Thursday, February 18, 2016
Setting some long term goals...
Fear. Isn't that the drive with OCD? Fear and uncertainty. Having to eliminate all of the doubt we possibly can, in order to feel as certain as we can. But the issue lies in that we can't be certain. We won't ever have certainty. No matter how much avoidance or compulsions we engage in, we are allowing ourselves freedom for a short period of time, but we are actually allowing our world to get smaller and smaller. Our OCD prison walls to hold us in. As hard as OCD exposures are, they are the only way to get out of this OCD prison. It doesn't matter if we fail some of the exposures, but we have got to start trying. As we can prove to our OCD that we are stronger, we will eventually start to win. It IS scary. And we think that we can not possibly do it, but we can. And we HAVE to, to get out of this. There is no shortcut, there is no magical pill unfortunately. The exposures are what will work. I can honestly say that I have never regretted an exposure. Some of them have been easier, some have been incredibly difficult. The anticipation is always the worst though, seriously. Most of my bigger exposures are the ones that have moved me forward leaps and bounds. It's not the little stuff we do (although that will be better than nothing), it's the big stuff. Bringing us back to a world that isn't as consumed by OCD. Bringing us closer to where we want to be. I don't want to live in fear for the rest of my life. I don't want OCD to win. I do have legitimate fears (and if you have OCD, you should too) about continuing to spend the rest of my life consumed by this. If we aren't fighting against our OCD, if we aren't doing the hard stuff, then we will likely be in this exact place next year (and possibly even worse). That is scary. Don't let yourself be run over by this disease. I know it feels hopeless sometimes and I know it is so, so overwhelming. There is no one to talk to most of the time that understands what you are going through. But I promise you, you can start taking steps to get your life back. You CAN do this. If you have no one to support you or you want someone to talk to, just ask me. I don't have my email address posted on my blog, but I am happy to give it to someone that wants to talk. I am no professional therapist by any means, but I have a pretty good knowledge base about OCD and experience it myself everyday. Sometimes just talking with someone that "gets it" can help.
But if getting out of this OCD is what I am striving toward, I need to start thinking in a bigger context. Not just how am I going to get through this day? or this appointment? or this exposure? But looking ahead to a time that hopefully doesn't include OCD, and what do I do to get there? In constructing my self guided ERP program, I center mostly on my short term goals. Such as"what do I want to work on this week?". Through the month of January, I had been working on some of my laundry issues. I'm trying to cut down on the amount of detergent I am using for each load of laundry. Finding that balance to where I'm comfortable that there are suds in the clothes and they are getting clean vs. making sure they are not oversudsed to where I need to add on multiple extra rinse cycles to get the detergent out of the clothes. It is a work in progress, but it is getting better. I am still trying to combine certain types of clothes together again. I am doing on average 6-7 loads of laundry per week (all single washed). Compared to 13-15 loads that were double washed even just a year ago, that is pretty good I think! I have also been working on just feeling better physically, and for me a big piece of that has been exercise. I used to do a fair amount of exercise back in my teens and early twenties, and I must say that I felt much better mentally then too. Exercise is a great way to help manage stress and a mood enhancer. Gotta love those "feeling good" chemicals your body emits along with exercise. I've been trying to do some cardio/dancing/power walking, alternated with weights and stretching my body. My body is so tight anymore, everywhere. It has really hurt to start stretching, but I can't wait to start feeling better!
I thought it would be a great time to look ahead to some longer term goals for this summer, to make sure that my short terms goals are in alignment with where I'm ultimately hoping to get. My daughter and I both love to swim. We have both really enjoyed joining the club during the summers past, but unfortunately the severity of my OCD put a damper on that the last 2 years. In fact, the summer of 2014 we mostly spent indoors. Hardly ever got out. I remember just being outside made me feel contaminated. Last summer, in 2015, we did quite a few activities and I had few problems going outside, but still we were not able to get to the pool. This year I am very intent on making this happen. Even if we only join for a month, I want to get there and enjoy the water and do this thing we so much enjoy together. In order for me to get to the pool this summer, a few things need to happen. First of all, I need to start conquering the concern about my car seat and not feeling like I need to wash it off everytime I sit somewhere in public. It is not necessary to wipe my car seat down after I sit in a public chair. Why do I feel I need to do this? It would not be enjoyable to feel that I need to wipe my car seat off every single day after we've been at the pool. I need to start slowly working on this, so that hopefully by this summer..my car seat can just be as it is, and no need to wipe off. Going swimming makes it more difficult though, because I think of being in the chlorinated water and wearing sunscreen (chemicals) and then I will feel that is all over my carseat and I know I will have the worry that there are chemicals on my car seat and they are getting over my clean clothes every time I get in there. Going to the pool also creates more laundry, as then there are bathing suits and beach towels to be washed (because I know I can't use the club provided towels). I need to keep working on lessening my time doing laundry, as I don't want to feel overwhelmed when I have more loads to add on top of everything, every week. One of the biggest things that has prevented me from joining the pool as of recent, is that I am worried that my husband will come home unexpectedly from work during the day (while we are at the pool), and then he will be there by himself and I can't tolerate that feeling. Because of his current job and his commuting, this should be easier for me this summer. He works so far from home that he never comes home randomly during the day. In theory, I should be able to comfortably leave the house during the day and we should be able to make all kinds of day trips (zoo, library, park) without worry of him coming home. Ultimately, of course, I would like to not have to worry about him coming home in general. It would be so freeing to feel like I could leave the house anytime and not give a darn about what he is doing at home. But of course, I am so far from that right now....because he is so contaminated to me.
