Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Of Course It Went Just Fine, Plus a Bonus Exposure!

Lunch was fantastic. My friend is a great person, and we really have plenty to talk about. So as always, anticipatory anxiety was worse than the event.

And I even got a nice (and very successful) exposure thrown in. We went to lunch on Thursday. I don't work Wednesdays. My coworker works just over the cubicle wall from me. So when he arrived on Thursday, I heard, via his office-mates, that he'd called in sick the day before. Ack!

I was about to beg off, coming up with some (false) excuse about meetings/busy-ness/etc. But then I thought, nope, that's avoidance. If he's here at work, he's well enough that you can go to lunch.

And so I did! Once we were there, I wasn't nervous about him or his germs. Love it when that happens.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Working On Being More Sociable

I'm pretty sure I've written this year about how socially isolated I've become. I'm not quite sure how it happened.

I'm especially glad I didn't end up quitting my job this summer, because if I had, I'd probably only ever leave the house to go to the grocery store!

Tomorrow I've got an appointment to go to lunch with a coworker who coincidentally is a friend from high school, and for some reason I've got a lot of anxiety about it. I'm not even sure what the anxiety is about. He's super friendly, and I've known him since I was 11, so it's not like we won't have anything to talk about. I guess I'm just out of practice at doing much of anything outside my routines.

Usually the things I worry about like this turn out much better than anticipated. Here's hoping. I'm trying to start doing something sociable at least twice a month, so I'd better get started!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fun With Thrift Store Lines

I dropped some stuff off at the thrift store today. I didn't really want to shop, which is always a sign that I should. Plus I need an alarm clock. Might as well get one for the $1.50 I ultimately paid today.

But oh, the check out lines! Today I had three options. Lane 1: woman buying $200 worth of stuff. Lane 2: Checker with hacking cough. Lane 3: Guy with a big sore on his forehead, telling the clerk, loudly, repeatedly, about how he lives under a bridge and everyone there (except presumably him) smokes "methamphetamine." Well, these are all great choices. Do I really need the clock? Well, yes I do.

I pick the lady with the full cart. But you know that didn't work, because the other lanes were now empty and she was nowhere near done. Okay, a cold sounds better than homeless meth guy, so I head for that one. Nope, now she's closed. So, the meth lane it is.

My goodness, with OCD, every day's such an adventure!

I'm really happy to have that alarm clock, though.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Another Week in the Books

I love my new schedule. Just love it. I've been resolving to really live my life to the fullest going forward. I'm not completely sure what that looks like, but I've got some thoughts, many of which involve travel to sunny winter locations. Which is sort of amazing when I consider my travel fears.

I've long thought that I would likely get cancer and not live to a ripe old age. I have no way to know how much of that is OCD and how much is based on having a really high rate of cancer in my family. At the very same time, I get fears about not saving enough money and living to be 100 and broke. Which would seem to indicate that it's all OCD, right?

Anyway, I'm currently in the middle of a health issue. A test result that needs follow up. I'm handling it about how "normal" people do, so that's probably the best that can be expected.

It's steeling my resolve to live my life the fullest though, so that's a plus.

Friday, October 18, 2013

OCD Awareness

It's OCD Awareness Week. I don't think I celebrated it, but I did have occasion to share a little about OCD with online friends.

Someone commented recently on a non-OCD forum that he hates it when people use the phrase "I'm so OCD" as they organize their desktop at work. Based on the conversation, I suspect someone in his life has OCD, but I didn't ask.

I did, however, tell him I agreed, and I noted that I have OCD and it's something that is hard every single day of my life. It led to a brief conversation among several people on the board.

This is the second time I've mentioned my OCD on that forum. I don't really know what people's reactions are, because I know they don't want to pry. But overall, I feel it's been positive.

I would like to comment on my OCD on my personal Facebook page. I would feel fine about 90% of my friends knowing; only a few do. However, in the last year, I've added several workmates to my friends list. I'm still uncomfortable about work people knowing, from an "unknown consequences" point of view.

Which is a shame, but it's just a fact.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oh How I Love the Sunshine

As I've noted recently, it's been a tough summer and early fall for my depression and anxiety. But I was also re-reminded recently of what a huge impact the weather has on my mood. The last two weekends have been perfect fall weather: between 65 and 75 and sunny. I've gone for long long walks, done yardwork, even finally did a volunteer event yesterday. And was in such a good mood. Yesterday I told my sister that we have to retire to a sunny climate together. Not quite sure what we'll do with her husband. :)

The side effects of the medication kicked in this week, leaving me less resolved about my decision to keep on them. I think I should probably make an appointment to talk to a psychiatrist who can give me some (hopefully) clear advice about different options over the long term.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Medication Time Again

I decided to try medication again, after a really anxious summer, and a climb in depression last month. I'm apparently really susceptible to the placebo effect, and I usually notice a difference in my mood within days. This time was no exception, although this week I'm noticing that dropping back a bit. The good thing is that I'm experiencing fewer side effects than normal as well.

