Friday, December 31, 2010

Scary Social Events, an update

I set a goal to average one "scary social event," that is, a social event with no family members, each week this year. That would be 52, of course. By my accounting, my final event, a New Year's Eve party tonight, will be number 42. Didn't quite make it. However, I long ago stopped counting ordinary outings with the boyfriend, as well as my nearly daily knitting meetups at work.

During this year, I joined the knitting group at work, resumed being in charge of a book club, and met up with a bunch of fellow basketball fans, one of whom turned into a boyfriend (well, now ex, but still). I rediscovered my love of bowling, which was enough to overcome my fear of those shared shoes.

All in all, pretty good, and certainly what I was hoping for.

During 2011, I want to continue this effort. I'd like to join a neighborhood knitting group, ask a promising female acquaintance out to coffee, and rekindle some old dropped friendships.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wondering

I've been contemplating the timing of the break up of my relationship. My boyfriend started acting weird not long after I wrote the blog post (I think I wrote it anyway) about the possibility that he'd noticed the OCD book on my nightstand. I don't know that it's related, and if it is, it's a pretty clear sign (among many others) that he wasn't right for me.

But oh, it makes me so sad to consider that my OCD may have cost me yet another relationship. It also makes me even more determined to be sure that it never happens again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

What an amazing year this has been. I'm feeling more optimistic about my OCD, and well, all kinds of things, than I have in years. It's an incredible feeling. I hope you've had a good year, too. And if you haven't, know that it's possible. Hope everyone who celebrates it has a fabulous Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Real Progress

I've been continuing to be able to do exposures that in the past I probably would have considered "too hard," including being around people who are sick without making excuses to leave an event early (it's still not easy, though, that's for sure!)

I've also realized that some things that used to really stress me out just aren't a very big deal anymore, including putting out the garbage can every week, whether it's raining or not. I've also had some success at alternately sitting with big pieces of anxiety, and being able to say to myself, yes that's a scary thought, but it doesn't actually have any significance and just pushing it aside and moving on with life.

Is my OCD gone? Not by a long shot. But I'm still feeling good, and it's awesome.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eyeing OCD From the Other Side

This week, a coworker moved cubicles and is now right next to me. I've worked with him for 3 years, but never closely. Something about the way he cleaned and vacuumed that cubicle before he moved in, and the way his water bottles were lined up on the desk made me go "hmmmm."

THEN yesterday I sat next to him at the annual holiday potluck. After he got his food, he pulled out a baggy of wet wipes and washed his hands. I didn't think that much of it, as I've known non-OCD friends who do that. But then, he went back for seconds and did it again. Went through the dessert line and did it again! I was fascinated. A lot of people with OCD (myself included) will do exposures without compulsions sometimes just to avoid the embarrassment of doing those compulsions in public. Apparently my coworker isn't one of them. This particular coworker is sick a lot, though, so I'd like to remind him that his compulsions are apparently not working that well, but I probably won't. :)

Statistically in an organization the size of mine, there should be more than 20 people with OCD. Obviously not all of them will be handwashers, but it's surprising to not have noticed this type of thing before. Of course, I cannot really diagnose him based on these incidents, but I will anyway. He'll never know.

It made me feel even better about going through the whole potluck with no handwashing. Of course later in the day, I became convinced that my white elephant contribution was going to food poison someone (and it was ground coffee beans, for goodness sake!), so I can't really get TOO proud of myself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Doing Great

Whether it's the medication, or the kick in the pants from my trip, or just random, I'm at least partway over the motivational hump I've faced for months now.

I've been doing exposures, pretty much never washing my hands at work, and feeling pretty good. On my trip, I got an extended glimpse of my non-OCD self, and I'm awesome! Friendly, happy, eager, curious, caring. A person I would really be happy and proud to be. If that's not motivating, I don't know what would be.

It's not perfect, of course, and I still have a lot of anxiety. But I feel equipped to move forward, and that's good news.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Keeping the Ball Rolling

I didn't make it to the store yesterday, but I did go today. I used the restroom there, right after a mom and little kid- more contaminated, don't you know.

Pushed my grocery cart around in normal fashion. Next I stopped at the video store. I ALWAYS wash my hands after the video store- not today.

Now I'm typing on my computer with those same unwashed hands. I feel like I'm further down the path on this than I've ever been, and it feels great and scary, and I want to keep on walking down it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I DID IT!!!!!

I have just returned from 3 days in Phoenix.

I brought Purell, and used it once. I did the most cursory of bedbug "inspections" of the room, and then let it go. I ate finger food at every restaurant without washing.

I took six trips on public transit, and six on our hotel's shuttle. I bought food and souvenirs from multiple people and didn't contemplate whether they had colds. I sat next to a woman on the plane who I thought had a cold and didn't flip (although she later volunteered that she had allergies).

I used the bathroom at the airport. I rode on a plane!!!!!

I sat on the bedspread at the hotel. I walked in barefeet in the hotel. I watched my boyfriend contaminate the sheets of that hotel bed with his airplane clothes and I slept in it. I dropped my toothbrush on the hotel room floor and then I got a new one at the reception desk (c'mon, I have OCD!)

I had fun on a vacation for the first time in years. I took 100 photos, and that was with forgetting the camera in the hotel one full day.

And then weirdly enough, I decided I didn't like my boyfriend all that much (he was a complete doofus on this trip), and I broke up with him. That'll hit me harder soon, I'm sure, but for now I'm still giddy from the rest of it.

Tonight I'm going to walk down to the grocery store and use their bathroom, before I lose any momentum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Weekend

This weekend I met about 50 member of my boyfriend's extended family. His dad has 7 siblings, and they almost all live nearby. It's a nice group, although I forgot most everyone's name. What I'm happiest about, though, is that I didn't feel very anxious, despite all the people, and a lot of hand shaking, and potluck food eating and game playing. That was a good thing.

But I do think I was storing up some stress, because when my mom called this morning to ask if she could leave something at my house for a friend to pick up, I said no, and then burst into tears. Oops. Well, as I've said before and I'll say again, baby steps.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Medication Update

Well, I've theoretically been taking a low dose of Prozac for about two weeks now. Unfortunately, I've forgotten to take it on at least 4 days. I can't help but think I have a some kind of block against it. Because when I had to take 90 days of my toenail fungus medication, I didn't miss a SINGLE day. So, anyway, I can't quite tell if it's making any difference yet. My regular PMS depression seemed a little milder than usual, but it was still there.

I do notice trouble sleeping while on it, but it's not major, and so far benedryl at night is enough to overcome it. So I will try to remember to actually take it regularly, and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Going For It, But Not Thrilled :)

So, as I've mentioned before, I'm weirdly terrified of getting colds. In the past it was because I was afraid to get my aunt sick. She has since died, so now of course, I'm afraid for a changing group of reasons. This week, it's because I'm going on vacation soon.

The downward arrow looks something like this:
I'll get sick for vacation
I'll get the boyfriend sick for vacation.
He'll be mad because I got him sick.
We'll fight and break up.

Alternate scenario:
Blowing his nose on vacation somehow exposes him to some other dreadful disease, and he dies. Bummer.

Tomorrow I'm going to a social event where I know already that one attendee has a bad cold. I'm going anyway. And I haven't been washing my hands like a madwoman this week either.

This is really difficult!!!!! But I'm doing it. OCD currently consumes my every waking hour, and I want my life back. Even if it's without my dead boyfriend. :(

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Doing It All Wrong

So, in my worry about bed bugs, I've been taking a proactive approach- decluttering, installing a passive monitor, vacuuming my bed so I can see what's going on there. Now, for many people, these would be positive things. For me, it's a compulsion, plain and simple. And I can tell that it is, based on the fact that my anxiety is just going up and up and up.

It needs to stop.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It was a pretty decent day.

It started when I went over to my sister's to cook. Within about 2 minutes I could hear that my brother-in-law had a cold. I swear, my brain went totally blank for a few minutes when I heard him talk. But I did okay. Later in the day, we all even played cards and I didn't wash my hands after. And when I came home, I didn't take a shower.

So that was all a really great thing. Today I went to the grocery store, and for the first time in a really long time, I came home and ate some of the food without doing any washing of it or me.

Feeling good about this. Still feeling anxiety way too often over the course of any given day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You May Not Want to Go to Thanksgiving With My Boyfriend

Hey, let's pet the dog before we cook. Oh, I suppose I could run a little water over my hands to clean them. Now let's prepare some finger foods for tomorrow.

Woo, he's a walking exposure exercise for me. I won't be there with his family tomorrow, but I made myself eat some of the food we prepared. Not dead yet!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kicking OCD When It's Down

Over on the OCD support board on yahoo, there are several people who consider their OCD "mostly" gone who still post regularly. Recently, there have been a couple of reminders from these types that at the first sign up OCD symptoms cropping up, you have push back immediately; you never want to let OCD have a chance to get the upper hand again. I'm a long way from there, but I like the idea of taking out OCD.

It's all too easy for me to pretend that I can get better by only confronting the easy fears, or only doing exposures half of the time. Clearly it doesn't work that way.

Today was a pretty good day. Still spending way too much time thinking and worrying about upcoming travel. But I did some (really cold) yardwork this afternoon in a part of my yard I consider "contaminated." When I came back in, I really wanted to jump in the shower. But instead I did some other chores around the house, pretty much coming into contact with every room in my house. By the end, I still felt vaguely contaminated, but not so bad. I did take a shower, because I was objectively in need of one, but I only stayed in their too long because it was nice and warm, not because I needed to get super clean.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Has it Been a Week Already?

Did two good OCD-related things today.
One, I went to the Harry Potter movie. Surrounded by sneezing, sniffling, and coughing people. Later in the day, I toilet-brushed the toilet at the boyfriend's house. After 4 months, it became pretty clear no one else was going to do it. I cannot actually remember the last time I cleaned a toilet without taking a shower after (I save up all the yucky cleaning). But since that wasn't really an option here, I didn't. Even stopped at the grocery store on the way home.

