Friday, December 30, 2011

Today, I Will Deal With Today

Another goal for the new year. I want to wake up and plan today, think about today. What's on today's list. Not what's on the list of maybes for next week, next month, next year! Might as well get started today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Brain on OCD

I found an excellent description of how I experience anxiety, in of all places, a Carolyn Hax column, original link here.


"I have found that people have an amazing ability to adapt and adapt quickly -- I guess it is what makes it possible for us to survive, but it can also work to our detriment. I believe our bodies want what is best for us, but sometimes a body forgets that what is best for us in the moment may not be the best for us over the long haul.

I first noticed this in March. I live in a town that is about 100 miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. While my area was considered "safe" for radioactive fallout, the following days were littered with dozens of daily earthquakes day and night, no food or water to be found for miles, and no gasoline for those who wanted to go in search. After the 10th day of no more than 30 minutes of sleep a night, another Westerner and I decided to get a little distance.

After we drove about 200 miles, there were no more earthquakes, all the stores were open, it was calm and we were safe. Once my brain registered that I was safe, I had this strange feeling of my panic searching for something else to grasp onto ... I had become so accustomed to the fear and panic, that rather than it leaving when it was no longer necessary, it went looking for something else. I had to consciously tell myself there was nothing to fear and that it was OK to feel safe.

I see this in so many of the questions you get -- people are so used to feeling uneasy and unhappy, that even when things are OK, they seem to feel the need to make life fit into their adapted-to uneasiness and unhappiness. Sometimes it is OK to just allow ourselves to let it go, remember a time when life was lighter and allow yourself to go there."


My brain does this all the time. As soon as one fear passes, a new one jumps right into its place. And I'll find that if I'm not feeling anxiety, I'll scan around my brain looking for one. Interesting to think of it not as an OCD trait, but a human one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Twas the Day After Christmas

Overall, Christmas was nice. Everyone on their best behavior and lots of good food. My OCD has reached the point where I can eat everything and not feel very especially anxious, no matter what germy practices I've witnessed during the food prep process. But for some reason, at some point at every event with my mom, I finally have a mini-fit and complain about something. Last night it was when she picked up the plates from the already set table to move them over for use "buffet style" and held the flat clean surface of each up against her sweater. Way to get sweater crud on everyone's dinner, Mom. Since it's a wool sweater, I know she never washes it. There's no reason to complain about it, though. She'll never stop this sort of thing, it's already been done, and I'm the only one who cares anyway.

But still, I always do. The stupidest thing about it, is that I lose any "credit" I've stored up from not complaining about the first 20 things that I noticed. I'm still Ann, the one who freaks out about the germs. Someday I'll learn.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Need a Different Approach For This One

My job isn't a super stressful one, and I don't have huge amounts of responsibility. It does have some stress and some responsibility, however, centered around budget cuts and dealing with federal funding. My workplace is very ethical. But there are lots of places where judgment calls are made, and every time an issue requiring judgment (or more often, a change from the PRIOR decision) arises, I become convinced that disaster will strike. These disasters always end up with me or my boss in jail (where she blames me), or sometimes I end up fired, or sometimes we just spend hours and hours and hours straightening up the mess I cause and everyone hates me, and we have to pay lots of money back. It's all fabulous to ruminate over.

There's no physical exposure possible for this one, it really calls for a script. I don't have a good track record with using scripts in ERP, because I'm not good at focusing when I try. But I really need to go there. This is one of those situations where it's become so clear that there's just zero point in spending hours worrying about something that will not likely come to pass; even if it did come to pass, I can't do anything about at all until it actually DOES.

So, that's a big goal for the new year: meditation and scripts, woohoo.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yet Another Exposure

It's not like the continuing opportunity for exposure is any surprise, but here's another. Last week I entered a giveaway contest on a blog I occasionally read. I was hesitant about entering because the thought of a stranger mailing me a package set off my OCD. But, that being the case, I HAD to enter, right? So I did. And I won. Yay! Boo! I'm surprised how much anxiety I feel about it, because I order things through the mail fairly frequently. Just not as much lately I guess. All the more reason to "run right toward" this exposure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Made it Through Another Day

Today was our potluck plus white elephant exchange at work. It went okay, except for the moment that a white elephant item was revealed to be one of these (and used, I believe):

Can you believe it! Luckily everyone knows the first rule of the white elephant exchange is "never take the big gift," so there's no way I would have opened that, but I do not even know what I'd have done if I had. I got a paperweight, and I was pretty happy about it, compared to the other possibilities.

Last week, I had my picture taken with Santa, also at work. I was pretty proud of myself, because prior to my sitting there, a few people I consider contaminated, including the janitor, had their pictures taken, too. And while you can't quite see it, Santa's gloves are gray and grimy. It's not an especially flattering photo (I'm not sure how I got so squinty) but I figured it was time for a picture.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What a Day

I touched a bunch of "contaminated" stuff today. I kept meaning to wash my hands, but then I was so busy that I'd look up and another hour had passed and I still hadn't done it. So far, so good.

Then I got an email from IT telling me a virus had been detected and deleted on my computer, and did I remember what I might have done to download it? My brain went straight to, ack, I'll be fired for sure!

Right before lunch time, I walked down the hall toward the kitchen, and woah! there was water cascading out of a light fixture into a (luckily) empty cubicle. At first we thought it was clean water from a small water heater on the floor above us, but soon the smell made it clear that there was a toilet involved. Excellent news! The water looked clear at least. Much better than the raw brown sewage that came down on someone's car in the parking lot last year. Yes, it's an old building.

I was surprisingly okay about the waterfall, although I was certainly grateful not to be the woman whose office it did eventually infiltrate. She had an umbrella over her computer at one point.

Even so, tomorrow's our holiday potluck. and my first thought was to skip it- the leak was really really close to the kitchen where all our food will be stored and the housekeeping staffer who helped clean up the spill today is the same person who will put out a stack of plates for tomorrow's potluck. But I know that no one else is having this thought, so potluck I shall.

Then I came home to my nice relaxing house, but first I had to pass the neighbor's still not cleaned up garbage. Also excellent.

I guess this is the point you just have to give in to it all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

OCD and Strep

One of the comments on ocdtalk's post here got me thinking about strep and OCD.

It seems clear there's a connection. For the most part, the OCD community seems to support it only for kids who have an extremely sudden onset, like turning on a switch. My OCD wasn't like that, and I was in my 20s when it really came on strong. Even in those sudden onset cases, while antibiotics can "cure" it, it apparently can return. I also get the impression that it's a pretty long course of antibiotics that's required, although I haven't researched it much.

The whole issue does get me wondering, though. Around ages 10-11, I had strep throat at least three times. I think my sister only had it once. I have OCD, she doesn't. Is there a link? I don't know. Or could people prone to OCD also be more prone to strep? I don't know.

If I knew that there was a high chance that antibiotics would mellow out my OCD symptoms, I'd go there. But considering the docs barely agree on what to do with the little ones with strep and OCD, I don't think they'll be treating adults with OCD with antibiotics any time soon.

Maybe in 20 years we'll all look back in wonder at why it took so long, but until then, it's the ERP route for me.

What's your strep story? Did you have strep throat as a kid? Did it seem to correlate in any way with your OCD symptoms?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Garbage Update

I'm sure you've all been thinking about my neighbor's garbage! Just me? Well, here's an update anyway. Today the (once again) overflowing can got knocked over. Actually, I think they ran it over with their car (well, one of their six cars- now they have one that can only be described as the "Scooby van"- it's metallic gold colored and it appears to be from circa 1974). Guess it's hard to see the garbage can while driving the Scooby van. Garbage was strewn about. They mostly picked it up, but about 20 pieces escaped and are blowing around our driveways as I type.

When I went out tonight and discovered this un-picked up garbage, some of it in my yard, my brain said, go pick it up! Right now! Then you'll know for sure how this episode will end!

But I didn't, and I still haven't. I did, with my bare hand, pick up the pieces that had already floated into my yard and returned them to the neighbor's driveway. One was a piece of cotton- possible bathroom garbage! I'm confident that the anxiety I feel will pass.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Going To Have to Face It

My list of Scary Things Goes Something Like This:

Bedbugs







Stomach Flu, Cold Sores

Colds and Flu and Garbage Germs

All the Other Creepy Germs

Now, this list can be rearranged somewhat. Whatever germ is closest to me at any given time tends to temporarily zoom to the top of the list until it's gone or my anxiety peaks and ebbs.

On my way home from work yesterday, I was contemplating all of this and realizing that to live the life I'm looking for, I'm going to have to accept that some, possibly all, of these things could come into my life. The reason bedbugs are so high is that it can take time and other exposures to get rid of them, and it seems so overwhelming. But the fact is, if I got them, I'd have no choice but to deal, and I would.

Knowing this doesn't actually make the process seem any easier, but it does make me realize there's no point in ruminating and avoiding, because when I do, I'm also avoiding a lot of good things that life can bring.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

iPhone as OCD Treatment?

Partly this seems great, partly it makes me cringe, and somehow it seems like it would wear off at some point. I guess as long as the photo is dated, you don't have to worry that it's yesterday's photo...

