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.