I'm still wearing the same clothes I wore all day today, and I'm not showering before bed. It's so interesting to me. When I know I'm going to take a shower, I have a particular contaminated feeling that doesn't dissipate until I'm done showering. When I know I"m going to push back and skip the shower, the contaminated feeling goes away fairly quickly. I'm feeling fine now.

I'm not feeling so great about the fact that for some reason my cat has been sleeping right smack in the middle of my pillow for the last two hours. But that's a whole other issue...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happenings

Lots of little (or maybe not so little) things this week.

I got a prescription for Prozac- I'm going to try it for a couple of months and see how it goes. Haven't actually received the pills yet but should this week.

I made the plane reservations. For about an hour I got really really excited about this trip, and it made me so happy. I feel very few moments of joy or excitement in my life, but experiencing them makes me want to work to be able to experience more of them.

I'm still feeling, overall, extremely anxious about this trip. But I'm also able to see that I'm willing to take risks because the life I'm living now is one of fear and sadness, and I don't really feel so excited about another 40 years of that.

I've made some decent progress at exposures on the cold and flu front- fall and winter months are certainly good for that.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Recently on an OCD forum, someone wrote about trying to face a fear while worrying that the outcome of doing an exposure could be "the one big regret of his life." It was interesting timing, because this week I found a journal I kept after I was first diagnosed with OCD. It was from 1998. In it, I express over and over again my fear that I will spread some kind of germs that will ruin my (then) boyfriend's life and he'll hate me forever. Flash forward to today, that boyfriend is happily married with two beautiful kids and a good job. Guess I didn't ruin him after all.

What's really frustrating is that right now, in the present, I'm still doing the exact same thing. I have fears that my actions in going ahead with exposures will result in harm to my nieces or my boyfriend's niece, that'll it'll be "the one big regret of my life" and that I'll be shunned and my own life ruined, too.

Trying to take the lesson from 1998, but it's difficult!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trying Again

I'm about to make a plane reservation. I'm using the voucher I got when I cancelled my trip to Atlanta last June. This time, I have a travel partner, so I don't have any way to cancel without humiliation. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rumination

I spend so much time mulling options. It drives me nuts and wastes so much time. I'm going to a basketball game with the boyfriend on Tuesday. He invited me to meet his sister and brother-in-law for dinner before the game. And now my brain is just chewing and chewing on it. If I go, I'll have to go straight from work. That's not my normal routine. And there will be lots of exposures. Nothing weird, just normal "going out to dinner" stuff. So now I've got myself all tied up in knots. Should I go? Should I not go? How much will I worry if I do?

I should probably go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Stinks

Whether it's the decreasing light, the increasing rain, or just something internal to me, I always have trouble with November. I get depressed, my anxiety goes through the roof, and my ability to see the irrationality of my fears goes way down.

I'm a mess, but I'm taking action. Yesterday I bought The OCD Workbook and Freedom From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and I'm probably going back on medication.

So right now I'm an odd mix of motivated and excited, and down in the dumps. Interesting.

My parents are leaving on a trip on Tuesday. Not unexpectedly, I've been on a "can't get them sick for their trip" kick. One of my convoluted reasons for not wanting them to get sick was that I felt it increased their chances of staying in a hotel and getting bedbugs (as in, they'll be so sick and yucky that my aunt and uncle will kick them out and send them to a hotel) In yet another "hahaha, you can't control the world" moment, it turns out my mom made their plane reservation for the wrong city (oops!), and they'll be spending at least two nights in a hotel anyway.

This should make me aware of the futility of my efforts, but nope, I've been ruminating on staying healthy most of today.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Moving Van and Me

Well, that last post certainly screamed "I have OCD," didn't it!

Today, there's moving van parked across the street. Here's what this means to my brain: there are some stranded bed bugs in there, and they are now crawling out onto the street and making their way into the piles of leaves I need to rake up. I would therefore like to avoid raking those leaves.

But alas, I can't. Well, I suppose I should say, I WON'T. So off I go to rake up the leaves, and perhaps some bed bugs, and store them in my yard waste bin. Perhaps they'll find a home in my house.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spreading a Cold

This doesn't have much to do with anything, but it still fascinated me. My therapist was always of the opinion that one could never know where one's cold came from. I don't quite agree, but I can agree that the average person isn't mad when they get a cold.

BUT, this week, I saw the most 1-2-3 example of spreading a cold, and I continue to wonder why people aren't more careful. Colds don't totally suck, but they're no fun either.

My boss came back from vacation with a pretty bad one. On Monday, we gathered for our weekly staff meeting. She blew her nose. She fidgeted (for seriously, NO reason, except that she's a fidgeter) with the chair next to her. Coworker comes in to meeting and pulls out the chair, touching it exactly where our boss did. Within 30 seconds, she had rubbed her eyes with her hand.

48 hours later, coworker has developed a cold.

So, yeah, doesn't mean I should stop exposures, but how hard is it not to blow your nose and then immediately touch things that others will? Gross.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Small Success

One of things I've struggled with the most is what I think of as "impulse control."

When I get scared, I need to do something now. Like, NOW!! An example: the situation last Friday with my car donation.

Anyway, today I woke up, looked out the window and saw the neighbor's empty garbage can was at the curb in the rain, with the lid off. Getting filled up with icky water that they will probably dump into the gutter, where it will flow downhill and contaminate my driveway, and I'll get some dread garbage can disease (yes, I'm pretty sure I've posted about "dread garbage disease" before). Oh, how I wanted to go outside and put the lid on that can. I stared, I contemplated, I stewed. But I DID NOT go out and put the lid on that can. And it's been raining for hours now. I'm anxious, but also feeling good that I controlled that impulse. It's a small step, but a step for sure.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Pledge for the Week

Here's a message I posted to an OCD forum this weekend:

This week I considered doing telephone therapy with Steve Phillipson's office. Then I realized that I don't want to spend $150 a week, and that if I'm motivated I can do this anyway, and if I'm not motivated, I'll be throwing money away.

As I've noted several times in the last few weeks, bedbugs are my latest "it" fear. And I'm planning a trip with hotel stay in December, which has ramped up my fear a ton. I recently found a website where people with bedbugs post, and have been driving myself insane(r) by reading it every day.

This week, I pledge to stay off that site altogether.

In other news, today I went to the grocery during peak hours (usually try to avoid the crowds), and I picked a checker that looked sick. On my walk home, I felt doomed, but as always, about an hour later, I felt just fine about it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today's the Day

Today the boyfriend gets his tattoo. And a steady rain is falling. Actually, my anxiety had come down far enough that I was interested in watching the process (although not quite ready for my own!), but he didn't seem to want that, so I'm not going to see it. I'm feeling pretty okay, although part of that is that my mind has already moved on to worry about the next thing.

I wish I could more easily remind my brain that by the time the scary thing rolls around, I'm hardly ever that anxious anymore, and just skip the worry altogether. If it were that easy, though...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Well, That'll Teach Me, Part 20?

When my aunt died, I inherited her car. Which meant that for the last month, I've had two cars. Which was sort of silly. I decided that since my "old" car wasn't worth much, I didn't really want to deal with the hassle of selling it. So a friend suggested I donate it. Eureka! But still I delayed. What if something goes wrong, what if the new car breaks down, what if the people at the charity are sick? Etc., etc.

But today I woke up with that OCD-generated sense of NOW, it has to be donated TODAY. So, for good or bad, the place I was donating is super flexible, and it was totally fine to do it today.

So I get there, and of course, person number one who helps me has a cold. Person number two has a cold sore. So I was a little stressed. And reminding myself, this is the universe laughing at me for giving in to my OCD on this one. Oh, well, yet again, it's good for me. And it really was time to donate that car.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yahoo OCD Group

If you've never checked out this group, take a look. It's a yahoo group for folks with OCD. It's got thousands of members, although probably only 100 post with any regularity. While people do sometimes use it to seek reassurance, most people see through these attempts and encourage others to utilize ERP against their OCD.

Most useful, there are 3 or 4 therapists who regularly post. Recently a new therapist has joined and he posts really useful, supportive, informative posts. Anyway, I recommend the group. It's not going to solve your OCD, but it's another place to get support, encouragement and information. Some interesting OCD-related debates crop up, too.

You can change your account settings to get a daily digest, or just read messages on the website itself. That's what I do; otherwise you may get 25 individual emails a day, which can get overwhelming quite quickly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oh, Dear

The boyfriend wants to go on a trip. That's great for our relationship. It may cause some trouble for my sanity.

Success Stories

I've become a little obsessed with finding OCD success stories. I continue to be amazed at how few of them are out there. Dr. Steven Phillipson's website has long listed some, but this year, he added a couple more.

One of them in particular really moved me, because the writer went into a lot of detail about both the types of exposures she did, and the anxiety they caused her. And of course, I was really happy because the exposures worked really really well.

The other thing that was striking about her story is that she notes that she had to do exposures every day, and she spent a lot of time. I think sometimes I have this idea that thinking about OCD equals working on beating it. That's clearly not true.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tattoos

So, the boyfriend has two tattoos and has plans for another. You would be right in imagining that as someone with contamination OCD, tattoos freak me the heck out. Since his new tattoo will be a bird tracing he took off his dead mother's gravestone, I'm confident that I won't be talking him out of it.

It's a good time to remind myself that my fear of tattoos doesn't actually increase his chances of getting a deadly disease from getting one [deep breath].

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Frustrated

So I got a cold. I've had this idea for quite a while that if I just got a cold and realized that nothing terrible resulted, that would be really good for my OCD progress. Well, it turns out that it wasn't true.

I had a cold. Nothing happened, no one got it from me (that I know of). So you know what happened? I'm even more afraid of the next cold, because it will surely be worse, and bad things will happen.

