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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.


  1. You'll know that you're over it if you dont even notice that you've been exposed.
    Its like you even forget how the heck you were scared of it before.

  2. John, that is good to hear, but hard to imagine that being the case for me, where I'm at right now. You are right though, there are many things I do now with zero problems that I had major issues with at the beginning, that don't even bother me. It's these higher ups on my hierarchies that are troubling me. I would be interested to know how you are doing though with your treatment--hopefully doing well!