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.
OCD and Transitions
2 days ago