I can't even tell you how sad and frustrated this makes me. I'm trying TRYING to tell myself that I need to run toward anxiety producing events, or I'll never ever ever get better, and I want that so much. But it's incredibly hard. So instead I'm just on the verge of tears all the time. And still trying to plan my life so that I get it "right."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Boy, that's a big gap

I've been visiting my blog every day, thinking, hmm, what should I write about today. And then I close it back up. I'm doing fine and terrible, all at the same time.

The boyfriend is just not a handwasher, and everytime I'm around him, I get a huge amount of exposures. That's going well, I do totally fine with those.

But I'm still experiencing a huge amount of anticipatory anxiety about all kinds of stuff. This week it's still bedbugs, but I'm sure soon that'll pass and it will be something else entirely. That will seem REALLY important, and really real.

In slightly interesting news, I have a cold. A real, honest to goodness cold. The first since (can you believe I know this?) November 28, 2007. I may have gotten it from my dad, but it's funny. For all the effort I put into avoiding them, I actually have no real idea where it came from.

Anyway, it's a mild cold here in day 2, and it's a little anticlimactic, as I suppose these things must always be.

I'll try to post more, I just feel I'm in my usual holding pattern.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Progress (Cake Involved Yet Again!)

I've mentioned before that my workplace has a monthly birthday celebration with cake. I've been eating it for a while, but I may not have mentioned that I often cut my own piece after everyone else is done, and I usually provide my own fork.

Today, I didn't do that. I watched the woman cutting the cake touch the face of each piece with the entire surface of her hand, and I ate it anyway. I used the plate and fork that were handed to me, despite knowing that 1) if they weren't run through a dishwasher, then they probably weren't cleaned well or 2) if they were run through our dishwasher, that the janitor unloads those dishwashers.

I'm feeling a little nervous about it all, but the cake was good! No one else seems to give it a second thought, and I'm trying to be "normal" after all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm Sure It's Just a Coincidence

Yesterday, L says to me, "I have this spot on my back where something bit me. It's driving me crazy!" Of course, I go straight to "I brought him bedbugs." This ignores the fact that he spent 6 hours outside on Saturday helping a friend do yard work. But I will admit it's brought me some stress.

On the "plus" side, I've hauled so much stuff from my aunt's apartment to my home, that if there were any bugs, it's too late to prevent them now. So I'll carry on.
Oooh, now I feel all itchy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Can Do This, Right?

I have one random line written down this week in my calendar. It says "to become the person I want to be." There's a lot of work for me between here and there. Most of it involving doing exposures without compulsions. My boss is going on a trip in about a week. This is usually where I'd do my best to avoid exposures to colds before then in order to avoid "ruining" her vacation. I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to do that this time.

My best friend from high school is coming into town on Wednesday for a few weeks. My instinct is to avoid her (and the new baby she's bringing with her), since people get sick on planes a lot. I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to do that this time.

And I have two family birthday parties this week. After scanning my brain for ways to get out of them, well, you know the drill.

So, let's see how it goes.

I'm still on high alert as far as bedbugs go, but I haven't done anything much as a result.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Doing Exposures

We got into the apartment today. Everywhere I looked, I felt like there were possible bedbug sources. It made for a not all that fun day. On the other hand, I didn't do any compulsions either. I came home, bringing home quite a few things from the apartment. I'm still wearing the same outfit I wore while I was there, and I plan to take my "contaminated" car to L's house tomorrow.

I'm not feeling great about any of these things, but I did them. At some point, you just have to go for it, so I guess I am.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Down in the Dumps

My aunt died on Sunday. I've done some grieving, and it feels okay. Unfortunately, my OCD has taken advantage of the situation, and I'm not doing very well at fighting back. At all.

My aunt left behind an apartment of belongings, of course. And we were planning to clean it this week. Until the landlord locked us out. For some reason, even having a death certificate and a will is not yet enough to get us access. This, unfortunately, has given me time to fret. And to accidentally read an article about bedbugs. First I was convinced she has bedbugs. Then that passed, and now I'm convinced that if we get a truck to move her furniture, mostly to my sister's house, that the truck will give her bedbugs.

And then of course I'm convinced I'll get them, and then I'll give them to the boyfriend, and he'll hate me forever, plus die young because he'll be exposed to pesticides in treating them. And God forbid my mom should ever get bedbugs. Her house is the most cluttered house I've seen this side of Hoarders. I can't even imagine. The fact that we're locked out, possibly for 30 days, means that I get to sit and worry. Since I'm totally ruminating and looking up information online, the fear is not subsiding.

I know I'll get through this, but right now it all feels really really awful.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rumination

I realized this week that my rumination is REALLY bad. I'm doing a bazillion exposures every week. Some by design, some because I haven't told the boyfriend about my OCD and he's not much of a hand washer.

But I'm worrying worrying worrying a LOT. It seems like there's always something coming up that's really scary and i "have to" fixate on it. So I do. To the point that realized I've set aside a lot of my fun free time activities. I rarely knit outside of the lunch group, I rarely read, I don't even watch my TV.

Some of that is extra time cleaning, with my aunt, or with L, but some of it has transferred to worry time. So my goal for this week is to spend at least an hour every evening either knitting, reading, or just watching a tv show. Will report back.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stressful Week

Doing okay. My aunt is not. She is now in the hospice system, is in a respite care situation for the weekend, and will hopefully move to another care facility on Monday. My mom had been staying with her at night, but last night, my aunt was unable to get back to bed from the bathroom, even with my mom's help. It ultimately took several firemen to do so, and my mom realized we can't do it ourselves any longer.

I've been able to step up more than I've expected, although my role has still been minimal. I'm not sure what the next week, or even the next few days will bring. It's not surprising that I'm pretty terrible with uncertainty, but there's nothing to be done but wait, and so I will.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moving On

As expected, as soon as I got something new to worry about, I moved on from the last paranoid event. Now just back to standard contamination stuff. Fun! At least I feel like I can better utilize ERP on the standard stuff. We're moving back into the rainy season. Wet contaminated stuff!

Today I babysat my sister's kids. Oh, my! They have a new kitten. I watched the kitten drink out of their water glasses and troop across every surface available (she doesn't have access to the kitchen yet, but I'm sure the kitchen counters are coming soon enough), and my niece demonstrated how the kitty drinks water by licking her wet hand repeatedly, a hand that was actually black from some unknown dirt at the time.

I've stated before that I'm pretty sure my sister's kids wash their hands a literal zero times a day. Given that, I thought I did pretty well tonight. And I remind myself that the kids are pretty healthy, so all those germs aren't doing much harm at all.

OCD and Paranoia

The worst manifestation of my OCD is that I get really paranoid about people harming me. About once a week, I do something or have some encounter where I end up fearing that someone is going to track me down and do me harm, often including that someone will be so mad that they will kill me. So far, it hasn't happened. :) As always with OCD, once some time passes, I can look back and think, "that was ridiculous." But at the time, it feels real, and not just possible but likely.

This is one of the places that I really think medication could reset my brain.

I recently completed a phone survey for a service provider, one in which I was not anonymous. I was a little bit negative (although not a lot). As soon as I hung up the phone, I thought, oh no! he's going to lose his job, and then he will track me down and kill me. Even as I can see that it's silly, I'm also running everything I said over in my head and trying to decide how negative it was. As always, ugh.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Step Forward, a Little Bit Back

For more than a year, I've been meaning to get my furnace serviced. It had been five years since the last service. While I don't think it really needs to be done each year, 5 years is a long time. But I HATE having people in my home, plus my basement was grim. Last night, I did a basic clean of the basement. It's still a cluttered mess, but not humiliatingly so.

And today I called and made an appointment for the furnace service. Great news, but what's the "little bit back"? Well, I called to get an appointment for today, because it's sunny, and I wanted it DONE. The better "fighting OCD" approach would have been to wait until a rainy week, or to call and get an appointment a week out, so I'd have to worry about it.

But given how long I'd put this off, I'm pleased I did it. I also let the guy clomp through my whole house, instead of directing him to the side door as I often do. I'm feeling a bit icked out, but I know it will pass.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back Down to Earth

Well, that's not quite true. I'm continuing to make some really good progress, peeing my way through the public restrooms of Oregon.

But for mostly good, and partly bad, L really seems to like to spend time at my house. It's killing me! I'll think, whew, done for another week, and he'll be like, how about I head up to your house after work on Wednesday? Which is great in theory, but then my anxiety kicks in. Today is Wednesday, of course.

On the plus side, every time he comes over, I try to pick one big wreck in the house to clean. Someday, he'll actually be able to see all of the house.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Kind of Amazing Weekend

Yesterday L and I went to the beach. It was great! I managed two public bathrooms, with a bit of anxiety, but nothing too strong. I didn't take my shoes off on the beach, which may have been a little odd, but I think it was an okay choice. Mostly, I just didn't spend too much of the day worrying, which was so nice. The weather was gorgeous, despite a forecast that called for clouds.

I packed all the lunch food, with really almost no stress. That was great! Then after we stopped to buy drinks at a gas station right before lunch, I didn't bother to wash my hands before eating. That was tougher, but not so bad.

Then, today, oh my goodness! I went to visit my aunt in the hospital. I had planned to take the bus, in order to keep the hospital germs out of my car, but I decided to heck with that! I drove, I used the bathroom at the hospital, I drove home, and I didn't even change my clothes when I got home. I feel some anxiety, but as always, it's faded fairly quickly.

Thursday I was an OCD wreck, but let's just celebrate success today, shall we? That'll be a story for another day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trying to Work On Exposures

I think I've been giving myself a pass, what with the scary relationship stuff. But I'm realizing I need to make choices to continue exposures throughout my life. Today I called to get the second half of my toenail prescription. I wanted to have them call it in to the local grocery store pharmacy, which seems less scary to me, but instead I requested the scary clinic pharmacy. I'm already regretting it, but that's the way it works.

This weekend we're going to the beach for a day. There will definitely be at least one public bathroom stop there. And I'm in charge of lunch, and I plan to pack lots of raw finger food type stuff- the scariest food of all.

