good advice


Which I am getting. Like I mentioned, I have both a therapist and a psychiatrist. However, as you may know, OCD causes huge problems in confession, and this is what I was needing help with. The spiritual end of the illness. Not medical, which I am getting, not psychological, which I am also getting and spoke of to him.


He was so very honest in telling you it was out of his depth. Perhaps discuss how to do a confession and good tools to use, with your therapist?

I have a very difficult family issue atm. I have one religious order Priest helping me with responses. However, he tells me what is out of his depth and might harm the situation. We must listen.


My confidence in posting is a mask I put on. I am very fragile and vulnerable. Being the guy who has studied OCD and scrupulosity and their treatment and can empathize with your problems is true, and I feel almost obligated to try to help others who suffer this dreadful condition, but I am easily thrown off. I still get horrible anxiety attacks despite the ridiculous amount of medication I take!

Oh, and a full blown spike—one that lasts weeks or months or more, where it becomes a 24/7 anxiety attack — I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering on anyone. I mean, that is pure torment.


I’ve tried, but the only therapists who specialize in my type of OCD in my area are secular, and she doesn’t believe much in the sacrament. She’s encouraged me to pray, but when it comes to confession she’s even suggested that I stop going, but tells me she respects my decision to continue to go though she thinks it’s not good for me. All she said was that I have to confess to only one priest if I’m planning to continue going.


The priest handled this very badly. I know if I were in your position, the intrusive thoughts are painful enough, but the addition of an unsympathetic priest would make it even more painful. God bless you.

Find a different priest, one that is known to be knowledgeable. Perhaps don’t give all the details next time, but the brief situation and what you need help with.


Perhaps try a different priest - you should be able to find one who can listen and respond with spiritual direction, with full knowledge that you are being treated by a medical professional. Don’t give up! I’ll pray for you.


I honestly believe this illness is a foretaste of the despair in hell, which only makes me spike again! I’m so sorry to hear that you have this. I wouldn’t wish this horrible torment on anyone. Thinking that it’s a cross isn’t even very consoling because I have no idea if I’m in the state of grace. How can I offer this??


I would also remind everyone that we are hearing only one side of the story. The priest is not here to defend himself or explain how the conversation went from his point of view.

Consider that before you frame critical comments about the priest.


Perhaps the OP can find a priest who has psychological training?


I don’t if I can. I was terrified to bring these thoughts up because I have a baby. I was terrified that it would cause her to be taken away from me. Now I’m even more paralyzed with fear than I was in the past. I’m afraid for my salvation and for my child. I know Our Lord knows the trials He sends us, but this one feels absolutely beyond me.


Thank you!

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