Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Update: Cleaning/ Showering ERPs

Fri. dec. 2.  I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I did the laundry, had a shower and got dressed in less than an hour!!  And I didn’t have the ‘feel’ that I was missing something, or should shower longer!  AND I even put the 'garbage day pants' from Monday in the washer and put it on the setting I usually use.  No extra long washing cycle.  I washed my hands after I put them in the machine and yes, I did  feel a little dread and was more ‘aware’ of me washing my hands before I stepped into the shower but after that no problem.  Didn’t feel ‘extra’ dirty like I normally would because of 'garbage day' pants. 

 Actually I did it all by accident. I forgot I’d put those pants in the laundry bin instead of beside it, so I was a little taken aback when I realized what I had done.  But it was a great accidental erp.

  I did realize that maybe, just maybe if I become accustomed to doing this and not feeling totally dirty, I might be able to do the laundry and just wash my hands and feel I am clean- without showering afterwards.  Even 2 weeks ago I would have thought that an impossibility for me. Just thinking about it gave me the creeps.  Now, I can entertain the thought.  And that is the first step to actually doing it.

I went to aqua-fitness at the Y.  Afterwards I decided to take a quick shower.  Stupid me.  I HAD to notice there were black dots on the dark green shower curtain.  BAMM ocd hit so hard.  Mold, what else could it be???  I washed my hands and arms especially hard after I noticed that and got out .  the feelings didn’t go away.  My bathing suit, towel, bag were all covered in ocd mold- amazing how fast that stuff grows!  Washing my hands again (I think) before I leave but not before I pick up the bag which then negates said handwashing, I drive home.  Still freaking out in my mind.

  Did think tho about what Ann wrote to me on my blog- that she doesn’t worry about mildew, so I used that to calm me down a bit. That worked til i got home.

 Called Bruce for some reassurance- well mostly to make me feel better- and of course he didn’t. he  told me there wasn’t anything wrong and to just tell ocd to ‘show me the dirt’.  Well, how rude, to use my own stuff against me!!!!!!!!  so what did I do?  I hung up my suit and towel and WITHOUT washing my hands, I went upstairs and used HIS computer to find and print off my monthly bank statement.  I called him back after I was done and let him know his computer is now contaminated.  He congradulated me instead of showing any even teensy bit of concern about his computer.  HUMPH.

Why is it that ocd still surprises me with how LOUD and INTENSE it  can be? It feels like I have gone thru a battle.  By the time DREAD leaves, I am exhausted and just want to veg out on my computer. 

Sun. de.4  Cleaned the  2- piece bathroom and didn’t feel like I had toxic dirt on me!  I had a shower (17 min.)  a bit longer than normal.  Didn’t use up the whole bar of soap either! Didn’t wash my hands after getting out of the shower.  Still have a ‘problem’ with the tiled wall.  I refuse to NOT rewashanything that touches those tiles. 

My head doesn’t want me to go back to the Y locker room, unless I use another bathing suit and towel and a totally different locker area.  I’m not sure that’s necessary but not sure how to unlodge the thought.  I went swimming anyway but took another suit and towel because I didn’t want to deal with OCD. I also didn’t touch the shower curtains there, nor put the suit into the spinner because I’d used it on Fri. Sigh. Not to good on that exposure. Did have a good time swimming. :)

 Mon dec. 5  I’m sitting here after I just finished mopping the kitchen floor.  Waiting for dread to start?  So far so good.  I only (ONLY?!) washed my hands  4 times.  Once after sweeping, once after bringing the pail upstairs, once after I put everything downstairs and threw the water out, and the last time after I wiped up the water spills from throwing out the water.  I also banged my elbow and back on furniture and it didn’t feel like those things were now contaminated (because doing a dirty job means everything I touch accidently is also contaminated) so that was good. 

Question:  why is it that I can spot minute black specks on a dark green curtain while opening it and yet not remember what I did with my credit card after I used it last Tuesday?  You’d think that if I can do the former, my brain would automatically take a picture of me doing ???? with my card so I could find it now.  Then at least ocd's scrutinizing behaviors would be useful for something. 

Took out the garbage and had a shower.  21 min. so it was longer than ‘necessary’.  Came out with an elbow that touched the shower curtain and didn’t wash hands afterwards.  Was kind of scary going to tuck KD in cause DREAD was starting his rant again.  Got into her bed anyway, went over her French vocabulary sheet and read her a story.  Felt ok by that time.   

 Dec 7.  Showered after laundry: 15 min.  So far so good.  Suzanne wants me to write a thought sheet about cleaning the mildew from around the tub.  Cant I just take another pill and be comfortable with it?  Maybe 2 or 3…  long time ago in a past life I used to be able to clean tiles and it didn’t bother me.  even bleached them every so often. 

