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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Where I Am and Where I'm Going...

     Wow, it's been about 1 1/2 months since I posted.  Mostly, I've been trying to enjoy the summer. I've been doing fairly well with my OCD lately, really trying to push myself many time to do the opposite of what my OCD is telling me.  I'm still trucking along with my self guided program.  I thought it would be a good idea to put it all out here and figure out "where I am" with the OCD" and really get a good plan going for moving forward.  I apologize in advance for the length of this post, it's going to be a long one!  From this point on for awhile, my plan is make weekly updates on how I"m doing with my planned exposures, and also use it as a resource to plan the next week's set of exposures.  I really want to knock a lot of this stuff out before the end of the year.  Below are each of my "subcategories" and a little background on where I am CURRENTLY with them.  Also following each category is a list of some small and large exposure ideas...they key being to work on a few things each week, and keep practicing those while I add in newer exposures each week.  Sometimes I will do a bunch of "smaller" stuff, other times I may do a really big exposure.  Keep in mind, as you go through previous posts, that I've been in a lot worse places with most of these things.  Sometimes I have really remember how far I have come--it is definitely motivation to keep going.  Also, the below exposure ideas are just that--"ideas"--it is a brainstorming of some possible things I can do to start really tackling these areas.  I'm sure there are a thousand exposures I could do, and if anyone has any good ideas I would love to hear them!  

Laundry:  I need to learn how to do laundry at any time I want to do it.  I need to be able to know that toilets are flushing and feel comfortable with that, that somehow toilet water isn't contaminating the washer.  I know it sounds incredibly ridiculous.  I need to combine more types of clothes, to make larger loads of clothes so that I'm not washing 1 or 2 things by themselves.  I need to have less detergent in the washer so that the clothes rinse out better and it only takes 1 hour or so per load, as compared to 2 hours due to extra rinse cycles.  I need to lessen the # of cycles to "clean out" the washer after I wash my husbands stuff, which I feel is contaminated.
**Little exposure ideas:  combine sheets with towels, combine my daughter and my "outdoor clothing" (instead of washing separately), work with detergent so I am using less each time, each week take out 1 of the cycles to "clean out" the washer after I wash my husbands stuff (currently I run about 6 empty cycles after I wash his stuff)./
**Big exposure ideas:  Combine whatever needs to be washed into one load, purposely flush toilets while laundry is going (similar to how I worked with things when I stopped turning the toilets off earlier this spring), do laundry while my husband is here.

Clothing Contamination:  It's hard to break this down.  I feel like this obsession spreads to everything.  Because I feel uncomfortable having my clothing contaminated, that is why I avoid things and why I create safe zones.  Why I have laundry rituals too.  This seems to me the absolute biggest OCD issue I have and if I could get rid of this I think it cut out a massive chunk of my OCD.   I'm really at a loss how to describe this category right now.  As I knock out other stuff, some of this stuff will resolve on it's own.  Back to this one later.

My husband:  I need to feel more comfortable just being in close proximity to him.  It would help if he would start cleaning out his room (taking all of his old clothes he doesn't wear and donating them).  Doing something with his bed.  Then if I could get in again and start cleaning his room weekly (vaccuming, doing his laundry, cleaning his bathroom), I think this would help.  Right now I am repulsed by his clothing or even going in his room.  At this point I don't see how our physical relationship will improve unless he is willing to make some changes on his end with his hygiene/room.  Ideally, I would like to get to the point where we can sit on the same couch, hold hands, hug him, kiss him, etc. .  Also, a big key to this category is working on the emotional aspect of our relationship, as a lot of these issues are "emotional contamination".  I feel negative thoughts when I'm around him because I feel unappreciated and unloved, oftentimes.  Somehow I correlate that in my mind with him being dirty and I avoid, avoid, avoid him.
**Little exposure ideas:  handling his clean clothes without wearing gloves, standing in closer proximity to him on purpose, going on more outings with him, having him be in my car more often, touching his hands, touching him.
**Big exposure ideas:  Sitting on his couch, sitting in his truck, handling his dirty clothes without gloves, putting his dirty clothes against mine, hugging him, allowing myself to be intimate with him.

Our dog:  I need to get to the point where I'm not constantly watching out for where she is or what she is doing.  I am always concerned her nose or mouth is going to touch my clothing.  I have a hard time walking her too because I am afraid she will brush up against my clothes.  She tugs on her leash with her mouth and then I'm mindful of making sure her leash does not touch my clothing or skin.
**Little exposures ideas:  Letting her mouth/nose touch my skin 
**Big exposure ideas:  Hugging her completely around her body, putting her rawhide bone on my clothes, letting her lick my skin.

