Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Well, after all my angst, I got home, and someone had already taken in the neighbor's garbage can. I took mine in, at least. And they were wet. That's gotta count for something!

Today's Big Exposure

I have trouble with my garbage can. I hate bringing it back in after it's dumped by the garbage guy. This week, I get a bonus exposure- bringing in my neighbor's garbage can, too. They just moved and left the last can out today.

I'm actually a little fascinated by how anxious it's making me. But I've posted my intention to do it in several places, so I can't back down now, right?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Darn It

You may have noticed that I casually mentioned the fact that I had food poisoning or stomach flu in my last post. I was feeling kind of mellow about it all. I took Monday off, and now I feel mostly fine.

Except that my brain seems to have latched onto the fact that this means I Could Get Sick At Any Time, Without Notice! Not that this hasn't always been true.

I don't actually think I'm any more anxious than normal, if I really think about it. Just that I'm always pretty anxious and all.

Just one more exposure in the mix. Really.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Week Ahead

As always, it feels like lots of important things are coming up and I need to stay healthy.

But for the first time in a really long while, I'm actually feeling kinda okay with the idea of getting sick and even getting others sick, too. So that's pretty awesome.

I still have a total kneejerk reaction when I'm around a clearly sick person, though, but this doesn't surprise me, as my brain's been in this rut for a long time now. So I need to work on that, but I'm feeling like I'll be able to get past this cold stuff.

That will still leave me with a lot to work on. But it would be nice to have a solid foundation of success to work from.

In the meantime, I either have a mild stomach flu or food poisoning. I'm not at all prone to stomach flu, so I'm leaning toward food reaction. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. A sick day wouldn't be so terrible. :)

OCD Cliches

Normally I'm not a big fan of the cliche. But when it comes to my OCD, there are some that I find helpful. Most are not "OCD sayings," per se. More likely they are related to mindfulness or are used in some kind of recovery program.

Some that have been helpful to me lately:

Fake it till you make it.

The outcome is none of my business.

A jug fills drop by drop.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

Okay, I realized how much I really hate trite quotes, cause I don't even want to press post, but I really do like these, so . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wanting Too Much

Today I did a ton of exposures. I was away from my house pretty much all day, went out to lunch with someone who makes me extremely anxious, spent 2 hours cleaning up after a rummage sale- cleaning up dusty, in a few cases moldy, items that hundreds of people had touched in the last three days- and visited pretty much everyone in my family. I watched my dad clean up cat vomit with a pancake turner that apparently lives in their dish drainer (where other dishes sometimes go), and didn't run from the house screaming.

But when my mom noted that I wouldn't want a slice of her apple since she'd touched it, I felt bad about myself.

So in addition to working on exposures, I think I need to work on giving myself credit and not letting anyone else's opinion matter more than mine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The World of OCD

As I've mentioned before, I read and participate in several OCD-related online forums. The makeup of those forums is interesting: despite the fact the contamination OCD is said to be the most common form, it seems that 75% or more of the people who participate in the forums have other types, be it fear of harming others, or fear of being gay, or fear of having schizophrenia.

I can't tell if that means that the common wisdom about OCD is just plain wrong, or if people with contamination OCD are more likely to just put up with their OCD, or just think of themselves as neat freaks. Contamination OCD is crummy, but I know from my own experience that you can live a relatively normal life with it, even if it's not as full as the life you could live without it. I see this in OCD blogs as well, that about half the people with contamination OCD are reporting on their OCD, rather than reporting on their efforts to get rid of it.

As far as I can tell, the more "mind" based rather than "action" based types of OCD are more torturous for their sufferers (not that all kinds don't totally suck), so those people seem more likely to be searching for understanding or advice online.

I could be totally offbase, of course, as my sample is not a random selection, nor is it close to comprehensive.

Don't really have any point I'm trying to get to, just thinking on "paper" here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tough Day, Or Maybe Not

Just another one of those days where contaminated stuff was around every corner.

Nothing major, just a build up of little stuff. People losing their balance on the bus and bumping into me with stained bags, sick kids at the grocery store, a spot of dried blood on my mail (?!), a cat whose litter box habits leave something to be desired, coworkers who invade personal space.

None of these things freaks me out THAT much, but they add up to a day that stressed me out.

And after a great stretch of weather it looks like the rain returns for quite a while tomorrow.