I looked at the tiles in the shower and there doesn’t seem to be that many tiles there.  Up til today I’d swear the tub surround was 20 feet long and 10 feet wide.  A 3 or more hour job.  Today it looked like a half hour or less.  How hard can it be?  And then I’d be free of 1 more contamination point in the house.  Cause afterwards I’d keep it up instead of being afraid of it like in the past 2 years. 

Here I go, back into the torture chamber.  My Christmas present to me.

Sat. morning I did my thought record and then went and de-mildewed the bathroom.   Glad it was finally over.  Not that that has changed my fear of the tiles.  It just makes it irrational now.

Thought Record:
Situation:             Clean mildew off shower walls.
Automatic Thots: It's gross. Afraid it won't stay cleaned and i'll have to do it AGAIN.  It seems like such a big job.  I'd rather sleep.

Evidence to support above thots:  Too many bad memories about getting mildew off the ceiling at
another house.  It kept coming back.  I Don't like the bleach fumes.

Evidence that does NOT support automatic thots: I did this at another one of our houses and it
worked just fine.  This has plenty of room between the  shower curtain and the ceiling for air to curculate around and dry the ceiling.  The other house had an ornamental valance covering up almost all the space from the ceiling to the shower curtain. 

Alternative thots:  Just put on some bouncy music.  From then on I can shower quickly without worrying about what i might touch.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Shower

This evening i learned that ocd can have wonderful effects on our family’s quality-time communication together.   Bruce and I spent 10 glorious romantic minutes tonight looking at each other in the eyes while discussing an intimate and pertinent concern: what are the steps to properly shower and can I touch the shower curtain without personally imploding or causing the world around us erupt with soap scum?  Without ocd there’d be nothing  so fascinating to talk about! Even Katrina offered her insightful question when I asked her if touching the shower curtain made her wash her hands.  She wanted to know whether farts left their mark on curtains.  See, ocd can be discussed with any age level, bringing a family closer together sharing things we’d ordinarily never talk about- at least not out of the locker room. 

Goal: to take less time in the shower by not freaking out every time the shower curtain touches me and then scrubbing that part at least 2ce so it is clean again.

I was getting frustrated because listing shower steps in order sounds so easy until I tried to do it.  Because it wasn’t the showering directly  I have a problem with.  It’s the shower curtain.  So do I address THAT problem first like I did with touching the mop before using it and do I even want to dirty up my house with soap scummy shower curtain  dirt?  And no, I wasn’t planning to scrape my finger nails along the curtain to make sure I got REAL soap scum.  Potential soap scum is bad enuf.

 Then Katrina needed to go to bed so I got some books and read to her and sang silly Christmas songs to her and we discussed HER take on the shower issue (see above) and giggled over that and finally i just lay there singing until she fell asleep.  While laying there singing and not really thinking I wondered what my ‘silent observer’*  would say about the whole thing. So I asked and it said that to ask ocd to show her the dirt and when ocd couldn’t, to tell it that I only worry about real visible dirt and that if there is none, there is NO issue to be worried about.  (Uh, that’s what everyone else has been saying to me for years.)

Well, that gave me something to think about!!!!!!   I was kind of stunned at the simplicity and finality of the whole thing.  There is nothing wrong with the shower curtain above the tub level (where the water doesn’t get to, so neither does soap scum, and there is actually NO mold on this shower curtain ).    Any non real ‘what-if’ would just be answered with the repeat of the same sentence over and over. Any real dirt would be dealt with at the time.

 Ok so now I have the ammunition.  Next thing is the DREAD feeling ocd will naturally use to confuse me and get me to comply to it’s demands.  Side note: what does ocd actually get out of this??? It’s not like it is getting a trip to Switzerland if it wins.  So what’s the big deal with it anyway?   Dread- decreases with time.  So any body part that the shower curtain touched and still feels dirty by the end of the shower can get rewashed.  And we’ll see how that goes. 

So here are the steps.
1.     Have entertaining and insightful conversation with family members about showering and how to do it.
2.     Come up with a good statement to tell ocd off with.  (show me the (real) dirt.)
3.     Make thought record, if not already done.
4.     Remove clothes.  Get wash cloth/ soap if needed.
5.     Get in shower, arrange shower curtain ‘the right way’ (as per Bruce’s instructions) so it doesn’t touch me.
6.     Turn on tap with other hand.  Wash hands because there really is soap scum at the bottom of the curtain where the magnets are as the tub is once again not draining properly. Get someone to put down start time so that can be monitored in case it’s needed for later erp’s.
7.     Wash self.
8.     If something touches shower curtain and it has not been washed, wash it when the time comes. If it has already been washed then leave it alone until the end, ignoring the dread feeling while washing rest of me.
9.     If at the end, dread feeling has not vanished, wash all above parts again once, quickly.
10.  Do  Not wash  whole leg if it is just the knee that touched the curtain    
11.  Wash hands at end and turn off shower.  Open curtain taking care to not touch self with it.  Should that happen, see #5.  Wash only if the bottom of the curtain touches you.  Otherwise use statement from #2 to get ocd to shut up.  Get out of shower.
12.  Do not wash hands.  Faucet is not physically dirty.  See #2.  run around house naked until dread feeling goes away.  This should happen rather quickly because it is cold in the house and not even ocd wants to freeze to death… or maybe we should let it.
13.  dry and dress 

Future erps:  Next time eliminate step 8.