I've seen myself fall back again on the "just stay healthy until" X date, and then it's okay to get sick excuse again. My brother in law left on an important trip today, and as always, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't ruin it. That's the wrong approach for sure!

I finally watched another episode of Obsessed. Will report back soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

When to Disclose

So, I've been dating L for a month. My OCD has not caused many problems, although it generally doesn't at this point. I do think it's at least in part due to my work over the last year, however. I've done well with restaurants, bathrooms, grocery stores, cooking together. So that's great. But it must be mentioned at some point. Usually it comes up for the first time when I'm freaking out about something, and that's never ideal. I guess time will tell.

I spent time at his house yesterday, and even took my shoes off, so that was a good step, although I was hyper aware of my feet the whole day. That's not really ideal, either.

The really bad thing that I've done in the last few days, though, is to go to a "if I weren't dating him, I wouldn't have to worry about any of this" place. That's a place I DO NOT want to go. I've been there for the last 4 years, and it's not very fun.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Patience

When I get caught up in OCD, I must get my answer NOW. Every time I remind myself that I should wait, sit with the anxiety. And then I decide, I'll do that NEXT time. This time I'm just too stressed to be patient!!

So today, I'm trying to convince myself to let today be the day I try patience. I need to get some bloodwork done, and I'm freaking out about going into the lab. Maybe there will be a blood emergency while I'm there! Plus, potentially sick people, of course.

But what this means is that I just want it over with. I must go in today. I cannot wait! I cannot concentrate. So, will today be the day I decide to wait until next week, and sit with that anxiety? We'll see.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Day

Tomorrow the boyfriend is coming over to my house for dessert. This leaves me with a choice- we take our shoes off, like I generally do in my home, increasing my chances of giving him a foot fungus. Or we wear shoes, and I deal with shoe germs all over my home. It's a win-win really- I get a big exposure either way, but I'm not thrilled. I've been wanting to move the date offsite, but I know that's REALLY giving in to the OCD. Fun times.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Importance of Repetition

I've been reminded in the last few weeks how important repetition is in exposure and response prevention. I've been out to restaurants a ton in the last few weeks. The first few times, eating food with my hands made me really uncomfortable. While I still don't love it, it's getting easier, and I certainly no longer think about it before I go out, as I have in the past.

Similarly, for years I've been avoiding public restrooms, but also wondering why when I did use them, it didn't seem to get any easier. Once every six months just wasn't cutting it. Now I'm up to a once a week schedule. And while I'm not exactly comfortable with them yet, it is already getting easier.

I still think it sucks that people with OCD have to do things that terrify us over and over again in order to get better, but mostly, I think it beats the alternative.

Yesterday Was a Good Day

Over the years, I've gotten really good at timing my liquid intake to balance avoiding dehydration with avoiding public bathrooms. It doesn't always work, though. Yesterday I was out at a restaurant, and there was no avoiding it: I had to pee. So for the first time in a really long time, I used a restaurant bathroom. I survived! And boy, the rest of the evening was SO much more pleasant than it would have been otherwise.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Canning Peaches

I do not recommend home canning with my mom. Her approach to food safety is, let's just say, casual. But I LOVE canned peaches. So we canned. I made her do everything on the up and up, but then at the end, she added a few extra jars. I'll just say I hope everyone survives.

Speaking of hoping I survive, today I agreed that the new boyfriend (from here on out to be referred to as "L"), can pick me up at my house. Needless to say, I am anxious, but I have to let him in my home eventually. It's been a good incentive for some serious cleaning, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More on the BBQ

Part of my worry about the BBQ was that I would bring food that would make others sick. After arriving, it was clear to me how laughable that was. There was raw meat, food sitting out for hours (which was then sent home with people as leftovers), the hamburgers were not only red inside, someone said their burger was actually cold in the middle. If anyone was getting sick, it wasn't going to be from anything I did, that was clear. I often forget that people just aren't that careful, and that most of the time, it all ends well.

Having said that, someone who attended just posted on our forum that the cook last night gave her salmonella. I have no idea if she's really sick, or just making a joke. But I'm feeling pretty okay no matter what the real situation is.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not What I Expected

Today I went to a BBQ. I was quite worried about it until about yesterday. Raw meat, potluck food, some other OCD-related issues. In the end, I wasn't stressed much at all, but it was so BORING. I did not see that coming. It was a group of people who originally met online, and I'd met about half of them before. Those people I really like. But the other people were kind of awful. And loud. And boring. Worst part, the guy I've just started dating and I haven't told this group (who know us both) that we're dating. So we barely talked.

Well, it's a step in the right direction OCD-wise anyway. And a reminder that not everything works out as planned, and that's okay.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bits and Pieces for Saturday

For years I've been trying to turn over a new leaf, neatness wise. I'm a combination of naturally cluttered, a little lazy, and a little OCD-scared of touching dirty things. My sister recently moved, and she got rid of a TON of stuff. I'm trying to do the same. I have something like 36 drinking glasses and mugs, and I live by myself. I also have about 25 books on gardening, but I've been gardening long enough that I rarely consult them anymore. And when I do need information, I head to the internet instead.

So we'll see how that goes. I think if I can get myself on a regular cleaning schedule, things won't get so grungy, and they won't be so scary, and it will be easier to stay on that cleaning cycle.

In more directly OCD news, I finally broke down and ordered a refill of my migraine medication for mail delivery. Of course, then I forgot about it, didn't check mail for a couple of days, and it was in the mailbox that reached 110 degrees yesterday. Which was the main reason I didn't want to do mail order. So I guess this is situation where something I feared DID happen, but the consequences seem mild. Worst thing that happens is that the meds don't work, I throw them out and I get more. I called the pharmacy and they said it should be fine. I freaked a bit yesterday, but today it all seems fine.

My general worry about this weekend and next week's social stuff has mellowed a bit as time has passed, so that's good. I'm sure it will pop back up a few times, but these are things I'm actually really looking forward to, so I won't be canceling.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thoughts

Lots and lots of rumination in my brain this week. Most of it revolving around the uptick in social activity in my life. It increases the idea in my head that things will go wrong or that I will get sick, to bad consequences. The vast majority of the worries are around really mundane things, like watching a video, or going to a barbecue. I am reminding myself that this provides lots and lots of chances to just sit with my anxiety. That fact that it so easily moves from one event to the next, helps me to realize that there's not real danger, it's just my OCD working its moves. Whew, easier to type that than to do it

Saturday, August 7, 2010

UGH

It's been a craptastic 24 hours. Since I was about 10, I've had athlete's foot on and off. I didn't realize what it was (it rarely itched) until I was 25 and it spread to my toenails. As far as I know, I've never given it to anyone close to me. And yet I worry, oh how I worry. To the point that two promising relationships bit the dust over the last 5 years because I spent so much time angsting about my damn toenail (only one remains infected).

In a flash of (OCD inspired) brilliance, I decided on Friday that I MUST bite the bullet and take the oral medication that mostly gets rid of toenail fungus. Like, right that instant. Like, I couldn't wait to work within my medical system, I must visit urgent care. Where I encountered numerous people with coughs and fevers, and my very very favorite, the teenager whose mom walked behind her with a large kitchen pot, should she need to vomit.

The first urgent care facility (where I paid cash) gave me a prescription, but I got home and realized it wasn't the most recommended treatment. So I went to another (at least covered by my insurance). No dice, they directed me back to my primary care provider. So at this point, I've spent $200 and 6 hours and have accomplished only a light coating of germs.

Cut to today, where call the first provider back and insist that they change the prescription. At first they refuse, but I whine so profusely, they give in. The prescription is a generic and costs only $6! I skipped the whole part where I dragged my poor dad (a retired physician with my health plan) into the mix. Oh, and my run in with online medical consults. At one point, my dad said, "can you stop and consider for a moment that this isn't an emergency, and that you really can wait until Monday?" I said, "NO!" I feel rotten just thinking about that. I knew it wasn't true, but it felt SO IMPORTANT at that moment to get it resolved.

So, yeah, maybe not as far along as I sometimes feel.

On the plus side, as I always do, when I get disgusted at myself for doing these things, I up the exposure ante. In the last 24 hours, I used the restroom at a medical facility, as well as a grocery store frequented by homeless people. In neither case did I use a paper towel to open the door. At the store, I proceeded to buy groceries, and ate some snacks while sitting in the car. I really really want to beat the fear of the public restroom, since it's so limiting to social activities.

So there you have it. After a mere $260 and 10 hours, I have 45 pills that just may destroy my liver. Perfect.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Treading Water

I've made good progress over the last six months. I feel like a probably need to step it up a notch to take it to the next level. I still shy away from public restrooms, although I can certainly use them if I have to. And I still let myself imagine the worst and try to wiggle my way out of scary situations more often than I should. So there are some goals for August.

Today I ended up in line next to a woman at the store who was hacking, and all she was buying was Zinc lozenges. I freaked a bit, but I went on with my errands, and I'm feeling good. I ruminated about the negative consequences of getting a cold for a few minutes, but it's passed. I also took my car into the shop (3rd time in a month). I HATE doing that, so there's another good exposure. Discovered that the oil change, the only thing I thought Jiffy Lube did right, wasn't done right. I don't think I'll be stopping in there again.

I'm way behind in watching Obsessed, by two or three episodes. I hope to catch up soon and I'll post about those. The ones I've seen this season have been good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dating with OCD Part 2

Okay, I've been on one date, and I'm already going to that OCD place. It's very difficult for me to have someone in my space. And there's cooking and eating, and kissing (well, that's not really a problem). But don't even get me started on sex (which is not happening any time soon, but still). My goal is very very much to do all of this in a reasonably "normal" fashion. Time will tell. There's also the "when to disclose" issue. I always find myself hoping to wait until a guy is madly in love with me first. So far that hasn't happened. :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Nothing specific to report on. Continuing to do great with exposures at work. Went bowling again, and I'm not quite as good at touching stuff (like say, my hair), when I'm out touching things and people while bowling. Still not sure what's up with the boy. It's late and I'll try to compose something more thought out tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Working With Some Harder Exposures

This week I've done a couple of exposures where I feel like my actions could harm others, not just me. Those are always harder.

