Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trying To Head Off a Weekend of Rumination

A few posts ago, I wrote about a problem at work that had an unexpectedly positive resolution. Unfortunately, I still need one more approval to get the thing actually resolved, and that guy has been SLOW! I need to check in with him next week, and it's got my brain going a mile a minute! I started ruminating yesterday afternoon, and I haven't been able to stop. I'm off work until Wednesday, and the last thing I want is to miss out on the fun of days off while worrying.

Luckily I've got a lot to do, so I think I'll be able to avoid it. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Exercise Really Is the Best

I haven't had a horrible time with OCD over this long weekend. But there were still a lot of "scary" things coming at me. The holidays change my routines, and I remain all about my routines.

So this afternoon when the rain finally cleared, I headed out for a run. It was an excellent run! I put my current favorite song on repeat- it had the perfect tempo- and I ran and ran (by my standards).

And as always, it made me feel great! At the start of the run I cringed at the all the extra trash people had out due to Christmas. Tomorrow's pickup day on my running route, so there was a ton of it. By the end of the run, I aimed for the messiest trash cans and cruised right by. Woo!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Another Classic OCD Day

Today on the way home from a shopping trip, I was thinking how I need to concentrate on moving toward uncertainty, rather than running away.

Then a few hours later, I learned that a Christmas gift I'd ordered isn't expected to arrive until Monday (for some reason it's been hanging out in a Fed Ex facility in Washington State for 4 days- weird).

But I went straight to a bad OCD place. I'm not actually that worried about it not arriving in time for Christmas. It was instead a generic "fear of uncertainty." I just wanted to feel certain about when it would get here and the condition it would arrive in. And then I started to ruminate.

Which of course is exactly the opposite of running toward uncertainty. Ha. So I'm letting it go.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Huh,

So I have one friend who also has serious mental health stuff. She and I can talk about ANYTHING. Two weeks ago at work I discovered that I had made a mistake. A full on, need to tell my boss so it can get fixed and it might take a while, mistake. I was freaked OUT! Told Rachel I could imagine ending up fired, etc.

Then on Friday we talked again, and I told her that I thought it had worked out, in fact, that in the end, the chance to fix the outcome might actually make the situation a net plus.

You know what she said to me (with a touch of annoyance in her voice): "once again you're all worried and you end up with a shiny apple in your hand." Huh. I was a bit taken aback. But she's right. I worry and worry, and it's stupid. It wastes time, time that could be spent making my life better, or even making the world better. And then nothing happens. Over and over and over again.

Years ago my therapist told me I could spend time worrying about burning my house down after I'd burned down two. I think I could worry after one, but his point was also well taken.

It's time to redirect my brain onto better things. If something ends up broken I will fix it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another Week

This week featured some classic "one step forward two steps back" OCD action. Well, it was probably only one step forward, one step back.

I still struggle with my fear of simple colds. One of my coworkers has a 95 year old mom who's prone to bronchitis, which could actually kill her, given her generally fragile state. My rational self knows that I'm not required to never ever get a cold just so I won't give it to Kathy, who will give it to her mom, who will die.

But I still worry. Last week I had what I think was the world's mildest cold. Frankly, I'm still not sure. I kept waiting for it to get worse, and it just never did. I was a little sniffly, with a minor sore throat.

On Friday I had scheduled lunch with a former co-worker and Kathy. I wanted to cancel it SO badly. There were a number of things about it that tweaked my OCD. But I didn't. Once it was Friday, I actually looked forward to it, too, which is such a rare and pleasant feeling for me regarding social events.

As soon as lunch was over, though, I found new events to try to avoid. It never ends, does it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

Today I had a funny experience at the grocery store. I was getting a salad from the salad bar, something that used to cause OCD issues but doesn't anymore (yay!)

But I walked up to the end of a conversation between the two people ahead of me. They seemed to be discussing germs on the salad bar tongs. The man was saying, "I'm not worried, I haven't had a cold in 8 years." The woman said, "wow, how do you manage that?!" And the man replied, "I mostly avoid people." Ha, not really a viable solution now, is it, although many of us have probably tried it.


In other news, I've finally started reading a book I purchased months ago. It's "Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life" by Stephen Hayes and Spencer Smith. I'm only about halfway through but I'm finding it wonderful. It's the first workbook (of MANY I've read) that's actually motivated me to do the exercises. I like it much much more than the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, a book that spent what seemed like half its pages telling me why ACT was so much better than all other totally crappy therapy (ERP included, mind you). Anyway, one quote jumped out at me, because it reflects my experience so well: "The best way to do this is practice, practice, practice. You won't be able to make these techniques a part of your behavioral response patterns without practicing them. You can't just read them passively and hope to 'get it.'" Oh, how often do I do that, hope that just understanding how treatment is supposed to work will make me better. It just doesn't work like that.

Anyway, the authors are very interested in the roles language and symbolism play in the way human brains work, and based on the Amazon reviews for this book, not everyone appreciates this approach, but I like it. I still think ERP is my best bet for my contamination fears, but for rumination, I think this is the best take I've seen. Will hopefully provide an update on how it works out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Evidence Do I Have...

I came home today to a letter from my insurance company telling me they were not renewing part of my policy. I didn't panic, but I was concerned. I called the agent to ask exactly what this meant.

While talking to her, I noticed page four of the packet, that told me they were offering alternative coverage. It will cost 75% more than the old coverage, but still. Perhaps they could have put this on page one instead of hidden in the back!

Here's where OCD kicked in. The nice lady at the insurance agency said she'd look into the details of what happened and get back to me tomorrow. I of course thought up all kinds of scenarios where somehow my policy DOES get cancelled as a result of this conversation. I fretted a while.

Then I thought to myself, what evidence do you have that this worst case scenario will happen. Fact is, I have NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER.

Now, I know this kind of thinking can turn into a compulsion, where I suddenly spend hours contemplating evidence and probabilities. But in this case, I was able to think back to all the times I wasted hours, days, WEEKS of time worrying about things that I had no reason to believe would ever happen. I'm letting this one go.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Ups and Downs of OCD

Yesterday I visited my mom after work. For the first time in a while, I didn't say anything about a single OCD related issue. I wander through life noticing little things I'd do differently in areas like food preparation or cat litter dumping. My mom's one of the only people I "gripe" to, because I know her as well as I do.

But last night I just went with the flow, and it was all okay. It was a good night.

And then today, I've got a new thing to stew on. It doesn't even make any sense (nothing new there, I suppose). My mom wants to buy a steam mop. I have one and I love it. I recommended it to her. And now I'm sure something will go wrong, and it will be my fault. What will go wrong? Well, there are so many options. I still have fears of bedbugs arriving in my home in something I've purchased, so that's an option. Or it might be broken. Or hers might not get hot enough so if she uses it to clean the bathroom floor, she might spread germs around the house. Or if she cleans the steamer pads differently than I do, more spread of germs.

The ultimate irony in all of this of course is that steam mops are known for their sanitizing ability. I should be happy! But no...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sad News From My House

Lots of OCD stuff has been going on- some decent exposures- but I have a big, unfortunate exposure from today. I came home to find that my sweet, vibrant Max had died sometime during the day. Max had lived with me for more than 14 years. I was a little hysterical earlier this evening. Now I'm just sad.


I know this picture is a bit fuzzy, but it's a favorite.

For several years now, I've had an OCD-based fear that if I didn't have any cats, I would be diagnosed with cancer soon after. This is based on observing an n of 2 where this happened to friends and family. Now I may well get another cat, but it will not be because OCD wins and bullies me into it.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Freak Out

Fall is not my favorite season. Sure, in theory it's nice: cool crisp days, the leaves turning. But I live in the northwest, so it's really more about rain and raking up soggy leaves before they clog the sewer grates.

Fall has always been the worst time for my OCD, and I often get a slug of depression as the cherry on top. I've gone on medication three times (or is it four?) and it's always been in the fall.

This year it's been mild, but it's definitely still there. Late in the day at work I started crying for no particular reason. Luckily it was REALLY late in the day and I think only one other person was still around.

For some reason I also often start dating people in late summer or early fall. I don't think it helps the situation, as it adds a whole extra layer of stress.

I've gone on two dates now. Before the dates, I find myself hoping they go badly so I can just get back to my regular old life. Then they go pretty well. Then afterwards I can't really remember what it was that seemed good and then I find myself wanting to tell him I'm not interested. That's adding it's own extra layer of stress.

Ugh, fall.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Subconscious Knows

The last few days I've been feeling really good regarding my OCD, making the right choice when faced with the chance to avoid.

Then last night I had a dream just full of OCD themes. It's all sort of vague now 12 hours later, but I know it at the very least involved an accidental pregnancy and dealing with my mom contaminating my environment.

Then of course today I was reminded that my OCD isn't magically gone in real life anyway. Oh, well, it was still a nice couple of days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dating, Part 3,4,5?

As a fairly anti-social woman who's getting older, I get asked out about once a year. Or lately I should say literally once a year. In 2010, that turned into a 6 month relationship. In 2011, the guy was creepy and there was no date. In 2012, well, not quite sure yet.

A coworker asked me out yesterday. He seems very nice. He's also quite a bit older than I am. Plus, there's the whole, boy do I hate first dates thing. But "you might be too old plus I'm bad at dates" didn't seem like a reasonable reason to say no. So I said yes.

