Monday, November 30, 2009

Bad News

My cat is sick. Not going to get better sick. I find that I worry that my OCD will make me do this "wrong." That a fear of medical offices will keep me from having her put to sleep when I should. Or that a fear of uncertainty will have me put her to sleep too soon.

I know even "normal" people worry about getting the timing wrong. For now, she's still eating, and purrs when she sits on my lap. But she's a little skinnier and less steady on her feet each day. :(

Sunday, November 29, 2009

OCD in the Media

A couple of interesting links. On Friday Howie Mandel was on 20/20, talking about his experience with OCD. I've always wondered why he didn't get treated, rather than just refuse to shake anyone's hand. Turns out he is receiving treatment, but apparently it's not too successful (he doesn't say this, it's my interpretation). Mandel has just published a book about his OCD and ADHD. I'd like to read what he has to say about his treatment.

In other OCD news, the New York Times has an article about surgical treatments for mental illness, which focuses on OCD. I've read about this surgery before, offered on an extremely limited basis to people with debilitating and treatment resistant OCD. I suspect I'd never choose it, but I'm not morally opposed to the idea.

What fascinated me was the comments attached to the article. The majority felt this was simply the lobotomy all over again. While there's not actually evidence of that, there is evidence that the surgery mostly just doesn't work very well. But I was struck by the number of commenters who basically said, "why can't we just accept people with differences." It's clear to me that these are not people with OCD. Even at my worst, I fit into society just fine, the problem is that my life can turn into total crap. Most people with OCD want nothing more than to not have OCD, and if surgery might someday be a viable option, I wouldn't want that door closed. And I especially wouldn't want that door closed by someone who has no idea what I'm going through.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just Remembered an Ironic-ish Experience

At work, I am something of a budget consultant for 10 different departments. I put their budgets together, and I monitor them throughout the year. As such, I have frequent meetings with the heads of "my" departments.

The other day, at the end of a meeting, the department head said, "it's so nice to meet with you, you're always so calm." I was speechless at first, although I suppose I shouldn't have been. My annual review was full of similar quotes last year.

It cracks me up (it cracks my mom up even more). I'm extremely well suited to my job, and I find the budget stuff to be very straightforward, and to date, no one's ever done any crazy overspending, so there's just zero stress involved in my day to day work. Of course I worry about all the germs around me, but apparently not so you'd notice. :)

Now if I could just get my whole life in such good shape!

Looking Back on this Week

Here were this week's goals:
Continue to ride the bus. Rode twice, got sneezed on, survived.
Go to the grocery store- for some reason I've been avoiding it lately. Went twice.
Social events M,W,F- don't cancel any. Yippee, didn't cancel.
Fix flat on my bike, and ride to work one day if not too cold. Laziness set in, still may look into that tomorrow.

All in all, not a bad week. Now I'm enjoying the extra long weekend, having taken a vacation day yesterday.

I think next week, I need to set harder goals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Big holidays often go badly for me. I think it's mostly getting a lot of people together in one place that tends to stress me out. But I also have a little bit of the "it's never quite as good as I sometimes imagine ahead of time" syndrome, so I get a little down around the holidays (you'd think I'd have adjusted my expectations by now, but whatever).

Today was fine, except for the part where I started sobbing while cooking with my sister. Random sobbing happens every so often when I'm feeling stressed by something. More disconcerting was the fact that my sister, while vaguely supportive, also seemed to wish I and my problems would just disappear. Which of course was really all I wanted to do. And I can't really blame her. I'd probably feel the same after this many years. In any case, I knew that I would just feel worse if I skipped the big dinner. And I would also be avoiding something that makes me anxious, never good.

Anyway, we came out the other side of the crying jag, the dinner was fine (until my aunt left in anger, but she does that at, so that was nothing new). Ahh, family. Ahh, holidays.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making the Leap

I've known for quite a while now, that if I'm going to get anywhere truly useful with my treatment, I've got to make the cognitive leap, the one that says "bring it on" to my fears. I'm not there, but for some reason, I'm totally confident that I'll get there soon.

This sounded a little silly, even to me, until I talked to a friend yesterday. She quit smoking 3 or 4 months ago. But she said she knew for a long time before she did it, that she would do it. She said people laughed at her, but she was right.

So for now I'm perched, waiting for the leap I know will come.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yay for Me, Or, I Am Doomed!

