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


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


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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Well, in the end, the garbage went out. As often happens, I was a bit disappointed, since I was in "bring it on" mode. So now I shall move on to my next big issue, being around sick people. Got a good exposure for that one on my calendar tomorrow at work. After that, shudder, the bedbug fear. Always some good work to be done.