                     Next time cut shower time down by 1 minute if it is more than 12 min. long.

 Ok. Results..

·       shower 12 min. (I had Bruce time it from after I got the shower curtain put into position in case that took a while using his directions)

·       I wasn’t touching a part of the shower curtain so I thought I’d do it on purpose to see how long the DREAD would last. I had my elbow touch the curtain- at a clean spot I may add. Then a few moments later it happened naturally.

·        I did leave it alone until my elbow grazed my leg.  THAT wasn’t accounted for, so I just re-washed my leg quickly and continued on.

·         I decided at the end that I wouldn’t wash my elbow as there was no visible dirt on it.  DREAD was still there in the back of my mind so I just repeated the mantra: show me the dirt. 

·       Turned off the water, moved the shower curtain and got out. 

·       I forgot about NOT washing my hands afterwards (#12).  Oops. Such a habit.

·       Elbow still a problem so asked Bruce if I was right.  Then realized I wasn’t asking for a legitimate reason, I was only asking it for reassurance and I could ask it a million times and DREAD would still be there.  So I tried the running part...for a few seconds.  That was cold, which had the desired effect.  Suddenly a towel and warm clothes were more important to me than DREAD.  I dried off, dressed, took my pills and am now sitting here waiting for the melatonin to kick in.  and I wanted to get this written down before I forgot it tomorrow. 

·       DREAD feelings still here a bit but elbow already touched couch so I’m committed .  Will NOT wash couch so elbow/ arm is clean.  DREAD is disappearing. 

 I  was going to put this up last week, but didn't get to it right away.  Then the next time I
showered it didn't go so well, so i wondered if this was just a fluke- beginner's luck. Each time
after that some stuff went well, others didn't. I think that i am ok with not washing my hands
after i open the shower curtain and get out of the tub.  I did try to keep calm instead of getting
frustrated and angry with myself when things didn't go as well as i thot they should. 

Here's the worst one:       from my journal
Fri. nov. 25   ok here we go again.  I’ve been reading above steps, still may go with step 8 altho I don’t HAVE TO but it’s nice to have an ‘option’ should I need to use it.  also decided that as I didn’t pre-decide what to do with point #3 above, it goes like this:  if there is no dirt on me after touching the curtain, there can’t possibly be dirt on anything that elbow or arm touches, right.  Simple logic.  Ha. Like anything about ocd is logical. Ok, it IS logical but only after starting with a false premise!  Too logical.  Ocd brain is VERY sneaky.  … 

Ok results. I’d like to say it went well today but it didn’t.  I was putting the ‘extra-dirty’ laundry in the machine.  All the clothes used when someone does garbage, or major cleaning.  So I was a little on-edge anyway.  When I got to the washer that is. 

 Doing my thought record, you’d think I was going to do something  mildly risky, but fun,  like tobogganing down a large hill.  Anxiety of 60 or less.   HA HA HA.   I used up a ton of ppr towels cleaning the washer & the floor & carried them upstairs to the garbage in one arm, so I had more than dirty hands when I stepped into the shower. I washed my hands & then  tried to put the shower curtain where it was ‘supposed’ to go, but since I STILL felt too 'dirty' to touch it in the ‘clean’ areas (above the tub line),  it bunched up and wouldn’t flatten out.  

 To ensure that I didn’t ‘dirty’ up the shower curtain by touching it with my dirty arms, (and thus screw up any next potential shower erp)  I did a small ‘prewash’.  That also didn’t calm me down any.  So I did the best I could, not worrying too much about my erp plan.  Keeping calm, not frustrated was the new goal so I could get out in a ok time limit.  I did notice what I ‘wasn’t’ doing, forgot to classify it as ‘ocd talk’ (as per Jeff Schwartz of Brain Lock)  but noted that it was not normal people’s behavior.  
 Maybe if I stop doing a special load for ocd dirty laundry (I’m pretty sure that the washer will clean ordinary garbage- can- touching- clothes in a regular load of laundry too…???) ok, I’m not so sure, but I am sure that if I asked anyone else they’d say so, unless I was carrying a garbage can that had just been pulled out of an oil spill.