I think this time I'm prepared to stay on the meds for the long term, instead of using them for the short term impact. I'm really tired of feeling pretty mediocre most of the time.

How's everyone's fall going?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Survey on OCD and Marriage

I recently received a request from a research associate at the University of Louisville to post information about a study that a professor there is doing on the effects of OCD on marriage. I don't know much at all about this study, and only you can decide if you feel comfortable completing the survey, but it is a legitimate request. Here's the webpage of the professor.

You can click on the flyer below to see it a little larger.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Free Time

So two weeks ago I started my new work schedule: 3 days a week. In theory, it's great. Well, actually, in practice it's great, too. But for some reason I still feel too busy. I think I had this idea that the new schedule would suddenly make me super efficient at home. HAHAHA. That was naive.

My OCD has been on a tear over the last month. I'm hanging in there, but I'm not sure if the issue is the standard "Ann's OCD peaks in fall" or something else. Usually it's more of an October, November issue for me.

But I'm still here, contemplating looking for a therapist, contemplating not looking for a therapist. We'll see.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


We're having a lovely summer here. Just a few days over 90, most in the 80s. I've really been noticing my OCD, unfortunately. I find that I can make myself sit with anxiety, and when I do, it goes down. But I'm also finding a lot of new general anxiety categories cropping up.

I've decided I'd like to move to a neighborhood about 5 miles south of where I currently live. I'd be much closer to my sister, and that's an objectively reasonable choice. My current house is also too big and I'm a slob, so it's too much to keep up with.

BUT, I also made this choice because of stress about my neighbor and worry about earthquake risks.

I think the best approach is to continue with a plan to move, but to make myself wait until a house I'm certain is the right choice (not in an OCD way, though :) ) comes along. I have an urge to move ASAP, but very few houses that meet my requirements come up for sale, so it could take a while. That ramps my anxiety right up, and that's the piece that I know is OCD. Patience is hard!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Or Not Learning to Live With Anxiety

After yesterday's post, I promptly didn't follow my own advice. Today at work I got so sucked into my anxiety that I sent some overwrought emails to a bigwig at the office about a project we're working on together that's causing me stress. And of course now I'm feeling anxious about that!

What most frustrates me about it, is that I knew it was OCD-related. And I couldn't keep myself from reacting rather than even trying to wait it out.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learning to Live with Anxiety

Sunny recently posted a video on her blog from the OCD conference about being reminded that the goal of OCD treatment is not to have less anxiety but to learn to accept anxiety and know that it won't kill us. The lucky side effect being that once you learn that, you are actually likely to see a decrease in anxiety.

It sure isn't easy. I've reached the point where I can recognize my anxiety, and acknowledge it, and I can even sit with it. But it isn't any less uncomfortable for me.

I don't know that it ever actually becomes less unpleasant while it's happening. What's your experience been?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Great Resource

Have you ever visited BeyondOCD.org? I suspect I have before, but forgot about it. Last week I spent some time looking around the site. The Expert Perspectives link at the top right had some really good articles, and I also was thoroughly inspired by some of the Personal Stories. This is one of the few places I've seen people post that their OCD really isn't a big problem in their life now. I love to read those stories!

Every so often people write to me asking if they can write a post about their product or system or website. Some of them are probably fabulous, but I'm really wary of appearing to endorse something I know nothing about when something as important as mental health is involved. The Beyond OCD site is run by a non-profit and doesn't seem to be selling anything. Take a look if you have a chance.

Oh! I just noticed that Janet Singer from OCDTalk has lots of posts on the site's blog. Which means I've almost certainly been told about this site before. Even more great stuff!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Last weekend I had either a stomach virus or food poisoning. And while it made sense to stay home over the weekend, I find myself wanting to avoid people now, too. My sister is traveling with her family next week and I have a fear of still being germy and getting them all sick on their trip.

I've confirmed with several people that most people don't think this way that far after an illness (or even two days after an illness). So apparently I should visit my sister this weekend. Ugh, making the right choice isn't fun most of the time!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Heat Wave

We're having a mini-heat wave here in the NW. Nothing like the SW, but it's still hot in the land of limited home air conditioning.