Safe Zones:  I still maintain safe zones in regard to kitchen chair, car seat, couch, bed and "safety rooms".  I don't want anyone using the main bathroom (other than my daughter and I).  I wash the couch off almost every morning (unless my husband is out of town).  I wash the kitchen chairs off before we eat at the table, so often we eat on the couch.  I've been better at not cleaning my car seat as much.  I need to try to let all of my "outside pants" become contaminated so that I don't feel the need to keep the carseat clean.  This would also allow me more freedom to get out and about where I need to sit on public seats.  As I read in a book once, "if everything is contaminated, then nothing is contaminated".  Also I don't want contamination to occur when I can't see what is going on, so I feel tied to the house.  Unable to leave the house if my husband is here.  There is also something even more crazy that I do to protect these areas, but I don't even want to bring it up in this blog.  It's kind of been my safety net for awhile though and it's become a big compulsion.
**Little exposure ideas:  All "outside pants" become contaminated.  All pants can be worn anywhere, so there are no pants left to keep "clean" (unless going to a doctors office waiting room, car mechanic or somewhere I have deemed very contaminated).  Stop washing the couch off in the morning (unless I have a valid reason to do so). 
**Big exposure ideas:  Stop my "even crazier compulsion: eventually, allow people to sit in my safe spots, wear outdoor clothing in my safe spots 

Work:  This is honestly the one main area that I don't have many problems in at all now.  Hooray!!! I have almost completely managed to get rid of these problems.  My productivity is much higher, I'm not charting "the right way" anymore, but just typing out what comes naturally and being done.  I just need to keep sticking with it!!!!

Handwashing:  I need to keep trying to handwash less often, especially at home.  I need to back off the antibacterial soap, and use regular soap instead.  My warts are looking better which is great.  That will help me in eating/showering areas eventually.  I have been using gloves and paper towels more for barriers instead now.  That was supposed to be a temporary measure to use until the warts started going away.  Now that they are almost gone, I need to start working on this again and reducing barrier methods to contamination. 
**Little exposure ideas:  only use antibacterial soap before eating, after having a stool, after coming home from being in public outside, after dealing with my husband, our dog, or raw meat.  The rest of the time I should be trying to use regular soap.  Start finding things that I can allow myself to be contaminated by (tablet, computer, remote) without washing my hands before using the restroom.  Start applying lotion throughout the day (without washing hands before). 
**Big exposure ideas:  Stop using paper towel to open the back door, eventually get to mostly all regular soap, try to touch things purposely (especially clean clothing) without washing hands first

Eating:  I still need to continue to try new drive thrus/restaurants/grocery foods.  I have found that I have limited my diet so much due to fear of being allergic to something, which stems back to when my OCD first started and I thought I had some food allergies.  I find that when I do try something new, I often feel panicky and nervous that I am going to react.  I am scared of anaphylaxis.  I also am just concerned about contamination in general when someone else prepares the food.  I have branched out and tried some different foods and I need to continue to do this.  Need to start introducing more fruits again into my diet and trying new foods at restaurants.  Eventually would like to start eating out together as a family.  Need to eventually try to use silverware at restaurants again and drink from glasses.
**Little exposure ideas:  Keep trying something new every few days . Also need to keep doing mini exposures such as getting donuts behind the counter at the bakery, eating the sandwich even when the employee touched their glove to their hat while making it, etc..  Don't be afraid to try different places.  Go to restaurant and bring own silverware.
**Big exposure ideas:  Eat at a restaurant.  All of us order what we want (even letting my daughter get what she wants to eat, doesn't have to be the same thing I get--for some reason I am concerned with getting different foods, in case one our meals is contamianted with germs).  Use the restaurant silverware.  Use the restaurant glass/straw.

How does this breakdown for me on a daily basis?  What order of obsessions is affecting me from most to least on a daily basis?
Laundry, Safe Zones, My Husband, Our Dog, Clothing Contamination , Handwashing, Eating, Work

How does this breakdown for me in general?  What order of obsessions is affecting me from most to least in general?
It's hard to break this one down.  I think clothing contamination is the biggest problem I have.  I think if my clothes didn't feel contaminated and I could successfully wash them and they would feel clean, then I wouldn't feel uncomfortable around my husband.  I think I could be around him easier.  I think I could be around our dog easier without feeling contaminated.  I think I could do laundry more efficiently and not break my laundry down into levels of contamination...but everything would go in dirty and everything would come out clean.  I think I would not feel the need to create a safe zone.

Where do I go from here:
It makes most sense to really tackle the clothing contamination/husband/laundry for now as the biggest goals.

What I've decided to work on this week: 
Eating:  Keep trying new foods.  Eat a banana (as I'm concerned I will react to those).  Keep getting donuts from behind the counter at the bakery (because I'm worried that they will touch their finger to the donut as they're taking it out).  **Side note--I've done the bakery thing pretty often recently.  Too recently often, and I may be developing a slight addiction to donuts :)
Handwashing:  Use above guidelines for use of AB vs. regular soap.  Put lotion on without washing hands first.  Once I am successful at weaning off AB soap, then the next step is to try using the restroom without washing hands first.
Safe zones:  Do not wash car seat per above guidelines.  All outdoor pants are now considered same level of contamination and can be washed together.  Reduce days that I am washing the couch off.
Laundry:  Start flushing main BR toilet during loads of laundry (yeah--so far I'm being successful at this too), combine something I wouldn't ordinarily combine together.
Clothing Contamination:  Use mindfulness when talking through if something is "contaminated"
My husband:  touch his hands, his clothes or his body directly )
Go out to eat and go to church this weekend

At the time of this post I am actually doing pretty well on the above exposures, as I've been working on writing this post for quite some time.  I plan on updating early next week as to how things are going, and what my next step is.

To those of you that are fighting your own battle with this, keep on trucking forward.  I promise you, every step you take is worth it.  Keep on fighting!!  You can do it!

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