    * silent observer is the part of you that is watching/ listening to all you do. It is the part of you
that can think about a thot that you just had.  See Brain Lock or any book about mindfulness for
a better explanation 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

 Yesterday I washed the floor all by myself.  I swept it first and then filled out a thought sheet while I was ‘resting’ from that stress.  It turns out that I have more anger that I may do it ‘wrong’ly than I do anxiety- or that could be what the anxiety is.  So after it died down a bit, I got the pail and mop, followed my  written instructions and only made a few errors.  I touched the tablecloth area I sometimes back into when I’m getting the garbage bags down for garbage day, so I felt that that would contaminate the mop.  I just washed up in the sink (no shower J).  Then continued mopping. I then touched the bottom of the mop where the rags start while wringing it out, but instead of washing again (it happened almost right when I got back), I just finished off using only one hand.  While I was doing that my anxiety went down because I had already decided  on my thot record that if my foot got touched by the wet mop, it’d be ok because it was just vinegar water and maybe some dirt/dust from the floor.  No toxic dirt. So how would it be different for my hand?  Not enuf to make me actually touch the mop with it again, but enuf to get the anxiety down and put it into the thought record as ‘ok’ if it happens next time.  I took the stuff downstairs, emptied the pail, put the mop back in it and turned off the lights (with my shirt), went upstairs to wash my hands and my left arm to my elbow.  That took a little longer than a ‘normal’ wash, but not nearly as long as a shower.  Oh yah, the mop top touched my shirt ( I think) and I didn’t change it.  
 I still think it’s ridiculous to be proud of doing something I could do at 10 yrs old, but I am.

Monday  we did our Christmas shopping for Katrina.  I also wanted to do my usual desensitation at a used clothing store (the usual one, not a different one.)  On our way there Bruce asked if I wanted to go to the dollar store first.  I said no.  and then said well, I HAVE a preference, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t give in to all my preferences, esp.  He was ready to do it- without me even directly asking for it.  We talked about that later.  I said that confuses me when he is willing to do the ‘ocd thing’ even when I don’t ask/ insist because to me, that means that he sees there IS a reason to do it ocd’s way.   Did the rest of our shopping etc. with no problems from ocd for going there first.  It is  sooo nice when my brain stays quiet!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Burning Car Defeats OCD Obsessions

 Today i found out that if you want to get rid of an ocd obsession really fast just watch your car burn...after you get yourself and your child out of it!

I dropped my daughter off at gymnastics and went to do my weekly erp at the used clothes store, just to keep it away.  I did that and afterwards went to another used clothes store nearby. This one looked ok from the entrance but then i noticed a back section.  Ignorning the floor change from carpet or tile to concrete i wandered into the back.  Big mistake because ocd just decided that NO FLOORING= MICE.  I tried to keep the thot away and left the store, after checking the floor and of course there were no mouse droppings anywhere to be seen.  I got to my car and drove away. I decided to fill up my almost empty car with gas before getting back to the gym. (That's important later on).  We were driving merrily down the highway and i was commenting to myself how neat it is that i can drive now, without always being afraid i'd hit someone etc.  As we were driving by the mall, i smelled something funny.  It went away, so i thot it was a nearby truck or car.  A few more min. off the highway and i smelled it again.  Also my break-foot was all the way to the floor and that was odd.  I thot i should check the car to make sure, but wasn't sure if that was just worry/ ocd brain or a real intuition.  We were driving by a grocery store and i turned in.  I parked under the lights at the back of  the store and got out to make a fool of myself by looking and  smelling under the back of the car.  Nothing.  Now just for the front.  It seemed ok- just some white stuff coming out the front.  I thot maybe the car was overheating (in nov????) or maybe a belt had burned off and it was residue.  To be sure, i went into the car and undid the hood thingie ( touching that is kind of an ocd no no but i did it with my foot). I opened it a bit and saw some flames at the back by the driver's side.  I closed it up hoping that would smother the flames.  I opened it a bit again and they were still there. 

I opened the back door and told my daughter to get out quick.  I couldn't get to her seat belt but she did and i pulled her out of her car seat.  Then i (quiet me who doesn't like to 'disturb' other people)  started yelling to ask if anyone had an extinguisher, my car was on fire.  Someone called 911 and some store guys came out with extinguishers and tried to put it out.  No luck.  I realized that i didn't see my daughter anywhere so started looking for her.  She was in the store front, with a lady i didn't know keeping her safe.  This was the same person who had called 911.  I tried to give her my home number so my husband could pick us up, but couldn't remember what my number was. 

Not too long after that Bruce showed up.  He had been driving by, looked at the fire and saw that it was a car like mine.  Coming into the lot he realized it  WAS our car.  So i didn't have to call him after all!

The firemen came and put out the fire.  They gave Katrina a little teddy bear and let her sit in the fire truck.  She was a bit traumatized by the whole thing!  The firemen took the stuff from inside the car (including the glove compartment and other areas i don't really touch unless i absolutely must) and trunk and put them all in a bin on the ground.  I took the bin and without worrying about any contamination, put it into Bruce's car.  Later i got out my purse, book bag, Katrina's school bag and stuff i got at Value Village and carried it all into the house.  No more worries about that second store i went into!!.  I was just glad things had gone as well as they did tonight.  The car didn't blow up, no one got hurt, no other cars got damaged.  Ocd worries gone. 