I'm toughing out the neighbor situation. The new neighbors have partly moved in, while the handymen are still fixing up half the house, so basically, chaos reigns. I'm coping all right so far. The heat isn't helping my mental state, but it's best if I view it as an excellent chance to practice not ruminating, rather than a horrible situation. We'll see how that goes as chaos continues along.

Once the heat wave passes, the weather looks delightful for July 4th, and I'm down to 5 weeks left at work!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Living in the World

Sometimes living in a little cocoon is so inviting. If I stay in my house, the germs can't get me, right? It gets boring pretty fast, though, even with books and gardens and internet. Even introverts like me need a little human contact, plus, you know, groceries!

I guess I'll have to live out there in the germy world after all.

Currently my neighbor's house has a toilet in the driveway. It rained about an inch today, so I assume it's a toilet with a couple inches of water in it, just waiting to incubate some toilet germs.

My instinct is to avoid avoid avoid. But a good thing happened. The plumbers parked in front of my house. Which means they spent all day walking back and forth across my driveway and sidewalk. No point in avoiding, right, when the germs are there already?

Since contaminating everything beyond redemption is key to ERP for germ issues, it's perfect. I can't say I'm thrilled, but I like getting this push. OCD's been winning too often these days.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm Still Out Here

I've been working some on my OCD, having some successes, having a few set backs. A normal kind of time.

Much of my psychological energy has been taken up with preparing to leave my job. I'm down to about 3 months now, it's already the busy season anyway, and on top of that I'm working on the transition.

The good thing is that it's beginning to sink in that my successors' success is not my problem. I'm not convinced that my boss has made a great decision with the two people he's chosen to take on the two halves of my job. But there's no guarantee that a new hire from outside would be any better.

So I'll do some training and call it good. I've shed a lot of the anxiety that I had around it, now I'm just plain busy.

A lot of quiet blogs these days. I hope that means everyone's out having a great spring/summer. Drop a blog line if you feel inspired!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Tiring Week

I'm not sure why this week was so tiring, but one night I slept 13 hours. Whew! On Friday morning, I got into my car to drive to work and realized someone had rifled through everything: the glove compartment, all the other little storage areas, the trunk. I don't have much of value in the car (does anyone who's not on a trip or living in their car?), so I don't lock it. I'd rather not have windows broken if someone wants to get in.

Anyway, they got an 8 year old cell phone and a backpack with my emergency gloves and blanket. Such a classic stupid break in: they get nothing of value, but I still have the headache of replacing the "nothing of value" they stole. Many people report feeling violated when someone does this. I do think I'd feel this way about my house, but I didn't really about the car. Just annoyed.

Of course, as a sufferer of contamination OCD, I worried about just who had been sitting in my car while they did it. While I know this is reassurance, and reassurance is bad, I reminded myself that I ride the bus all the time, and while I'm not insinuating that bus riders are all unsavory sorts, some of them sure are. So I've surely been exposed to just about anything this thief would expose me to. That got me to drive the car to and from work without a rash of compulsions.

I bought a new phone yesterday after work. It's much nicer than the old phone. Now I just need to remember not to leave it in the car.

I'm also suffering "short timer's" issues at work. Yesterday someone asked me if they could purchase something they really shouldn't be allowed to under their budget. We went back and forth until I finally said "you want to know my honest answer here? I'm leaving in September and I don't really care what you do." That's probably not the best way to tell people I'm leaving. Got to work on that.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Country Living

Today I went to visit a friend who lives about an hour out of town. I knew her dog was getting his shots this morning and I was a little icked out by potential vet germs, but no biggy. But for some reason the shots had made the dog REALLY clingy. So he followed us around for about an hour. Okay, I was okay with that.

But the dog's favorite thing to do is stick his head between your legs while you're standing. He likes to poke his whole head through so you can pet him on both sides. Hooray. I'm not really a dog person, but I can fake it, sort of.

I was still doing okay. But it just kept going. I got the story (from her kids) about how the dog hates water because when they were little they sprayed him with water guns, so he rarely gets a bath.

Oh, and then I heard the story about how when they go hunting the dog likes to roll around in whatever they shoot. So he smells pretty bad. Argh!!! (not to mention, what the heck happened to my vegetarian friend whose hunting neighbors made her so mad!)

But all things considered, I was okay. I did wash my hands before we headed off for a hike and a trip to the coffee shop, but really, that seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do, OCD or not.

I'm pretty sure I'll never have a dog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Little Push

Lately, when faced with something that I know I should push through, I've been letting OCD win. So this weekend, I've planned two exposures.