But oh, how I hate first dates. And I don't know about how I feel about potentially sharing my OCD with someone at work. Because within about 10 minutes of him asking me out, at least 5 people at work already knew that he had (before I said a thing to anyone), so that's a bit disconcerting as well.

But just as with travel, I don't want to put it off for so long that it looms larger and LARGER out there.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Classic OCD Moment

Last night was a classic. After 90 straight dry days, yesterday we had more than an inch of rain. Yikes! I knew it was coming and replaced my old wiper blades. Or did I? On my way home, in the dark and rain, my brand new driver side wiper blade flew off my car! Now, my OCD could have latched on to whether anyone was harmed as the blade flew behind me into the road, but it did not.

I managed to see well-ish out the right side of the windshield, and thank goodness my route home took me right by an auto parts store that was open until 9.

The nice clerk at the store installed the wipers, I gave him a nice tip, and all was well, right? Wrong! As soon as a drove away, I thought, did I give him $5 or was it actually a $1 bill? Ugh, a $1 tip would have been insulting. I ruminated, I opened my wallet to try to mentally remember what I'd seen and done. I watched TV, where I kept seeing that stupid ad for McDonalds' dollar meal that features, you guessed it, a $1 bill.

The best thing to have done would have been to have imagined that it WAS a $1 bill. That the clerk was mad, that I ruined his day, that he told all his friends about the stupid tip he got, blah, blah.

I couldn't quite bring myself to do that. Instead, I went with trying to accept the thought as it came through my brain, but not stew on it. I also distracted myself with some fun craft activities.

It wasn't perfect, but I actually found as the night went on that NOT ruminating about it led me to feel more confident that of course I'd tipped what I intended (and not in a reassurance kind of way).

But it also pointed out, yet again, that when you give OCD an inch, it will take EVERY opportunity to make you feel uncertain and waste time that could better be spent on just about anything else.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sitting With Anxiety

Can't help but think that's been the title before on this blog.

I'm currently sitting with something that is causing me a lot of stress. Not going to list it, because I know I'd be doing that as a form of reassurance. It's not a big thing, but I've already been ruminating over it for an hour now, so I'm moving on to trying to let the thought float into my brain and then right back out.

This is not easy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Solid Exposure Week

Yesterday I learned that my office's health fair was to be held right next door to an event providing outreach services to homeless veterans. I spent the next hour thinking of why I didn't really want to attend anyway, before realizing that this was a great opportunity to "run toward fear." Not to mention that the route of the bus I ride all the time ends at a homeless shelter, so it's not like I'm ever going to avoid hanging out with lots of homeless people.

But then in the end, I had meetings scheduled during the whole event. So, oh well. But as of this morning I had expected to attend, and wasn't feeling any anxiety about it, so I'm going to count it anyway. :)

Over the next few days, I've got lunches planned with a former colleague and my mom. I'm feeling a high level of anxiety over both, as there's some uncertainty and newness involved in both plans. Today I found myself trying to rearrange schedules and plans to pick things/times/places that felt "safer." So my goal for these few days is to let it play out however it does, without stage managing it.

In terms of causing impacts in my life, my fear over social events is probably the worst aspect of my OCD. I avoid them because I can't control the schedule, and there may be sick people, or people that I could get sick, etc, etc. Between ruining my social life and causing hours of anxiety, it's worth focusing my efforts on. Especially as we move into cold and flu season.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Good Story Among the Bad

The next few weeks are going to be tough for me, OCD-wise. I know I'll get through it, because I always do.

But rather than fret about that, I will share my story of the dentist appointment. It's not an exciting story, but it does represent for me how I can learn to face things I've been unwilling to in the past.

I've long hated the dentist. I think most people do, but I'm pretty sure my phobia is on the higher end of the spectrum. Growing up I had a lot of cavities and a dentist who didn't use enough novacaine, which I did not learn until I was an adult and got a new dentist and found that fillings were a much less terrifying experience.

But then I got to add on OCD fears as well. Sure, you can't get HIV at the dentist. Except those (very very) few unfortunate people who have. When I'm there I pretty much just have to not pay attention to anything around me, or I completely freak myself out.

My dentist these days is part of a huge-huge HMO. The care is good, but access is terrible. Cleaning/exam appointments are usually about 3-4 months out. But I learned early on that I can call to check on cancellations and generally can get an appointment within a few days. For years that's what I've been doing, since I've been unwilling to handle the stress of knowing for 3 months that I've got that appointment on my calendar. Back in June I needed to make an appointment in order to get a prescription. Sure enough, the appointment was in late September. I fully intended to call back the next week and cancel it. I've done that before.

But then I decided not to. It was time to face the dreaded anticipatory anxiety. So I stuck a giant post it note in my calendar and spent the last three months knowing it was out there. Last week I finally had my appointment. It was uneventful, but I was still pretty excited about how it all worked out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This is the Way It's Going to Be?

Sometimes, I just accept that the way my OCD is now is just the way it's going to be. I do fine but not great. I'm functional for sure, but also limited for sure. I avoid dating because it ramps up OCD. I avoid a lot of social events due to OCD.

But my job is good, I can always get myself there, even when stressed, and day to day, I like my life just fine. My family keeps me social even when I shut down friendships.

After all my attempts, and successes, with exposures, I still haven't met my goal of finally pushing through the scary stuff, or even learning to stop being affected by the less scary stuff.

Just this afternoon, I looked outside to see my neighbor filling the garbage can and leaving a extra bag on the side. The last garbage pickup was this morning. Which means there's two more weeks of garbage to overflow before the next pickup. I KNOW I can deal with this, I've dealt with it for a year now. But I STILL find myself ruminating about garbage.

The worst part is that once I start to ruminate, I tend to put aside plans for getting stuff done, and I go into "surf randomly on the internet" mode.

So is the way it's been the way it's always going to be? I don't know. Do I care if it is? I don't know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Being Forced to Be Patient

Last weekend, I discovered that my neighbor's cat has some matted fur. My neighbor and I do not have a great relationship, and I'm a little scared of her. So rather than just saying, hey, your cat's getting older and it looks like he's not able to groom himself very well, I decided to work on brushing him myself.

He LOVES brushing until he doesn't, and I've already worked out three mats on his sides. But this also means I have to stop after a few minutes. Were this my cat, I'd go at him with a clippers (or take him to a vet or groomer) and be done with it. But he's not my cat, and he scratches me if I don't stop, so I have to go slow.

After he goes back home, I freak out for a while. What if he never comes back, what if the neighbor notices what I'm doing (there some evidence that she already has), what if he has fleas or ringworm and passes them to my cat. As with all my OCD and life in general, I want things to be certain, to be fixed, to be done, and I want it now.

Leo says no to that plan, though, so slowly it is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Can't Back Out Now: Update

Well, I can, but I'm not going to. I have a massage appointment in a hour. At this point more excited than scared. So that's a plus. My shoulders are so tight! A massage will be so helpful. Will report back this afternoon!

Okay, I had the massage. It was great! It's not really a surprise that this was true. I didn't even end up going with the chair massage in the end, and all was fine. I could feel how "crunchy" my back and shoulders were as she worked on them. I really need to spend less time on the computer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's Like I'm a Plant

Just the other day I contemplated the plants knowing it's turning to fall as the days get shorter. Just the other day I noticed my depression notching back up. Damn.

It's still sunny and beautiful, but my brain can sense what's coming. I'm going to try to put in place a regimen of exercise and massage. Both of which sound good for other reasons, too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Doing The Right Thing, I Think

About a month ago, an RV showed up across the street. A really ugly, probably from around 1982, RV. At first I thought it was someone's parents visiting, so I didn't give it much thought.

But now, it's been a month. And it's clear it belongs to someone who lives in the house. The registration is both temporary and expired, so I don't know what that means, but it doesn't seem good.

But you know, I was still willing to ignore it, until I noticed the gray ooze that was dripping out of its sewer drain. I think it's just graywater (from the sink), but you know what, it's really not okay to illegally park your illegally unregistered RV and then let it leak sewage on the street.

At first I decided that I shouldn't call it in to the city because my fears were OCD related (and they are). But then I realized OCD was just as related to my fears of NOT calling- fears that moving it would somehow make the leak worse, or that they would find out I called and confront me, etc etc. So this morning I called.

I'm sort of freaking out, but that's for sure the OCD talking, so, nothing much to be done.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Doing Well (well, except for the anxiety)

The meeting I scheduled that triggered my initial freakout about people going on trips (see last post) passed without incident. As always, it wasn't till about 6 hours after the meeting that I remembered that it had made me so nervous.

This weekend my mom and I have plans to get together at my house. I've built up a number of OCD worries about it, and I'm doing my best not to inflict "OCD-control" on it, instead scheduling it the most convenient way, not the most controlled way. Feeling anxiety, but also feeling determined.

But I'm also looking forward to Sunday, when I will have two free days, all to myself!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Resolution of a Different Kind

Next week my boss goes on a vacation to the South Pacific. There seems to be something about swimming with the whales involved? I don't know, big trip. Then the week after that, my parents fly to New Mexico. Smaller trip, but still a trip.