I still hate it that ERP seems so unknown.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Looking Forward

I've never contemplated suicide. Well, that's not true. I've contemplated and decided that it's something I would never do. There have been plenty of times, however, when I've thought to myself that being dead would be a-okay: I wouldn't have to worry any more, at least. The whole idea of not minding death is ironic, though, considering how much mental effort I've spent over the years worrying about getting sick and dying. Heh.

Lately, there's been a change. Life, while not perfect, is pretty good. When I look forward, contemplating my future, it's with a sense of anticipation, not dread or resignation (well, usually anyway). I enjoy so many things and people in my life. If I were to die tomorrow, I'd miss out on so many good times.

But even in the smaller sense of my future, there's been a change. I'm noticing that I look forward to things nearly every week. Mostly little things: a movie, an event with my sister's family, hanging out with my parents, a sporting event, a potluck at work. I'm so used to dreading events in my future, that it's an astounding change for me.

Life's not all rainbows and unicorns, it couldn't possibly be. But it's getting better and for that I am thankful.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Still Need a Cognitive Update On This One

I still struggle with the thought of giving someone something as simple as a cold. I either worry that they'll in turn give it to their immune compromised grandma, or some trip or event will be ruined because they were sick.

Last week I worried about both. As I mentioned, my coworker flew off to help with the birth of her very first grandchild. I fretted that I'd get her sick before she left and then she wouldn't be able to be around her grandchild, or at least would be miserable from illness.

Well, I didn't get her sick. She got herself sick. As far as I can tell, she still snuggled right up to her granddaughter. And while she wasn't thrilled to be sick, nothing came of it. She had a great trip and all was well.

Why can't I get this through my thick skull? That remains a big one to work on. Luckily winter gives me plenty of opportunity.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Really Does Work

Despite having a decidedly mediocre day yesterday, I had one amazing exposure. It worked in textbook fashion. I went over to my sister's to make cards and gift tags with her and with my nieces.

Just as she did last time I was there, my older niece used the bathroom (and let's just say she wasn't just peeing) and didn't wash her hands. I know that plenty of people never wash their hands, but I can't help but think that little kids aren't, shall we say, the most careful wipers.

So, yeah, anyway, she came back out and proceeded to feel to the urge to check out (and touch) all the many craft supplies I'd brought. Ooh, was I tense! I imagined ways I could avoid touching the craft stuff without looking obvious. I sighed as I mentally cancelled my plan to make some cards for a craft sale at work next week.

But I also knew this was a good exposure. My nieces pretty never wash their hands-nor did I as a kid- and nothing much came of it, so in my non-OCD head, I knew this wasn't really a big deal.

So, after a bit of angst, I did nothing. I made gift tags, I touched whatever I wanted, and I, and they, all ate dinner, some of it finger food, without washing up beforehand.

By the end of the night, I felt totally fine about it. No anxiety at all. I put all the craft stuff away at home without stress. I'll likely make cards for next week, unless I decide not to for some other (non-OCD) reason.

It was awesome! A successful ERP feels amazing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maybe Tomorrow

All day I've been composing a really positive post in my head. But then I went and had a reasonably miserable day. Argh. But the positive is still there lurking around. So perhaps tomorrow that post will see the light of day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some Stories You Should Keep To Yourself

Today at lunch, one of my coworkers excitedly told us she had a "gross" story to tell. And boy was she right. It involved a seriously vomiting child on public transit. Right behind her. This very morning. And of course, I was now sitting next to her.

By the transitive properties of OCD, she is totally contaminated, and I am, too. It's a good exposure, but I still think some things should just not be shared. Sigh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Here's What I Did This Weekend

I stayed home. And it was an exposure. I visit my various family members every couple of weeks. But I will very often schedule it last minute, so I can assure myself that I'm not sick and neither are they. There was no reason to visit anyone this weekend, but we were all healthy and I REALLY REALLY wanted to call them and schedule and "get it over with." But I didn't. I called and scheduled for next weekend instead.

The challenge for this week will therefore be to continue on with life, rather than spending the week trying to avoid germs.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Discipline!

I'm not a very disciplined person. This is not strictly true, When I'm in school I'm extremely disciplined. I maintained a 4.0 in high school, kept up my grades while playing a varsity sport in college, and took a full schedule of classes while studying accounting and working 32-40 hours back in 2007.

Outside of academics, though, things don't look as good. I hate to clean, I'm sort of a slacker at work, and I just may be addicted to the internet. Exercising 3-5 times a week is my most focused activity. I'm not overweight, but I must just have a good metabolism, because I eat an awful lot of junk food.

I'm trying to get working on my discipline, especially after noticing that on evenings when I just never turn on the computer, I get a whole heck of a lot further down my to-do lists.

I can't help but think that getting more disciplined in my free time would also help me push forward in my approach to OCD. I'll let you know how this all works out. Going to turn off the computer now!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Relapse and Progress At the Same Time?

Lately I've been feeling like I've relapsed. I think it's due to all the time spent thinking about my neighbor's garbage (which will likely continue to be a "problem" pretty permanently due to our new garbage system).

But I also feel like I can really see the right path ahead of me: the one in which I face a little extra discomfort now in order to avoid a lifetime more of discomfort.

It's a testament to the power of OCD that even so, I'm still tempted to do the compulsions. But so far, I'm holding out, and I sure hope I continue to do so.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bleaching the Sidewalk?

The sight of my very particular neighbor hosing every last leaf from her walkway today reminded me of something I came across on a run last week. I was running on the sidewalk, and one of the sidewalks had some soap suds on it, like you might see if someone had washed a car. There was not a driveway or any place nearby to wash a car, however. As I ran past, I noted a very strong smell of bleach. Now, it's possible they had some bleachy water and threw it out near the sidewalk. But it really really appeared that they had washed their sidewalk with bleach. Stop giving the lady with OCD ideas!

No, seriously, this is not something I would do, and I was pretty fascinated, wondering what would motivate such a thing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Almost As Good As Med School

... OCD, that is. I'm kidding. BUT. I do find that being an information junkie with OCD means that I often know more than my doctors about my medical issues. Except about medications; today's doctor's sure do know a lot about medications.

I did not find out much of use at my appointment today. The nurse who took my blood pressure (lower than expected!) and my doctor both had colds, so that was awesome. Actually, it wasn't terrible, since that's an exposure I'm supposed to be having anyway.

Today I also almost got to/had to drive a coworker to the airport- her daughter's having a baby in another city. I was really really nervous about it, since it brought together a whole host of exposures for me. But I was going to do it, and without nearly as much stress as I'd imagined. But then, 15 minutes before we planned to leave, her son called. He happened to be nearby, since he'd taken the afternoon off from work, so he drove her instead. And I was almost, just almost, disappointed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Light Therapy Side Effects

One of the listed side effects is feeling "jittery." I seem to have that one. For about the last five days I've had this weird anxious-y butterfly feeling in my stomach and chest. Back before garbage day, I was attributing it to that, but it's still going. It makes me feel like there's something wrong with my heart, which is not a good feeling at all. (edited to add: my heart rate is actually up more than 50%- that's apparently what I'm feeling. Guess it's good I have that doctor's appointment coming up.) Online info seems to suggest that the side effects often subside. I'll have to see. I don't think I'm willing to put up with this long term. Maybe the sunshine will stay around for a while.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Very Full Morning

After the garbage can incident reminded me that if I give OCD an inch, it will take a mile, today I set out to do some exposures. Nothing major. It turned into a really nice morning.

I planned to walk to do some errands, but I decided instead to start out on the bus. As always, I need to push to keep myself on the bus with all those germy people.

Then I went to one Black Friday sale. I ended up purchasing only apples and tulip bulbs there, so perhaps I am not the best Black Friday shopper, but that's okay. My next stop was an accidental black Friday sale and an accidental exposure as well. I needed some purple yarn, so I stopped at the neighborhood yarn shop. They were offering 10% off to anyone who was wearing their pajamas. I guess it symbolized getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the sales. But for a person with bedbug fears, I wasn't thrilled to see everyone in their jammies. My first thought was "must leave this store." But I didn't. Next, I had trouble finding the cotton, and had an awkward encounter with a salesperson. I've noticed recently when awkward things happen to me, I tear up easily and have an automatic "flight" response, but I fought it off today, and did just fine. That felt good. The purple cotton was pricier than I'd hoped, but when I got to the checkstand, it was 40% off! Score!

By this point, after nearly 4 inches of rain (!) this week, the sun had come out. I'm liking my blue light machine, but real live sun feels SO GOOD! So I walked a mile up to the library in the sun, and my mood was fabulous. At the little strip mall next to the library, I found a Christmas present I needed, 30% off. Yay!

Last stop, up the hill to the food coop, where in addition to getting what I went for, I also found a treasure trove of good stuff in the bruised produce for 39 cents a pound bin. Yay, again!

By this point, I was pretty weighed down with purchases, but the sun was still shining as I walked the last mile home, ending with a visit to my favorite futon mattress, still living in the parking strip (now with 4 extra inches of rain!)

What a great day. Off to plant the new tulips.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Depression Workbook

I recently checked out "Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time" from the library. I'm pretty terrible about doing workbooks, especially since I can't write in library copies, but even so, I could see that it was a great book, and I got some good tips from it.

The authors advocate an approach they call "behavioral activation." They differentiate it from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but I believe it's just another subset, just as Exposure and Response Prevention is a subset of CBT. Ultimately just semantics anyway. The approach basically lets your actions inform your thoughts.