I'm supposed to really be "pushing" in my exposures this week. We'll see.

Edited to add: While on a run this evening (as usual, good things happen on the run), it occurred to me that in writing these "scary" things down together, they just didn't seem like a big deal. Another reason I like having a blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Obsessed Still Casting

I'm sure many of you saw season 1 of A&E's Obsessed, in which they followed people with OCD as they received 12 weeks of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Season 2 hasn't come out yet, and it's surprising to me that they've been sending out emails about casting for a really really long time.

The show seemed to be pretty well done, and despite the embarrassment factor of admitting on TV that you do really weird things, I'm surprised that they haven't had a lot of people wanting to be on the show. Here's the info, if you're interested. I don't know what the location restrictions may be- this blurb was posted on a national forum. (edited to add: I've since seen a new post that specifies that they're looking for people near Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco)

Hello! We are Seeking Participants for A&E Show "Obsessed." We offer 12-16 weeks of free behavioral cognitive therapy to those who suffer from OCD. If you are interested, want more info or have any questions, email me ASAP at mhallidencasting[at]gmail[dot]com

We are holding interviews in your area ASAP! For more info on the show go to:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

And I still have Sunday to bask in doing nothing much. Woohoo.

The last few days have actually been really good. I had some solid exposures at work yesterday and then afterwards at the basketball game and still managed to skip the evening shower. I've actually only managed to do that after one other game this season, I think. And this time there was a guy with a cold sitting in the seat behind me!

I visited my family today. My mom offered me a cookie, and then told me that she's been feeling kinda sick to her stomach a lot lately. I ate the cookie anyway, although I did feel fairly contaminated. Then I went over to my sister's house and got them all contaminated up. Followed by some shopping, including using the grocery cart. Whenever I check out at Trader Joe's, they always put the big stuff into the front of the cart. You know, the part where the germy kids and purses go. Ack. But as always, I survived. So far, anyway. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Goal for the Weekend

Ooh boy, feeling anxious.
I've been exposed to a bunch of sick people in the last few days, and I'm scheduled to visit with family this weekend.

Most of my family members have medium-sized important stuff going on next week, so of course my instinct is to stay home and not risk getting them sick.

So my goal for the weekend is to NOT stay home. My mantra in the last few days has been "do you WANT to get better?" and it's been working well in pushing me forward. I DO want to get better.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Again

How many posts about chicken am I up to?

Yesterday at the end of the day, my coworker was putting her lunch bag in the fridge. She'd gone out to lunch instead, and had never gotten around to putting her lunch from home on ice. She was speculating about whether it was safe to eat.

I asked what it was; a chicken and noodle stir fry. Umm, good luck with that, I said. Sure enough, today at lunch she pulled out the bag and said she was hoping for the best.

I'm pretty sure that no matter how "cured" I am, I won't be eating chicken after it's been out of the fridge for 12 hours. To each her own, I guess.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Has To Stop Today, Not Next Week!

Today as I thought, phew, I made it without getting sick till the receptionist headed off to New York for her brother's wedding, it occurred to me that I said that about her own wedding FIVE months ago.

I can't keep holding my breath forever, trying to avoid ever getting anyone sick before an important event or a vacation. And of course just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, I learned that the guy next to me is taking his family to Europe for spring break. Which ordinarily would mean, Oh, I just have to stay healthy through Friday. But it's finally sinking in that IT WILL NEVER END. There will ALWAYS be something on the horizon, a reason I can't get sick until next week, and then the week after and after and after.

So I kept on with my exposures today- went grocery shopping after hopping off the bus, picking up my produce without using hand sanitizer first.

Then I came home and took the trash out (which for some reason makes me super anxious these days), including some things that felt especially yucky to me. I'd like to take a shower now, but I'm not going to. Instead I'm cooking dinner.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Survived My Sunday

I did okay yesterday.

The only "bad" thing that happened was the point at which my dad sneezed right into my face during dinner, from a distance of about 12 inches. He was standing with something in his hands, and his balance is not good, so he made no attempt to cover his sneeze at all. I will admit I was stunned. It was an odd moment, because my dad's sneezes are LOUD. So the entire restaurant turned around to stare at us. Awkward.