Today I brought some extra rhubarb from my garden in to work. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, but it's been years. As soon as I set it down on the counter in the kitchen at work, my anxiety ramped up. What if it has germs on it, and whoever takes it gets sick? Etc., etc.

My anxiety is still high, and I'm resisting going back and dumping it into the compost bin we have right next to that counter. But I know this is just the OCD talking to me, and if I do it, the OCD gets stronger, and I get scared-er (I think that's not a word!)

Ooh, this is hard.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Actually, I don't think this day had ugly, but . . .

Warning, some whining ahead. But there's some good exposure at the end, so you can skip ahead if you want to avoid the whining.

I had two scary social events today (numbers 19 and 20. Still behind, but catching up). The first one was a trip to the annual beer festival downtown. I don't like beer, so it was a little silly to go. But at the bowling event a few weeks ago, I thought I'd felt a "vibe" from one of the guys there, and I wanted to check it out. Plus there were some other new people I wanted to meet.

Anyway, "vibe guy" was quite late, so I was already kinda crabby. Then, I swear it was like a middle school dance. He literally didn't look at me or make eye contact for a good 15 minutes. And we were in a small group, about 8 of us in a small circle, so it was weird and (to me) awkward. And if I say so myself, I looked good! I wore makeup! And earrings! I haven't worn earrings in literally a year. I wore uncomfortable shoes! (More on that later)

So, we were also there to hear another friend's band play, but we were in the wrong place and we missed most of it. At that point, I decided the day was doomed, and I left. To find, of course, that I missed the bus by 2 minutes. Waited 20 minutes for the next bus, got off at the library, assumed I'd catch the next one, but it didn't come, walked a mile up the hill, only to miss my connection for the final bus by about a minute. I could see it drive away. So, walked another mile home. In my by now extremely uncomfortable shoes. It was 92 degrees. Grumble grumble. So all of that was the bad. And I still have no idea if "vibe guy" and I have any vibes, although I may not care anymore.

But oh, the exposures today!!! As you can see above, I chose to take the bus to the festival. On the bus was a homeless guy (and his adorable but scruffy kitten). The bus driver was giving him terrible advice about which bus to transfer to. I HATE giving people directions, as I always get all OCD about it and I want to follow them and make sure they get there. But I sucked it up, and I walked back and talked to him. While I was doing so, the bus turned and his backpack started to fall, I reached out and grabbed it. The homeless guy's dirty backpack! Then I touched about 3 poles on the bus getting back to my seat. Went to the festival and shook a whole bunch of hands. Walked by some vomit. Took the bus back home.

Went to an animal sanctuary. Petted a goat. Picked some blueberries. Ate a piece of watermelon. Talked with a sniffly woman. Didn't sanitize anything, went grocery shopping. No plans to shower tonight.

Whew! What a day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bad News, Good-ish News

As I mentioned, they didn't pick up the yard waste. The good exposure-seeking me wanted to just wait out the two weeks until the next pick up, but the not-so-good-at-that me didn't. Plus, at the rate I'm picking weeds, I would have had 15 bags of extra yard waste by then. So I did my best to turn what I did do into an exposure. I took a few hours off today, went on a weeding frenzy, and filled up my car with yard debris bags. Then I went to the transfer station, which I consider a really scary place. There's a whole lot of garbage there!!! And attendants who may be sick.

So I went, I dumped my debris among all the other scary stuff (in the part of the giant warehouse where you drop off glass for recycling, apparently you just kind of throw glass toward the floor, where it shatters, very very loudly. This place was very close to where I was standing). I paid the attendant and got paperwork from her without purell-ing. Then I stopped and picked up a snack at the store, which I ate without washing my hands.

I will admit that while it was a decent exposure, it was not nearly as good as letting the yard debris pile up for two weeks would have been. But I'm not going to get down on myself. There are enough days of that already.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nevermind

Okay, forget the nice things I said about the garbage people last week. Because today my yard waste (and everyone else's) sits forlornly at the curb. Since yard waste is what I create the most of, I hope I don't have to wait another two weeks for the pickup.

Edit: I called the garbage company. She said the guy would come before the construction started on Thursday. The nice lady at the garbage company called me back today (Thursday) to say he couldn't get down the street. I think he is not such a very good truck driver. Oh, well, they'll be back in two weeks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Goodwill Outlet Store

Today a coworker was talking about reading the Yelp reviews of the Goodwill outlet store and how it sounded disgusting. For those of you who don't have your own outlet, it's known locally as "The Bins," and it's where the items at Goodwill go to die. Basically everything that didn't sell at the stores is dumped into giant rolling bins, and you sort through looking for missed treasures. They charge by the pound for most things. A sweater might be $1 or so, a shirt 50 cents. But they have everything: housewares, furniture, old records, books. A few weeks ago I found a Columbia Sportswear jacket in great shape (after a wash), for about $1.50. Of course stories abound of the $500 whatsit scooped up for a quarter.

The downside, of course, is that you might also find broken glass, underwear, really really dirty stuff, and people claim they've found rats and dirty diapers, although I don't know if I believe it. And, oh, the humanity! Lots and lot of people of all cultures and socio-economic status, from people who will resell items on ebay, to people who really need that 25 cent shirt.

Anyway, people in the reviews were saying, among positive comments, that they would NEVER shop there, or that you shouldn't do it without gloves and hand sanitizer. I will admit that I rummage VERY carefully, but last time I went, I didn't wash any body parts after my visit, just climbed into the car with my treasures and drove home. Actually, I think I even stopped at the grocery store. (But I still have to push myself to pick up a pen if I drop it on the floor at work. OCD is a funny thing.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Baseball

Did okay with today's big exposure- a fundraiser at a minor league baseball game. I was surrounded by sneezers- in the row in front of me, behind me, and finally my dad right next to me. I took a piece of candy from my mom and ate it, and shook hands with a few people without sanitizing anything. Nothing thrilling, but continuing on in the right direction. I also survived day one of parking my car down the street from my house. This is the view from my front yard today:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Feeling Stressed

I made it through a weekend of exposures with little problem, only to come home and find myself feeling really anxious. It's partly because my car is parked down the street where I can't see it, it's partly because of an exposure I have coming tomorrow, it's partly PMS, it's partly because I felt socially awkward all day long today. I'm trying to remind myself that it's awesome practice for sitting with anxiety, which I'm not so good at. But it still sucks.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Slogging on Through

Back to working on the "if it seems scary, I guess I should do it" approach to OCD. Today that meant riding my bike to the Farmer's Market, stopping at a yard sale on the way back, and picking up some bamboo poles that my neighbor had pruned and left in the alley behind our houses (just as I can motivate when cake is involved, that bamboo was just gorgeous and will make a great bean trellis).

While I was at the Farmer's Market, I ran into my touchy feely boss from my last job; of course he gave me a hug. When I came back from the market, I rubbed my hands on my pillow and computer keyboard again.

Tomorrow it's going to mean going to my niece's dance recital; bringing a bag of "contaminated" yard waste over to my parents' house, since my bin is full to overflowing and theirs is empty; and shopping for gifts for two friends who recently had babies. Next week I have four social events scheduled, on top of my anxiety about the construction in front of my house.

One other random thing I'm doing well at is dropping food and picking it up and eating it. Usually just off my lap or the kitchen counter, but yesterday I dropped a piece of a carrot on the pretty grimy kitchen floor. I picked it up and before I could think better of it, I ate it.

As my title says, I'm slogging on through, and things are getting better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Not to Do

Today I learned that OCD and Jiffy Lube are not compatible! My oil has needed changing for a good long time, and last night I noticed my coolant was a little low as well. Jiffy Lube seemed faster than waiting for my mechanic. Hmm, well. I know they make their money by selling additional services, and I plan to take my car in soon anyway, so I was fine with saying no to everything. Except, well, they said the battery failed their testing. So I called my mechanic and confirmed that it had been six years since I replaced it. Then I started having OCD fears of getting stranded somewhere. Oh, noes!

So I went down the street after work to the nice tire shop from last week and asked for a new battery. Hmm, nice tire shop says the battery looks fine, passes their tests, and oh, by the way, did Jiffy Lube tell me I needed one? Happens all the time, they say.

Then I get home, and some kind of liquid is dripping from under the hood. Nice! I open the hood, and it's the overfilled washer fluid reservoir (which by the way, looks like it's just filled with water, and oh, did you know that can cause Legionnaire's disease?).

Plus, it doesn't actually look like they added any coolant, the main reason I went down there in the first place. Dang it! They do appear to have changed the oil, and I had a really good coupon, so at least they made no profit on me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Like They Do This For a Living or Something

Go figure. Garbage pickup starts at 6 am. Street construction starts a little after 7 am. So at 6:00 they picked up our recycling, and at 7:00 they picked up our garbage. Done. It's like they know what they're doing or something!

Man, this project is pretty major, though. If I get organized, I'll go take a picture this evening and post it.

Well, that's not very clear. I was trying to point out the understatement of that "abrupt edge" sign, since it's really a two foot drop off. Maybe this one:
Next step, no rumination about whether I'll be able to get my car out when I need it. I think a normal person would just move the car in the morning, and move it back at night (and in fact, that's what most neighbors are doing), so that is what I'm going to do. And I'm going to try not to think about it any other time.

Bonus: I get some exposures around parking my car down the street, and driving it through the construction dirt.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Garbage Cans and Me

It's astonishing how much OCD activity my garbage cans cause. Partly it's the obvious stuff: it's garbage after all! But I get extra layers, too. Will the garbage guy have a cold and leave germs on the can? On a blustery day, will the cans roll down the street so that they get really dirty, or other people touch them?