First, I'm going to a BBQ on Saturday. I want to skip it for several reasons: germs, with a coworker scheduled for vacation soon (I always dread getting someone sick before a big week), and the fact that my ex-boyfriend will be there. I'll be fine around him, but I still feel awkward. He hasn't maintained any level of connection since we broke up, which makes it more awkward when we do see each other.

I tried to convince myself that I don't really care about the friendship of this BBQ group, as an excuse to skip it, but in fact, I do like most of them quite a lot. Our collective friendship is mostly maintained online, but getting together keeps it strong, I think.

Second, I'm going to skip my mom's orchestra concert, on Mother's Day, no less. I've likely attended 100 of her concerts over the years, and I don't enjoy them, but I generally attend to provide support for an activity she loves. Unfortunately (as well as fortunately, I suppose) I think I've faked it too well, and I don't think she realizes it's a chore. I've seen a ton of my parents recently, including last weekend's early Mother's Day celebration, and I just need a break this weekend.

Of course I'm convinced something terrible will happen if I don't go. Which is why I've decided not to go.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Floating Along

I haven't written many posts this spring. Ideas float through my head, but I don't seem to be able to summon the energy to stop and post.

Things are fine. Not great, a little stagnant, but not terrible either.

But there have been several occasions lately where I've clearly identified chances to push back against OCD fears and I simply haven't done it. A coworker's kids were sick with some stomach flu-ish thing this week and I actually took Friday off to avoid it. He wasn't sick, and there's solid evidence that his kid just has a touchy stomach. And still... I will add that I really just didn't want to be at work that day, but the underlying reason was OCD-based fear.

I hate that I still do that. And yet... it doesn't really make that much difference in my life. In fact many times when I exhibit OCD-based avoidance, the thing that I avoid is something I dislike anyway. Until I tip the balance on this type of thing, I will remain in this stagnant place. Not terrible, but not where I want to be.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Made It Through This Week

This was a tough week. Some big events with anxiety attached. And I'm training a coworker who has a VERY different learning style than I do. I've lost track of the number of times he's asked me questions (sometimes multiple times) that I've already answered. I get that it's all new, but it's more than just not getting it. It's that when he's not ready for a new piece of info, he just ignores what I'm telling him. Which makes trying to train someone tricky.

Anyway, it's no fun at all, although it will be over with fairly soon.

And I made it through the scary parts of the week with no ill effects. There was even a moment when I woke up in the middle of the night and had the awareness that I wasn't feeling any anxiety at all. That was a nice feeling.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ready for Next Steps

I've decided to leave my job in October or November. I haven't told anyone there yet, but I've started mapping out what I'd like to get done before I leave.

But I'm also realizing I'd like to get some non-work things "done" as well. My OCD is fine-ish (which, haha, my computer just corrected to fiendish!), but not fabulous. I don't have delusions that quitting my job will make it fabulous. Indeed, I still need to do that work to get there. But I'd like to feel better equipped to carry on the hard work when I have either time to do it, or so much free time that OCD might choose to fill in the blanks.

Today was one of those days where I was ruminating on one thing until a new one came along. Then, immediately the old worry was nothing and the new worry was HUGE, LIKELY, IMPORTANT. One good thing about this is that when it happens, I know enough to identify it as OCD. And sometimes that even helps with the worries: if they can go away so quickly when something shinier comes along, they're probably not that important. Either way, though, there's still worry. I had a chance to do major avoidance on the new worry, and I didn't. I jumped right in. Whoo. I feel a little sick.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Checking

I've never had BIG checking problems, but it has been an issue for as long as I've had OCD. Back at the beginning, I had trouble leaving work each day, because I had to check that I'd turned off my desk light. Otherwise it might cause a fire and then the sprinklers would go off and then there'd be mold. Mold was my big thing.

That's passed, but I still have mild checking stuff. Especially before I leave the house on vacation. But I've been working on it.

Many times at work, I'll still circle back to my cubicle and check (now it's my adding machine) but I don't always do it. I also have trouble if I'm the last to leave from my department, which I often am due to my schedule.

Last Friday I looked in the fridge and used the sink in the kitchen. Then I walked back down the hall. And I stopped. Did I turn off the water? Did I close the fridge? When I closed the cabinet, did something get thrown out of whack? Don't worry, I thought, the security guy will be through. Whew, okay. But what if he isn't? What if there's a flood in there. And of course as I'm doing this, I'm walking back and forth- toward the kitchen, away from the kitchen, repeat. Hopefully no one was around to see that, haha!