 Now, how do i get to therapy?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mop

          The Mop                                                                     
     Red.  Imposing. 
    Scary little bugger.
   Demonic, scheming.

And I have to touch it!   And then touch other things I don’t plan to wash.  Geesh, how can something so benign scare the crud out of me?

How about this:

New movie: The Attack of the Killer Mops
Opening scene:  mops are landing everywhere. Mops of all sizes shapes and kinds.  People are panicing, running all over the place.  Then comes the Demon Mop.

Nope, can’t see that movie making much money.  Well, not unless you have a whole bunch of people like me in the theatre. 

I DID touch it yesterday.  And ate a plum afterwards.  And  i'm alive to talk about it.  But i washed after that.  Also did a thot record of it before i touched it.  And i cleaned the handle on sunday, so i KNOW there are no germies contaminating it.  But does that matter?  No.  Well, a little.  Maybe.
Reread my thot record. 
Ready, set,...stop? go? ok. now.   ok, NOW. ok. stop pressuring me!

I did it. and then i ate another plum and then started watching The magic behind the deathly Hallows, typing everything with the OTHER hand while waiting for it to be 'ok' for me to use both hands (which i'm doing now, with a whole lot of trepidation. ).  my computer doesn't FEEL contaminated, so i guess now is a good time to get ready to go swimming. 

Update.  Went swimming. On the way my bag fell onto the floor of the car.  Not a good place.  Ocd jumped at it's chance to torment me.  I picked up all the little black specks of dirt off the floor and NONE looked or felt like mice droppings. (DUH!)  And i took the bag inside the locker room,  washed my hands (well, i WAS touching the car floor), got changed and left the bag sitting on the bench.  After swimming i put it in the garbage can.  Oh well.   
I came home and was a bit leery about touching all the stuff i touched before i left, esp. my computer, but i did it and the anxious feeling went away in a short time. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wed.  I get up early to put KD on the bus.  I entertained the thought of just driving her myself but decide that getting up is better.   I put the garbage cans away.  But the branch under which the can is sitting tapped me on the head, just like it did the night before when i put it there. Off spouts ocd:  ug, now your hair’s dirty; because even tho it rained the twig is dirty from yesterday(since i touched it while i was doing a dirty job) so now you need to wash it.  I’d love to say I ignored ocd, but I didn’t.  I washed my hair.  When I calmed down, later, I could see that just maybe, ocd was wrong…Not completely convinced.  See how every day becomes an anxiety-filled day just by doing what others do normally without thought?   .

Thurs.  A busy day:  Put KD on the bus (that’s 2 days in a row!!)  and didn’t fall asleep again afterwards.  Worked on the accounts. Only 1 ½ months left of self-imposed poverty and that mastercard will be paid off. Cross my fingers.  Then I can put some more expensive fun back into our lives.  Why are mistakes so easily made and the fixing of said mistakes so hard?  Went to the library in the afternoon and as I was putting the trunk down I touched the car and ocd saw his opportunity and jumped on it:  you may have touched the black, stripey,stuff that’s all over the car. It MIGHT be mold as it looks fuzzy.  So now you better wash your hands before you touch anything”  So I trudged into the library (without touching the doors) and went to the bathroom like a nice obedient girl.  I put my bags down and washed my hands.  Relief, for a second. 
 As I picked the bags up ocd barked: your dirty hand touched the handles of the bag as you put them down’.  Now what?  Forget washing the bag.  How about just forget ocd??  So I did.  I gave back the library books and signed out a new one for KD.  Still feeling dread but having some time to kill before having to pick up KD for gymnastics, I found a book to read and sat down.  Try reading with ocd DREAD in the back of your mind.  Fortunately for me I have had years of experience with that.  After around a half hour- 45 min.   the dread went away!!  By the time I left the library I was feeling ok about having NOT washed the bag but having used it to hold more books that were NOT OCD-filled.  I went to the school, picked up KD, talked to the secretary, and drove to gymtrix all without ocd bugging me.  Afterwards KD and I went to value village for my next erp.  She touched all the toys ( it seemed to me) and I was sort of ok with it- some of them were pretty dirty; I guess they don’t clean those. I found a game i liked but it was right beside an old really worn-out box that held a glass chess set.  Ocd sprung in knowing exactly what to say:     ‘ ha, that chess set probably belonged to some old guy and his family finally cleared out his house and it probably was in some dingy corner of the basement where mice lived and now you touched the box beside it.  DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.'
  But since I had just dealt with ocd a few hours before and won, I wasn’t giving in so easily this time.  So I just thought about it.  My answer to ocd was:  I bet it DID belong to some old guy, who loved playing chess and bought himself a glass set because he enjoyed playing and I bet he put the set away in that box every time and put it on a shelf in his living room or den for the next time he wanted to play.  And now he cant play so his family gave it to the store.’  That MIGHT be true.  Just as true as ocd’s story. It bought me enuf time to say shut up to ocd, take KD’s hand and leave the store.  (Success# 2) 
Later KD wanted some water, but the container in the fridge was nearly empty, so I had to go  to the tap in the kitchen and use it.  I didn’t want to because I knew that I ‘shouldn’t’ wash my hands after filling the cup but I REALLY wanted to.  So much for the erp I’d done on that one a few weeks ago.  I told myself to shut up, and went back upstairs after shutting the tap off without washing and touched my computer.  If I touch my computer that means I have decided I am clean enuf and after a few minutes I noticed that my ‘ew’ feelings had gone away.  (# 3)  I was tired that night and went to bed a little earlier knowing that I would have to get up again the next morning, early.