Will i forget to put the can out, and then have to worry about having too much the next week? During these three weeks of construction, will the garbage truck be able to go down our street? If not, will my house smell like a cesspool of used cat litter? (I've gone so far as to plan how to take a little each day to garbage cans at the park, this before the construction even started!) Will the cans get contaminated by construction yuck?

Yes, I know! It's nuts! Just when I feel like I'm really getting somewhere, I'll spend a whole day (week?!) fretting about my garbage cans! It's long been a goal to 1) just put out the cans every week like a "normal" person and 2) spend no time contemplating the inner workings of garbage pickups.

I'm getting better, but as always. . . still some distance to go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Obsessed, Episode 2

I liked episode 2 much better than last week's, probably because I found Chad much more relatable than the people from last week. I know that OCD comes in lots and lots of flavors, but it seems like Obsessed often features people with symptoms that butt up against other mental disorders. It's probably not unusual in the real world, but it muddies the treatment. Just my opinion, of course.

Anyway, Chad's OCD was pretty straightforward: he felt he had to do rituals of various kinds to keep bad things from happening. I have always felt that no one with OCD was unique. No matter how weird your fear, someone else among the millions is going to have it, too. HOWEVER, Chad had an extreme fear of El Caminos. It is possible that he is actually unique here! By the end of the episode, he drove an El Camino over to his "contaminated" brother's house. Awesome!

I loved how supportive Chad's family was. They clearly didn't "get" his OCD at all, but they still loved him and were kind to him and so happy to see his progress.

Nicole, who was afraid that harm would come to her daughter if she let her out of her sight, also made good progress, although hers felt a little more tenuous.

This week I was only able to catch about half of The OCD Project, as the video on vh1.com is messed up. It's great to see Arine continue to make so much progress. I hope I can see next week's, which apparently does a brief followup with everyone.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bowling Was Awesome

There was high fiving. And people with sniffles. And rented shoes. And a bathroom that was out of paper towels. And it was still awesome!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Hot

It was 97 here today and my brain is tired. But I got new tires on my car. Both the person who checked me in and the person who checked me out were sniffling and coughing, so I wasn't thrilled, but I did okay with it. I didn't realize how worn the tread on my tires was until I looked at the new ones.

Another social activity exposure tomorrow, bowling. It's somehow been almost a year since my last bowling adventure, which I enjoyed, so hopefully tomorrow will go well, too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oh, Good, Another Exposure

My car got a flat today. I thought I had one, but I when I looked at it, the tire looked fine, so I kept on driving. For 10 miles! Then I got home and saw the flat. I figured I'd already gone 10 miles on it, so I turned around and drove another 3 to the tire shop so they can fix it tomorrow. Probably stupid, but it was 95 degrees out, and I wasn't going to put on the spare if I could help it.

The irony is that on my calendar it says "take car in" on tomorrow's page, although it wasn't related to the tire. But then I didn't want to face the exposure of someone else in my car, so I didn't make the appointment. Hahaha, that'll teach me.

In mostly non-OCD news, the mosquitoes are SO BAD this year. After the rainiest June in recorded history, the weather heated right up, and a perfect breeding ground was created. I think my neighbor may have a decorative pond in her back yard, too. I counted 31 bites on myself today! They're super itchy. Every time I water the plants outside, I'm swarmed! I have minor West Nile virus fears, but I'm young and healthy, so I'm probably good.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh, Oh, Oh

My street used to have a streetcar line. Now it has a bus line, but the street car tracks are still below the surface. Because it's a residential street, it's apparently not built to withstand all those buses, and the street is totally washboarded, and in some places, the tracks are poking up out of the street. There are potholes so big you could fall in (well, I may exaggerate, but it's bad). People on the street have been agitating for a repave for quite a while, and it's been clear from the recent spray paint "locate" markings in the road that the agitators won. BUT, now it turns out that not only are they repaving, they are taking the streetcar tracks out, too. It's awesome for the street in the long run, but it will take three weeks. Ugh. I mean, woohoo, three weeks of exposures!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Did I Really Just Do That?

I've been doing awesome at basic contamination exposures at home and work in the last couple of months.

Now I'm moving on to the scariest piece for me: exposing myself to people who have a cold or stomach flu. I've been struggling with this one for several years now. It makes it difficult to have a social life, because people with colds are everywhere!

Today I went to the grocery store. In the middle of checking me out, my clerk got a tissue and blew her nose. I did freak at first, and I threw my receipt away before leaving the store. But then when I got home, my keys weren't in the pocket I thought, so I had to touch four different pockets with my "contaminated" hand before I found them.

Then I figured to heck with it. I touched my hair and my face, my pillow, computer keyboard, refrigerator handle, and sock and underwear drawer with those contaminated hands. I have NEVER been able to do this before, and my hands were shaking during some of it.

I feel great, kinda, but my anxiety, while lower, is still heightened. I can't undo it now, though, so I'll just have to wait it out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kristen Has a Blog

Kristen from the OCD Project has a blog (see link that will get you there in the comments). I just tore through the whole thing. It's very interesting, and has me thinking about the the show. She said several times in "bonus" clips on the vh1 website that she was concerned about what would happen when she was on her own again, and also that she didn't feel like the short time frame allowed her to repeat the exposures often enough to truly habituate to the fear. Since then, I've been noticing that they don't do very many exposures more than once. And in my experience, in most cases, repetition is key. That seems like a flaw in having the exposures go only over 3 weeks.

In the end, Kristen ended up attending an additional inpatient treatment program, for a longer period of time, where she could repeat exposures.

OCD treatment is complicated. I continue to be a little amazed that I'm making just as much progress without a therapist as I did with one. For me, it's been all about really wanting it. I've long known what I needed to do, but only now am I feeling the motivation to do it.

I'm writing at 4 am, brain is a little mushy, will check back tomorrow to see if any of this makes any sense.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Putting it in Writing

There's a sewer repair project on the street in front of my house. Of course sewers = yuck. I've been avoiding walking by it, especially since it rained yesterday and the ground is still wet. But I know the best thing I can do is go out there and walk by it. So I'm putting my goal in writing to increase the chance that I'll go out there. Will report back later.

Edited to add: I did it! The first time I went, it was dry outside. Then about an hour later, it started raining again, so I went back! Another one of those exposures that once I did it, I thought, "what was the big deal?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Obsessed, Season 2

Season two of A&E's Obsessed debuted on Monday. I watched yesterday and didn't find it compelling. It's definitely due to the comparison to The OCD Project, but I'm not certain quite what the difference is. Part of the problem is the 2 people, 1 hour format. You don't get much a feel for the people and their personalities at all, which is part of the draw of The OCD Project. I really care about what happens to those people.

But it's more than that. Something is different in the way they present the exposures, so that despite the person claiming to be anxious, you can't really tell. So perhaps despite the claim that The OCD Project features exposures that are way over the top, maybe that's how you can really tell how scary it is.

Another problem was that the woman (whose name I can't remember), had OCD that seemed to be an eating disorder. She took a very OCD-type approach, but at heart, she ate very little and exercised too much in order to keep her weight down. I couldn't relate the way I can to most people with OCD, and I found it odd that they never once uttered the word eating disorder.

Graham had contamination OCD, and I found him more interesting, but I wish we'd seen more or him. I liked the exposure in the water, as they spent enough time that we got to see it unfold.

Despite my gripes, the "follow up screens" indicated that both had made really good progress, so that's great news.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pretty Good Weekend

A good OCD weekend. I did a bunch of shopping, including some thrift stores, without washing my hands, and my mom visited twice! Now if only the carpenter ants hadn't decided to hang out in my house. :(

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thanks, TV Writers

Lately I've been plowing my way through DVDs of past seasons of the show Criminal Minds. For those who don't know, Criminal Minds is primarily about an FBI team that profiles and catches serial killers. It's completely unrealistic (the profilers are also the interrogators and investigators- at least they don't also do the lab work!- and they nearly always swoop in at the last second to save the latest victim), but okay, it's a TV show. I also realize that being a serial killer requires that something in your brain is not quite right. Even so, I'm annoyed. There have been several shows where our killer has OCD. I could almost even deal with that. Out of 100 episodes about people who kill, why couldn't a few have OCD? Well, in a group of people known for their sense of responsibility, serial killer doesn't seem too likely. Plus, they actually had a character say about our OCD killer, "OMG, he totally can't stop himself," as though his OCD compulsion was killing. No, actually his OCD compulsion seemed to be cutting the crusts off his sandwich just so.

Anyway, I'm sure this isn't really worth being annoyed over. It's a guilty pleasure show full of holes, this is just another one.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Updates

I'd been sitting with the anxiety about lunch with my aunt, and while it hadn't disappeared, it had gone down quite a lot. Today she called me at work to cancel. She'd had a fight with my dad and it stressed her out so much she didn't want to meet. Her calling me at work was a clear OCD-based action on her part. She couldn't wait the few hours it would take till I got home to get it off her chest. I'm torn. On the one hand, yay, I get my morning back. On the other hand, it actually made my anxiety zoom back up a little, with the uncertainty involved- would she change her mind again before tomorrow, now we have to reschedule, etc. I went for a brief walk, and now I'm feeling okay-ish again.

Interactions like this with her always remind me why I'm willing to sit with tough exposures: I don't want to live a life like hers, so stressful, so empty.

But a great thing happened today, too. I went to the knitting at lunch group! The people were so welcoming and nice. Oftentimes at the end of a social event, I think ugh, that sucked, or even worse, ugh, I suck. Today I left feeling like I couldn't wait to go back. Yay for scary social event #15!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the Yucky Middle

I'm in a place where I'm succeeding at more and more exposures. So now I'm moving up to harder ones. For more than a year, when interacting with my aunt, I've nearly always "demanded" something that eases my fears, be it changing the time or date or location of our time together, or when things have been really bad, canceling altogether. My aunt has long been an OCD trigger for me (it's not uncommon for a person to seem "contaminated" for no logical reason- my aunt is that person for me). Now I have the added fear that I will harm HER. And then the extra fear layered on top that if I harm her, the ripple effect will mess up my whole family.

