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Friday, May 8, 2015

Possible dog poop on my jeans

    Well, I guess when I was writing my blog post yesterday, I didn't realize it at the time, but I was actually giving myself a pep talk for a situation that would present itself that night.  Now, I need to follow my own advice.  Last summer I had a very difficult time being outdoors, particularly walking around my neighborhood.  Just felt dirty, because a lot of construction was going on.  Especially when it was windy, I would feel like things were blowing all over my clothes, "contaminating" them, and feeling very dirty and uncomfortable in general unless I was indoors.  Because of that, unfortunately my daughter and I spent the majority of last summer inside.
     This year, since I am doing a lot better, I was bound and determined to not let those same issues get in the way of enjoying time outdoors again.  The other day I was walking our dog and as we rounded the corner to come home, I noticed some brown liquidy spots on my arm.  I'm not sure when they popped up.  I know my dog did her #2 business outside, and I cleaned up after her, walked back home and washed my hands.  Then we went back out again and walked down the street a second time.  As we were approaching home, I noticed these spots.  Where else would they have come from?  I can't imagine how cleaning up dog poop could have gotten on my arm, but it was you never know.  Maybe something blew down from a tree?  But how does it get on your arm?  I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I walked in the door, immediately took my clothes off, looked over every square inch of my clothes for any brown liquid...didn't see any, but washed my hands probably about 10 times, and then took a shower, and changed.  I told myself I needed to wash these clothes, and not let them sit there forever thinking they were ruined/contaminated.  Well, long story short....they are still sitting there.  I haven't done anything with them, because the pants are spandex yoga pants and they probably can't withstand the heat level of a sanitary wash cycle.  I have NOT thrown them away yet, but not sure what I'm planning on doing with them.  I remember sitting there after the incident thinking, " I probably won't want to go outside this summer again.  Every time I walk the dog I'm going to be afraid that somehow her poop is ending up on me". rained so much over the next couple of days that I didn't have to think about it again.  I heard the rainfall in our area was about 7 inches one night.  Places flooded in town, people's backyards had formed swimming pools.  A lot of rain.  Yesterday things had dried up, and I decided I was going to walk our dog again.  I was not going to let what happened the other day prevent me from going out again.  After all, what happened that day had never happened before.  I really felt it wouldn't happen again.  Wrong.  I had on a nicer pair of jean capris and a hoodie this time, and again she did her #2 business on our walk.  She kind of pulled away on her leash as I was picking it up, so then I'm afraid somehow the poop bag brushed against me or something, and ...of course it was slightly windy again.  Also because of the rain she was lapping up water continously around the block, trying to make her way over to mud puddles and dirt.  Splashing through the water puddles.  When we got home, I inspected my clothing (because I was paranoid about last time), and wouldn't you know I find a damp brown chunk on my jeans that kind of flaked off.  I picked it off, and couldn't see any reside left behind.  So, I don't know...was it dog poop?  Was it mud or dirt that flicked off as she was splashing through the puddles?  I just don't know.  And not knowing it was drives the OCD crazy, because it will tell me it is poop.  Definitely. 
      Ugh!  Today I am forcing myself to wash the pants, twice through a sanitary setting.  And I need to wear them again.  Even moreso, I need to tell myself as I'm doing this, the following:   "This is dog poop on my jeans.  I am now wearing pants that have had dog poop on them.  There could be dog poop remnants on me right now".  It sounds utterly ridiculous (because maybe it isn't dog poop), but I I've found that by taking my self-talk to an extreme level that the grossest thing I can think of to happen is actually happening (even if it's not), then that is what helps me make progress.  Eventually my mind will accept that there could have been dog poop on them, but I am still wearing them, and it is okay.  And they don't have to be contaminated forever.  This is so gross to think about, and so hard.  But I so very badly want to be free of this disorder, and I need to face these fears.  But I'll be honest...I'm scared to walk my dog again.  And I had some fleeting thoughts again last night where I told myself I'm not going to take her for walks anymore.  But that is not realistic.
     I was thinking about OCD the other day, in the sense that it feels like we live inside a box sometimes.  We are inside of it, looking out.  It feels like we are locked in the box, but the only way we're ever going to get out of it is by using the right key.  But then once it seems like we are partially out, then is another door that takes another key.  But each "key" is a breakthrough.  There are a bunch of windows that help things seem not so dark sometimes, but to keep walking out the doors, and eventually leave them for good, we have to find the right keys.  I am hoping that this is one of those times, where this will be the key I need for another breakthrough.  The pants are being washed, let's hope I can wear them.  An update soon!  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stick with the Discomfort (of OCD Exposures)...Don't Give in!!!!