As I always do, I find myself scared of getting an illness that I pass along to people right before their vacation. It's one of my biggest OCD sort of things, and it's especially frustrating, because 1), it's silly and 2), I can't live my life in a bubble, in particular because the people I'm trying to keep healthy sure aren't bothering to live their lives in a bubble.

SO, this week I resolved to do at least one thing each day that might expose me to germs. It's generally nothing major, scheduling a meeting with a bunch of people, going to the library, even just going grocery shopping. So far it's kept me from doing a fair amount of the kind of avoidance I might normally do.

Sometimes I'll actually stop and try to strategically schedule a meeting or a book pickup at the library for the day that seems least likely to interfere with someone else's vacation schedule, should I get sick. This week I've just scheduled on days that are most convenient for ME. Wow! What a concept.

As often happens, in the days leading up to a scary meeting or event, I'm nervous, but once the day rolls around, it's almost never a big deal.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Religion and OCD

A number of bloggers have posted about religious topics lately and it's got me wondering about the connection between religion and OCD. I'm not religious AT ALL, and every time I read about posters and their relationship with God, I'm quite frankly surprised.

Now, obviously with scrupulosity as a common form of OCD, there's going to be some level of connection. And living in the "heathen" northwest, I think it's easy for me to forget that a very high percentage of Americans are religious.

I've also had the fairly (I think) unusual experience of watching my quite religious parents fall away from their church in their 60s; my mom recently told me she's not sure she believes in God anymore. WHAT?!


I don't quite know where I'm going with this post. Maybe to ask, do you think those with OCD are more likely to be religious than those without? Is it a coincidence? Is it just that those with OCD are more likely to ruminate on religious issues?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Resolution

In the end, I found a time to meet my friend. It did involve her kids, but it also involved ice cream. I had a much better time than I'd expected and not just because of the ice cream. There was the moment where instead of reassuring her that she looks great, I told her she'd earned the right to feel "dumpy." She just had a baby! But oops, you're probably not supposed to agree when someone says they feel dumpy. I am choosing not to ruminate on that. In fact, I hadn't thought of it all day until writing this post.

Anyway, it all made me realize the extent to which my feelings about the visit were coming from an OCD place.

So despite feeling confident that sometimes it's a-okay not to do something because I just plain don't want to, I also need to push myself to do some of the things I think I truly don't like, because I might just be scared.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Heat Wave

Today it was in the high 90s, with tomorrow and Friday expected to be over 100. For some reason my OCD cranks up a bit when it's hot. It's uncomfortable to be hot, of course, but I'm not sure what the OCD connection is.

I suspect that it's somehow related to control. OCD makes me want to be in control in ways that are simply not possible, and I really cannot control the weather.

This week a friend of mine is in town with her family. This is a friendship that I felt had run its course about 5 years ago, and to be honest, it's run its course even more since then. She has a two year old and a newborn, and so logically it's all about them right now. That's fine and how it should be. But I have long ago accepted that I just really don't enjoy kids very much. As a result, I'm not all that understanding of the changes that children bring to friendships. It limits the friendships in my life. And I'm okay with that.

Anyway, this friend has really continued to work hard to keep our friendship alive. And I feel so guilty about it. I'm having OCD issues around seeing her this week, complicated by the fact that it's a friendship I'd hoped would die a natural death. On the other hand, I have this feeling that I should always fight OCD, but how does that work when it's something I don't want to do anyway?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Adventures in Plumbing

For years, my sister's been telling me to call her favorite plumber and have them snake my slow moving drains. I hate having workpeople (or mostly any people) in my house, so I've put it off. The bathroom sink and tub have been sluggish for ages.

But finally this week the sink clogged 100%. I tried all my tricks, even bought a drain snake, but no go.

So I called the plumber. With the plumber of course, I always wonder about where else they've been: did the last call involve sewage? Are they using the same equipment at my house? Etc.

But I survived. I did a little cleaning after he left, but it wasn't so bad. And oh, the drains are so fast! I had the best shower ever on Thursday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oh, Heck

Today my boss told us that she's retiring in three months. I knew it was coming, but I still hoped she'd stay around a few more years. The problem is that her Deputy is super ambitious, really different from her, and you can tell he's just itching to make some big changes.

After the meeting was over, my co-worker turned to me and said, ahh, it's my worst nightmare, Tim in charge and we all lose our jobs. Now, I hadn't even considered this until she said it. I still don't think it's likely, but all you've got to do is give me something to worry about...

It's another chance to practice letting a scary thought come and go, without chewing on it all day long.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: Book Review

You've probably noticed a number of people this month reviewing the book I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands, by J.J. Keeler. Here's another.

One of Keeler's stated goals in writing the book is to make people aware that OCD isn't just about being hyper organized or washing your hands all the time. As such, each chapter runs through a different "type" of OCD that she's dealt with over the years: fear of violently harming others, fear of hitting someone while driving, scrupulosity, fear of AIDS.

Her writing style is nice, and she has a great sense of humor. On more than one occasion I truly laughed out loud while reading, although sometimes it was just because I saw myself so much in what she was writing.

While I haven't suffered with most of the specific fears that she has, the idea of the "what ifs" clearly comes through in her writing, and I can sure relate to that.

Most of the book is written for those without OCD, so they can understand a little better what we go through. The last chapter, however, is written to those with OCD, with her advice for dealing with it. I liked this chapter; the advice is useful and in many cases practical and she gives examples from her own life.

I enjoyed the book. It was a quick and interesting read. I would have liked to have read more about her journey to where she is today. Most of the information was anecdotal details of her struggle, written with a humorous bent. The final chapter seems to indicate that while she still struggles, she's developed a strong toolkit against OCD. I'd like to learn a little more about the process of how she got from there to here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Conference

I did not attend this weekend's OC Foundation Conference in Chicago. But it's still helping me in the fight against OCD.

I spent some time looking at the agenda yesterday, and even the titles and descriptions of the talks had really useful reminders for me.

Among them:

To get stronger, you must repeat actions in the face of doubt and distress. Participants will learn a strategy—based on five rules—to voluntarily seek out and embrace uncertainty and anxiety.

The child will build their own "germ bomb" and the child and family will go on a germ scavenger hunt around the conference hotel to find items to place in their "germ bomb."

Embracing Your Life as an Exposure Task

And of course there's Dr. Grayson's virtual OCD camping trip. I remember seeing a segment on Oprah where they climbed into a large dumpster and another scene where they touched the inside of a really really grimy garbage bin. Sometimes when I worry about the neighbor's garbage I think about climbing into a dumpster and I get some perspective. I try to use it as motivation, not reassurance!

And this morning when I was having some stress about a dentist appointment scheduled for September, the idea of the importance of embracing uncertainty got me on the right track again.

So thanks OCD Foundation. Hope the people who actually attended have been just as inspired.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weird Worries

This week I have been worrying about the weirdest things. Some of them are annoying but fairly typical: will my sister's cat be okay while they are on vacation, will my mom get in a car accident (always related to something I've done, of course)?

But the latest one, honestly, you would possibly not come up with it even if you guessed for a million years. Okay, well, a million years is quite a long time. BUT. I have repeatedly, over more than one day, worried that I will pick a zucchini for my mom that is too big or perhaps too small. Yep, indeed. My mom's zucchini plant has not made any zucchinis this year, and mine are going crazy.

I'll be seeing her on the weekend. And I have spent time, more than once, staring at the plant, deciding if I should pick it now, or maybe tomorrow morning. If I wait until tomorrow night, will it be too big? AHHHHHHH! Make it stop. I've been taking an exposure approach, letting the thought just float in and out. But I still went out to stare at the plant this evening.

Hrrmph.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Little Bit Of Miscellaneous

About a month ago, I read an article about Jennifer Lawrence. She's an actress who's now probably best known for starring in The Hunger Games. The article was several years old, but oddly, the author twice mentioned Jennifer's peeing prowess. Yes, you read that right. She was proud of how fast she could get in and out of a public restroom (or any old place she happened to be peeing). And she specifically noted that she thought washing your hands after peeing was serious overkill.

You will not be surprised to hear that the article was a little odd. But I've thought frequently about it since, usually while using a public restroom. Now I haven't stopped washing after using one, but clearly Jennifer's still alive, so I probably could if I chose to. Hmmm.

In unrelated news, I brought some extra zucchini from my garden into work today. I hate doing that, as I get afraid that I've somehow contaminated them and the recipient will get sick. But I brought them in anyway. Avoiding avoidance and all that.

Finally, I'm getting excited to hear about people's experiences at the upcoming OCD Conference. I decided not to go for a number of reasons, some of them good, some less good. In the end, it turns out that the next two weeks at work are super duper busy, so it's good I'll be here instead. But I want to hear all about it!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Forgetting to Have OCD... and Then Remembering Again

My coworker moved over to our office this week. On Tuesday she called to ask if she should bring her nice wood bookcase- would there be room or need? Now, if I'd remembered I have OCD, I would have tried to think of a logical reason that we didn't need it, that there wouldn't be room. Because after all, bedbugs like wooden furniture.

But I "forgot" and I answered like "normal" me. I thought a wood bookcase sounded pretty and said, "sure, bring it over. We can always get rid of it later if we don't have room."