SO, that's awesome. Anyway, starting two weeks ago with the trip to the grocery store, I've been working HARD at letting my interactions with my aunt evolve naturally. It has been difficult. This weekend, it feels like all the options are terrifying- if I drive, if she drives, if we carpool, if we go separately- disaster waiting at every turn. But as yet, I haven't done anything but let my aunt decide time, place, transportation. It feels good, it feels terrible. The compulsions may go away, but the thoughts don't, and I think that's the trickiest part about sticking with ERP.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Okay, This Is Getting a Little Weird

This afternoon I went for a run. On my way back home, what do I see? A whole raw chicken (in a bag), in the grass by the sidewalk. How often should one expect to run into packages of raw chicken while running? This was a completely different street than last time. Apparently, chicken is my destiny.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scary Social Events Update

My goal for the year was to average one "scary social event" each week, that is a social event that didn't involve my family. I was doing quite well until early April, reaching event number 12 during week number 14 of the year. The start of my two month break coincided almost exactly with my aunt's latest hospital admission. I've been working to ramp up again. Last week was my book club. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to start a 3 or 4 week knitting class. I really don't want to go, but I know that it's mostly OCD-based. What if the teacher touches my knitting? What if my classmates are sick? Plus generic social anxiety. I feel the same way about EVERY new social activity. I'm pretty sure that if I get back on a once a week (or more) schedule, these won't feel as hard. Here's hoping.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The OCD Project, Episode 4

I didn't like this episode quite as much as the others, but mostly because of the production, or maybe I should say editing. They spent what felt like half the time showing them doing their toilet/food exposures. While those were perfectly fine exposures (if probably more extreme than they needed to be), they sure didn't need to be so prevalent. Did we even see Cody do anything this episode? (Edited to note that this week's episode on vh1.com wasn't complete, so I guess I missed a few people). Despite the fact that I have contamination OCD, I'll be disappointed if they give all their attention to that type of OCD at the expense of the others. The preview from next week looks more focused on the people with the fears of death and harm. I'd be much happier in a haunted house than a dumpster, that's for sure.

A couple of striking moments from this week: when Arine's mom is eating that toilet water scone and says to Arine, "I would do anything to help you," I was so moved. When Kristen's in the men's bathroom later and she says, "I'm not doing ANYTHING in this bathroom," that so would have been me! And I really really hope that Kristen has a breakthrough before the end of this show. While I understand where in her head those weird tantrums/sobbing fits are coming from, I really do, I'm also embarrassed for her. Think of going back to your life knowing that everyone you know has seen you do that! Now, if at the end of the day, I'd overcome my OCD, it'd totally be worth it. But if not, not so much. Please have gotten better, Kristen!

Last week I discovered that Dr. Tolin's got a weekly blog on vh1.com. He answers a lot of questions. In the blog written for episode 3, he clearly addresses the issue of learning to live with uncertainty. He also brought it up briefly during the show this week. I was glad to see that. He obviously knows his stuff, but it's hard to get everything into 42 minutes a week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Exposures Plus Minor Meltdown

I touched a garbage can at work, stored my lunch in the "contaminated" refrigerator, and ate a piece of candy handed to me by a coworker. All good stuff. Then I stopped at the grocery store on my way home. The clerk had a weird rash on her arms. She's handled my groceries in the past without it stressing me out, but today I was buying a gift for my dad for Father's Day, so the Responsibility/Harm side of my OCD emerged and I freaked a little. There was a fire in the apartment building across the street from the store, complete with five fire trucks, and I think that started me out a little on edge (everyone was fine, but there was a lot of smoke!)

Several hours later, the rash is still making me feel a little anxious, but I plan to give Dad the gift. Off to watch The OCD Project Episode 4 online.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh My Gosh, Kids!

My scary meeting today was at the zoo. I did pretty okay with being near the (formerly) vomiting woman. Afterwards, I wandered the zoo for a bit. I ended up behind a family with an 18-month-ish old little girl. She was lagging behind her dad by about 5 feet, and she encountered some food on the ground. It looked like a pancake, although I don't suppose it was. Anyway, she happily peeled (really, it was squashed flat!) it off the sidewalk, and before her dad could stop her, it was in her mouth! She didn't swallow it, but oh, my! Her dad just laughed. Haha, I don't know how you OCD-ers with kids manage it!

Feeling Really Empowered. And Scared

I'm marching through exposures (sometimes literally, when I've been walking in places that formerly felt contaminated to me), and it feels great. Mostly. Mixed in is so much anxiety! As expected, of course. If there weren't any anxiety involved, it wouldn't be so difficult, and I would have done this years ago.

My latest "underlying fear" relates to my aunt. After 8 weeks of needing to be driven by members of my family to up to 5 appointments a week, she's off oxygen and able to drive again. As I sat on the bus next to a coughing sneezing man today, I imagined myself getting a cold, giving it to my aunt, and starting her oxygen/needing rides cycle all over again. Ugh. I remind myself that I and my family will be happier in the long run if I don't have OCD, even if it's inconvenient in the short term. I'm still really anxious, though.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Exposure Opportunity

So tomorrow I have an offsite meeting, and I'll need to ride there with coworkers. There's a good chance this will mean riding in the car with the woman who was out yesterday due to vomiting. Doing this would be a HUGE exposure for me, but I'm feeling surprisingly good about it.

Lately I've done enough exposures that I'm starting to recognize the little "high" I get after completing one. I'm an exposure junkie!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Still a LOT of Work to Be Done

I'm doing better, I'm working hard, and I'm pleased with this. But several things happened today to remind me of the work still ahead of me.

I was on the bus, and the woman across from me had a cast on her arm. I've considered casts contaminated ever since I broke my arm and witnessed the shockingly unhygienic way my cast was applied (I say that even without my OCD eye- they dropped items on the floor of the hospital, and then picked them back up and used them). But I was fine until she went to get off the bus and couldn't get her coat on, and asked for my help. I offered it, but then didn't touch anything with that hand until I could get to work and wash it. So that wasn't so great.

Then I got to work and learned that a coworker is out with what is likely the stomach flu. My instinct was to go home and huddle in the fetal position, but I didn't. But I'm not even close to being able to shrug it off, either.

And finally, my sister is moving across town today. We're currently having a thunderstorm- it's been raining HARD for close to an hour. Mmm, a new wet house, full of all her wet boxes. Can't wait to get over there and share my office's stomach flu germs on my wet feet.

So, yeah, I'm still freaked out awfully easily. But I'm attending an event tonight where for the first time in at least 5 years, I'm bringing an uncooked fruit dish to a potluck (oven-cooked items are "safer" of course), and I'm still going to visit my sister after that event. Not a perfect ERP day, but not terrible, either.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hmm, Well That's a Little Embarrassing

One of my coworkers just returned from the conference in Atlanta that I was supposed to go to. She brought me two gifts: The first was fine, peach cookies (well, fine but gross, like eating my peach hand lotion). The other gift: a little mini spray tube of hand sanitizer that she got from a vendor. When she gave it to me, she said, "I know you're always a little careful." Ack. Ack! I'm known as a germophobe! I don't think I've ever said anything to her about this. I guess I'm not as stealth as I thought. Bummer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The OCD Project, Episode 3

This week, they started in on some big exposures. The ones I paid most attention to were those of Arine and Kristen, who both have contamination OCD like me. They were not to wash their hands (or even touch water) for three days. So that would be hard enough, but then, they went to spend some time with homeless people in Los Angeles, including shaking their hands.

Scariest of all, however, was Arine's assignment to stick her finger in the slimy water running down the filthy gutter nearby. Then she ran her hands over her clothes and hair and face. Hoo-boy, I'm not sure I would have done it! One thing I noticed, and perhaps only a person with OCD would, is that she had a bandage on her finger. For someone with an HIV fear like Arine to do that with a cut on her finger was astounding. I was impressed.

Kristen struggled a lot more. While outside of OCD, I don't think I'd have much in common with Kristen, our reaction to OCD-type things strikes me as quite similar. When she did her "worst case scenario" last week, it didn't involve dying from contamination, it involved living a crappy pointless life due to OCD. And yet she still struggles so hard to do these exposures. I'm certain I would be reacting the same as she is if I were on the show. She wants to do it, but it seems SO HARD!

Each week I like this show even more. Hope it stays as good. And as usual, my exposures all seem just a little easier after watching theirs.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kicked My Nemesis to the Curb!

Actually, I didn't, my aunt decided she didn't need chicken. But I was ready and willing to buy it, and I felt good about that. We did buy ground beef, though, chicken's good friend germ-wise, and I made it through with flying colors. What I'm most proud of is that I didn't ask my aunt to make any accommodations for my fears. I touched everything I needed to touch, and I let her give me a hug before I left. She did not, however, ride around in one of those electric scooter carts. Both of us were scared of those. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Maybe Grubby Is My Natural State

Funny thing about habituation. The last couple of weeks, I've only been showering approximately every other day. The night that I don't shower, I feel uncomfortable for a bit, but it passes. But by the second night, usually after I've gone running or been gardening, and I'm smelling pretty terrible, I feel TOO comfortable. Do I REALLY have to shower? Umm, yes! Off to shower now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chicken is My Nemesis

My third post about chicken! [turns out it was actually my fourth!] I'm vegan, for reasons completely unrelated to OCD. But it sure is nice not to have raw meat in my home, for reasons completely related to OCD. This week I'm taking my aunt shopping for the first time in a year, and after weeks (per my sister) of buying precooked turkey for sandwiches, she's now decided to buy chicken. Raw chicken, of course. I so do not want to be anywhere near raw chicken. But again, the exposure gods are looking my way, and it's for the good. Right?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Foiled Again!

I told myself I was leaving the garbage can out there so it would get wet, and I was. But I was ALSO letting the garbage man germs dissipate. That's OCD thinking for sure. Also, the sun had come out and the edges of the can were drying off.