But the GOOD thing that came out of it was that once I got over the mild freak out (a silent one), I figured what the heck, I've already been exposed to whatever was in that sneeze, and I was able to do a lot of other exposures, touching things at the basketball arena that I haven't touched all season without washing my hands, like door handles and programs. I even got a cool refrigerator magnet that normally I would have turned down since I wouldn't have wanted to touch it.

So maybe I'll get sick and maybe I won't, but that's supposed to be the point every day anyway.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Was I Going to Say Again?

I had a great idea for a post last night, but now it's gone.

In other news, I have a scary exposure coming up tomorrow. Well, scary for me. Pretty normal weekend day for anyone without OCD.

An event at 3pm, early dinner out with my dad after, followed by a 6pm game. One, I rarely schedule things so close together, two, I rarely go out to eat with my dad, and three, I will almost certainly need to use a public restroom, which I don't do very often.

I'm finding myself trying to control all aspects of this day- finding a restaurant that feels "safe," worrying that something will happen to my dad after the game since he'll probably end up parking in a different lot than he normally does, considering whether I can back out of the 3:00 event. I'm mostly in denial about the public bathroom issue.

I'm also convinced I'll get sick as a result of this day- one of my coworkers is going on vacation next week, and I've course I'm convinced I'll get her sick and ruin her vacation. Ignoring that whole "I never get sick" thing.

I could seriously spend 10 hours worrying about all of this. This is a strong incentive to deal with this sort of thing better than I do.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This Bums Me Out

Today my sister called to tell me about her kids' music concert at school. She doesn't even invite me, because she knows I won't go. I'm such a creature of habit, plus being around 100 elementary schoolers gives me the heebies.

So while I'm just as happy not to be invited, it makes me sad that I'm not as close to her and her family as I could be, just because OCD makes me afraid.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Well, crud

Was feeling so good. Then a coworker tells us she's got scabies. Back to wishing I didn't have to touch anything at work. Oh, well, I'll get over it, I think.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So Close

I'm in an interesting place. I'm actually feeling more anxious than usual, but the reason for that is that I'm doing so many exposures.

But I really feel like I'm this.close to making the cognitive leap to being able to just go for it on even more exposures, and truly take a "so what" approach to my feared consequences. The "so what" feeling that I can usually maintain for only about 30 minutes is coming more and more frequently, and I'm able to talk myself into more and more exposures.

The funny thing about it, though, is that knowing I'm so close but not quite there is both inspirational and really really frustrating.

Nothing to do but carry on, I guess.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Still Plugging Away

As always, some ups and downs.

This week, I was scheduled to meet a really really good friend for lunch on Thursday. She lives a 3 hour drive away, and we both have our "issues," so as a result, we hadn't seen each other in a year and a half.

On Tuesday, we talked on the phone. She mentioned not having slept much the night before. To me, lack of sleep plus travel equals- she's going to have a cold. Ack. I canceled. By Thursday, I'd reconsidered, and I called her that morning to reschedule. It was so wonderful to see her. And bonus, she didn't seem sick! Good thing, since at one point, she sneezed into her hand and not two minutes later, gave me a hug (umm, gross.)

But alas, I talked to her on the phone yesterday, and not only does she have a cold now, she says she was sick on Thursday!! Ack, again.

In some ways it was the perfect exposure, I guess. I thought she'd be sick and met her anyway. I didn't realize she was sick, so I didn't have to completely freak out, but it still made me pretty nervous. I am a little bummed that my theory that bad sleep and travel guarantees a cold was validated.

But, of course, I didn't get sick. Which, by the way, what's up with that? I've been exposed to A LOT of sick people in the last six months, and nothing. It's weird.

Anyway, I did well with exposures generally this week. Had some really good ones both Friday and Saturday and managed to hold off showering. I'm still nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm inching my way in the right direction for sure.

Give me another 5 years, and I'll be awesome. :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Another run in with a "finger licking page turner" today. Hey, thanks for licking every single page of that document you just handed to me. Yuck. The thing that gets me through exposures like this is the realization that about half the people in the world do the finger lick when they flip through papers (although, WHY??). So probably every paper I've ever touched had spit on it. And I'm still here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Inching Forward

Today I did better than usual on not washing my hands, even when exchanging a bunch of paperwork with various coworkers. I felt more anxious than I do during a typical day, but that makes sense. I think my anxiety was compounded by some big deadlines and related stress at work.

Overall, though, I'm feeling good and optimistic.