Total Pageviews

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mindfulness in OCD (and a progress Update)!!

Happy Sunday, everyone!  I'm planning on writing about my progress each Sunday now.  Seems like a good way to end the week--talking about the things I've been working on; my gains and my struggles with the OCD.  And to kind of "plan out" in a sense some exposures for the following week.  I have been reading  The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD, by Jon Hershfield and Tom Corboy.  This is a very interesting concept, incorporating mindfulness into OCD.  The book goes into some meditating and muscle relaxing exercises, and reinforces to be present in the moment.  OCD is usually fixating on the past and looking toward the "what-ifs" of the future.  So in a sense it's telling you to be mindful in the moment.  That is really hard to do for someone with OCD, when your mind constantly goes a thousand miles a minute.  Something that I also took away from the book though is learning to slow down your thought processes.  I was talking about this recently with a friend of mine, that I've met through this blog (so thankful for the Internet community pulling us OCD sufferers together).  I tend to start flipping out the moment that something happens that I don't like it, and immediately go into fight or flight response, where I almost feel like it's some kind of survival mechanism.  What do I need to do at this exact moment to fix this problem and make it okay?  That is where the compulsions can become very heavily ingrained and problematic----and difficult to stop.  The more you do them and the more urgency you feel to do them, I think, perpetuates the whole cycle  of obsessions and compulsions.  Sometimes I "feel" contaminated, even though I'm not really contaminated, and this is where I need to bring mindfulness in, and stop the "what-if" thinking and gravitate toward "what is" thinking.  IThe interesting thing is, I posted a couple of weeks ago about hyperawareness with OCD, and this book actually does have an entire section about that.  It talks about how people that are hyperaware of what is going around them are in a sense too mindful of what is going on.  Now most people with OCD notices things, that the average population doesn't even take note of or realize.  This is something I really personally struggle with, as it has caused me to avoid LOTS of places and things and people.  So what I have mostly been working on the past couple of weeks is being mindful about the things that pop up for me.  Now, I'll admit--I'm not very good at it yet.  But part of the process is retraining your brain, and this is a great tool to use in conjunction with ERP and CBT.  For example some areas in which I might practice mindfulness is with my dog in particular.  A lot of things happen with her to make me feel contaminated.  She might come barreling across the room with a slimy bone in her mouth and I worry "what-if" she somehow got her bone on my clothes.  I was watching her the whole time.  My brain KNOWS she did not get her bone on my clothes, but my OCD keeps taunting me, "well,what if she did?  what if you didn't see her?  there could be a chance"....until finally I just say "whatever!" and go change my clothes, so I can be done with it and not worry about it.  In mindfulness, I need to slow my thought process down and remind myself that she did not get me.  I know she did not get me.  My OCD just likes to play tricks on me and wants to win.  It really goes hand in hand with CBT and doing self talk, which is essentially what I've taken away from this book.  It's doing self talk to rationalize, rather than react to the problem.  I think it will be a very helpful tool as I move forward in trying to treat some of this stuff.  I highly recommend you look into this book, if you haven't already.

As far a progress update, I've really been working on just trying to be mindful in every situation and not jumping the gun on trying to fix everything.  Sometimes I'm able to sit with the anxiety and it will pass, but other times I'm still fleeing into the bathroom to wash a random body part or "fix" whatever situation has presented itself.  What I've really been trying to continue working on in my hierarchys is my laundry issues.  I have a very long post from last year about my laundry rituals.  I have many issues in this area, but the one I'm currently working on is trying to get down to just one wash cycle for most of my clothes, and I'm pleased to say I have made quite a bit of progress in that area.  I used to wash most things twice and I separate all of my laundry into all kinds of categories.  I honestly feel if I could get my laundry and clothing contamination issues under control, that is what will help me the most.  I did not think that I would EVER be able to go back to washing certain types of clothes only one time through the washer.  Especially things like socks and towels which I feel are very dirty.  Granted, I still put them through a sanitary wash setting.  But I've been doing it now for a couple of weeks, and everything is okay.  I am able to wash "inside clothes" once through now--that includes t-shirts, pajama/lounge/pants, towels and socks), but I still do underwear and outside clothes twice.  I still am separating things out as I mentioned previously too.  One thing I am hoping to do this week (and I'm not sure if I'm ready for this or not yet, but I am going to try), is to put my shirts, my daughters shirts, and our sleep pants all in the same load together.  EEKS!!!!  Fingers crossed I can do this, it's on my list for the next few days.  If not this week, then hopefully very soon.  I would like to start combing clothes in the laundry, so I'm not separating stuff out into 10 loads over the course of a week.  I think I could get a lot of time back by doing this, but I am nervous.  If I am able to combine them together, I am going to wash everything through twice.  It might seem like a backstep to some of you, but I don't think it is.  It basically starts the process of combing clothes.  After a week of two washes, then I hope to just move it to one with combined clothes.
Did have a gross experience at a sandwich place the other day (and I'm not making much progress in that area).  Yesterday I went to a well-known sandwich franchise and the employee took my money, then directly went back and I saw him in the kitchen handling my food (no handwash, no putting on of gloves).  I was exasperated at that point.  I had already paid for my food.  I actually drove away without my food...I knew I wasn't going to eat it anyway.  So mad at myself, and unfortunately when these things pops up, it makes it really hard to want to continue in that'm going to focus on the laundry for now.  SEems to be the area where I'm making the most progress (and ironically, one of the areas I didn't think I was ready for to self-treat yet).  Hope you are all having a great weekend!


  1. Wow you are really making some progress! So glad to hear it. Yes, slowing our thoughts down is critical to making different choices when presented with frightening circumstances. It gives a moment to think first, and THEN react.

    Since treatment, I've been able to do things again that I never thought I would. It's really amazing and freeing.

    Ugh, I get the whole grossness of the sandwich shop. Been there. That's a hard one, because even public health officials would probably cite the restaurant for handling money and food without washing in between. But, much as it makes me want to hurl, if I faced that situation now, I'd like to think I would eat it anyway. I hope. Eew.

    You know what's weird about hyperawareness? It actually starts to go away with treatment. It's really strange how it happened for me, but I just don't "notice" as many germ things as I used to. Don't get me wrong, I'm still very hyperaware compared to the average person, but compared to my old self? I'm so much less aware of stuff. And when I do become aware of stuff, I tend to care about it a lot less than I used to.

    Great post!

  2. I am so happy to hear about the laundry accomplishments!! That is truly so exciting and I mean every word of that. The whole clothing and laundry aspect of ocd has been one of the biggest pay-offs for me with the greatest reward. I feel lucky these days that I have gotten to a point where laundry is not an issue, really, anymore.

    I think I might have mentioned this before so forgive me if I had, but I've found that anytime I think "what-if" it usually has something to do with ocd and to target those thoughts out and ignore those. Sometimes, I have also found that letting the uncertainty work FOR you instead of against you is a great tool (although maybe not the healthiest)... Like with your dog--I would consider thinking something like 'I won't do the compulsion unless I 100% know for sure that xyz happened.' That has really helped me in the past, sort of a spin on the whole uncertainty obsessions. Congrats on the laundry again--yippeee!! Can't wait for the next step!!