They fully acknowledge that "just doing it" while depressed is no easy task. Instead they start by having you track times of day or activities leading to the most depressed state. So you might start by making changes there. They also teach you to make goals and then break them into really small pieces if needed, to just get started and start a positive reinforcement cycle.

It still will take some level of motivation, but overall, I really liked it. One thing they talked about that's also extremely relevant to anxiety is keeping yourself from rumination, via mindfulness. I put this to use the other day on a run. I was ruminating about, what else, garbage cans, when instead I made myself focus on what was around me. I noticed lots of interesting things about the houses and wildlife I passed by, and the run was made much more pleasant. I love coincidences, so I was pleased when I ran by a church reader board that said "Occupy Mindfulness."

Anyway, I do not think I'm doing this book justice, but I do recommend it.

P.S. Today was garbage day- all the garbage is gone. For now. I will attempt to handle this much more calmly should it happen again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Garbage, Take Five

I've been doing pretty darned okay with my "neighbor's garbage can" anxiety, even including the fact that they chose this week to throw out their old toilet seat, right there on the very top of the can, where I get to see it every day.

Then yesterday, I had a brilliant idea (/sarcasm)! I have extra room in my can, I would throw one of their extra bags into mine. It might have worked great, had I not been so anxious about grabbing the bag that I went over there when they were clearly home and active in a part of the house where they might see me. Duh, me. I'm standing in the driveway when the door opens and someone comes out to get wood for the fireplace. "Uh, say I, my cat headed that way and I was uh, looking for him. Hope I didn't scare you." Geez. (at least I do have a cat. :) )

Not five minutes later they all went out for the evening. Then I went back and grabbed the garbage. Of course now if they notice, they'll probably assume it was me and wonder why I'm stealing their garbage.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Light Therapy

My winter depression seems mild this year, but it's definitely there; the winter has really only started, too. I finally hauled out the blue light therapy light that I "inherited" last year. It's really small and really easy to use. And so far, I've found it fits really easily into my morning routine. I'd say my mood is slightly better even after just a few days, but this week also has some PMS-y mood stuff going on, so I can't really be sure what's causing what. I'm also really prone to placebo effects when it comes to my depression (which I don't consider a bad thing). Will keep you posted if I see real changes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Give It Time to Sink In

About three months ago I made a list of things I wanted to ask my doctor about. Most of them are related to getting older/turning 40- nothing major. Then I never got around to making the appointment. Last week I sent an online request for a migraine medication refill. The next day I got a call from my doctor's office telling me it had been two years, and they wanted me to come in to chat before they renewed the prescription.

I freaked out! Well, just inside my head. I said, "do I need to? Umm, I guess I'll decide if I want to keep the medication." And I hung up! After about 30 minutes, I realized I wasn't actually scared of the appointment, and that I needed to make one anyway. So I called back and did that.

But it reminded me that I pretty much always need to that brief amount of time to register any change or unexpected event in my life. To the point than when my family calls to ask me to do just about anything, they preface it with "you don't need to decide right now..."

It would be helpful if I could remember this fact in my "back pocket," so to speak. So that I could skip the freak out part and learn to say something like "let me check my calendar and get back to you." Pretty sure, if it didn't already, my medical file now has a "she's a little nuts" flag on it. Oh, well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scary Social Events: A Crapshoot

About a week ago, I looked at the calendar and realized that it had been more than six weeks since I'd attended a "scary social event." Since the original goal was to do this an average of once a week, I was well overdue. Luckily, there were several things coming up on the calendar.

The first was a reception for a non-profit I thought I might be interested in volunteering with. I knew it would be hard for me, since I didn't know anyone, and I'm not a good mingler, but I decided to go for it. It did not work out well. When I walked in, I asked the woman manning the check in table about volunteering. She told me the best thing to do would be to look at their website. My heart sank, as I realized that meant I had basically lost my potential conversation topic before I even got started. Now, if I were a better chit-chatter, I could have talked to the people there, almost all certainly current volunteers, about their experiences. Unfortunately, I am not a good chit-chatter, everyone was sitting with at least one other person at a table, and most of them looked about 20. They didn't have any poster board information to stand in front of and pretend to read. So after about 4 minutes, I left. So, I think we can call that one a dud. It was scary social event #33 for the year, though, even if only for 4 minutes.

On the other hand, yesterday I had a FAR better experience. I suspected I would. The local neighborhood association was volunteering at the food bank. I figured even if the social part went poorly, there'd be something to do. It got off to a rocky start, as I couldn't find the group for about 10 minutes. Once I did, it turned out they all knew each other, but not surprisingly, people who serve on the board of the neighborhood association are very welcoming. I chatted like I knew how, met some very nice people, all of whom live within a quarter mile of me, and helped the community in the process. Scary social event #34: a rousing success. The very very best part? For the entire time I was there, I didn't have one single OCD related thought. Heaven!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back on the Bus

During the summer, I ride my bike to work. We've had a really nice early fall, so I've continued to ride. But now the rainy season has set in, and I'm back on the bus; the transition can be hard. I don't know what happened, but it was the most crowded bus ever. I actually missed my stop because I couldn't get through all the people to get out. Then of course I had to squish up against everyone to get out. By the time I finally made my way off the bus, I was actually in tears. But even so, I was proud of my decision to get on the bus rather than driving, and happy that I didn't try to avoid this particularly busy bus.

Still didn't really enjoy the process, however.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On "Vacation"

Once upon a time, when I had a "vacation" I would go on a trip. My environmental views, combined with my OCD, plus the fact that I love to sit at home and read, has led me to a life where a vacation usually involves staying at home.

That's fine when I have a plan and a big project, like this summer when I painted my house while on "vacation." But if I'm not careful, I accomplish nothing and don't even bother to relax. For three years I worked at a school. While we didn't have summer off, we did get 2 weeks each for spring break and winter break. It was fabulous, except for the winter break I spent obsessed with the thought that I might be pregnant. I was not, but I did spend two weeks straight fretting and looking up symptoms on the internet.

I've been off work since Wednesday. I've spent far too much of my time contemplating my neighbor's trash can.

About a year ago I acquired some meditation tapes. I've only used them a couple of times. It's time to really get on that. I need to learn to live in the moment and focus. I want a real vacation!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Darn

Just when I get a little pleased with myself, the garbage cans are out to get me again. This time it's my neighbor's can. Our city recently started collecting food waste in with the yard waste, so now our garbage is only picked up every two weeks. No problem for me, I live alone and don't create much garbage. Plus the yard waste gets picked up more often, great for a gardener like me.

My neighbors however, have 5 or 6 people in their house. They also apparently don't follow directions well, as they missed the first garbage pickup under the new system. So that means a house that already completely filled their bin every week is going to go 4 weeks between pickups. With almost two weeks to go, their can is overflowing already.

I do not like garbage, I like it even less when I imagine it strewn about the street. I know I should just sink into the exposure and work my way through the anxiety. Instead I'm just freaking out about garbage germs. Grrrrr.

Edited to add: After posting this on a yahoo forum, I've been reminded that now is the time to do some exposures! Nooooooo! So I'm going to try. I'll let you know how that goes! :P

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspiration

A few weeks ago, someone I know posted this story on facebook:

There recently was a death of a 98 year old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive...

She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being German). Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of her tool box she carried, and she carried in the back of her truck a Burlap sack, (for larger kids). She also had a dog in the back, that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in, and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the kids/infants noises. During her time and course of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, and arms, and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out, and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it, and reunited the family. Most of course had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes, or adopted.

Last year Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize....

She LOST.

Al Gore won, for doing a slide show on Global Warming.


Now, when I read such a thing, that has a ring of "exaggerated internet story, complete with mediocre use of grammar," I first mosey myself over to snopes.com. Sure enough, a few of the details were wrong. She was Polish, actually pretended to be a nurse, not a plumber, she worked with others, who knows about that dog, the dig against poor Al Gore seems gratuitous, and it's not known for sure that she was a Nobel nominee (although it seems reasonable). But as far as the big picture is concerned, the story is true. Irena Sendler died in 2008 at the age of 98.

Now, it's never my goal to guilt or shame myself into feeling less anxious or sad, although as I noted in my last post, it's so easy to do that. So that's not how I took this story, and it's not my intention in passing it along. When I was younger, I was a go-getter: I volunteered up to 20 hours each week in addition to my job, working on environmental issues and with at risk youth, among other things. And now? Well, I spend a lot of my free time on the internet. So, no, I don't want to shame myself back into action. I want to inspire myself back into action. Despite the rampant cynicism we often experience, the fact is that individuals can make a difference.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Depression, the Cartoon

Have you ever read the blog Hyperbole and a Half? It's super amazing, if her style hits you the right way, and for me, it totally does (warning, some language not suitable for work). The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas made me laugh till I cried, although depending on your religious views, it may be a bit blasphemous; my sister's favorite is This is Why I'll Never be an Adult.

Last week, she added a post about depression. It's sad and funny (mostly sad) and seems pretty accurate; I really relate to trying to "shame" yourself into feeling better by comparing your life to other people's. It also makes me realize I've never had truly bad depression. For this I guess I can only be grateful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I Guess That's Not What a Normal Person Would Do

What would a normal person do in this situation? That's what we're sometimes told as a way to figure out if a compulsion is "okay." Would a normal person avoid that situation, wash their hands after touching that object? If "normal" is problematic, try what would a person without OCD do in this situation?