Friday:   got up at 7:40, saw that we were going to be too late for the bus and crawled back in bed.  KD was so upset she missed the bus.  I drove her to school and then had breakfast.  I felt so tired I   fell asleep on the couch.  I woke up 4 ½ hours later!!!  Wow, sleeping all day, again.  Don’t know if I should beat myself up for that or just say well, it was a stressful day thurs. fighting ocd.  But either way it doesn’t matter.  I did it and can’t undo it now.
Sat. was fairly ocd free- even at the skating rink where my coat and gloves fell all over the bleachers people both sit AND walk on.  I hadn't skated in a VERY long time- 8-10 yrs.  It is NOT as easy as getting back on a bicycle, that's for sure.  So KD was learning how to skate by using a contraption the arena had, and i was relearning how to skate.  
Sun.   Still not too keen on the idea that the mop handle is 'clean' and i can bang it against my head, but there is a tiny crack of doubt- that maybe, just maybe it might be ok.  I can't see myself touching my hair with it and sitting with the dread, but maybe that's what i'll have to do...only after i clean the handle tho, LOL. 
 Thinking i should do the floor again today, just to 'get back on the horse' but i already have to clean the bathroom.  Which is why i'm here writing a blog instead.  Time to get out the dancing music to help me get started.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I hate ocd.

OCD is another word for  one humiliating life.  Today's task was to clean the kitchen without having a shower.  i put it off (naturally) but finally decided to bite the bullet.  I decided to just wipe the cabinets and wash the floor. Never mind the counters or sink this time.  It was ok.  I got it done with only a minor trauma ( the bottle of windex touched my pants).  I was carrying the mop in one hand while the bucket of dirty water was in the other trying to go out the door to dump the dirty water.  The mop handle touched my hair (yuk), so i had to wash it.  I wasn't supposed to shower so i washed my hands, and my hair and rinced it off in the kitchen sink using the sprayer.  By the time i was done, the dishes, the cupboards and the floor by the sink were all wet.  And i still had to rewash the sink handle.  Then since my clothes were now wet, i had to take them off and rewash my hands and arms before i could get into my pyjamas and sit down in the living room to have a good cry.  Nice to know that a 10 yr old could do this better and with less stress than i did,- and with less mess at the end.  The bathroom hot water handle is now 'dirty' because i don't have the energy to clean that and then clean my hands again.  Just too much work.  I hate ocd.  But at least i tried to do my homework and will have plenty to talk about at my session tomorrow.   i hate ocd.  i hate ocd. i hate ocd.  i hate ocd. i hate ocd.  i hate ocd. i hate ocd. i hate ocd.  Have i made myself clear?  Just in case i didn't:  i hate ocd. i hate ocd.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review: When in Doubt, Make Belief: An OCD-Inspired Approach To Living With Uncertainty

By Jeff Bell.

Jeff begins his book by discussing 2 kinds of doubt: Intellect-based doubt and Fear-based doubt.  Intellectual doubt is the realistic doubt that helps keep us safe (do i REALLY have enough time to get across the street before the light changes)  or challenges traditions (is that really the BEST use of the world's resources?). It is rational, logical and serves humanity well.The great scientists, philosophers and revolutionaries used it to challenge the accepted view of their cultures and changed the world for the better. 

Fear-based doubt, OTOH, is the result of catastrophic, emotional or black & white thinking.  It keeps the questioner stuck in uncertainty and doing or not doing things in an excessive way to try to reduce or eliminate  the anxiety.

He explains how we can tell the difference between the 2 kinds of doubt: Does it spike our anxiety instead of promoting curiosity or caution?  Does it cause ever-more disturbing 'what-if' scenerios?  If so, it is fear-based doubt.

Once stuck within uncertainty  Bell discusses the 6 'trap doors' that people use to try to eliminate this fear-based doubt that instead only lead the doubter further down into the fear. These are checking, seeking reassurance,  ruminating, protecting, fixing and avoiding.  Doing one or more of these, in an effort to reduce uncertainty, only gives a minimal relief, while taking up lots of time and effort.  These make up the compulsions and rituals a person with ocd may perform.