In the end, I knew it was checking, and I knew it was bad for me, and I walked away and I went home. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Sure Do This a Lot

Despite some efforts at mindfulness, I'm spending a lot of time worried about my work issue. It should be resolved, or at least partly resolved by the 25th or 26th. Which seems VERY far away. But it's made me think back to other times that I've done this exact thing: worry about something incessantly for up to a month. And every time, when it's done I think, that was SUCH A HUGE WASTE OF MY VALUABLE TIME.

A few examples:
the time my neighbor's garbage was overflowing for 3 weeks.
the LAST time I had to wait a month to resolve a work problem.
the time I was sure the arborist would electrocute himself when he took down my tree.
the time I was sure the roofers would die while re-roofing my house.
the time I was sure the radon remediation would bring radiation and ruin to my life.

I see a trend: work and house, work and house.

So I guess I need to quit my job and sell my house. Problems solved!!!

Just kidding.

What's the block I have on trying techniques that will help: mindfulness, meditation, truly accepting the fears, etc etc.? I have the tools, I even know they work, because I have done so many successful ERP sessions.

I have read that having poor insight into your OCD makes treatment less successful. And I know that I have poor insight with respect to these "non-contamination" type fears. I am much more likely in these cases to actually believe that the bad outcome is not just likely, but inevitable.

But just because poor insight makes treatment harder, it doesn't make it impossible, and I really need to get my rear in gear on these, because life is pretty miserable this way. And man, does time pass slowly!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Job Continues to Kick My Butt

I think I'm making more mistakes at work. I'm currently doing two people's worth of work, plus I'm already mentally checked out to some extent (with plans to leave in about 6 months). I'm still mostly doing a great job, but this week I made another high profile mistake. I told my boss immediately, and he was totally unfazed.

But the person whose budget it was was fazed (is that a word?) And unfortunately every time I make a mistake, her budget seems to be involved. I'm pretty sure it happens because I'm terrified of her, and I don't ask questions that I'd ask of anyone else. As always, it will take about a month to figure out if this turns into a "thing" or passes harmlessly. I am not good at waiting it out!

I feel mostly great about my decision to leave my job. But then I wonder if it's letting OCD win? I feel fairly comfortable saying that my personality is not suited for the stress of this type of job. But I don't know. Maybe staying is an exposure that I should do?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and a Little Bit of Ugly

This entry is mostly reposted from another forum where I participate; apologies if anyone has to read it twice:

Today's huge exposure was to clean up the crafts area at the rummage sale that my mom is in charge of. I've avoided cleaning up there for several years now, and not only was I cleaning up, I was putting a bunch of boxes in my car and taking them to a donation center. I did it! I also stayed another hour cleaning up in the crafts/linens room before donating. I was really happy with this accomplishment.

It was not without some pretty terrible side effects. Unfortunately, my mom is an extremely impatient person, and she was also somewhat sleep deprived, having devoted her entire life to this sale for about the last two weeks. So she was"helping" me clean up and her style is "go go go." When I told her she needed to let me slow down and micromanage a bit, she either didn't hear me, or she simply ignored me. When I had a mild panic attack as a result, she didn't notice until about two steps too late.

She left to get her car to put the overflow from my car, leaving the nice 75 year old men who were helping (it was a benefit for the local senior center) literally following me around the parking lot with grocery carts full of boxes, asking where I wanted them to go. At which point, I burst into tears. I would say it was the most embarrassed I've ever been in public in 17 years of having OCD.

Then of course after I got myself back together, the 75 year old men apologized for "making" me cry, at which point I cried again.

All my mom's nice friends were extra nice to me. And to be honest the 40-year old "kids" of the senior center volunteers who chip in to help are often a little bit "special needs" so I guess I fit the bill just fine.

ANYWAY, despite the horror, I don't regret it. And it's good to see what I might do a little different in the future. [this might not have been the best context for exposure]

AND here are some other awesome things I did this week (I had two vacation days). These are all things that cause me contamination fears but that I otherwise want to do/really enjoy:
- got a massage
- took my bike into the shop
- stopped at the optometrist to check in on my glasses order
- volunteered with a group of strangers who all knew each other and I didn't die
- went to lunch by myself and didn't read a book
- went to my sister's to cat sit and used the phone at the "house o' lice" I will admit this one was an accident- when I remembered I freaked a bit, but didn't clean anything off.

It's been quite a week!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nothing Much Going On

Well, I suppose there's lot going on. But nothing that feels blog worthy. I did find an interesting and relevant exerpt in a recent reading of The Winter of Our Discontent by Steinbeck. I'll write about it this week. Hope everyone's having a nice weekend. I also have some good exposures planned for the coming week. Will update soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Feeling Stressed

I'm walking around with that "underlying feeling of dread" this weekend. It's frustrating after feeling reasonably good for a few weeks.