Last week at the soccer game, I tried that approach. My 7 year old niece was playing with her friends on the sideline of my 9 year old niece's soccer game. Their game involved rolling soccer balls around in a big mud puddle, then pulling them out and seeing who could get the most mud off the ball by rolling it through the grass. I watched them do this for about 15 minutes, thinking to myself at first, Ugh. Then I decided, well, no one else seems to care, "normal" people must agree that that's just what 7 year olds do, and I let it go.

Then 10 minutes later, the game ended. My sister turned around and saw them and said, what the heck, stop playing in the mud! Then one of the other girls' dads saw them and said, what the heck, stop playing in the mud! Oops! I guess I got that one wrong.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Determined

I've been pretty aggressive with exposures lately. Not perfect by any means, but I've chosen to hang out with sick people, ridden the bus, gone to potlucks, scheduled events right after wet soccer games, worn "contaminated" clothes, touched "contaminated" things, not rescheduled when OCD said that I should.

I feel powerful and good. I feel terrified. I am determined.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November

Last night I realized just how little it takes to throw me off my game. Trick or treaters, for instance. For years now, I've either gone out or just pretended not to be home, to avoid them. This year I bought my candy and turned on the porch light. It made me surprisingly nervous.

Then my phone, which has been acting up on and off for weeks, started dropping incoming calls again. I called the phone company, and of course they could not reproduce the problem. The uncertainty of it stressed me out, well, a lot.

Two simple things, one really high stress level. I did make it through the trick or treaters, though, and within a few minutes, my anxiety over the phone went down. Then I moved on to another mundane-ish worry- an issue that I won't be able to resolve until the weekend. I reminded myself that this is a PERFECT exposure scenario, having to sit with uncertainty, and that helped a bit.

Last weekend I stumbled upon a super inspirational story on the internet. A story of bravery in the face of true unambiguous tragedy. I've been using it both for inspiration and for perspective. When I have a little more time, I'll share it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Biggest OCD Irony of All

In response my last post, Blue Morpho wrote a comment noting that OCD may in itself count as a "tragedy." Which reminded me of the biggest irony of all: OCD has caused me to spend hours, weeks, MONTHS of time worrying that something terrible might happen. But so far, really the ONLY truly terrible thing that's ever happened in my life is that I have OCD.

Would my life be perfect without OCD? Unlikely. But it sure would be closer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Feeling A Little Silly

Or something. I know life is not a "who has it worst" contest. But some days I read other OCD-ers blogs and I can't help but think to myself, self? You're worried about getting a cold. Look at the all the crap your peers are dealing with in their lives and suck it up!

Now I also know that OCD takes our brains in crazy directions, and I can be more stressed at the thought of a cold than some people without OCD would be at actual tragedy, but writing that just makes the comparison look even worse.

Just another incentive to fight back, I suppose.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Have a Cold

I've even taken two days off work! Yesterday I felt a little guilty, as a I wasn't that sick, but I'm sure I was full on contagious. Today, on the other hand, I feel rotten.

When I get a cold and nothing terrible happens, I keep thinking/hoping that my brain will finally learn that it's not a big deal. Unfortunately, so far what happens is this: ooh, I missed work. If I get another cold next month, I'll get a reputation as a slacker.

Or, well, I didn't pass *this* cold on to anyone, so next time I'm sure to.

In any case, I've been making myself go out and touch things in the world, and I will continue to do so.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apparently I Post On the Weekend

Well, we're full on into cold season. Probably not flu season yet. I don't love thinking about being surrounded by sick people, but I'm doing much better than usual. This weekend I've scheduled a zillion errands, all of which will put me in contact with lots of potentially sick people.

This summer I developed a habit of taking a shower and making sure all my clothes hadn't been worn since I laundered them before going to my sister's house. At first I think it was a fear of bringing her my cat's (nonexistent) fleas, then it became a more generic OCD-germ thing. Today I'm going to see them. I will take a shower, because I'm objectively grimy. But I will be pulling my outfit from the "already worn once" pile. And I'm not going to avoid bringing her some coupons I saved, which I sometimes won't do if I feel like my house is dirty. It sounds small, but I'm pretty happy about the progress on this front.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What To Say

I hate going more than a week without posting. Several times this week I've tried to post, but there's just not much going on right now. I'm doing fine, although if I think too hard about it, I'm definitely not challenging myself much these days. But when I do the same old stuff, I'm doing great at not washing and mediumly well at not avoiding.

This morning I was going through old papers and I found my calendar from 2004. I still lived in Seattle at that time. While it didn't seem like it at the time, I had such a more active social life then. One or two social events every week, on top of volunteering 5-10 hours a week, as well as working 32 hours a week. I'm working full time now, and I do a few social things here and there, but I just don't have the same circle of friends now that I did then. Part of me wants that, part of me is sort content in my curmudgeonliness (I'm sure that's not a word!)

I guess if I grow to hate my isolation, I'll make a change.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Pretty Decent Weekend

Well, it did indeed rain on the soccer game. My niece did indeed not wash her hands before dinner. (As a proud aunt, I have to note that she scored 3 goals!) I did well. I even gave her a ride to the restaurant. I ate the bread with my hands at dinner without too much anxiety. I didn't manage to make myself use the restroom at the restaurant, but I'm not going to beat myself up over than one.

When I've felt anxiety this weekend, instead of going with my usual "if only" approach-- "oh, if only the rain had held off one more hour"-- I'm reminding myself that only by getting through the exposures will I come out on the other side. It's true, and it makes me feel a lot better, too. The "bad" things are actually "good" things.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Urk

Well, the futon mattress is still there, two weeks later. Except now it's actually sprawled across the sidewalk. What, do we live in a landfill here people? Clean up your garbage! Umm, I mean, woohoo! Extra exposure opportunity!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Checking in mid week

Not much to report. But I do have some medium sized exposures coming up this weekend into next week. One involving a soccer game (likely to be) in the rain, followed by dinner with my whole family. The exposure is mostly around the fact that after playing a soccer game in the rain, getting mud and gunk and germs on her hands, my niece is unlikely to wash them before dinner. And our dinner is likely to include some finger food served family style.

I'm swinging back and forth between being sort of excited to do them, and wanting to barricade myself in the house. That's probably pretty typical.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mental Health Treatment

Oh, there goes that yahoo OCD board, getting me all worked up again. This week, several therapists have noted that most therapy programs teach you a little about all the possible approaches to treatment- talk therapy, Gestalt, behavioral, etc. then you "pick your favorite."

We have known for how many years that exposure and response prevention is by far the most successful approach to treating OCD? A few others, including acceptance and commitment therapy/mindfulness also show promise. TALK THERAPY DOESN'T WORK. I think for a talk therapist to treat someone whose main complaint is OCD is malpractice and theft, plain and simple.

And if they aren't learning enough in their masters or PhD programs to KNOW that talk therapy doesn't work, then their program sucked, plain and simple.

I cannot even describe how mad it makes me that 20 years after these facts were established, OCD patients still get such crappy treatment in our mental health system. (And don't even get me started on the psychiatrist who never even mentioned ANY treatment except to list all the possible medications I could try). ARGH.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the Other Hand

So, as noted in the last post, I have some trouble with fall. But I love fall for a lot of reasons, too. Is there anything better than a crisp fall day? Well, ice cream maybe, but a crisp fall day is pretty nice. Crunchy leaves, Halloween, pumpkins, hot chocolate, chili-- all kinds of good things come along with fall.

My birthday is also in the fall. This year I'll be, gasp, 40! I'm not really down about the milestone. Most people I grew up with already turned 40 earlier this year, and my older sister, of course, is already 40. So it's not a shock. Feels more like an opportunity. I'd like to look back and think, remember when you turned 40 and grabbed the life you really wanted? Yep, that's what I'd like to do with 40.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

OCD and the Weather

Over on the yahoo boards, people are chatting about whether the weather/seasons affect their OCD. Count me on the yes side for sure! I don't know if it's the shorter days, the rain, the cold, all of the above, but my depression cranks up every fall, and my anxiety cranks right up with it. I didn't actually fully notice this until last year. My late aunt had one of those fancy light boxes, and I have it now. I've not used it yet, but I really need to haul it out soon. Last year when I went on Prozac briefly, I ended up with an extra month's worth of pills. I saved them for possible use this year, but I'd like to avoid that if I can. Got some work to do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

If It's Not One Thing, It's the Next Damn Thing

This week at work, my building hosted an art show of recycled material art. But not, you know, nice materials saved by school children. Oh, no. These were "pulled out of the dump after they were already mixed with who knows what else at the dump" materials. Deep breathing was required. Today, I actually managed to check out the exhibit. Lots of the art was pretty amazing. I did great until a woman from the exhibit came up and touched me on the arm. I thought I was going to cry. But now here I am at home still wearing the sweater that she touched.

However! As I got home today, I noticed the futon mattress my neighbor has out on the curb (who ON EARTH do they think will pick it up!?) I kid you not, it looks like someone either died or gave birth on the mattress. I've never hoped so hard for something to be mold. Deep breathing required.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Weird Tale of OCD

So four years ago, I found a dead squirrel in the attic of my detached garage. I was in the process of blocking up openings in said garage's walls and roof so squirrels could no longer frolic in there, and I guess the dead squirrel decided life wasn't worth living without my garage. Anyway, I climbed up a ladder and took my garden rake and raked the squirrel over toward the ladder and threw him away. A little traumatic for anyone, I should think, but I got over it.

