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.