It took a full 24 hours before I thought, hey, what the heck. That was TERRIBLE advice! Haha. It felt good.

In the end, she didn't bring the bookcase. But it was not because of me, and I'm glad about that.

But on to the remembering. Yesterday morning I walked out my front door only to be faced with my neighbor's overflowing garbage can. A crow was pulling a half full bag of dry cereal out of the top. That accomplished, the bird dropped it all on the ground and had a a feast. So I spent the day ruminating about garbage again. Grumble, grumble.

On the positive side, I pledged not to touch (as in "fix") their can or their garbage, and so far I've kept the pledge.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Free Floating Anxiety

I'm sure many of you can relate to "free floating anxiety," a sort of low level buzz of anxiety not attached to any particular worry.

I often get sort of the opposite of that: I'll be feeling pretty positive, and then I'll stop and let my brain "focus," and it always remembers something that I "should" be worrying about. Boom. Dread.

This week, I've been wandering around with free floating anxiety instead. Several times I've stopped to get that "anxiety focus" and found that there's not actually anything to be worrying about. Weird! Now I wish I could get the anxiety to go away, too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Germy Fourth

We had a BBQ lunch at my parents house yesterday. My nieces had spent the night. My mom had my niece set the table. In the past, I've tried to partially intervene to avoid germy hands all over the silverware, but yesterday I didn't.

I washed my hands when I first got there and was helping with food. But after that I helped move chairs and tables around and all sorts of other dirty kinds of things and didn't wash after. I didn't try to avoid things my dad had touched. I ate a three-quarters cooked salmon burger, and it hasn't killed me yet.

I even gave my niece a big hug at the end of the day. And I was the last hugger, so I got everyone's "hug germs." Then when I got home I was too lazy to take a shower, so I've been marinating those hug germs for nearly 24 hours now.

The best part of these events is that my anxiety is always a LOT lower than I expect it to be, which makes for a really nice positive reinforcement cycle.

Hope everyone (in the US) had a nice 4th.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Good Week

I've been composing a post in my head all weekend. I did a great job with non-avoidance this week. But so many of the things I was proud of sounded stupid when I thought about writing them down: I rode in a car! I went to lunch! I ate cake!

Suffice it to say, I usually avoid some pretty mundane things, and this week I chose not to. I am happy with my efforts.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Running Toward Discomfort, Part 2

A bunch of us have written about how important it is to choose the scary option, to run toward discomfort, to "whistle for that chasing dog."

Now I don't do it voluntarily as often as I should. But I find it helps when an exposure looms or jumps out and grabs me: then I can remember that this is good for me, that I should have done this on purpose as an exposure anyway.

It helps me go from fear to inspiration, and I love that. Does it chase all the fear away? No. And if it did, it would probably be its own compulsion.

But as I deal with my fears at work (moving day is tomorrow, unless it's not!), it's helping a lot.

Bring it on, OCD, bring it on.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Avoidance

This summer I want to work on stopping avoidance. While I do a lot of exposures and avoid things less than I used to, it's so easy to avoid scary things without even realizing it. Or to rationalize: next week is really busy/important/stressful, so I'll just avoid this one thing this one time. Repeat to eternity.

This weekend I wanted to avoid attending a big rummage sale at my mom's church. I feared my mom had a cold, and I feared bed bugs. But I did go, I looked at all the furniture, and I bought a bag full of stuff.

There are a lot of bigger things I've been avoiding as well, including several medical appointments, and that massage I bought back in the spring.

This is something I really should make a hierarchy for, because jumping to some of the higher things seems overwhelming.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What a Difference 15 Years Makes

Somedays I feel like I haven't made much progress on my OCD in the last 15 years. But then Thursday happens, and I feel better.

Back in 1997, in my first full year of OCD, I was walking in downtown Seattle and stepped on something that I think was blood. It wasn't a lot, and it's not like I could even see it on the bottom of my shoe later in the day. But when I got home, I took those shoes off and I never wore them again. I kept them around for a while, but I could never bring myself to wear them. Years passed, and eventually I threw them away.

Fast forward to Thursday. It was a beautiful day, and I had an expiring REI gift certificate. So I decided to walk to REI after work; it's about a 30 minute walk from my office. About ten minutes into the walk, I looked down at my feet and saw what could only be blood. As someone with HIV fears, I often think red things may be blood, but lately I've become much more realistic in my blood versus red paint vs spilled red smoothie assessments. And this was blood. A fair amount, maybe 100 drops? It was still wet. And I was standing in the edge of it. My heart was racing. But I kept walking. In the same direction, apparently, as the bleeding person, because the drops continued when I did, growing heavier at the stoplight, then continuing along the path.

I didn't see a bleeding person anywhere, and I do hope they were okay.

So, what choice did I have but to keep walking? I thought back to 1997 and remembered the shoes. I looked down at these shoes. I love these shoes. I kept walking. I made my purchase at REI, walked back to the office. Walked through my cubicle in my shoes. Rode my bike home, parked my shoes in their normal space.

The next morning, oh, did I want to wear a different pair. Let these get "decontaminated" for a few days. That's the road to throwing out a perfectly good pair of shoes. So I wore them again on Friday. And didn't think about them again all day. Awesome!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vacations Are Fun

Why do I never remember that? I fret so much before every one. Although I do have to admit that by Friday, I had moved on to 70% excited, 30% scared.

I went to Seattle this weekend. It was fun! I should go more often than every 4 years!

I stayed at a hotel and didn't tear apart the room looking for bedbugs. I did wash my hands more often than I probably should have, but I felt okay about it. There were still plenty of exposures.

Here's my view at today's Giants/Mariners game. Giants lost :( but it was still fun:


Here's the view while walking to the game:


I'd forgotten how hilly Seattle is. The walk back to my car nearly killed me. Then waiting on a ridiculously large hill through seven (yes seven!) cycles of a light in after game traffic nearly killed my brakes.

And finally, here's my first house, in the Seattle suburbs:



It looks pretty amazingly just like it did when I lived there. A few less flowers, slightly scruffier roof, and they cut down the tree that someone planted way too close the house. What amazes me about this picture is that GIGANTIC power line tower behind the house. It's in an easement directly beyond the back yard. I don't remember ever having OCD stress about those power lines in the 6 years I lived in this house, but whenever I look at pictures of it I wonder how that could be. For the best, though.


Anyway, I made it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

When Exposures Make Life Easier

The vending machine just ate my dollar. Since I don’t have any snack to eat, I figured I’d spend lunch posting on the blog (and really, that snack wasn’t very healthy anyway).

Yesterday I spent the day working with my soon-to-be-retiring coworker. She’d just come back from a conference, via airplane. I’m always sure that any airplane trip results in illness, and for her, it’s actually true about half the time. But I was brave! I touched a bunch of her paperwork and didn’t wash. By the afternoon, I’d forgotten all about it.

Then she came over to my desk a little later and told me about how her sister, who recently had surgery and was staying at her house, has a staph infection. In this situation, I think MRSA! Death! immediately. She then proceeded to lean her elbows on my desk.

Now my instinct in that situation is to avoid touching that corner of my desk for at least the rest of the day. BUT! I looked up and saw all the paperwork that she and I had both touched already. No point in avoidance now. So I went about my day. And I wasn’t stressed at all. Exposures rock!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running in the Family

My sister does not have OCD. But she is a worrier. She worries mostly about her children. Yesterday she called me. She'd checked in with the special ed teacher at her older daughter's school and found out that my niece and her best friend were not in the same class next year. She asked if one of them could be switched, and so my niece was switched into the friend's class. But the special ed teacher did not tell her which teacher's class my niece been switched out of or into.

So of course my sister was ruminating: what if she was in a great teacher's class and now she'll be in a less great teacher's class? Ack, maybe I should tell them to undo it! But she didn't. (and this all ignored the fact that as far as I can tell, all of the possible teachers are actually pretty good).

As I often do, I took on her worry for a bit. I do this all the time when people share worries with me, but I was able to let it go pretty easily.

But I do often find that when I make a decision I worry that I made the wrong one. What if because of this decision I end up dead! But I can't change it, because maybe it's the OTHER option that that ends up with me dead! Which ignores the fact that very few of the options are likely to leave me dead. Not anytime soon anyway.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Living in Uncertainty

About 6 weeks ago, our boss told three of us that we'd be moving to new cubicles in July. No one was pleased. My two coworkers because they currently work in offices. Me, because it's something NEW and UNKNOWN! I've mostly just been ignoring it since then. Today, the people one row over started packing up. It's something of a domino process, this move, and they're first. So of course, I couldn't continue to ignore it.

I stopped by and asked my sort of boss when I was moving. And he said, oh, I don't even see you on this list. Hmmm. My boss was out today, so she couldn't confirm. I'm 90% sure I'll still be moving. But hooray! Some new and different uncertainty! I'm doing okay with it. There are plusses and minuses to both moving or not (if I don't, my new neighbor will be my least favorite person in our department and it will be especially annoying because she's just whined her way into a nice big window spot, but I digress), so I'm trying to find my zen place, and just go with the flow. Not my strong suit, but I'm working on it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Distress

Pure O Canuck recently posted about her realization that she needs to be willing to sit through difficult feelings and how she has long worked to avoid having to face those feelings.