The rake was "contaminated" of course, but by the next summer, I had rehabilitated it. I've been using the rake without stress for years now. But the LADDER! I never even took the ladder down. FOR FOUR YEARS! I was going to, and then I found this weird dust on it. The dust was probably just dislodged by the opening and closing of the garage door, but my brain went to hantavirus. And that ladder stayed in its very inconvenient spot for, yes, as I've said, four years.

Last weekend, I wiped off the dust, set the ladder in the sun for a few hours, and put it away. Such a good feeling! I can walk in the garage again. This weekend I think I'll clean out the rest of the garage. Might even be able to put a car in there someday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Did That Come From?

My sister's raising her kids they way she and I were raised: without hand washing. I seriously don't know when I learned that you wash your hands after using the restroom. I know I didn't learn it from my mom.

Today I spent the afternoon with my sister and my nieces. When I first got there, my niece was in the restroom. Came out without washing her hands. It made me nervous, but I knew I could deal with it. Not like I had any choice.

Then out of truly nowhere, my niece decides to wash her metal ruler. Yes, her ruler. With soap. All the while telling us that germs are everywhere and that the ruler could kill someone if she didn't wash it. I cracked up, because really, what? But on the plus side, she decided that she must wash her hands after touching that germy ruler, so I was saved!

I will also add that hearing her go on and on about germs made me really really hope the OCD switch never turns on for her. Because it sucks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We're Everywhere

The other day at lunch I went out to find a cookie. On my way back to the office, I passed a woman paying for parking at one of those little kiosks slowly replacing parking meters. She finished paying, walked about 3 steps, then turned around to walk back to the kiosk. But by that time someone else had walked up to it, so she couldn't. She paused, then walked away. She had what she needed, but she'd still turned back to that kiosk. Something about it just screamed "checking" to me. By the time I passed her, she was back to her car. And was walking slowly around it, checking all the doors one by one. I know it's perhaps mean to be fascinated by the same kind of thing I sometimes do (not with the car, but still...), but I was. I kept turning around to see if she came back to check again. I couldn't tell.

I think it just makes me feel better to know there are others with OCD all around me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Busy Week

Where did this week go? Crazy times at work. My OCD has hit me with some stuff this week, too. I'm looking into an earthquake retrofit of my house, and that got me into a little oh, no, what if there's an earthquake frenzy. Then I went on a date with a guy who works for a school district and I got on a little bedbug frenzy. Which was especially ridiculous, because the boyfriend last year also worked in a school district, and it didn't freak me out at all. OCD, go figure.

On a more positive front, earlier this week I came home to find two beds in the neighbor's driveway, one of which was leaning against my fence. My brain of course went straight to bedbugs, because that's what I do. But then I thought rationally and realized that it was September 1st, and it was almost certainly just someone moving out- it's a rental with lots of people living there. And rather than continuing to ruminate, I just let the anxiety I did have sit, and sure enough, later in the day I saw the new neighbor. It's nice when my brain can take the most likely scenario and react in a "normal" manner. I'd like more of that. Of course, there's still one mattress in the driveway today, and now it's just starting to look junky over there.

But anyway, I'm also doing well on the generic contamination front, including eating lots of food that I've dropped on floors lately. I seem to drop food quite a lot.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review: Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis

A couple of times in the last few months, I've been offered review copies of OCD related books to read and potentially review. I'm not good at being critical, so if I don't like a book, I just don't review it at all.

But recently I read one I liked, so here I go. Zelah Green: Queen of Clean is a young adult novel by Vanessa Curtis. It was released in England a while back, but it's coming to the U.S. this fall. Zelah Green, 14, has OCD of the germ, symmetry and "good numbers" variety. She's sent to a residential treatment facility by her evil stepmother. It's not an OCD-based facility so she meets other teens with varying mental health issues, including self-harm, depression and anorexia. The other characters are developed to varying degrees and we grow to care about them, too. (I have to add that frankly, if this were the real world, I might consider the place a little sketchy, but since it's not, we'll call it charming.) Zelah is treated with exposure and response prevention, so that's good news. The ERP's not quite perfect- at several points her therapist actually promises her that nothing bad will happen if she does her exposures- but it's sure better than talk therapy.

For good or bad, this book is part of series. Book two is already published. What this means, unfortunately, is that Zelah can't get too well in book one, or what would we have to talk about in the remaining books? So when she leaves the facility, she's done some exposures, but she still exists in a world full of compulsions and rituals.

The good: The characters are well developed and likable (or unlikable, as needed). The OCD is presented in a fairly realistic way. The treatment scenes, while not perfect, are pretty good. It's just plain well written, with some turns of phrase that were so nice that I highlighted them on my computer screen. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I plan to read the next one soon.

The bad: To some extent the supporting characters are more interesting than Zelah herself, partly because we only get some of their stories and are left wanting more. I don't know if the book is being "translated" from the British English to American, but there were a few words in there that even I, a longtime reader of British chicklit, had never come across before. plimsolls? stroppy? And my most important complaint, of course, that the ERP isn't implemented as well as I'd like. But heck, that reflects real life, right?

So, I'd recommend it. It's aimed at teens and is fairly short and a quick read but fine for adults I'd say. It features some graphic scenes of the residents' issues, cutting in particular. So not for young kids. You can find the book at Amazon.com

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Washing My Hands, Or Not

The other day I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I stopped to contemplate if I'd washed my hands first. My first thought was, of course I did. I always do. Then I realized that no, I hadn't. This is not the first time that has happened in the last few weeks. It's fascinating to me how habits can change. Something that was completely ingrained in me, now un-ingrained. [edited to add that yes, I did eat the sandwich.]

In other news, my mom and I canned peaches today. Always an adventure. Food safety mostly maintained.

In other other news, someone recently found my blog via the search term "bathroom adventures." I don't think I even want to know.

Friday, August 26, 2011

OCD Treatment in a Nutshell

I went to the movie. It was really good, and I was so glad I went. I walked there and back. Last night was the monthly "Last Thursday" art/craft/debauchery fair in my neighborhood. On the walk home, I saw a young woman peeing in a neighbor's yard. I think I was just a normal amount grossed out, but ewwww!

But here's the main part of my post: Recently on the yahoo OCD board, therapist Jon Hershfield from the OCD Center of LA, who as far as I can see is totally awesome, and sometimes blogs here, posted a really excellent summary of the three approaches to dealing with OCD. So I'm reposting it here, hoping that's okay.

To me this information is just PERFECT (with a few teeny tiny edits for clarity or typos):

Option 1 (mindful acceptance): I'm having a thought about being contaminated and it's making me feel uncomfortable. So be it. I have lots of thoughts and feelings and they're not always important. I'll just go about my business accepting that I don't know if I'm dirty or not.

Option 2 (cognitive restructuring): In my experience touching garbage cans hasn't resulted in imminent death. Though I think of it as "dirty" I don't have any actual evidence that it is something to be concerned about. Instead of saying "I'm contaminated," I'll just go with, "If I am contaminated, I'll deal with it when it appears to be an actual problem instead of trying to do something about it now."

Option 3 (flooding): I touched the dustbin and it is covered in disease-causing microbes that I definitely got on myself which I will then transmit to unsuspecting babies whose immune systems are so tiny it will kill them on the spot and I will forever live with the guilt of knowing that if only I had washed my hands 1001 times instead of 1000, the world would have less dead babies in it.

Option 3 will make you jump back from the ocd for a bit and then you can go back to Option 1.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Making the Right Choice Is Still Hard

Tomorrow there's a special movie showing that I really want to see. It will probably go straight to DVD, plus it won't be out until the fall. So I really should go. But it's showing as part of a convention, which totally pings my "all travelers get bedbugs" issue. Plus I'd be going alone, which will ping my "social anxiety" issue. I tried to convince myself I'll be tired tomorrow after work, that I can see it on DVD, that I might run into an annoying ex, that I don't really want to go. Fact is, I do. It's only a mile from my house, and it's only $5. It's been on my calendar for a month.

So I bought a ticket. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go. I'd be up to Scary Social Event #29 for 2011 if I do go. Update on Friday I guess!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Have a New Roof

It's beautiful. And no workers fell off the roof! Best of all, I have a skylight in my finished attic. I cannot tell you (although I will try) how happy the skylight makes me. The room is SO bright now. I almost didn't have them do it, for purely OCD reasons. They only do the outside work, so on Friday night as I opened the hole to the inside, and stared up at the moon and the stars, I actually cried from happiness. Take THAT, OCD.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dare to Believe, new OCD Foundation campaign

The International OCD Foundation just sent me this press release, so I'm passing it along. It's about their new campaign, OCD awareness week in October, and a contest they're having. They misprinted their website address in the press release. Oops. Bunch of people with OCD will probably correct it, though. I know I did. The deadline for the contest is August 31.
-Ann

BOSTON | The International OCD Foundation has launched “Dare to Believe,” a new campaign to challenge the stereotypes of mental illness and encourage OCD sufferers to commit to overcoming the disorder.

“Dare to Believe...together we can beat OCD” is one of the campaign’s signature messages that will be featured prominently during OCD Awareness Week, to be celebrated October 10 through 16, with events across the United States and Canada.

