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