By coincidence, I'd just read a book that addressed this very issue. Most books about ERP do, I suppose, but for some reason this particular approach really spoke to me. It was a book about hoarding, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee. Most of it addresses hoarding in a pretty general way: different types of hoarding, what might cause it, and then a bit about getting over it.

Hoarding has long been considered, if not a kind of OCD, then at least related. New thinking is challenging that idea. One big difference seems to be that many hoarders have little to no insight into their faulty thinking, actually enjoy the process of collecting, and have no interest in "getting better." However, when hoarders DO want to get better, it appears that cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are the best approaches, just as with OCD.

Which leads me to the idea of distress. The book talks about the distress that the hoarders feel when they try to get rid of a prized possession (even if that treasure is something as unspecial as a piece of junk mail). The authors suggest that hoarding gets so bad because the hoarder is totally unwilling to EVER feel the distress caused by tossing, or not buying something.

But in several examples, when the hoarder takes that first step and lets the distress happen, it dissipates, and often very quickly. Sounds like OCD treatment to me. For many hoarders, realizing they can handle the distress leads to a breakthrough in recovery. Others who are unwilling to take the chance continue to hoard.

Intellectually, I know this is true with my OCD. But in practical terms, I still have so much trouble facing the distress I feel. There have been many times when I'll get inspired: I can BEAT this! And it's as though I think just by having this feeling and knowing what I SHOULD do, that I've actually moved closer to beating OCD. It isn't really true. You have to be willing to put up with the discomfort. The hoarders in this book have inspired me, but I know that being inspired by others is not enough.

When I think about my trip to Seattle, I get scared. But I keep planning, because that's the only way to get to the other side.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

When the Fear Comes True

This isn't a complete accurate title, but it's close, so I'm using it anyway.

Last Saturday, I started planning for my trip to Seattle. As soon as I did that, I started ruminating about the car. It definitely needed a "check up" before driving the 3 hours to Seattle and back. When should I do it? Where should I take it? I was having some issues with my regular mechanic. On and on my brain went. Midmorning I started to think I should take it to a new place that very day and be done with it. I even had a coupon.

But I was able to remind myself that this was the OCD talking, and I should not give in to my sense of "needing it now." So I waited. Then on Monday, I got into the car to go to a Memorial Day BBQ, and the car wouldn't start. (So this is my fear sort of coming true as in the title, but not really).

Anyway, what amazes me is that it didn't even occur to me until about 4 days later to think, if you'd taken the car in like your OCD wanted, you wouldn't have been stranded. Weird! (And to be honest it may not even be true. It was a bad starter, but the starter actually tested just fine on Tuesday at the shop, so if I'd taken it in on Saturday, they may have missed the problem and I STILL would have been stranded on Monday or later at some less convenient location).

In the end, the "bad" event of having my car die was no big deal; the things I worry about usually turn out that way. And in fact, it was mostly good, except for the money I had to shell out to fix it. It resolved my worry about when and where to take the car, and now the car's trip ready. Funny how these things work out.

Now to plan the rest of the trip. I'm working my way there.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Good Book

David Tolin has written a great new book about do-it-yourself exposure therapy. You may remember him from his appearances on A&E's Hoarders or The OCD Project that I think was on VH1. I'm about halfway through the book and it's really really good. It's not just about OCD, but for the most part, the information about dealing with other anxiety applies to OCD as well.

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this one, just stumbled onto it at the library. I can't even remember the name at the moment, but I think it's Face Your Fears. I am apparently too lazy to go downstairs and check [just googled, and yes, that is the name].

Anyway, it's really inspiring me to get moving on my summer plans for exposures. I will review more formally when I actually finish it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Update

The day after the "infamous apology," I had another (unrelated) meeting with my boss. She asked something about whether the incident had rolled around my head the night before. She has no reason to know that I have OCD. So I can only assume that, as I thought, my reaction was one that even people without OCD would have. Interesting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ruminating Up a Storm

Tonight I find myself ruminating. It's not an OCD issue, I don't think, but the "going over it all in my head" feels the same, and it doesn't feel healthy or productive. To make a long story medium-sized:

Yesterday at work I was included in a meeting. During this meeting, a powerful person was rude to a coworker. It wasn't over the top, but it was mean spirited and my coworker felt blindsided. I will say that in a different workplace, this behavior may not have been that unusual. My workplace is very very PC, however, and any level of "belittling" is pretty unacceptable (and it should be, I think, I just suspect it's sometimes the norm). At the same time, I believe powerful person has a history of this type of behavior with little consequence, due to her position in our organization.

In any case, next thing I know, my boss and I are meeting with the head of our organization, who is not pleased with powerful person's treatment of staff. And the next thing I know again, powerful person is stopping by my desk to apologize. It was an excruciatingly awkward moment. In any other situation, I would have brushed it off with something like "don't worry about it, but thanks." But I knew this was a big deal to the big boss, so I felt I should simply thank her for the apology. But that left very little to say. Yuck. I think it was made worse by the fact that she hadn't said anything much to me that required an apology. I barely spoke during the initial meeting, and was barely spoken to.

So I find myself stewing on it, wishing somehow it had gone differently (ha, really I wish I just hadn't been invited to the meeting). And of course, apology or no, I can't help but think that powerful person is probably just mad at me. That doesn't feel comfortable either.

On the plus side, I assume my need to run it through my mind will blow over, just like it does in OCD, so I just need to wait it out. I think I'll watch a movie while I do.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One Of Those Goofy OCD Moments

Today I looked out the window and saw my neighbor's cat pooping in my garden. Now I'm pretty sure the normal reaction to that is "Ooh, get out of the garden!" And that was my reaction.

But then, once I'd shooed the cat away, I thought to myself hey, anytime the cat uses my yard instead of their litter box, that's a little less garbage to fill their garbage can to overflowing. Oh, OCD.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Work

I think I've mentioned before that I kick butt at "work." I'm terrible with relationships and have minimal social skills, but I'm great at finding and keeping jobs.

I stumbled into my current job with pretty much no experience. They couldn't find anyone they liked just as I started interning there and somehow I got hired without ever having a formal interview. The only reason I was there at all is that my first choice of internship sites flaked on me (and good thing, as they've been laying people off like crazy lately- like I said, jobs are my secret power). Five years later, I'm still here. Now a coworker is retiring, and it looks like I have a good chance at an informal promotion into her job.

I'm extremely grateful that my work life has gone this way, even when my OCD was at its worst. While I'd love to find my perfect life mate, given that I haven't, I'm happy to be able to have a stable income while I keep looking.

But despite my track record, I still find that work can be a source of OCD stress. The "promotion" is a fabulous opportunity. Except for the fact that the new work is something I find hard to do and sort of stressful. Oh, and my boss specifically noted that I don't get to leave behind one particular piece of my current job. Unfortunately, it's the piece gets me convinced about every 6 months that I'll be audited and sent to jail.

So yeah, it's not perfect. But it's what I've got and I'm happy to have it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Darn It

Yet again, today I found myself trying to schedule something at a totally weird inconvenient- for-most time, just because it felt better for my OCD. Luckily, it didn't work. So I'm feeling REALLY anxious right now. And I just sitting here feeling it. It sucks, but I can also acknowledge that this is the way I should have dealt with it in the first place. Even as I was trying to make the shoehorned schedule work I knew that.

I wish I could make the right choice in the first place. Maybe someday I will.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Misc.

I'm trying to schedule myself for things that scare me. While I'm prone to backing out even after I've scheduled, I don't always. This weekend I arranged to help my mom plant her tomatoes out. I have a fear of bringing tomato diseases to her yard (all my tomatoes got a terrible blight two summers ago), so I sort of wanted to avoid helping. But instead we're scheduled for Saturday, weather pending.

Last week I realized that for the first time since OCD came along, my fingers didn't crack ONCE this winter. I didn't even slather on lotion that often. Just another benefit of stopping the hand washing at work. Also, I can drop food on surprisingly dirty floors these days and then pick it up and eat it. I don't know if that can rightly be considered an accomplishment :) but it is an affront to my OCD.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tough Week

Nothing much happened. I just felt down. Pure O Canuck has noted that her OCD ramps up right before her period. I've noticed that I get weepy a few days before, but I've never had OCD issues much. Till this week. Everything just seemed scary and overwhelming. I did okay at sitting with the ugh that I felt. But it sure wasn't fun. Next week that should be over, and the sun is supposed to come back out. Here's hoping for a fabulous week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: Oxford Messed Up

I recently received a review copy of the novel Oxford Messed Up, by Andrea Kayne Kaufman. The book's protagonist, Gloria, is off to Oxford to study feminist poetry as a Rhodes Scholar. When we meet Gloria, she's about to board the plane; she will proceed not to drink a thing for the entire plane ride, because she cannot pee until she reaches her private bathroom at Oxford. Gloria has OCD. Really bad OCD. Scrub the bathroom for hours till your hands are raw OCD.

When she arrives, she learns to her dismay that she does not have a private bathroom after all. In fact, she'll be sharing with Henry, a charming, but pretty grimy sort, with issues of his own. Gloria and her OCD are not pleased. But despite his griminess, Henry is a huge Van Morrison fan who slowly charms his way into huge Van Morrison fan Gloria's good graces and they forge a fragile but really sweet friendship.