    Just wanted to touch base on my OCD today. Sorry in advance, another long post.  A few areas in which I've done well, and a few areas which I've backslid in recently.  Seems to always be the case with OCD.  It's always waiting right there, to creep up on you.  In my last post I wrote about some events coming up over the course of the next couple of weekends, things I wanted to get to and QUIT AVOIDING!!  :)  Turns out those are just the first events of the summer.  My daughter, as she is nearing the end of the school year, wrote a biography about me for one of her classes and has a book presentation at school in a couple of weeks which I must get to.  Her birthday is at the end of month.  Last year we did not have family over at all for her birthday, or her friends, which makes me really sad.  Last year I was in the deep dark trenches of severe OCD.  This year, although I am better, I am still uncertain if I will be able to have people over at our house.  In June, of course it is Father's Day so more get-togethers on each side.  My great aunt is having a birthday party (she is getting much older and in poor health) and I would really like to go to that.  I am still somewhat optimistic of taking a short vacation with my family this year (that was actually one of my main goals this summer), and joining a health club for a month to utilize their pool, so my daughter and I could swim this summer (lots of potential issues there, I am still hopeful about this too, but I'm not going to lie, I am nervous about this too). 
    Currently, I am working on combining more types of clothes together in the wash.  I was able to do a couple of things this week that surprised me.  A couple of weeks ago, my dog came up and either pressed her wet nose onto my pajama pants, or licked them.  I'm not sure...but one of those things definitely happened.  I took off my PJ pants immediately and laid them next to my  hamper.  I resisted the urge to throw them away, as my mind was screaming at me to toss them!  I thought to myself, I have come this far.  I am NOT throwing these away.  So I proceeded to wash them twice through a sanitary cycle on my washing machine, and then deemed them "wearable".  I folded them up with the rest of my PJ pants, but kind of avoided wearing them for a few days.  Then I finally decided to just wear them...and you know what? wasn't that bad.  It usually never is as bad as your OCD tells you it's going to be.  Then of course the next worry was that every time I washed these pants they would have to be washed separately, alone, because although they were "wearable", they were still "contaminated" enough to not wash with the rest of my "clean" stuff.  When I did laundry the other day...I thought what the heck?  I'm just going to put these in with the rest of the stuff before I can change my mind.  Tossed them all in together.  Done.  Anxiety about now...0-1.  Not bad.  So I was able to incorporate something "contaminated" back into my laundry.  This is my main goal this summer with OCD exposures is working on this.  To stop washing things individually...what a waste of time.  It's going to take many baby steps, but I'm going to work on it. 
     My daughter had another cold this past week.  Yay, middle school (I guess if I can be more sarcastic with my OCD then maybe I am feeling better overall).  In the past if she has had a cold I have washed her T-shirts separate from mine, but today....just washed them all together.  Didn't like it one bit as they were in.  Stared at the washing machine obsessively every 5-10 minutes to make sure soap suds were tumbling around (haven't done that for awhile), but I did it.  Now they are rinsing out and it really doesn't bother me that much.  I'm telling you, so much of this is just the power of the mind, and the power the OCD has over you. 
    Had something happen I'm not proud to admit though.  At the beginning of her cold she threw up, and I threw that outfit out.  Eeeks...thought I was doing better at that.  Just a small downslide though. 
Also last night as I was putting freshly washed sheets on the bed, I noticed a spider crawling on the sheet....seriously?  It would have been a great and perfect exposure opportunity to just pick the spider off and climb into bed and keep the sheets that way until the next washing.  But nope, I couldn't do it.  I laid a blanket down over the sheet to somehow cover up the area it had been....and plan on rewashing the sheets today.  Well, I guess you can't win every OCD battle.  I'm mad at myself about this one, but realize that next time I need to just not give in and sit with the discomfort and move forward.
    After all, it's about sticking with the discomfort.  If you're forcing yourself to do something uncomfortable with your OCD, then stick with it!!!  Those are really the times when you are going to move forward and make progress.  When you're sitting there pacing around with anxiety and mumbling to herself how much you dislike this feeling, and just want to desperately to "redo it the right way" or give into what the OCD is telling you to do.....then those are the times when you should do exactly the opposite and just sit with the anxiety.  It WILL go down, and every time you do it you WILL start to feel more comfortable.  But on the other hand, every time that you give into the OCD you make it worse.  Trust me, I am guilty of this one myself many times.  And I get angry at myself.  Really, really angry.  But the times we CAN fight it off and force ourselves to do it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes, is where we're ultimately going to make gigantic leaps of progress, and take our lives back from this monster.  To overcome this.  So, please, if there is something today that you're scared to do in regard to your exposure that you know you need to tackle, just do it!  Chances are, are that one week from now (if you keep practicing the exposure everyday), your anxiety over the situation will have gone down, possibly even be non-existent.  And a month from now, you might wonder why you never did this before.  Taking your life back from OCD.  It is worth it.