I decided to go for a run before taking the can back in. In those 30 minutes, the yard waste guy came by and knocked the can over, and it started raining again. So it was wet, dirty, and again covered with garbage man germs! The world is conspiring to get me better exposures, and I suppose I'm glad. Luckily my runs always steel my resolve for exposures, and I didn't freak out.

Now I'm off to use the bathroom at the grocery store. If I'm lucky someone will sneeze on me!

OCD Makes You Stupid?

Actually, it just makes you LOOK stupid. Yesterday I stopped at the library on my way home. About a week ago I looked up a book I wanted and wrote down the call number, but I left it at home. I thought it should be in the knitting section, but it wasn't there. I didn't want to look it up on the computer system, because I didn't want to touch the common computer. The librarian saw me looking puzzled, and I muttered something about not remember where the book was, and umm, I wasn't sure how to find out (said while standing three feet away from computer with library catalog on it.)

She of course looked it up, and then walked me over to where the book was (surely thinking I wasn't bright enough to find it myself. Sigh).

Then she handed it to me. So, not only did I get to look stupid, I got exposed to all those computer germs anyway. :)

On a better note, I put my garbage can out last night despite my fears, and as we speak it's filling up with today's rain. I'm letting sit out there for a while for maximum exposure yuckiness.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

I've been able to continue my streak of only washing my hands after using the restroom at work. So my OCD has to find a new way to keep me under its thumb. This week it's the garbage can. I've developed a fear of water in the garbage can, either mine or my neighbors' cans. Because, of course, it's a slurry of who knows what, and it has to be dumped out somewhere, and what if I walk through it, and on and on like that. The fact that I've been putting out garbage in the rainy NW for 12 years and I'm not dead yet apparently matters not at all.

So yesterday I went outside to put the garbage out. Guess what. That record rainfall over the last week apparently all gathered in my garbage can! Of course it did. When I picked the can up, garbage can water ran all over the driveway. And then I tried to dump it in the grass, and instead poured it on my just about to ripen strawberry patch. Yum!

I'm tellin' ya. It's just not possible to get this stuff right! Which of course is a clear sign that I just shouldn't try. Still working on that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The OCD Project, Episode 2

Week 2, the show continues to be interesting. The part that resonated the most for me was Dr. Tolin talking about why they need to give up ALL their compulsions: if they don't, if their feared outcome doesn't happen, they'll attribute that to their remaining compulsions, and maintain the fear. That is SO true for me. For months, I've been stopping some but not all of my handwashing. Nothing terrible has happened. Rather than concluding that handwashing isn't protecting me and isn't needed, I've decided that the limited handwashing I'm still doing is the most critical kind, and I need to keep doing it. That's not what I want. Sigh. Point taken, Dr. Tolin.

The one thing I didn't like about this episode is that the therapists seem to be telling the participants that what they fear will "never happen," rather than working with them to accept that sometimes feared outcomes DO happen, but that we have to learn to live with the uncertainty and do those exposures anyway. Maybe that's still to come.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

OCD, Taco Bell, and Compassion

One of my guilty pleasures is the 7-Layer Burrito at Taco Bell. About once a month I get a major craving, and yesterday was that day. The last time it happened, I stopped at Taco Bell, and there were two homeless guys sitting and eating in the parking lot, and I couldn't bring myself to go in. Yesterday, I think the same guys were there, but I went in anyway. The craving was strong! But once I went inside, there was another grubby homeless guy, probably in his 20s, right in front of me. I watched as he paid for 2 of the cheapest items on the menu with every last penny he had. I watched as he ate a packet of hot sauce plain while waiting for his order to be prepared. And as I watched these things, my only thought was, please don't let him touch anything that my food will touch.

It was literally not until more than 12 hours later that I thought, I could have paid for his food, or bought him something else. Or bought his friend in the parking lot some food. He was eating hot sauce for goodness sake! (He took about 25 packets with his tacos, a sad snack for later.) I also realized I have about 20 coupons at home for free chalupas that they hand out when my basketball team gets to 100 points. I've never used a single coupon, but I'm sure these guys would use them.

The whole thing made me so sad, once I could step back from my fear. Sad for these guys, who at age 25 must have some serious issues to be so down and out, and sad that my own issues blind me from my ability to help others. I know I'll do better next time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A First!

So, I've mentioned that I've been doing well with exposures lately. I got to the end of my workday today and I realized that I'd only washed my hands once, after using the restroom (and I then touched the door handle on the way out).

That means I didn't wash before eating my lunch, or my apple in the afternoon, or after getting handed documents to proofread, or before handing said documents back to my boss. I didn't wash my hands after coming in from riding the bus in the morning, or after twice filling my water bottle from the drinking fountain that's right outside the restrooms.

And as well as I've been doing with the hand washing, this is probably the first time since OCD that I've accomplished this. Yippee!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Feeling Annoyed, Moving Forward Anyway

OCD makes me so mad and frustrated (duh!)

Everywhere I look lately, the concept of "living in accordance with your values" comes up. It's part of Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and well, it's just a good idea.

So I'm working on that. There are two main pieces for me: being a kind and caring person and developing a circle of friends. Pretty simple, shouldn't be so hard. While I consider myself a good person, I sometimes don't do the right thing just because I'm so anxious. And I've lost track of many friends in recent years because socializing is so hard for me.

At every turn, there's a difficult action to be taken. Intellectually I know that the anxiety I sit through now will lead to less anxiety in the future. And I also know that all the worrying and ritualizing in the world doesn't actually protect me or my friends or loved ones from much of anything. Knowing this apparently isn't always enough.

Hmm, I'm not sure this post has much of a point. Oh, well. I'm still here, still trying to make the right choices, still spending a ridiculous amount of time figuring out what the right choice even is some days.
Sigh.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The OCD Project

So, there's ANOTHER tv show about OCD. It's The OCD Project, on VH1, but also available for viewing (in the US at least) at vh1.com

Six people with a range of OCD "types" live in a house together for (I think) 3 weeks- Real World OCD!- and undergo intensive exposure therapy. I'm optimistic if a little skeptical. The therapist who they work with is David Tolin. He's well qualified, but he's also been on TV a lot lately, including being one of the therapists on A&E's Hoarders. Could have completely noble intentions, could like being on TV. Could be both.

The TV approach to OCD seems to rely on the extreme end of exposures. In the previews, the therapist is seen licking the bottom of a colleague's shoe, and there's the obligatory let's all climb in the dumpster scene, too. I'm uncertain whether it's because ultimately it's the best way to get results fast, or if it's because it attracts incredulous people to the TV.

Either way, I'll be watching. The previews also show the woman with contamination OCD letting her housemates put their hands on her face. I cried just watching it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Travel

It became clear to me a few weeks ago that my upcoming trip for work was consuming every free moment of thought for me, and I actually cancelled it. Not so good. BUT. I have a plan. Part of the problem is that the trip took about three different things that were VERY high on my exposure hierarchy and combined them: being away from home multiple days, plane travel and hotels.

So I'm creating a hierarchy for travel, and I'm going to move up it throughout this summer. I'm going to start with an overnight trip to the coast. Then I'm thinking a weekend away by car, camping or to visit friends a few hours away. And then a plane trip to California later in the summer (which I can do with the credit from my cancelled trip. Oops!) . I really think I can do it, plus these trips all sound like fun to me, rather than the torture that the work trip was shaping up to be.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Still Here

It's been a busy week, mostly responding to the audit at work, mentioned below. Turns out I didn't actually make any mistakes on the audited project, but the whole process is still making me extremely nervous, and I think it's stirring up a general pot of anxiety.

I'm still doing fairly well on exposures, including almost no hand washing at work, despite having a lot more contact with people and their paperwork than normal. So that's good.

The ants that moved in a few weeks ago are lingering and have decided that my kitchen and my cat food are both fabulous. But I'm continuing to deal with them without OCD problems.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spoke Too Soon

I've been doing GREAT on contamination exposures, today especially. My OCD monster isn't pleased, and is lobbing grenades at me from the edges of my non-contamination fears.

We're having an audit at work. It would be a standard audit, but for some reason we haven't had this one in about 20 years. The vast majority of the information is all perfect. There are a few problems, though. One is my fault, one is my boss's, and a few are from years before either of us were even there. Nothing fraudulent, just errors.

But I've become convinced not just that I'll be fired, but that my boss will be, too, and she'll blame it all on me. She has cancer, so of course I'm catastrophizing that she won't find another job before her COBRA benefits expire, and she'll die, cursing me the whole way.

I have no choice but to sit with this anxiety. She has a day full of meetings tomorrow, so we may not even have the chance to go over any of the data. The other relevant coworker is on vacation for the next 4 weeks. Ugh.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pretty Good Weekend

Did pretty well with exposures this weekend.

I took my aunt to the park, even though she may have had a cold (oh, the irony!) Between her oxygen tank and wheelchair, there's no way to transport her without touching lots and lots of things. She had a good time, and I felt good about that. I even kept my shoes on in her apartment, which I NEVER do, for fear of tracking in something godawful and making her sick.

I also came home from that visit and did a bunch of yardwork and other chores, rather than immediately jumping in the shower.

I've had boatloads of exposure to my neighbor's "contaminated driveway." Their son plays pseudo-hockey in the driveway with a tennis ball, which bounces into my yard about every tenth shot. Then he troops into my driveway to get it. I did give him a "death glare" the gazillionth time the ball came into the yard, but then told him it was fine, although perhaps a little grumpily. Once I even threw the ball back myself, after swearing I'd never touch it. So, some progress.

On the other hand, I'm having MAJOR anticipatory anxiety about my travel later this summer. Pretty much all aspects: someone will break into the house (perhaps the neighbor kid, who will see me leaving the house with a suitcase, and who will be mad from when I gave him the death glare), something will happen to the cats, all my carefully raised plant starts will die, contamination on the plane, contamination in the hotel. Am having mixed success with stopping myself before I go too far down the path of rumination. Will keep working on that.