When Gloria's fear of germs ultimately leads to a breakdown of sorts, Henry steps in, with his psychologist sister's help, to help Gloria through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and in a flash, she's overcoming her OCD (more on that later).

There was a lot about this book I really enjoyed. The writing is lovely, although the characters do swear a lot. The characters of Henry and Gloria are well developed, and you really find yourself rooting for them. I also really liked how much they cared for each other and how hard they were willing to work both to help each other and themselves.

OCD is treated with respect, and boy is it nice to see exposure therapy given some attention.

The portrayal of Gloria's OCD didn't quite ring true to me, although it was far better than most. Gloria's inner voice was always thinking "foul germs, foul germs," when I wanted the voice to be saying "what if, what if." At the same time, some things felt just right: becoming dehydrated while trying to avoid porta-potties and refusing social events because it's all just too much, for instance. And a scene in which slippery lotion on her hands keeps Gloria from storming out of a room actually made me laugh out loud.

My quibbles:
- her recovery, while it had a few bumps, still seemed unusually fast and smooth, with very little detail of the discomfort this process likely would have entailed. Maybe it would have been boring to read about that, but as is, it just felt a little too easy.

- in a book that seems targeted at women, I was astounded at how many times I had to read about Gloria's breasts. Once or twice, it would have told me that Henry was attracted to her chest and that he noticed it. But really, the tenth time it just felt icky.

- speaking of breasts, one scene between Gloria and her breast cancer surviving advisor was so wildly inappropriate that I briefly set the book down after reading it. I felt the same important message could have been achieved differently, and in fact just had been achieved differently.

Despite my complaints, the book and its characters really did draw me in, and I found myself picking it up in most of my free moments last week. If any of you choose to read it, I'd be curious to hear your reactions to the book's portrayal of OCD and its treatment.

If you'd like to check the book out, the Ebook edition will be available for $0.99 on Amazon from May 1-5.

And, There's My "One Step Back"

Yesterday was shaping up to be a pretty good day. I met up with my sister for lunch, then got hugs from her "dirty" kids without any stress at all.

I went grocery shopping and ended up in line behind a guy who looked a little grimy, and then wiped his nose with his hand right before he checked out. In the past I would have changed lanes, or if I couldn't, I would have had a small freak out. Instead, I stayed in line, went out to the car, and ate a pretzel from the food I'd just purchased.

So far, so good. Then I decided to stop at a rummage sale I'd seen a sign for earlier in the week. I almost didn't go in, as despite loving a good bargain, rummage sales are hard for me. But I'm in "new me" mode, so in I went. Found a few things.

Then I went to check out. They were selling a single platform bed, the kind with drawers in the bottom. It was right next to the checkout. One of the drawers was pulled out, and I couldn't resist looking in for signs of bedbugs. And, OMG, there was a bug crawling around the drawer! Was it a bedbug? I don't actually know. It was the right size, but I didn't want to stare that long, and I didn't want to get any closer if it WAS a bedbug. But it sure has ramped my anxiety right back up. What if I carried one home? It's unlikely, but it still got me freaking out again in general. After months of staying away from my "favorite" bedbug forum, I scoured it again last night.

I know it's such a waste of time. Reading about bedbugs doesn't change the chances of having them. Panicking about them ahead of time will do no good. If I do have them, it will suck, and then I will do what I need to do to get rid of them. But...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Step Forward

This week two of my coworkers have really bad colds. My fear of getting colds is all out of proportion to the threat. I have no fear of the illness itself. It's that there's always someone in my life who I fear would suffer more serious consequences of having a cold. While there's the tiniest grain of truth to these fears, the fact is I can't avoid all contact with the human race because of it.

I also find that while in theory it's reasonable to avoid people who actually have colds, it's a slippery slope, that leads to me avoiding all people, because you never know who may have a cold (case in point, I guess, is that one of the coworkers actually felt this cold coming on for about 5 days, and I had no idea).

So, until yesterday, I was avoiding them. Today, however, they kept bringing me reports to read and edit. So finally I said to heck with it. It's time for an exposure. And I touched those reports, and I moved them around all over my desk. And I touched my hair, and ate my apple, and basically just ignored those cold germs.

As always, my fear dropped FAST! Basically, once the germs are spread around, I know there's nothing to be done but move along. So I do. It really feels good to do a scary exposure. Once it's done anyway.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Are We All Women?

I love the community of OCD bloggers that's grown up in the last couple of years. I love the support, and I just love hearing what you're all up to.

But I also think it's funny that we're pretty much all women. I don't know of any data that indicate that woman are more prone to OCD, and the best data I found indicates that blogging itself is split about 50-50 between men and women. And yet here we are, a support group of women.

I do have some male followers, and from time to time, someone male leaves a comment with an OCD blog link, but most of them don't post very often, if at all.

Puzzling. Not that I mind our girl power (ha!) but I still find it puzzling. Anyone have any thoughts?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Everything Must Go According to Plan

I've long known that I deal terribly with changes to routine, or times when the process in doing something isn't what I expect it to be. Today I had an incident that brought that into focus.

I bought my dad an online gift subscription to a sports league's radio broadcasts. I tried it out on my end and it all worked fine. But my dad is both really really bad with technology and he has an older computer. So it didn't work the same on his end. He called and I tried to walk him through it by phone. I THINK in the end it worked. But I'm not sure. And it took maybe 45 minutes. And involved trying to download new browsers, and both of us feeling frustrated. Great gift, Ann!

In the end, it will be a great gift. But today, I sat on my couch and cried. I'm not even sure why. Because I wanted to have done a "slam dunk" good thing for my dad (no pun there- not basketball this time)? Because I'm afraid we broke his computer? I don't even know. I guess it was just the unexpected aspect. That it didn't all go according to plan. I even found myself walking again through how easy it was on my computer. That's a compulsion for sure. So now I guess I will sit and accept the thought that I've done wrong, that my dad is bummed, that his computer will somehow get a virus because of all this.

Plus I can't get my bathtub to unclog. Grrrr.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photos

Last August, I got a new roof. That in itself caused OCD problems: people, at my house, on the roof! In the hot summer sun. No one died. The roof hasn't leaked. At that time, I had a skylight installed. I was (and am) so proud of that skylight. Sometimes I just lie on the floor underneath it feeling happy. It was so scary to me. The workers had to come into the house. The chances for something going wrong seemed high, although they probably weren't actually high. Regardless, the decision scared the heck out of me, but I really really wanted that skylight. It's in my finished attic, and it's totally changed a dark place into a cheerful light-filled one.

But, the company I chose only did the exterior work on the skylight. When they finished, the only sign from the inside was a nail that poked through the ceiling. Apparently I didn't get a photo of that, but here it is not long after that point.

I had some work to do. I did open up the hole, but there I stopped.

Now, my procrastination was not solely due to OCD. Mostly it was due to the attic being a cold place in the winter. But now it's April, and my OCD kicked in. My house is nearly 100 years old, and some of the attic wiring is original. Every time I bang around there with a hammer, I imagine that I'll dislodge something and the whole house will go up in smoke. Doesn't help that the house behind me was destroyed by fire in 2005. It was a candle, but that makes no difference to my brain when it really gets going.

SO, I've been putting off the finishing. But this week I had a day off, and I went for it. You can't tell in the photo above, but you could look up and down into the insulation. And poke yourself on rusty nails. It was really classy. The typical way to finish this project would be to add drywall, but my attic is a weird space. When it was finished, instead of drywall, they used thin sheets of plywood. I'm not even sure that meets code, but it's done. So I needed to match that look, as odd as it may be. Here's a look at the mess I made in the process:

After I got the new wood up, I actually liked the bare wood look.

Unfortunately, the project required a whole lot of caulk and spackle, so it really needed paint. This is a photo after the primer is on; I loved the look of the clouds. You can see the top of one of the four new houses they built after the old one burned down, too.
And finally, the finished product. You can see some of the funkiness, both of the project and the previous attic work, and that right side really needs another coat of paint, or two or three, but overall, I'm happy with it. So happy to make a plan and then follow through with it! That's not my strongest suit. Yay!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting It Done

Over on One Anxious Girl's post about making decisions, I noted that I've been putting off a home project for 8 months now. Well, I finally did it. Still needs the final coat of paint, and I will confess that I did a slightly half-assed job. But it still looks far better than it did before. And done (ish) is done!

Photos to come.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Anti-Serenity Prayer

Not sure who wrote this, so I'm stealing it from someone. But it was posted on another forum today and it made me laugh:

God grant me the anxiety
to try to control the things I cannot control,
the fear to avoid the things I can,
and the neurosis to deny the difference.

Yep, that about covers it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A New Book

This isn't a book review, because I haven't actually read it yet. A number of my fellow bloggers have mentioned how much they've enjoyed the book Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life. The other day I was wandering a used bookstore and there it was on the shelf. So now I'm a proud owner of this book. It covers Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It looks like a good fit for me right now. I'm doing well on contamination issues, but far less well on "amorphous things that are out there in the future." It's definitely keeping me from living my life to the fullest. Will keep you posted.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A More Systematic Approach

This week I realized I need to sit down and write out a new list of exposures to work through. Right now I'm more in the mode of waiting for things to come to me, and that doesn't usually move me forward very fast.

