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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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?"
I'm Ann, a 43 year old woman who has struggled with OCD for the last 17 years. I've been in treatment with some success, but never really put a knock out punch on my compulsions. I started working toward that goal in 2009. Obviously this is a work in progress. This blog chronicles my journey, as well as discussing OCD more generally.