My sister (who decided not to follow the blog after all) called yesterday to say that she and the kids have lice. Excellent! I'm not actually all that freaked out by lice. But my subconscious self apparently is, because since hearing the news I've been feeling this stress and finding myself worried about a dinner date with my parents today- they babysat the nieces twice last week. I'm also feeling itchy! But I know everyone does that.

I think that thinking of lice just takes my brain straight to a bedbug fear that I've not been experiencing much lately.

In better news, yesterday I went out for a walk/shopping trip. Halfway there, it started POURING. I hate being wet, it makes everything feel germy to me. But I continued my shopping anyway and I was happy about that. Then on the way home, the sun came out and dried me off.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Exercise Placebo Effect?!

I haven't been running much this winter, as in the cold it seems to bother my hip quite a bit. Now that the weather's warming up, I thought I'd try again. Friday I felt pretty down (which turned out to be hormonal), and while I was feeling better my Saturday, I still wasn't feeling great.

So yesterday evening I set out for my first run in weeks, maybe in months. And seriously, by the end of about 2 minutes, I felt great! There's almost no way there were endorphins surging through my system. I think my body just knew this was a good thing.

Last week Elizabeth noted in her blog that she's unusual in disliking spring. I'm one of those standard folks that loves it (although I do prefer the drier weather of summer). The days are longer and warmer, and without many allergies I love the wonderful smells of spring flowers. So as I was running and basking in the fact that it was warmer and it smelled good. I felt powerful and hopeful.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Well, had a bad OCD experience this week. It was a classic "OCD doesn't want me to be patient even though I really really should" kind of experience.

I sold an item on ebay. I meant to sell only to U.S. buyers, but a Canadian managed to buy it (darn you, Canada!). So the shipping was way too low. I was too wimpy to charge the full amount, but I did raise the price a bit. Then the guy didn't pay for a few days. Of course I was sure something terrible had happened. I freaked out. He sent an email saying it was a PayPal issue. No disaster after all.

But here's the worst thing. Well, the worst things. One, I spent literally hours researching shipping internationally. My pay rate on this sale is down to about $2 an hour. THEN, I got so worried about how this would end, I mailed it before I even received payment, just to have the box out of my house because looking at it was causing so much stress! Yes, indeed. I was THAT unwilling to wait it out. Even though I knew without a doubt that my anxiety would eventually come down if I waited.

Then I got home from the post office having convinced myself that the batteries I included would explode in transit.

The thing that frustrates me the most about this whole experience is that I knew it was my OCD talking, and I knew I should slow down and sit through the anxiety, but I didn't do it. Sigh.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: The Center Cannot Hold

Well, this isn't so much a book review as a book thought dump, I suppose. I read this book last weekend. It's about 5 years old now, a memoir by Elyn Saks about her life with schizophrenia.

Saks is quite "high functioning" and in fact holds an endowed professorship at USC's school of law. The book's a fast read. Her illness didn't come on full strength until the standard 20s, but she had signs of something being "off" much earlier, including a feeling that the houses in her neighborhood were "menacing" her when she was a young girl.

Her story is interesting because in some ways she's unusual (the academic and career success, her feeling that Freudian-ish talk therapy was helpful to her, her marriage) but in others she's very very typical, if one can be a typical schizophrenic.

She, like many, fought and fought against medication, viewing it as a moral failing, until she finally accepted that her life worked much better while she was on them. She received treatment both in England and in the United States, and found the United States system much more likely to use involuntary restraints, which was somewhat disturbing.

Growing up, I had an aunt who was schizophrenic. She unfortunately killed herself was I was 15, but so much about the way Saks spoke when having a psychotic episode reminded me of my aunt. I wish my aunt been able to find treatment that made her feel her life was worth living.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the book to me is that for years Saks assumed that everyone had the thoughts and voices that she had, but that others were just better at controlling them; this also played into her resistance to medication. I found it particularly interesting because in OCD treatment, we hear that everyone has the kind of thoughts that cause stress in OCD-ers, but that others can just easily brush them away. Sort of an opposite situation.

Anyway, while I don't think I can ever truly understand what it's like to have schizophrenia, this book offered some interesting insights.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

That's One Way to Deal with Rumination

Yesterday I gave a brief talk at my training. Two jobs ago I had to give talks in public often enough that it ceased being a big deal. That was 10 years ago, and it's a big deal again. But I'd practiced it, so I thought I'd be okay. It went fine-ish, but not well. Normally I'd have spent the whole afternoon stewing, but instead I got back to the office just in time to be given a last minute assignment. Then I went to 2 hours of meetings, during which the head of our organization criticized a number of things I'd prepared for the meeting.