Yesterday I hopped on the train for some good old public transit exposures! As I noted in my last post, I haven't been taking the bus since I lost my bus pass. But the train is free through the central part of town, and it goes right past my work place.

It was a good exposure. Lots and lots of people and no open seats so I had to hold on to the railing. And I felt REALLY contaminated when I hopped off. About an 8 out of 10, I'd say.

I had to walk back a few blocks to work. Even in that short bit of time, I could tell the anxiety was going down, and I convinced myself to see how long I could stand not washing my hands. After about 15 minutes, my anxiety was down to about a 4. I never did wash my hands (well, eventually I did, but not for OCD reasons); I even ate my afternoon apple without washing.

I love the good ERP experiences. I just wish the NEXT one seemed easier each time. Maybe that'll come someday.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Decent OCD Day, But I Really Need to Get it Together

I am an intensely disorganized person. I cringe to think about all the time I have wasted in my life looking for items I've misplaced. But I've generally been pretty good about bus passes. For close to 15 years now, I've been fortunate enough to work at jobs that provide free annual bus passes. But boy, you sure don't want to lose that pass. And with the exception of the time that my backpack was stolen and I was the victim of ID theft, I never have lost a bus pass. Until now. It was destined to happen. I rarely take the bus these days, as I've been riding my bike a lot more. Without the need to find the pass everyday, sure enough, it's gone.

I can remember the last time I saw it, and I just KNOW I set it somewhere off to the side, but I have torn apart the room it should be in, and it's just not there. For two weeks I didn't worry about it, figured I'd find it soon enough. Last night, it became clear I wasn't going to find it, and OCD took over. Because unfortunately, my bus pass is also my work ID, with 24/7 access to our building. And the ID says what that building is.

So of course last night I became convinced that I'd actually dropped it somewhere, and the person who found it was plotting to break into the building this very weekend. And it would be ALL MY FAULT for not reporting it missing sooner. So of course last night I also became convinced that the security guy who replaces cards would be out today, or not respond to my email.

BUT, the good news: instead of staying up looking into the wee hours, or worrying, I made myself go to bed, and surprisingly, I slept fine. Then by the time I woke up, my worry had dropped from about an 8 to a 3. The security guy doesn't get in until 1:00 every day. I sent an email at 11:00 and then let it go. And by 1:29, my new badge was in my hand. Of course then I worried that if someone had found the badge, I would somehow get ID thefted or stalked. The badge only has my name on it, though, so there's not much to be done with it, especially now that it doesn't open anything. They can ride the bus until August, though.

In any case, even that fear only lasted about 15 minutes, and didn't distract me from my work. All in all, I was pretty happy with my approach and how it worked. BUT, I was also really really clearly reminded that I need to get more organized and focused. My house is a mess, my brain is scattered, and my willpower regarding all kinds of things is just rotten these days. I just read an article that stated that willpower can be improved by practice, like building up a muscle. I need to try that. Things need to improve around here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When the Universe Says Yes Yes Yes and OCD Says No No No

As I sort of mentioned in the last post, I backed out of a basketball game on Sunday. The reason I said yes in the first place, is that the universe seemed to be telling me to go.

It was a game my dad and I had considered attending months ago, the night was a fundraiser for a non-profit that my mom's on the board of, it was a Sunday game so it would end early and I wouldn't lose sleep on a "school" night, it was a game that our not-very-good team had a chance of winning. So I had considered buying a ticket anyway. But chose not to spend the money. But then, on Sunday morning I was offered a free ticket (approx $50 value). I normally wouldn't even have checked that email. It was a really really good ticket with a great view. My potential seat mate was someone I knew well enough that it wouldn't be awkward (always a consideration). Could there have been any greater sign I was supposed to go? Not so much. Add to it, it would be a fabulous OCD exposure!

So I told my friend I'd love to go. Then I went to mow the lawn. And my brain started humming. I thought to myself, well, for a free ticket, normal etiquette says you buy the ticket provider a beer. And oh my gosh, what if he was drunk on the beer I bought him and got in an accident on the way home and died. Or even worse, killed someone else. Let's not take into account the fact that this guy's had season tickets for at least 4 years- I could see him in his seat from mine. That means he's managed to get home without killing anyone, oh, about 160 times so far. Didn't matter, OCD said, there's always a first time. Plus my buying the beer would change up the timing.

Sigh. Really? I bought that? I backed out of the game? Yep, I did. My team won in a squeaker, by the way. Everyone lived.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oops, Long Time, No Post

Well, I sure haven't been running toward discomfort lately. Just this evening, I almost signed up for a scary social event. Came thisclose. Then backed out. Ugh.

But I did tell my best Seattle friend today that I'm coming to visit this summer. Once you say it out loud, it's got to be true!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What Will They Think of Next

Recently saw this posted on Facebook. A friend had taken this photo in a restaurant bathroom. Her comment was "now I've seen everything." But sure enough, people came along to say they wish that door protectors were in all bathrooms; after all, some people don't wash their hands. Now, I of all people can theoretically understand the sentiment. But the fact is, if you're worried about what's on their hands in the bathroom, you pretty much shouldn't touch anything. And while I get that sentiment, too, it's just not a good idea.

It continues to amaze me the extent to which society tries to push germ phobia. Listen people, it's not all it's cracked up to be. :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review- Zelah Green: Dating Queen

A number of months ago I reviewed the young adult book Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis. Well, Zelah's back, and I've been asked to review Zelah Green: Dating Queen (the books seems to have different titles in different countries, thus the title on the cover photo). When we last saw our heroine, she had just left a rather quirky residential treatment facility, where she'd been treated for her OCD. It helped a bit, but didn't quite take.

Now she's home for the summer with her dysfunctional Dad, and things aren't going well. It's not clear whether they take a turn for the better or worse when her almost friend Caro from the treatment center shows up uninvited to stay for the summer. Zelah's dad's an unemployed alcoholic, Caro's a depressed cutter, and her dad's girlfriend takes a conveniently-timed vacation, leaving poor Zelah to deal with the stress. Her OCD, not surprisingly. ramps right back up, and she's back to scrubbing her face till it's raw, and stopping to jump the prescribed number of times every time she takes the stairs.

With nothing much to do at home besides clean, Zelah joins social site "mysortaspace" and next thing you know, she and her old friend Fran are sneaking into London to meet strange (or perhaps not so strange) boys.

I really enjoyed the first book, and this one was decent but not quite as satisfying. It's a quick read, and the characters are quite interesting; I find myself wanting to know how it all turns out. However, at this point, it feels like the story is inching along at a snail's pace, simply to allow the series to have a whole lotta books.

Zelah's OCD is front and center, but her treatment is extremely slow. This is okay, sort of, and probably pretty realistic, but it's also frustrating to read about compulsions over and over and over. Caro's appearance doesn't feel very natural, and Zelah's father's reaction to Caro seems even less natural. I get that having the book center on therapy rather than characters might be dull, but at this point, I think we'd all be rooting for Zelah to succeed and watching her do it would be fabulous. I'm curious where the story goes, but hope it doesn't take 10 books to get there. Zelah Green is available via Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

These Exposures Will Take Some (Fun) Work

Yesterday my sister and I went to the annual fundraising auction for her kids' school. I love auctions and I'm a sucker for homemade items that people aren't bidding enough on. This year, yet again, it was a hand-crocheted afghan. It sort of exactly matches the afghan I got last year at the same auction. I gave this one to my sister. Last year the afghan was paired with a pizza gift card (not really sure why). This year, it was part of the "relaxation" basket. So, yeah, I got a GREAT deal on a massage, a facial and a pedicure. I'm pretty sure I'm not letting anyone near my feet in public, having fought foot fungus for almost as long as my OCD, only getting rid of it in late 2010.

But I really really really want to get that massage. I have had a professional massage, twice actually since I've had OCD, but it's really hard for me to do. But I can definitely say that while it will be an exposure, and not an easy one, I can clearly see that getting a massage will have a lot more upside than hanging out in public restrooms.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some Satisfying Progress

A lot of times I take a shower right after cleaning the toilet. At this point, it's mostly just habit. I shower in the evening, so it's easy to just end the day with cleaning and hop in the shower (and drop my cleaning clothes right in the wash, of course).

But I'm sure that some of it's OCD-based. I'm finding, however, that as my OCD loosens its grip, sometimes I do exposures without even realizing it.

I do occasionally clean the bathroom without a shower these days. And last week, after I took my shower, I realized I'd put the same "grubbies" right back on- I'd completely forgotten to drop them in the wash. In fact I still haven't; I'm wearing the same clothes right now, again.

Sometimes when I do these accidental exposures, I still have moments of fear. But usually I figure if my brain doesn't care enough to do the compulsion in the first place, I'm not going to do it after the fact either. I hope I continue to move in this direction.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: You Are Not Your Brain

Jeffrey Schwartz, the author of Brain Lock, is back with a new book. He's the co-author, with Rebecca Gladding, of You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Breaking Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life.

For the most part, I would say this book functions as an extension of Brain Lock. The 4 steps are the pretty much the same, but this time, the focus is not on OCD. It's on breaking any kind of "bad" behavior, although negative thoughts and anxiety are discussed extensively.