The 'correct' [ocd joke] way to eliminate fear-based doubt is to use the 10 steps to MAKE BELIEF. Standing up to the doubt bullies is done by  believing in yourself and in believing in the goodness of life and in the goodness of other people.  The 10 steps are as follows:

Choose to see the universe as friendly.
Embrase the possibility in every moment.  Live in the present moment (ocd wants us to live in the past or future ) and find meaning in your life.
Affirm your own potential.  You are more than your ocd. Use Mindfulness to observe your thoughts.

Put your committments ahead of your comfort.  Learn to live with uncertainty in life. Want to be free of ocd more than you want comfort.
Keep sight of the bigger picture and the greater good. Have a sense of humour . Don't take life so seriously. Find a positive reason or purpose to help motivate yourself to NOT give in to ocd compulsions and rituals.

Exercise your freedom to choose Use your independent will to CHOOSE not to obey the ocd bully. Willfully choose to sit with your anxiety. Choose to actively practice ERPs . Delibrately expose yourself to whatever you fear just for the practise of choosing not to do the compulsions.
Picture possibility and direct your attention  Choose which thoughts and ideas you want to give attention to and which you will just acknowledge  with detachment as having crossed your mind.
Act in ways that empower.     Act, believing in the abundance of the universe, rather than the scarcity ocd wants you to feel. Believe there will always be opportunities for you. Ask yourself if you are acting out of a sense of purpose and service to empower yourself or others or out of fear and doubt to relieve anxiety.  Fake it til you make it' if necessary.

Accept and let go of what you cannot control Use your free will to accept what you can't control so you can act on what you can control. Uncertainty is inevitable (out of our control) as is the anxiety we feel at times. You suffer when you try to control the uncertainty and fall into one of the 6 trap doors (doing compulsions).Give up your obsessions to the universe and let it (Him, Her, God) take care of the results of you not doing your compulsions.
Allow for bigger plans than your own.  Don't get attached to your plan's outcome.  There may be something better in store.

Once you've used the 10 steps to stay away from the trapdoors, use the 'greater good perspective shift' Bell describes to keep you on the path to making belief.  This greater good perspective (GGP) means making decisions based on service and purpose rather than on doubt and fear  (D&F).  It means  making choices that give you the chance to serve others or bring out the best in yourself.

 The D&F framework involves deciding between a 'good' and a 'bad' choice.  For example, washing up after touching a door knob would be the 'good' choice because it would reduce the risk of making someone sick and  your anxiety will go down.  The 'bad' choice would be to not scrub because you 'might' make someone else sick and you must sit with your anxiety.

Using the GGP,  your decision would be between: 'good'- wash up to keep someone from getting sick and ' greater good'  - don't scrub because you will be on time to xyz function, you will be 'in charge' of your actions.   Bell believes that purpose and service are better motivators than fear and doubt. 

Making believe is not something you do once and then receive the benefits of forever after.  [oh, rats.]You must practice these steps over and over again.The more you work on these steps the easier they become. And when you make a mistake, you also know your way out of the traps.

Bell believes that as students of life, you, not your doubt (ocd) bully is in charge of your decisions and therefore your life.  At the end of the day ask yourself 3 qu: In what ways did I demonstrate a passion for life, kindness to others and kindness to myself. By choosing to make believe you will continue to move forward in life, not staying stuck in fear and doubt.

I really enjoyed the book.  He writes in a way that is clear and helpful.  I, too, found that it is more motivating to have a positive reason to not do a compulsion.  His view of having a higher purpose- even if it is only empowering myself, gave me more ideas to use when i must decide whether to enter one of the 6 trapdoors or not.

 In fact i used it last night.  I went to V.V. (used clothes store) again yest. but didn't change when i got home. I just put a sweatshirt on over my shirt.  When my daughter went to bed last night i debated whether to cuddle her in bed or not ( in case I contaminated the bed.)  I realized that cuddling with my dd was a 'greater good' than a 'cleaner' bed, and so i did that instead.

A Good Week.

Well 2 good things happened this week.  I am finally able to comment under my own name.  It has something to do with signing in under the right email address. 

And i went back to value village today to finish my homework assignment.  This time, tho while i washed my hands when i got home, i didn't change my pants.   I did put a sweatshirt over my t shirt so i could feel a little better (and be warm in my house.)  The anxiety has worn off.  Maybe next time i won't worry about my shirt either.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My homework this week is to go to Value Village 2 times.   I have put it off. Then a couple of nights ago i tried to get my daughter to eat a piece of mac and cheese ( she's a VERY picky eater. )  and if she did i'd go to v.v. and see if the toy she wanted was still there.  She did (and hated it and spit it out) and so now i had to keep my end of the bargain.

But first make that thot record on paper, not just in my head.