The campaign encourages OCD suffers to “Dare to Believe…there is hope” and “Dare to Believe…treatment works.”

The International OCD Foundation is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy group for sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder, their families, and medical professionals. The IOCDF funds research, provides access to treatment, educates professionals to treat OCD and annually presents the country’s largest national event dedicated to OCD and related disorders.

Some 4 million Americans suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. There is no cure for OCD, though its symptoms can be effectively managed through treatment including therapy and medication.

OCD sufferers, their families, and professionals who treat OCD are invited to submit art, poetry, short stories, videos or music for the 2011 OCD Awareness Week live event in Boston on Oct. 15, which will also be streamed on-line. All submissions should reflect the “Dare to Believe” theme. Winners will receive a free trip to the Boston event to showcase their work.

“OCD is the doubting disease; patients find themselves in compulsive rituals because of the doubts in their minds,” said Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the International OCD Foundation. “Through our ‘Dare to Believe’ campaign we want OCD sufferers to confront and overcome those doubts, knowing that there is a larger community supporting them throughout their journeys.”

For more information on OCD Awareness Week and the Dare to Believe challenge visit www.ocfoundation.org. Entries into the Dare to Believe contest accepted until Aug. 31.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Halfway There

The roofers started today. As always, once I'm in the middle of the feared event, I tend to do just fine. So I am doing just fine. I'm not thrilled with my reactions to stress during the lead up to today, but I had a few points where I really let myself sit with anxiety, so I will focus on that and chose to feel okay about it all.

I went on a second date this week. It seemed to go well. The first month of dating is always good for me, because the OCD is not usually a problem then. So I guess I should just bask in this time.

Having said that, on our first date, he used a porta-potty. One without any hand sanitizer. I thought I might hyperventilate, but I did not. My mind went blank for about two minutes, during one of which he was otherwise occupied in said porta-potty. So I think all things considered, I did okay.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

OCD Irony

Funny how I go out of my way to avoid exposures that most people wouldn't even consider exposures (say, touching a door handle) and then I go and get an actual exposure because I'm just not that careful. As part of the precursor to my roofing project, today I installed soffit vents in my house. (not recommended by the way. It didn't take that long, but I'm exhausted!) Anyway, in two corners of the house, either a bird had built a nest, or random crap had just settled over the years. When I opened up the hole to add the vent, a massive amount of junk came out: sticks, insulation, roofing materials, wood, dirt and dust. Just a mess. And during the first one, I wasn't wearing even a minimal face mask. No eye protection either. Probably took 5 years off my life breathing all that in. Oops.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dreaming?

I know someone else blogged about this recently. I don't think it was me, but it blurs after a while.

OCD generally does not infiltrate my dreams. Last night, however, I dreamed about people sneezing on me; I got sick. I woke up and thought, hey, where'd my sore throat go?!

I don't remember that ever happening to me before (which means it probably wasn't me who blogged about it). There was another OCD component to the dream, but as often happens once you're fully awake, I can't remember it.

STAY OUT OF MY SLEEP, OCD!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer

Nothing noteworthy going on right now. Summer is a great time. I've gotten links to some interesting OCD-related stuff in my inbox lately, and when I get a little more organized, I'll post some of it.

I'm probably getting a new roof soon. I'm trying not to let the process turn into an OCD-fest. Never easy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Quite Out

I seriously considered attending last weekend's OCD conference in San Diego. I'm getting jealous reading the accounts of those who did go. And it would have been great to put faces to some of your blogs out there. Ultimately, three things kept me from attending (and fear of hotels was not even one of them, so that's cool). One, it's kinda pricy to fly large distances and stay in hotels. Two, late July is one of the few times that Portland's weather is likely to rival San Diego's. Sure enough, last weekend was simply gorgeous here, and it's hard to lose out on some of the rare decent weather we get.

Third, and by far the most important, is that I have a close friend in San Diego. I'd love to visit her, and I couldn't see visiting San Diego without letting her know I was there. But I also couldn't see letting her know WHY I was there. Conundrum. Despite being a close friend, I've never told her about my OCD. I don't ever find it shocking when someone I know discloses mental illness issues, but I'm not very open with my own. Maybe that will change, but as yet, it has not.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Score One For Sitting With Anxiety

My neighbor has bamboo. While I worry about its invasive nature at times, I've grown to really enjoy that bamboo: the rustling of the leaves is quite lovely. So yeah, my neighbor has bamboo. And a wood fence. Despite its loveliness, sometimes when the bamboo meets the wood fence, a horrible horrible whining noise ensues. A "sets my teeth on edge" noise. It was only when I recently painted my house that I identified the source of this noise that's been going on for months. Knowing what it was somehow made it worse. "The bamboo. The bamboo!!!" There's a reasonably simple solution- well, turns out there are several. My neighbor regularly thins the bamboo. So all I needed to do was ask if she could thin the offending pieces. But once I decided to do that, I felt I HAD to ask her as soon as possible, despite having survived months of the noise. If I didn't ask right away, I might never get to. And she might move, and the new neighbors might not want to thin the bamboo. And I might have to live with the noise forever, and I might never sleep again due to the noise. Really, I thought all this, despite not having lost any sleep to speak of in the months the noise had occurred.

So of course my neighbor, who's always out in her yard, was nowhere to be found for more than 48 hours. I stewed and stressed during those hours. Actually, once in the middle of the 48 hours, I did see her on the porch. But by this point, I had realized that the waiting was really good for me. So I waited some more. My sense of urgency waned.

And then I learned that another solution involved me just pushing the offending bamboo behind other pieces, so they could no longer hit the fence. The bushy leaves at the top keep the stems anchored in the new spot. Ah, silence! So, yeah, having solved the problem, I can't tell what I would have done otherwise, but I really did experience that decrease in anxiety even before the fix, and I really really love it when that happens.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Having Visitors

Usually when someone calls me and says they're stopping by, I'm thrown into something of a panic. Just a generic, something bad seems likely to happen sort of thing. So I was thrilled when my sister stopping by with her kids didn't throw me. EXCEPT, that I became worried about my bathroom making them sick. I don't really know why that would be, but when does that ever stop me from worrying.

I did my standard "once a month" clean of the bathroom, and up they came. And of course they didn't use my bathroom. They did use the bathroom at the city park. hahaha, I'm pretty sure my bathroom was less creepy than that one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gum

Today at work I dropped a piece of gum on my chair (unchewed). I picked it up and put it in my mouth. I thought it was going to fall on the floor. I would have picked it up and chewed it from there, too. Now sure, this may just reflect how much I wanted that gum, but I still choose to view it as progress.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sometimes We All Have OCD

(Count me among those who hates throwing around the idea of being "a little OCD." Given that, my title makes no sense. But oh well, run with it.)

Today at the farmer's market, a man walked by and sneezed three wet disgusting sneezes right into his hand. Everyone in the stand I was in sort of froze and turned in his direction. No one said anything, but you could sense a collective, "EWW. Now he's going to go touch some produce." Human hygiene is pretty grim sometimes. Oh, well.

In other news, I didn't end up playing in the kickball tournament, but I did attend some of it, and I offered to play if they needed me. A few people had gotten injured, but no one irreparably so, and I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with it. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Sign of Progress

I'm a mediocre but enthusiastic gardener. I am, however, extremely good at growing dahlias. My avatar is one of my dahlias. I have a bed of about 30 of them right up next to my sidewalk in the front yard. They draw a lot of attention. People just can't resist touching them; passersby regularly "pet" the flowers, really they do. Last year this drove me nuts, purely because I thought when I picked them, I would have germs to contend with. I would never pick a flower I'd seen someone touch that day. This year, my first instinct is still "eww," but it doesn't bother me nearly as much. Yesterday I went out and specifically brought a flower into the house that I thought someone had touched just a few minutes before.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good News Bad News

Well, the receptionist had a migraine. But another potluck attendee has some kind of skin infection. Hmm. I ate her dessert anyway. It was good. I still feel a little anxious about it, but I'm doing okay.

My next exposure was going to be to go to a grimy movie theater tomorrow. But the reviews online were SOOO bad: uncomfortable seats, rude staff, hard to find the unlocked doors (!), that I decide to go to the average old theater right across the street. Maybe I'll use the restroom while I'm there, though.

I Can Do It

I had a long talk with a friend yesterday about the state of my OCD, and I was reminded (yet again) that you can never let up, because it's just too easy to backslide. So I'm (yet again) focusing on ramping up exposures. Today has an especially scary one. Yesterday our receptionist at work was out sick. She's back today, and I don't know what was wrong with her, but it sounds like she's still not feeling well. Of course my brain always goes straight to "stomach virus!" Today we have a potluck. I had planned not to attend, based on her illness. But I love potlucks! And I'm supposed to be making social decisions based on what I love, not what my OCD tells me. So I'll be there today. Worst thing that happens, I get sick. Well, getting sick is actually on my OCD To Do List. Here I go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Feeling Frustrated

Earlier this week, I decided that OCD fears aside, I just plain didn't want to give up 10 hours of my precious free time to play kickball. So despite that I hate flaking on people (and really, I should have thought of that BEFORE signing up, right? But I got so caught up in the opportunity for some great exposures I didn't think it through), I withdrew from the tournament. I'm mostly happy with the decision, but of course OCD is kicking in in the opposite direction now. As in, will my team hate me? Will someone get injured because they have to play more time because I'm not there? Etc., etc.