I ended up working an 11 hour day. Then I ran for the bus, and while at the bus stop, a guy asked me for directions. I hate giving directions, because I'm always sure the person will wind up lost forever. And last night it was dark and rainy!

All of these are things I would typically go home and ruminate about. And sometimes when I suspect I'll have trouble sleeping due to rumination, I take a Benedryl, because I know it will knock me out. But yesterday I got home and I was so tired I was able to completely wipe all the worry right out of my head. No extra energy left for that. I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.

It's not an ideal system to be sure, but it worked great yesterday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mental Illness Rates

Recently a local politician lobbied for improved mental health coverage by noting that 1 in 18 adults has a mental illness. The local paper was skeptical. They checked it out, though, and agreed that this figure is likely correct. Now I know I run in mental illness circles, but 1 in 18 seems super low to me, between 5 and 6 percent. Heck, studies estimate OCD rates of 2-3 percent.

And it seems that whenever mental illness comes up, every person I talk to has at least one person in their fairly close family who deals with one.

Wikipedia (maybe not the best source, but surely not the worst) tells me that in large-scale surveys, around 25 percent of Americans met the criteria for a mental disorder over the prior 12 months.

I could not bring myself to read many of the comments made about the online article in my local paper, since they skewed toward "yeah, people just want the government to support them." Americans seems to swing back and forth between, "lock 'em all up" and "don't give 'em a dime." Good times.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sharing the Blog with Family

For reasons I don't quite understand, I've mentioned the existence of my blog to my sister and parents a couple of times in the last few months. And while it would be super easy for them to find my blog with a simple search, I don't think any of them have done so. But my sister recently asked if she could see it.

And I'm not sure how to respond. This blog is a weird mix of deeply personal, fairly embarrassing, and things I already tell them or that they already know. I think I'm just as afraid of them finding it boring and stupid as I am embarrassment about my OCD. And I suppose there's the reminder that while I've made progress, I haven't made THAT much progress and I've been writing this blog since 2009!

Have you shared your blog with your family? Does it change what you write? Are you glad you did? Do you ever regret it?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's Perfect! I Hate It!

I've mentioned before my tendency to try to micromanage my schedule to avoid anxiety. I hate to plan events ahead, because I have time to worry. I much prefer to wake up and think, "Okay, I'm healthy, they're healthy, the weather is good, let's go, RIGHT NOW!" My family has adjusted to this quite well. :)

Today at a work training, a coworker asked me if I wanted to come out to her job site next week. We've talked about it before, but I forgot. I want to see it, though, and it will help me perform my job.

BUT, a storm is forecast for the day she suggested, and I'd have to drive out with her (socially awkward, and accident fears activated).

She told me she goes out there almost every day, and I wanted to say, how about tomorrow!? But I didn't. I got home and deeply regretted that, but tomorrow I will tell her that Tuesday is perfect!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Griping and Dreaming

This week the woman who sits next to me at work had a cold. I must confess to being more annoyed than the situation deserved at her insinuation that I gave her the cold. I didn't return to work until day six of mine, and her cold didn't show up until a full week after that. So I am skeptical.

BUT, the irony of the situation is that she was a little ticked that I might have given her a cold but she didn't take a single day off herself! No, she sat among us and sneezed and snorted and then kept touching things, including me! At one point, I kid you not, she forced people to smell her Kleenex!!! She was fascinated because they were infused with Vicks or some such. Now, I think these were unused tissues at the time, but she had definitely touched the darn things before shoving them repeatedly up our noses. Who does that?

Ah, but the new me is zen about illness, or something like that. (I was able to mostly maintain my zen, actually, because while I don't think I gave her the cold, it was almost certainly a virus I'd already vanquished).

But my subconscious spent last night dreaming of giving other people dreadful illnesses. It was lovely.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Got a Cold

Last weekend I got a terrible cold. I ended up taking three (!) days off from work this week. That set off a round of worry. So much work to be done! I missed a training that I was told I HAD to attend.

I missed a deadline (which I just don't do). I worried that they'd think I faked the cold.

In the end, no one much cared that I missed the training, missing the deadline (by a day) didn't cause the world to end or my boss to fire me. I still sounded so terrible when I finally returned that it was clear I was sick. And in fact multiple people thanked me for staying home and not infecting them, as so many of my coworkers seem to do.