I have a fantastic "radar" for sick people. I can spot and avoid a sick store clerk at 20 feet. Well, not always, but I'm pretty good. For the sake of recovery from OCD, I've been working to override this ability.

Yesterday on the bus, I spotted the woman before I sat in her sneeze zone, but I sat there anyway. Then I tried to reassure myself (bad, I know): I'm sure her breathing is that loud because she's quite overweight, not because she's sick. See, she hasn't coughed or sneezed once! Oops, just then, the wettest, sneeziest couple of sneezes ever! Right in my direction. I do think she covered them at least, but I sure wasn't looking her way to see.

So, on the one hand, good for me, right? On the other, ugh ugh ugh. As always. :P

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Goals for the Week

Not quite sure what to post this week.

I'm still in that "doing fairly well, but still feeling mighty stressed" place.

Last night I rode the bus home from a social event. There's a homeless shelter at the end of my bus route. Most of the people, you wouldn't even know that's where they were headed, if you didn't know it was there. But sometimes the people are pretty unkempt, and some are drunk. Last night I encountered 4 of those, plus it was pouring, and two of them had terrible coughs. A difficult ride.

Anyway, my goals:
Continue to ride the bus.
Go to the grocery store- for some reason I've been avoiding it lately.
Social events M,W,F- don't cancel any.
Fix flat on my bike, and ride to work one day if not too cold.

This list doesn't feel quite complete, but I'm not sure what else would go on it.

I guess another goal is to work actively (rather than simply reading) my Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yay for Friday

Another okay if not great week. I had literally 10 meetings at work, and I'm not a fan, so I was happy to get through those. Managed two nights without a shower. Now I absolutely MUST work on my underlying fear of being sick. Without that, no matter how many exposures I do, I feel just as scared as always. With the holidays starting, it seems like an especially good, if totally scary, time to try. I've read a couple of interesting mental health related books recently and hope to get a review or two up over the weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My best friend outside of my family has recently begun dating again after a long gap. She lives in a different state, and we generally talk on the phone every couple of days, sometimes every day if one (or both) of us is having a tough week.

I'm happy for her, of course. But on Tuesday I called, and her sweetie was over. No problem, we arranged to talk today. No call. :( It has begun (yes, I know, I could have called her today. But despite my mellow reaction on Tuesday, I hate the awkwardness of the "umm, can I call you back later" call with new daters, and I do my best to avoid it).

In some ways it's a good thing. Because I'm quite aware of my tendency to seek reassurance from her. Sometimes subtly, sometimes less so. Having her less available is probably for the best. It still makes me sad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This is Really Difficult

Thanks to those of you who've commented on my recent progress. I've got to say that doing these exposures lately has been really hard work. I've been working more and more on both doing exposures that could lead to a cold or flu, and dealing with the fact that I can never be 100% certain that I won't pass along a serious illness to someone else.

I've ended up near tears at work a few times lately, which has the potential for some really embarrassing moments, but so far I've made it through without anyone noticing.

One thing I'm also working on is scaling back my attempts to orchestrate the "best" outcome. For instance, I'll check the weather before planning a lunch out, because I hate being wet and feel something bad is more likely to happen. Or I'll try to imagine if the coworker I'm scheduling a meeting with is more likely to be sick after returning from vacation, or later in the week, after she's been exposed to people in the office again.

It's pointless, makes me feel bad when I guess wrong, and it wastes a whole whole lot of time. Not to mention that by doing it, I make my OCD stronger.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting There

My sister and her husband both had colds this weekend, and I went over to their house. I can't remember the last time I purposely visited them when I knew they were sick. I wasn't super comfortable, but I did it. So that's pretty substantial progress for me.

We'll see what happens when someday I actually get a cold myself.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Checking in at Week's End

I have to admit that I actually did a little better than I expected this week:
I took the bus.
I skipped the shower two days (that one surprised me!)
Did much better than I have been, if not perfectly, on the handwashing at work.
Cooked/ate after touching the phone several times.

I had the freak out in the flu shot line, but I've since scheduled some events for the weekend with people I know have colds, and after an initial panic, I'm feeling pretty okay about that.

I'm currently sitting out an exposure involving a clogged toilet. The jury's still out on how this one will end. :(

It's funny that as soon as I have some exposure success, I up my standards, so I still always feel like I'm not doing as well as I want to be. I guess that's yet another thing to work on.