It's yet another great opportunity to sit with the anxiety, to accept that I might ruin something, and if I do, I'll cope with it when it happens. That's so much easier said than done.

And of course lurking in the back of my mind is the fact that if I didn't have OCD, I probably would have sucked it up and honored my commitment once I'd signed up. I don't know, just having a hard week.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Best Vacation Ever?

I took this whole week off. I am painting the outside of my house! Awesome. Actually, the very small portion that's totally done looks great! So that's good. It has some OCD issues for me, though. The house is old, so there's surely some lead paint in there, so I'm crazy paranoid about collecting all the scraped paint. And since there seems to actually only be one old coat of paint, I've been spending some time ruminating about whether 20 years ago someone sanded all the old lead paint off and it's now in my soil and the next buyer of my house will test it and then either I'll never sell the house or I'll have to pay $20,000 to fix it. So yeah, every time I go out to work, I feel a little sick to my stomach.

But I know this is one of those situations where I cannot know and I cannot fix it, so I just need to let it be.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Disgusting Life Before OCD

I've just signed up for a kick ball tournament. What was I thinking?! But signing up, and the vague OCD fears it raised (all those people touching the ball!) reminded me of some of the things I did before OCD.

My sister and I went on an 8 week trip around the U.S. when I was in college. At one point in the desert of California, we washed our hair in a (none too clean) public bathroom sink.

In college I played softball. I was a pitcher. Which means I touched the ball on every single possession. The same ball that touched dirt and everyone's hands and probably some dog poop for good measure. Every weekend we played double headers, which meant we ate lunch in between games. I don't remember ever washing my hands. Also, I went through a phase in pitching where I LICKED MY FINGER between every.single.pitch to get a little friction on my fingers. Makes me laugh to think about how annoyed I get when people lick their fingers when flipping through paperwork. So, yeah, definitely wouldn't have been on the softball team with OCD.

And lastly, my sister and I traveled through Europe for 4 weeks the summer I graduated from college. We used to shower and then attach our wet towels to the outside of our (dirty) backpacks and away we'd go. Even my sister says she wouldn't do that now.

But of course, nothing bad ever happened, at least not so bad that I remember it now, and I never gave these things a second thought. So, yeah, the kick ball thing scares me a little, but I also expect to have some fun. Be a little of the old me for a while.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The House Is Still Standing

My sister returned home today, and all was well. I ended up going over there twice. The first time I was so proud of myself. When I went to leave, I locked the door, checked it once, walked away. Felt good about it. But that wouldn't do, would it? So you know what I grew worried about within about a block of my drive home?! That the refrigerator had stayed open a crack and the cat would climb in and suffocate. How many cats do you know that have died that way? Yeah, same here.

On the plus side, I recognized how counterproductive it would be to return and check, so I continued home. If the cat died, I would feel bad, and I would deal with it when it happened. Of course the cat was fine. The second night I was a little stressed when I left, but it was much better. Overall, I was really glad to have done it, as housesitting is something that's caused me problems for a while.

In the meantime, I found some home canned goods at my mom's house from, I kid you not, 1994. Botulism fears, here I go.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Chance For A Bunch of Exposures

This week I'm stopping at my sister's to feed the cat while they're out of town. Some serious challenges there. I haven't actually done it yet, and I worked myself up into a pretty decent OCD lather earlier in the week. It's one thing to leave my own doors open and ruin the world, but someone else's house? Yikes! But I know I can do it. Besides, she usually has some good snacks in the cupboards. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Next Step

Okay, here's what I'm working on now. Just going to social events because they sound fun (or in the case of some, because I should or need to) without doing a massive analysis: what will the weather be like, who else will be there, will they be sick, is someone close to me doing something important soon such that I want to avoid being sick, etc., etc...

I'm shy enough that I know some events (such as dates) will simply always make me nervous. But I REALLY want to skip the OCD piece of the social anxiety puzzle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Change in Perspective

About a year ago, well, maybe a bit more, my workplace installed newfangled hand dryers in the bathroom. It turns out the modern version actually gets your hands dry, unlike the dryers I grew up with. But nobody much uses them. Some people think they use too much energy, but I suspect that most people, even those without OCD, have the idea that you're just covering your hands in "germy bathroom air" by using them.

I mentioned them to my therapist (which is why it must have been more than a year ago) and she of course told me I should use the hand dryer. My pre-OCD, super environmentalist self would surely have done it. Energy or not, I suspect it's better than the two paper towels you have to use because one doesn't quite do it. But I resisted, it was scary.

When I did use the dryer, it all seemed so germy. The air blew in my face, water would sometimes splash up in my face because the air movement was so strong, and it blows straight up. And oh my gosh, did my hand just touch the edge of that thing???!!!

For whatever reason, about 2 weeks ago, I decided I would use the hand dryer once each day. And lo and behold, it's different now. The air in my face doesn't bother me. Mostly my perception is that it feels so good to have my hands warmed by the nice air. Dare I say I LOOK FORWARD to using the darned thing? Unbelievable! Take that, OCD!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Humming Along, Mostly

I'm having a lot of OCD issues around cats lately, mine, my neighbors' and my sister's.

But except for the cats, things are going well. My mood remains in summer mode. Did two good things over the weekend. The first: I made cupcakes for my sister's family, then they sat in a warm car for a few hours. Despite my fear that the frosting might food poison them, I served them the cupcakes.

The other: my mom purchased a new recliner at a garage sale. Of course my mind went straight to bedbugs. And of course she asked me to help her move the chair when I was over visiting. I did give the chair a cursory bug inspection, but only after I'd helped her lug the chair around. Then went home and didn't take a shower.

Oh, and another big picture sign of busting through OCD: I pick up worms again. I hate seeing worms crawling on the sidewalk after a rain, because I know they're likely to dry up and die. In the "olden days," I would pick them up and move them back to the grass or garden, but in recent years I didn't want to touch them. Not the worm so much as the "sidewalk germs." Three times in the last two weeks I've "rescued" a worm. It felt good.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good and Bad

The other day I woke up worried about something. I SO wanted to call my sister. It was 7:15. I knew she'd be up, but it was just too weird to call that early. Okay, I could handle waiting until later in the morning. Oh, but calling from work, that's OCD for sure. Okay, I'll wait until after work, that's normal, we talk all the time. By the time I got home from work, my worry was gone. Yay!

BUT, at the same time, I found myself making decisions this week based on a fear of having a cold this weekend, since I was getting together with the whole family. Not good.

BUT on the more positive side, despite that, I've basically been able to touch everything at work that I ever need or want to, without washing afterward. It's so nice to not wonder if the accountants are noticing me washing my hands over and over again on their end of the floor.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Difference in Light, Difference in Mood

I have lived in the NW for all but 6 years of my life. The winters here are gray and rainy, and it gets dark quite early. I've never felt that it affected me that much. Until I realized that the three occasions that I've made the decision to temporarily take medication have all been in November or December, usually as a result in a jump in my feelings of depression.

Twice in the last week I've gotten out of bed about an hour before my alarm went off. Not because I was too anxious to sleep, as sometimes happens, but because I was awake and ready to get up. Last winter I felt like I needed 9-10 hours of sleep each night. Now 8 is working well.

Last December, when the boyfriend and I went to Phoenix, I was amazed at how happy I was while there, even as my relationship was falling apart. I may need to become a snowbird for real.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Was That Really Me?

Yesterday I went to the year end "carnival" with my sister and nieces at their school. For whatever reason, I decided to pretty much go for it. I sat in the "mini dunk tank" where I got splashed with a water balloon. I did the sack race. I touched a zillion things that had been touched by a zillion elementary school kids. I hula-hooped with a communal hula-hoop for goodness sake. They had a cotton candy machine, and as a result little wisps of cotton candy were floating through the air all night. The part where I thought, was that really me? was when a piece of cotton candy floated through the air and landed on my leg. I reached down and I ate it. It was delicious.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Magical Thinking

One issue I'm trying to overcome is some magical thinking (in a nutshell, magical thinking is the idea that just because you think about something, it will happen) : two of my cats have died in recent years after going to the vet. And while yes, both needed to go to the vet, in both cases I think actions by the vet precipitated problems that might not have occurred if I'd stayed home. In one case this is probably OCD thinking, the other isn't, the cat really was overtreated.

ANYWAY, my remaining cat hasn't been to the vet in 5 years. He's super healthy (I think), but he should probably go.

Compounding this, is knowing two single women who were both diagnosed with cancer within a couple of months of having their last cat die. So I'm like, No, Max, you cannot die!!!! Making taking him to the vet seem even scarier.

Yes, magical thinking, all. But it's very strong. I don't have too many issues that are purely magical thinking. My germ fears are at least based in some sense of reality. But I find the "magical" types of fears much harder to deal with.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reading Old Posts

I don't read my old blog posts very often. Usually only when I'm looking to reference something in a current post. Tonight I randomly was looking back about a year and a half ago. In some ways, I can clearly see where I've made some important strides forward. In other ways, I feel like nothing has changed. Next time I do that, I'd like to see a greater contrast.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whatever Happened to My Goals for the Week?

A while back I was posting goals for the week, and then, I wasn't.