So once again, all that worry for nothing. And I did not infect any of my family, including those I saw the night before I fell ill.

Every time I get sick, I become convinced I've entered a cycle of illness, that I'll take days and days off and get in trouble. Has this ever happened? Well, no.

So on Thursday, my first day back, I made myself run a bunch of germy errands after work: I used a pen at the bank (the pen that's attached to the counter with a chain!), then I used the ATM, I touched the self check out screens at the grocery store. Then I stopped briefly at the library.

That bank pen in particular caused some stress, but I really really want to push myself to do this type of exposure more often. And what I also need to be sure to do is not come home and "disinfect" myself after I do.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outing Myself, Sort Of

I post on several sports related boards. The other day someone posted about washing his hands a lot because so many people are sick right now. And I replied that because I have OCD, hand washing is a bad road for me to start down.

It's the first time I've ever written about my OCD outside of the OCD blog community. Nobody commented on it. I don't know if they didn't notice, didn't care, or didn't want to make a big deal out of it.

I've met most of the people on that board in person, and they mostly live in my town, so there's not the usual anonymity of online. Anyway, whether it's the start of more openness for me, I don't know. But I'm glad I tried it out.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

No, OCD, You Don't Get To Win This One

As I've mentioned in this blog before, there's one part of my job that just sends my OCD into fits. It's governed by federal regulations and it's really really complicated. An added layer of complication is that the feds ignore us for years and then swoop in to care for a year or two. We could make errors for years with no way of knowing, and not surprisingly, I tend to overstress and overthink!

We really need to make a change to one of our procedures, but my OCD has taken over, convinced that something terrible will happen and I should try to stick with the status quo. But it's simply not true.

My goals are therefore to 1) do what I know is the correct thing and 2) stop the infernal rumination!

I'm off to do something fun instead. I hope everyone's having a nice weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Brain Has Been Busy!

I've done well this week on the contamination front, not being a crazy hand washer despite all the media attention about the flu, and the signs that are up all over my building at work about hand washing, and the fact that massive numbers of my coworkers are sick, and the fact that a coworker is having surgery this Friday.

So that's great. BUT I've gotten into this cycle where I've been worried about a number of different things. They cycle through and I'm only generally worried about one at once, for about half a day. They include:
-the guy who's getting laid off in our office coming back and shooting us all;
-some supplies I gave to my sister growing mold and killing someone(they were wet);
-my house burning down due to the old wiring in the attic;
-my house burning down due to my basement remodel;
-something going horribly awry with the eBay item I just shipped (and why the heck hasn't it been delivered yet-it's 5 pm and it was on the truck at 7 this morning!)

As always, the items I'm not currently stewing on seem far fetched and/or laughable, until they cycle back to the front.

As always, it's a perfect chance to work on mindfulness and acceptance. I'm having this thought. Having a thought doesn't magically make it come true. Will keep on.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Progress Happens

I am a list maker. But I'm also pretty disorganized. At work I often have three lists with just about the same stuff on it. The cool part about that is that I get to cross off my accomplishments three times!

But at home it means I usually have about 10 notebooks floating around with different versions of lists. Last week I found a notebook that I had used in 2008-09; then it got buried in a box. It included a list of OCD-related things that I was going to stop avoiding in 2010. It included this line: avoid shoe segregation. Well, I'm pretty sure I accomplished that one, because I can't even remember what it meant. I know there have been times I thought a shoe was "contaminated" due to something I've walked through, but I don't remember avoiding a shoe for this reason for a long long time. I guess I did in 2009, though.

Similarly, I wrote "no Purell." Now, when I'm out and about I still often WISH I had Purell with me, but I never carry it around anymore.

The list reminded me that I'm glad I make (and lose) these lists, because it lets me really see that I do make progress, even when I don't notice it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rumination Without Anxiety

I've always been a "thinker." I like to run ideas through my head, thinking about different options. Or really, even when my brain has a solution, stuff runs through my head in a repetitive way. I calculate my taxes in my head weirdly often, for instance. I'm sure it's related to OCD, in the way my brain works.

I've never tried to stop it, because there's no anxiety involved. In fact, usually I enjoy it. Lately, I've been running through ideas for making money on the side and eventually starting my own business so I can leave my dysfunctional workplace.

There's no anxiety involved with it, but it sits thisclose to anxiety about losing my job, so I wonder if I should try to limit the amount of time I spend doing it. Or only allow myself to think it through when I'm actually taking action on it. It feels like this would help me to stop the rumination that does have an OCD component.

What do you think?