Happy it's the weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If I Didn't Have OCD, I'd Be a Really Nice Person

I'm a pretty cranky/irritable person. I would estimate that 9 out of 10 times that irritability is caused by OCD-related anxiety.

Today my work sponsored a seasonal flu shot clinic. I was waiting in line, when a super big wig in my workplace got in line behind me. He clearly had a cold, and I didn't want him to touch me (or even breathe on me for that matter). Of course he was in a very very chatty mood. When I get anxious, I kind of shut down. I can't make small talk, I talk in practically a monotone, don't notice jokes people make, and have a tendency to be rude. It's not a good thing, especially when it's your boss.

Luckily, the boss-guy likes me, and he's a little oblivious, so he didn't seem to notice. I think a couple other people around us did, though, which is embarrassing. The oddest thing is that I'm not even all that afraid of getting a cold- it's like the reaction is just hardwired in at this point.

In better news, I took the bus today and did pretty well about not washing my hands during the day. I'm currently sitting out the urge to shower. The first hour I didn't think I was going to make it, but the anxiety has dropped a little now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goals for the Week

I've decided to start posting what I'm working on for the week- it's too easy for me to "forget" otherwise.

So this week:
Take the bus any time the rain isn't torrential
Skip taking a shower after work on at least one workday
No "extra" hand washing at work
Touch floors at home and carry on about my day
Cook after touching the phone or remote control or computer keyboard

Today I did well with the handwashing, have touched the floors, and am about to go cook.

The shower thing is going to be tough, but until cold and flu season kicked in, I was doing that without much thought, so I guess that means I know I can do it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It Changes Your Whole Perspective, Doesn't It?

Went to a charity auction last night, and had a pretty good time. I had one interesting experience, though. In the main doorway to the event, they had hung a metallic curtain that you had to walk through. Most people push their hands through it first as they walk through, and then it's pretty much in contact with all parts of your body. My first thought upon seeing it was "really? You want us all to walk through that all night? Might as well make me hug everyone in the room."

About an hour later my mom says to me, "You know what my favorite part of the night was? That metallic curtain thing. That was really fun to walk through."

She took one look at my face and said, "Wow, it really changes your whole perspective, doesn't it?" Yep.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

That's Not What I Meant to Say

OCD can be socially isolating. It certainly has been for me. My therapist wants me to work on that, so this week I am supposed to be striking up conversations with men (that sounds bad, but really it's just practicing small talk).

So today at work, a coworker I very rarely talk to stopped to chat. It went surprisingly well, until he mentioned that he thought he was coming down with the cold that's going around. I could have said, "Oh, I'm sorry." Or "Bummer, just in time for the weekend." What did I say? "Ooh, stay away." Oops. I don't think that's what my therapist had in mind.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Labeling and Acting "Normal"

It's a pretty basic technique, but labeling my fears as OCD has been helpful to me lately. In a "this is OCD so you better just do it" kind of way. I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but I haven't had much luck with it before.

I've also been finding success with a "normal people don't have to do this" approach to life.

As in, you know, most people don't have to go wash their hands after putting on their shoes, or most people aren't afraid to schedule a meeting at work in case an attendee is sick.

I'm not using it as reassurance, because I'm still anxious after going ahead with the exposure, but it's making me do them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

That Which Doesn't Kill Me...

I've got a big weekend coming up, for me anyway. I'd much prefer to sleep the whole thing away, but I guess that's not really the healthiest option.

Date number two on Saturday, followed by a charity auction. Then a basketball game on Sunday.

Also somewhere in there is a niece's soccer game, likely in the rain and wind. My OCD self hates the rain with a passion. Somehow wet things seem even more contaminated. Good thing I live in the northwest, then.

I've been working hard at not washing my hands excessively at work. I had great success today, but it was difficult. Good to know I can do it, though.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have had migraines since I was a teenager. The ones I have now are in some ways milder than those I used to have, but in some ways they're worse, because they happen a lot more frequently. I've had one off and on since last Thursday- it's now Tuesday, so ugh.

I don't think they're related to my OCD, but it's frustrating that when I have one, it tends to throw off my whole schedule, including exposure plans. On the plus side, when my nausea gets really bad, I get some extra exposure.

In other news, I went on a date this weekend. It wasn't so bad! The guy was nice, don't know if it will go anywhere, but it was still a good thing overall.