So, the pool is kind of a longer term goal, as far as a few months out. I would also like to be able to go paddle boating at the state park this summer again. We did that a few years ago and we really enjoyed it, but of course the concern for me again is wearing the lifejackets that never got washed, that are all just strung on a rope at the paddleboat station, that numerous people have worn. Also feeling again like my clothes are dirty after wearing the lifejacket, and then feeling like I'm contaminating my carseat and wanting to wash that off and wash my clothes separately. See the pattern here? The feeling of contamination just sucks the fun out of it. Sometimes, I watch others around me, of course because most of the general population does not have OCD. I watch their movements, and I think how nice it would be to not have concern about these types of things. For instance, I went to my doctor the other day. I don't like sitting in waiting rooms, I don't like sitting in public chairs. I don't like being in a doctors office where people might have been coughing or there are germs around. I watched a young man sitting in a chair, with work clothes on (overalls and a heavy work jacket). His clothes were visibly stained, with what I'm not sure. Then I think to myself that is what my OCD is always worried about in public...who sat here? what were they wearing? There is no way to know of course, so my OCD deems it dirty and contaminated. I watched him get called back, and then a few minutes later a woman came and sat in the same spot. And she will not worry about this, most likely. She will not be concerned with who was sitting there before she was. She will not give it any thought in her day. She will likely go home and wear those same clothes on her own couch. But I will not. I will go home and have a whole routine of things I do to avoid getting the waiting room germs in my house, and I will wash my clothes separately because they are contaminated, and I don't want it to spread to my other clothes. I still have a long ways to go, guys. But this does seem to be my main issue. And I still feel like I am doing a TON better now than I was a couple of years ago. I can see it in my day to day life. It's just that these types of things throw me off, and it shouldn't have to be like that.
For longer term goals, of course I still think YEARS down the road. I will address that in a separate post sometime, but basically I don't want this OCD to be consuming me if I am blessed to have grandchildren someday. I don't want my daughter to feel contaminated to me, when she doesn't live at home someday. When she is out on her own, doing her own laundry and coming over. I am terrified of that, and I absolutely have to start thinking years ahead, so that I can keep getting out of this now, while I am feeling stronger than my OCD sometimes. If I have grandchildren I don't want to feel like they are dirty, that I have to change my clothes or shower after I hold them. Again, I will save this for another post, because this is a lot to explore, and definitely something I want to explore.
For an update on how the exposures with my hubby are going....well, unfortunately they are not going at all. I made some decisions this year that I am going to keep trying to be the healthiest me that I can be. I have come to the realization that his attitude toward me is unlikely to change. The situation is what it is. I was hoping that my hubby would try to understand a little more of what I was going through. I was hoping that as he saw me able to conquer many other OCD problems, that he would be willing to help me in doing some exposures with him. But he will just not communicate about anything about it. I really don't know what more I can do in this situation. Sometimes I feel myself mentally slipping because of the marriage problems, and this is I believe what caused my severe descent into OCD about 2 years ago. I just can not let that happen again. I have worked so, so hard to get to where I am today. I feel like I am at about point P, on the scale from A to Z. If A was my most severe OCD, and Z is where I ultimately want to get with the OCD. Then yes, I am at a P. And that is really incredible I think. I have no plans on backtracking, so I just have to keep pulling myself out of the mud, one step at a time. Because I so badly want to get to point Z. I want this OCD out. I have to start working on bigger things.