Thursday, May 21, 2015

One More Try

For years, I've resisted medication. This despite at least 4 tries on various SSRIs for OCD. But over the last year, while I've been pretty high functioning with my OCD, and doing well with contamination type exposure, my underlying anxiety has been ramping up, up, up. I had convinced myself that the medications don't really work that well, but lately, everywhere I turn, I'm hearing people talk about how important they were to their recovery.

So, this time I'm going into it with the expectation that I'll need to be on them for a while, and that I need to be patient. None of my usual, I'll take this till I get through the crisis and then stop.

I'm on day three, so it's unlikely that there's any real impact, but I can already feel my brain feeling a little more open to facing some scary stuff. Placebo effect? Probably, but I don't mind. I'll keep you posted on how things go as I move through this process.

Friday, May 15, 2015

But, It COULD Happen!

It's not an innovative idea to consider the idea that the anxiety in OCD is all about uncertainty. OCD is known as the doubting disease for a reason. BUT, even so, I've still been amazed just how often I've done a compulsion based on my brain convincing me that some very obscure fear just.might.come.true.

"But it could happen," my brain tells me, and then it would be ALL YOUR FAULT. I should note that my brain tries to tell me this even when the feared event would in fact not be my fault at all. For instance, the other day, a coworker of mine used the rarely used back door to our office. I reminded myself when he did that to check that the door was relocked, since he didn't lock it when he left. Sure enough, he came back about 15 minutes later and relocked the door. And yet, later in the evening, I remembered that I didn't check the door upon leaving for the day. And then I worried that if it had been left open, it would be my fault if someone came in and stole something.

I'd even convinced myself to drive by and check. Because, IT COULD HAPPEN. But I am not going to. I've given in to my OCD so very much. I've lost out on years due to my inability to push back against OCD. Not today, OCD, not today.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How Does Time Move So Fast and So Slowly!

When I'm having anticipatory anxiety, time feels like it will never pass. I'll be worried forever! And then I open up my blog account and find that it's been a month since I last posted. So I guess time is actually flying by!

It's been an interesting month. Weirdly busy at work, busy finishing up my move (yay!), doing some really really hard OCD exposures (yay!), doing some compulsions, too (boo!)

I've been telling myself that as soon as I finish the move and get settled, I'll hunker down and start being more consistent with my ERP exercises, and with daily meditation. Well, the move is done, just a few more boxes to unpack. No more excuses.

I've said it before, but I'll say it yet again, look for more posts this summer as I get myself in gear!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Still Moving

Major life changes certainly bring out my anxiety. I'm hanging in there, and should be pretty much done by a week or so from now. But it's not easy.

I had finally started working on some mindfulness and meditation, but the change in schedule has sort of thrown it all out the window. I do realize that's a choice- if I were really dedicated to this process, I'd make it a higher priority.

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in ages- I drove to work on a day I wasn't scheduled to be there, in order to check something. Checked on it twice, in fact. I was so mad at myself, but I still did it. When I'm less stressed, I can make myself make that right decision, and in fact have done that a lot lately. I guess this gives me a chance to practice self acceptance: I don't always make the right decisions, but it doesn't make me a bad or weak person, and I can wake up tomorrow and try to do better.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Moving Isn't All That Fun

I'm in the middle of moving. Well, actually I'm at the start of moving, but my place is in total disarray, so it sure feels like I'm in the middle. I'm pretty excited about my new home, but not as excited about the process.

Today I sold a piece of furniture on Craiglist, then immediately convinced myself that something bad would happen to the person using it. I was in the middle of reassuring myself that the chances were small, it would never happen, etc, etc. All of which I know I shouldn't do. So I guess it was a good thing that today I was also reminded of the fact that reassurance doesn't actually do any good:

Yesterday I was briefly worried that I'd kill the new seedlings I was growing. And then today I did, by leaving them out in the hot sun for too long. Now, it's not at all odd that I killed the plants, and I wasn't all that anxious about it happening. But their death still made it clear to me that my underlying idea that worrying about something is a talisman against that thing happening is simply not true. Once you remember that, there's not much reason to bother with reassurance.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: Daring to Challenge OCD by Joan Davidson



Last summer, New Harbinger Publications sent me a copy of Daring to Challenge OCD. It was a busy summer, one overtaken by preparing my house to sell. So while I skimmed the book, I didn't really have a chance to read it until this winter. The book is actually much broader than its title might indicate, covering the basics of OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention, including good information about building a hierarchy to guide your exposures. As the title does suggest, it has an extensive chapter about why treatment is worth it with tips and information to help overcome several common forms of resistance (what if exposure makes it worse? what if something bad does happen?)

I really like a number of things about this book:
-it has three "real" examples of people who went through ERP. The book follows all three throughout. I really appreciate when authors do this, as it seems more relatable/doable to me that way.
-those three people have different types of OCD, including the types where compulsions are more mental than physical.
-it has two useful sections that aren't seen in many books: "Overcoming Obstacles" and "Realistic Expectations for Recovery." These sections cover issues like the idea that you have to keep doing this stuff forever (answer: yes, you kind of do!) and confusion about what's OCD and what's not. These chapters also include anecdotes from the three OCD-ers, again really helping to make it feel real and relatable.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the book. As with any book on OCD, just reading it isn't going to change your life. You have to work it. But I do think for someone (I'm probably one of these) who has struggled with putting ERP into action, it provides some additional information about moving forward, as well as the inspiration of Gina, Mary and Ted, who all changed their lives through exposure and response prevention.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Does It Get Easier?

I can't say I know the answer to that question. I do know I'm making hard choices and avoiding avoiding. Due to an illness in the family, I've been faced with more germs in my life while at the same time trying to avoid bringing germs into this person's life (and yes, I'm fully aware that my struggle is not the important one here! But it is real nonetheless).

In any case, despite my fears about making a sick person even sicker, I'm still making the "right" choices most of the time, and not letting fear rule the day. I can feel some momentum building up this week, and I want to ride that out.

The plan to move is in full force, with a new lease starting in April. Lots of chances for exposure, and I have done some avoiding, but with the momentum I noted above, I think I'll be able to do less of it between now and when I move.

Lately I've thought occasionally about seeing a therapist again, but I can't quite justify the expense. If I felt like it was a necessity to my wellbeing, I'd do in a minute, but I don't think it is. In fact, I feel myself wanting a sounding board more than I want someone to push me to do exposures. I think I just need more friends. :)

I hope spring is starting for everyone out there (well, those that like spring anyway!) It's been beautiful here. Even today's rain was lovely.