In Schwartz's world, bad habits are the result of false messages that our brains send us. Then as we act on those false thoughts, those bad habits get hardwired into our brains. Once that happens, it's difficult to stop them, but it can be done.

To do it, you need to follow the 4 steps: relabel, reframe, refocus, revalue.

Relabeling means to attribute those thoughts we have to a false message, not a real emotion or an action you really must take. When you reframe, you acknowledge that the thoughts and action are the result of a false message, not an inherent part of who you are. In the reframe section, he goes into the "cognitive distortions" we see in OCD, such as catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking, magical thinking, etc. Next, you refocus: basically, you process your thoughts in a healthier way. Rather than doing a compulsion, you go for a walk, for instance. He stresses that the goal is NOT to distract yourself, but to keep yourself from participating in your bad habit. Finally, you revalue, whereby you learn to differentiate between real emotions and "false signal" emotions.

The big picture of his approach is to let your true self, your underlying values, guide your actions, not the false signals you're receiving from your brain.

Schwartz has long been somewhat controversial in the OCD world. Some people feel that he promotes avoidance with his "refocus" step. In addition, many of his readers end up with an "it's not me, it's my OCD" mantra, which can turn into its own compulsion. While I agree somewhat, I also believe people should do what works for them; active exposure is too much for some people, especially early on. In addition, as I noted, in this book the authors are careful to note that you should NOT be avoiding when you refocus, but should be processing the emotions you feel as you do it.

There's just a TON of information in this book. The overall focus is that your brain can send you false information, but your mind has veto power, and you can retrain your brain to react in a more healthy fashion.

Overall, I think it's a really useful book, although as I noted, OCD is not the focus. There was only one piece of the book I really hated. It's the part, fairly brief, where the authors suggest that people develop these faulty brain messages because in our childhood we didn't get enough attention, acceptance, affection, appreciation, and/or "allowing." I don't think any of these were true for me, and I resent what feels like a step back into blaming bad parenting for OCD.

Despite this, I feel it's a worthwhile book. I checked it out from the library and didn't have time to read it as closely as I'd have liked. I may just buy it for my collection so I can take a closer look.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh, The Places My Brain Will Go!

Apologies to Doctor Seuss! I decided I want to go to a basketball game this weekend. I'm going by myself. I found a great deal on what looks like a really good seat right behind the bench. I assume it's a great price because it was a single ticket, and most people don't go by themselves. But of course as soon as I bought it, I started imagining the terrible reasons someone might be selling it. The people next to the seat are weirdos. The view is blocked. My favorite OCD reason: someone barfed on the seat and it's totally gross. Why yes, that's probably it.

And of course, there's that whole "my boss is on vacation next weekend" aspect, whereby I worry about getting sick surrounded by all those people at the game and then passing it along just in time for her trip.

To which I would like to say, nice try OCD! I'm going anyway. Here's hoping for a big win!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The 30 Day Challenge

Well, the 30 Day Challenge has ended without fanfare. My goal you may remember was to go compulsion free on the neighbor's garbage cans. Did I succeed? Kinda, I guess. I certainly did better than the early days when I put one of their garbage bags in my can to ensure that it would get collected (and got busted doing it, no less!)

I still expend more brain power thinking about garbage than I want to, but I'm getting there.

My next "no compulsions" goal centers around my fear of getting sick and passing along the illness to others at inconvenient times. My boss is on vacation next week, and I worry about being sick before she goes. But I'm not changing my schedule or plans in any way to try to keep healthy.

How about you? How'd your 30 day challenge end up?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uncertainty

It's no surprise to me that discomfort with uncertainty underlies a lot of my compulsions. While doing a compulsion doesn't actually increase the certainty that nothing bad will happen, my brain is trained to think that it helps in some way. At the end of my workday today, after the boss and coworkers were gone, I thought I discovered a tricky to fix error in one of our spreadsheets. Oh, how I stewed. I came home and basically wrote the evening off to my sense of dread.

I knew that tomorrow some sort of decision about what to do would be reached, but until that happened, I'd think and think and think. Then I went online (I know, bad!!!) but in this case, good news! I discovered that I'd misread the regulations, and we didn't have a problem after all. Disaster averted! Evening saved!

But it also made me realize that I remain terribly terrible at moving on when there's uncertainty in my life. I knew my boss could help me fix it (had it needed fixing) but I didn't know the HOW of how it would happen, and I felt like I couldn't STAND it.

This OCD stuff is hard.

Monday, February 20, 2012

That Bedbug Fear

I've noted that I have a huge fear of getting bedbugs, and that it's a big OCD issue that I'd like to tackle this year. I've done enough OCD-enduced research that I feel like I could beat them if I got them. I'm more scared of passing them on to others, or of my cluttered parents getting them.

At this point I don't just do the obvious avoidance of not traveling and not inviting people into my home. Over the weekend, I went to order something online, until I noticed that it shipped from Ohio. I've read that Ohio has a bad bedbug problem; I canceled my order. That's pretty bad.

But I do have a big incentive to do better by this summer, as I REALLY want to take a trip to Seattle. It's been more than 3 years, and people keep telling me to visit. My resistance now stems from the fact that my best Seattle friend's boyfriend travels for business. And she once mentioned having some mystery bugs in the house. Ugh. But I love Seattle, and I miss my Seattle friends, so I'll need to make it work.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friends

I've been thinking about friends a lot lately.

When I was a kid I had no trouble making friends. I've always been someone who had a small group of close friends, rather than a big crowd of friends, and I've always been shy, but until recently, I felt pretty okay about it all. I spent nearly 10 years in Seattle. I moved there for grad school, and for those school years I lived in a big shared house, so I was surrounded by people. And grad school was such a perfect fit for me that everyone was "my people." Then after we graduated, most of us stayed nearby. These years also coincided with my most "volunteer-ing" years as well, so that was another big group of people.

Interestingly, after grad school, I remember feeling like my social life really suffered. But if I look back now, I have to laugh; I was so busy with friends and events. Twice a year I'd host a big brunch or barbecue.

When I moved to Portland 8 years ago, I made a HUGE effort to find friends. I joined groups, I organized hikes. I tried after a few years to get to know a few people better by hosting a dinner party. What a bust! A couple of people canceled the day before, one person forgot to come. In the end there were 5 of us; one was me, one was my sister and one was an ex-boyfriend. Ugh.

As recently as 2010, though, things weren't so bad. I had a boyfriend for half the year, and went to all those "scary social events." But over the course of 2011 and until today, I've just found myself pulling back. I don't have anyone outside my family here in Portland that I'd consider a close friend. And mostly I just don't mind. I'm never bored (I recently learned that's unusual!) and I have a hugely high tolerance for being alone. But some days it does make me sad. And I also worry about what happens when my family isn't around. My parents are getting older, my sister has less tolerance of rain than most happy Portlanders do, so she may eventually move away.

I also don't know what role OCD plays in all this. I had the OCD for most of my Seattle years, so it doesn't seem like it should be causing the problem, but who knows.

What about you? Do you have a lot of friends? Have you found it possible to make close friends into your 30s and beyond? Does your OCD affect your friendships?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still Here!

It's been a busy couple of months at work, and it's finally catching up to me. It's hard to get motivated to spend more time on the computer in the evenings!

This week I spent so little time thinking about overflowing garbage cans that I thought I had actually kicked that fear. Then yesterday night at 10 when my neighbor still hadn't put out the garbage, I sat in my living room and cried. So, maybe not. The good news is that I only cried for about a minute, and then I was able to once again view it as an awesome exposure experience. And then about 5 minutes later, they put the garbage out.

I'm still very happy that over the course of the last two weeks, I devoted basically no time at all to worrying about this issue, one that had consumed me at times over the last few months.

I feel like I'm making really good progress this winter, but I'm also feeling a little unfocused. I've heard people say in the past that as they give up their compulsions, they feel unrooted without them. I've always thought, what are you talking about, it would be heaven! But I think I'm getting it now. There are worse problems to have, though, and I'm sure I'll get through it.

Hope to write more this weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Running Toward Discomfort, Literally

In my recent book review, I noted my favorite tip of moving toward OCD discomfort, viewing it as an opportunity, a chance to keep knocking OCD on its butt. I used that advice this weekend while on a run. There's a house along my run that seems to be collecting garbage. They're up to about 10-15 bags in the driveway right now. And the driveway slopes down to the sidewalk, so whenever I run by on a rainy day, I imagine garbage crud being washed onto my path. So sometimes I avoid that house.

This weekend, I thought about avoiding it. But instead, I ran straight toward discomfort and right past the house. As always, not as scary as I feared ahead of time.

I was recently given the advice to take a picture of myself giving the neighbor's garbage can a bug hug. If I can figure out how to do it without them seeing me, I just might.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Mellow Weekend, Except

that I'm feeling a lot of free floating anxiety. If I stop and think about it, it's attached to a few events in the future. I know I need to sit with it, but it doesn't feel good. What I am doing is not letting myself do any internet searched related to possible outcomes of these future events.

Other than that, I'm reading a couple of books related to mental health issues right now. Interesting stuff, so far. May be reviews coming.