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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Putting one foot in front of the other...

    Just a progress update today.  After my last post, I have really been stuck in a rut for lack of a better word.  Feeling panicky, anxious and depressed--not a deep dark depression, but just not wanting to get off the couch and do much of anything.  Not feeling motivated.  Having an array of physical symptoms such as random chest pains, headaches, bodyaches, and fatigue.  Oddly, I find myself feeling more and more like this when my husband is home.  When he is not home, I feel less stressed in general and find myself having a little more energy.  I've been trying to take those opportunites to go outside and enjoy the sunshine with my daughter.  We even did some back to school errands and topped the morning off with miniature golfing a few days ago and that was so nice to just get out of the house and spend some quality time with my little girl!  So as far as the stress symptoms go...this isn't really improving.
The OCD symptoms however, I've continued to work on.  It's hard to be motivated to do the exposures when I feel so stressed out...but I have to keep reminding myself of why I want to do this.  Whether or not I have a "happy marriage" or not, I still want my OCD to get better.  I want to feel better and I do not want to be controlled by this OCD any longer.  I also don't want my daughter to follow in my footsteps, and although it will be a long path...I truly have a goal of wanting to be significantly better by this time next summer.  I'm trying to be realistic....I look at all of the things I have ahead of me, and I know that it will be a slow process, but I need to just keep putting one front in front of the other and moving forward.  When I am able to tackle something....even something is still a victory, and when successful at an exposure it shows you that really can do it and just need to keep moving up the hierarchy.  Sometimes I think my "little" exposures sound so ridiculous, but I know they are important because they are preparing me for the bigger ones to come.
     In the past few weeks I've managed to almost completely knock out some perfectionist and magical thinking tendencies that I have, that I struggle with when I work.  I am a nurse and I have had a lot of problems with charting and making sure everything is perfect.  If I don't do it perfect then I get into magical thinking where I am concerned something bad will happen to my daughter and I, if I don't chart "just right".  I know that magical thinking is irrational.  I know that the two events can't be connected...but it's still hard, because I have a lot of anxiety surrounding this.  I'll get into more of the magical thinking and how I've been able to beat this in a future post, but just know that this is a pretty good accomplishment for me.  I've been more productive in my job, and even been charting "wrong" the last week just to take it to the next level.
     The food issues have not really been progressing as I'd hoped.  My birthday is in a couple of weeks and I really was hoping to be able to eat at a restaurant for my birthday.  I'm not sure I will be ready yet, but we'll see.
    I'm trucking along pretty well with my laundry issues.  I still have a LONG ways to go, but at least I'm finding myself tied to the washer less, and that is really freeing up some time for me...more again on this part too later.
   What I'm really trying to work on right now is handwashing and cutting that down, along with letting myself feel dirty.  If anyone has any tips on how to slowly cut down on handwashing, I would love to hear them.  I really don't feel clean unless I use antibacterial soap...but I know that is so bad for you, and at my worst times I have gone through a whole bottle  a day, probably sometimes even more when I use it in the shower.  About 3 weeks ago I started replacing some handwashings with a regular liquid soap (non antibacterial).  I've slowly been cutting back on the amount of antibacterial soap I use.  In the beginning this was difficult because I did not feel clean.  I read somewhere once that a good exposure SHOULD leave you not feeling clean.  It should leave you feeling like you did it wrong...and that is ultimately what will help you.  So for awhile, I did feel unclean, but now I'm getting more used to it, and I would say I'm about 75% regular soap and 25% antibacterial.  There are still certain times when I feel I need to use antibacterial...such as if I left the house, if I touched one of my dogs toy's, if I touched anything of my husband's, and before I make food.  I normally take one shower/day, always at night.  Maybe once or twice/week, I've been skipping my shower...just making myself change my clothes and go to bed, which I don't like doing because I feel then that I contaminate my bed.  But that's getting easier too.  I think one way this is helping me is to in a sense merge my "safe" and "clean" worlds, and yes...I realize this is very low exposure, but you have to start somewhere, right?!  I'm trying to make a list of things in the house that I routinely touch and mark them up from lowest to highest far as if I touched that item, and didn't wash my hands afterward, how would I rank that?  So far my lowest anxiety is my Nook (my e-reader), then the TV remote (because my daughter and I are the only ones to use that), then the computer keyboard downstairs, then we start getting into some doorknobs in the house.  One of my biggest concerns right now is getting my clothes some of my exposures I have planned for the next week.  For example, currently if I touch my Nook or the remote and I'm just going to sit on the couch, then I'll be fine.  I keep my hands in front of me and am careful to not touch  my clothes.  If I need to use the restroom or go touch something else though, then I feel like I need to I don't contaminate myself or something else. plan is to to touch the Nook and then start by placing my hands on my clothes.  That way I can become comfortable with the contamination of the Nook.  Then work my way up the hierarchy to other things.  This sounds so stupid...because I watch other people..and they touch objects and then themselves all the time, and don't even give it a second though. But I feel that most things are contaminated and I don't want them to contaminate me or my clothes.  I look at my husband who let's our dog lick him all over his face.  Our dog tosses her ball on his lap or on the couch he sits on.  He is on his phone or iPad and doesn't wash his hands.  The kids across the street sit in the driveway and probably go sit on their couches in their house afterward.  People at the store touch their faces or clothes all the time as they are pushing their shopping cart (which that handle is probably a germ fest).  I think if I could get comfortable with contaminating my clothes, that would really be a HUGE step for me.  But this is going to be hard.  Any tips?  Would love to hear them!