I was reminded of them this morning, as I headed out to the store with some very specific goals: I would drop off a prescription at the pharmacy, then head to the grocery store across the parking lot, where I would use the restroom.

Alas the pharmacy doesn't open until 10 on Sunday. Still, I grabbed my grocery cart firmly by the handles (usually I just pull it from the front), then I used the restroom, and went about my merry shopping way. Then I came home and ate a snack and started my laundry without washing my hands. Oh, and did I mention the woman I passed by with the cold sore? I tried to tell myself she probably checked out in my line, but I didn't push that one too hard.

Scary for a bit, mostly satisfying!!

So, goals for this week:
Use an unfamiliar public restroom.
Attend a movie theater, with no shower after.
Take a bag of yard waste to my parents' house, whether or not it's raining.
No handwashing this week at work, even if people have colds.
Continue to pet the neighbor's cat without washing after.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why Are There So Few?

I am often amazed by how few people there are who really have their OCD under control. I don't actually believe that it's because those people went off to happily live their lives and are too busy to check in on OCD boards. I'm sure that's true for some people, especially for the lucky few that stumbled onto good treatment early on in their OCD, but I sincerely believe that most people get a little better, then get worse, repeat, repeat, repeat.

HOWEVER, there are a few people who post on the yahoo OCD Board who truly seem as close to cured as you can get. And they tell the same story: they decided they weren't going to do compulsions anymore. It took some time and it took some work, but it WORKS. And now, when obsessions crop up, they smack them down immediately, before OCD can take hold again.

It's a testament to how strong the hold of OCD is, that despite knowing this, that despite how crappy OCD makes our lives, that despite how straightforward treatment is (at least for contamination and checking types, like I have), how HARD it is to do what those people have done. I'm s-l-o-w-l-y getting there, but despite my successes, there are still exposures that seem soooo hard and scary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Different Perspectives

On Sunday, I went to a concert with my parents (my mom's in a community orchestra). After the concert, I helped my mom clean up the reception, then we all went to dinner.

I ordered finger food and ate it without washing first. I ate food off both my parents' plates, I shared food with my mom using my fingers. I drank my water after my dad picked it up by the rim with hands I know are washed zero times every day. Then at the end of the meal, my mom joked about how we couldn't share a dessert because I wouldn't be willing to eat a piece of cake off the same plate. I will admit I was ticked off, although I made a joke about it. She really doesn't get OCD at all, and she also seems not to ever notice when I do exposures.

Oh well.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The List

A few months ago, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to do this year, but that OCD preferred I didn't: ride the bus, shop at thrift stores, things like that. One thing that took me until this week to do was "sell things on ebay." I did it years ago, but recently I've been afraid of sending germs off with my packages, or having something go wrong, or you know, just general disaster. This week I sold two things. It was a little scary, but I mailed them off. No disaster yet.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simon

My cat Simon died on Tuesday. He had a heart defect, that apparently led to a clot breaking off and lodging in an artery. It wasn't a peaceful way to go, but on the plus side, he didn't suffer over days as he got sicker and sicker, as often happens with pets.

I adopted Simon when I already had two cats, and really didn't need another. I was just visiting the shelter with a friend. He had the most amazing, sad, pathetic "take me home" face. However, when you took him out of the cage to visit with him, he put up the most ridiculous racket I've ever heard out of a housecat. I assume that's why he was still there making that same pathetic face when I went back to check on him a week later. And then he was mine.

As long as he wasn't in a shelter or a car, he was a sweet cheerful easy-going kitty. He started out terrified of outside, but he grew to love it. Luckily he never figured out how to get over the chain link fence in the back yard, so I didn't have to worry about him getting into the street or cat fights. Not that he would get in a cat fight. His approach to meeting other cats went something like, "Yay, it's another cat!!" The one time he tangled with another kitty, he almost died, because he apparently lay down on his back to play, and the kitty nearly got his jugular. He may not have been super smart...

I will miss him.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nope, I Was Wrong

Today got worse. Cat died. :(

Monday, May 16, 2011

Worst Day Ever?

It's 11:07 pm. I've spent $50 on gluten free cupcakes, and they're getting worse each batch. Tomorrow I will get up early to stop at the gluten free store and buy some cookies.

My cat is sick. He went to the vet today; they don't know what's wrong with him. I'm currently force feeding his sad little drugged out self.

And the "healthy" cat just projectile vomited so hard I thought maybe he was having a seizure. Still have to clean that up.

The chocolate cupcakes are pretty good, though.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Freakin' Cupcakes

I cannot tell you how much time I've spent contemplating the damn cupcakes. Will they be good? Will I food poison everyone? Do cupcakes require a plate or can I just provide napkins? Should I make extra in case my partner in cupcakes forgets? Will I get sick and cough all over everyone's cupcakes? Does it matter if I do? Does cream cheese frosting require refrigeration? And did you know that it IS possible to eat too many cupcakes?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doing Okay, Happy It's the Weekend

Well my parents and my work both presented me with a couple of big old exposures yesterday. The parents one is sort of personal and the work one is sort of boring (I work in budgets after all) but suffice it to say, I spent some time worrying about disaster. But overall, I'm doing okay just sort of ignoring the worry and moving on. It probably would be therapeutically better to let the anxiety "wash over me" and then fade away. But whatever. That doesn't sound like a fun way to spend my weekend, does it? Regardless, I think I'm doing okay with these, and I'm happy about that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Hard To Be A Normal Person

Whenever I head out to knit night, I tell myself that no matter what I encounter there, I will not take a shower when I get home. Some nights that's harder than other nights. Tonight was a "hard night." While chatting with the woman next to me, we got talking about her work. She's a dental hygienist. I was pleased that hearing that didn't set me off. But THEN, she mentioned that her last patient today had cold sores. She sent him home, but then she spent the next 5 minutes chatting about cold sores. This is actually what first triggered my OCD back in 1997, a fear of what I thought was my boyfriend's cold sore (turned out he didn't actually have one after all). Fond memories, there! Anyway, just thinking about them makes me want to take a shower. Cool, no? I'm not taking the shower, but I'm not feeling great. I'm learning that OCD fears make me want to eat junk food. If I get over my OCD, I'll probably lose 20 pounds!

Argh

About a month ago, I agreed to provide treats for our May birthdays at work. We have a coworker who's gluten-free, so I'm attempting to make my cupcakes gluten free, too. I think I can do it, still experimenting a little. But OCD has really latched onto this. What if my gluten free products mingle with the flour in the pantry, or the bagels I bought? I've got this idea that my coworker isn't just sensitive to gluten but will somehow die if she eats it. I know I'm going to make them anyway, but I hate the worry. Trudge, trudge, keep on going.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

That Was Unexpected

Well, it's always the things we don't worry about. I went to my parents' house. I ate the pizza. I forgot that I don't really have the enzymes to digest cheese anymore, living the mostly vegan life that I do. I got rather violently ill. And plugged up the toilet. So awesome when you have OCD. I got through it, though. My niece has Asper gers and had the most amazing tantrum I've seen. It was not the best day ever. My mom claims she had a nice Mother's Day. My mom's funny that way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Biggest Goal

My dream is to live life mostly like a "normal" person. i suppose I should instead say a person without OCD, in terms of the places I go and the decisions I make.

I've done a lot of exposures in the last year, but I've also spent a lot of time ruminating, and I also still make a lot of choices based on how I feel from an OCD perspective.

So I'm going to work hard on this. This weekend my mom invited me for pizza on Mother's Day (the same day she's also babysitting for my sister's kids all day- something might be wrong with this picture, but I am at least bringing her cupcakes. Anyway...)

As soon as I said yes, I got scared that my nieces would be sick. I almost went so far as canceling.

But I didn't. I like pizza. And I was recently saddened when my sister (very kindly) told me that she's changed her children's guardian in case of her death from me to her mother in law, because they know her so much better than they know me. And that's partly because I'm lazy, but it's in large part because her kids cause me OCD problems.

Lots of hard work ahead.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

OCD and the Table

Last week I got a newsletter from a non-profit I donated to last year. They're right down the street from me. They were looking for a portable table to use at outreach events. I had the perfect table. I've used it twice, neither of those times in the last six years, and it was languishing in my attic. Great! Then OCD stepped in. It's a little flimsy, what if it falls over? It's a folding table, what if someone pinches their fingers when they close it back up and sues the non-profit and they hate me? What if the woman at the office has a cold when I deliver the table! Huh. Nice try, OCD! It made me nervous but I dropped it off yesterday. She put it together in front of me to make sure she could, and didn't come close to pinching her fingers. :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Night At The Game

Well, my night out with sister went pretty well. I did far far far more ruminating than is healthy, but I also did a ton of exposures.

They included
-not driving home from work to check that I'd turned off the bathroom fan. And for about 3 hours, boy did I want to!
-going straight from work to her house.
-using the restroom at her house.
-stopping at an event at her kids' elementary school before the game, where I interacted with about 25 kids. Ooh, germy kids! I didn't wash my hands after.
-using the same parking pass that I'd purchased earlier in the day. I wasn't convinced it was still good, but I took the risk. It was good.
-after first referring to the area under our seats as "grimy," so she wouldn't store her coat there, I later encouraged her to store her purse under the seat (although I have to confess that I probably wouldn't have if it had truly been grimy.)

So, all in all, a successful day, except that our team lost.