  1. Can you get your clothes dirty and just shower before going to bed for now? And then later on when youre ready, dont shower at all?

  2. I think ive mentioned in previous comments, and you know this too, that our immune system needs to practice on fighting germs to keep it strong. We are a part of the earth and our environment, and theres really no way you can completely avoid germs. Theyre everywhere! Our skin has its own bacteria (natural flora) which attacks foreign germs that attach to our skin. I know its not very easy to absorb these truths, but they helped me with my case. When I get exposed at the grocery for example, I just look around and feel consolation that others are exposed as well but they dont mind at all. We have our immune system, and it helps me when I think of that. We should focus on keeping our immune system healthy and strong, thats the only way we could really combat germs.

  3. maybe i ve missed a post on how you share the fridge with your husband? because if you do, then i think youve been "contaminated" all these years without knowing it. And youre still alive!

  4. A month ago, I accidentally contaminated my bed (i dont even remember now how), but because i was tired and just changed the sheets the night before, i did not change it. I could not sleep well, but I was thinking if i still feel the same way the next day, I will just change the sheets. I think thats how I accidentally applied the delaying tactics they mentioned in books. The night after, I was already comfortable sleeping on the "contaminated" bed. Changed the sheets 2 weeks after, which is my normal frequency.

  5. A friend tipped me to buy some crab apple essential oil and put 4 drops to a glass of water, and drink as frequent as I'd like. She said its good for people like us who feel that we can never be dirty. I did not try it because Im already on medication, but I have read it could really be helpful, you may want to google it.

  6. WOW. Seriously, WOW. You are making significant progress, this is incredibly impressive. Oh how I hate that "unclean" feeling too! But you know what? It actually DOES go away over time. Well, the only suggestion I can give you about the handwashing us just to allow yourself one wash at a time and that's it. Go to the bathroom, wash hands once, for example.

    The other thing is that I watch other people for examples for how to act. If they touch a door knob without washing, then I try to do the same.

    Anyway, I think you should be IMMENSELY proud of yourself. These are NOT little victories. They are huge. You are literally changing your life and your daughter's life. Just think about that . . .

  7. Hi Hopeful,
    You sound like you are doing so much and I understand (and live out) the idea of getting your clean world mixed with your contaminated world. With handwashing, here are a couple things to consider: have you tried making a record of when and how long you wash your hands and what triggers each event? Doing that could help you see where you are exactly and then you can start to try and cut back slowly in some areas after you get a baseline (or at least that's what I did)...for me, I think it was starting with touching my phone and then not washing my hands and I tried it once, and then continued on from there. Also, I think you said you live out west, but it is going to be colder soon and I've always found that my skin would get worse on my hands when handwashing increased and the weather got colder. You could also try decreasing the duration of your handwashing, as you might have a specific routine of how you wash your hands...very little steps, one change. One thing that really helped me for some reason was knowing that some of my friends didn't wash their hands after touching their phones--or anyone I knew really--and I thought about that..if these people I looked up to could do it, so could I (if that makes any sense). I am so proud of you and the 20% decrease is just ridiculously awesome....that's a huge number!! Merging your safe and clean worlds--well, there is no word that comes to mind for how mentally difficult that is in try not to think of that as minimizing your progress.

    Going back to the handwashing--I can think of a time when it hurt me just to make a fist with my hand because my skin was so raw and bleeding and I would AVOID washing my hands bc it got to the point that it hurt so is better without the three pumps of soap, the scrubbing routine, the counting in case you messed up, the repeat of the entire thing. I wish I could do that Harry potter thing where you can read thoughts because I have been in both situations and would love to hear that this part is getting better for you.

    Also, I agreed with everyone of Sunny's words, per usual.

  8. Also, going out to eat for your birthday would be an amazing start to kickoff the year. Maybe you could try going out the week before just so it wouldn't be the first time the day of your birthday, or try thinking of it as a statement of minimizing ocd of this year of your life from day one. Again, I've been in this exact same boat and eating birthday cake from somewhere when I couldn't eat anything anyone else made was something I tried that day and I've never looked back. It sounds like a great opportunity if you can try. I can tell you exactly how I got through that part if that would be helpful to you. Xoxo.