Situation: go to used clothes store.
Moods:  anxiety & dread- 120+ %
Automatic thots:  The stuff in the store is dirty.  It could have come from old people's homes who died/ went to nursing homes and by this time had mice, mold and other gross critters in their houses.
What does this mean for my future: I will have to buy only new stuff unless i know the person it came from.  Can't roam around in used book stores anymore. 
What am i afraid might happen: My house will get contaminated by the 'what-if's'.
What is the worst thing that could happen if above is true:  I would have to clean my house top to bottom.
What does this mean about people in general: they like mice.
What images or memories do i have in this situation: Cleaning out my inlaw's house and garage.  When we got to the garage to clean up dh's grandma's stuff that was stored there, mice had gotten into it. ( I kept some christmas ornaments that dh remembered from his childhood but even after cleaning them i have a hard time putting them out.  Some years they get used; others they don't.)  I was afraid to go back to the basement after that in case there were droppings there i hadn't noticed before.  I refused to clean up anymore of the house.
Evidence that supports the hot thot:  The store has a funny smell. 
Evidence that does NOT support the hot thot:  They wash the clothes first ( i hope).  Most people get rid of toys etc. as their kids get older or they don't want stuff anymore.  Ditto for the adults too.  I USED to shop there (in a different city).
Alternative/ Balanced thots:  I plan on washing the toys/ clothes later before DD plays with them.  DD will be happy.
Rate moods now: 35%- but i'm not in front of the store yet.

( NB i added a couple of things to it as i was copying it down )

So i put on a baggy sweat shirt that was easier to wash than a coat.  It also had a big pocket in the front to hold my credit card so as not to get my purse 'dirty' and a large cloth bag to put the stuff in (so as not to get the car 'dirty'.  I was prepared.

No couch in the entrance way.  So far so good.  I went to the toy section and looked them over.  No My Little Pony stuff there today.  At least not that i could SEE.  I'd have to touch the bags to find stuff behind the first bags.  Ug, but ok. The bags should be clean, right?  Still nothing.  i guess it was sold already.  i find a purple shirt dd would like and pick that up too.

 Then i look at the books.  Origionally i had decided NOT to do that in case they were old and moldy, but i figured the children's books should be alright.  I found some that dd likes to listen to and picked them up too.  Then i went back to the toy section and found some little doggie stuff she'd love to have.  i cashed out, but had to open my wallet to get another credit card, but didn't worry about it there.  Put the stuff in my big shopping bag and put it all in the trunk.

  Went home.  Took off sweatshirt, washed hands.  Did NOT wash car , or front door handle. Didn't feel THAT dirty. However, i put a blanket on my pants before putting my computer on my lap- just in case.  After dd went to bed we put the toys in the sink with dish detergent to soak over night, dh wiped the books off with windex and i put the shirt and bag in the basement laundry.  We washed up (him, his hands, me up to my elbows, i put all my clothes in the laundry and got ready for bed. 

Better turn-out than last time.  Still not sure whether to call the store clean or not so i didn't schedule any other errands for on the way home, and i kept debating about whether to change my pants and t-shirt too.  Deliberately didn't touch library books the rest of the evening in case i changed my mind and THEY became contaminated.

One more time to go.  this time i'll look for clothes for me to try on -maybe.  And will i change clothes when i get home? 

Calling all computer savvy people:

I can blog.  Obviously.  However, i can only comment on my own blog under the name 'anonymous'.

On some people's blogs ( The Blue Morpho, Into My Own, ) i can comment under my name automatically, picture and all. 

However, on most other people's blogs  i must sign in under 'anonymous'.  And if the blogger hasn't allowed for anonymous writers ( and i can certainly understand why, in blogs this personal), i can only read and not comment at all.  I've also tried to sign in under open id url, but that didn't work either. So 'Just Me and my OCD' and 'I Am Not My OCD", i do read your blogs and have tried to comment but so far no luck.

Anyone have any idea what is going on?  How can i fix this?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is ERP Another Word For Abusing Yourself?

My erp this week, as if i haven't been traumatized enuf already, was to go to Value Village, a used clothes store.  Now, once upon a time gone by i used to go there and buy clothes, take them home and wash them and then wear them.  Not a big problem.  I went to other used clothes stores too.  Only condition was they had to look clean and neat.  In fact when i was younger and our son a child, that's how he got his snow suits etc.  So i've had a long history with used clothes and not had too much a problem.  Haven't stepped inside one in 5 yrs. Not since ocd bit me in the brain. 

I had done some pre-thinking.  Coming up with reasons why it would be nice to go to value village.  (not too difficult- i get to pick the style of clothes i like and the prices are cheap.) I looked at the store on line but VV has a particular smell to it that the internet pic's didn't bring across.  Or else my extra-sensitive - pregnancy -nose is at it again.  Imagined walking in the store.  No big trauma in my mind, so i thot 'this will be ok, easy even.'  HA!

Anyway i didn't get there til after everyone had come home from work and school.  I should have gone alone but i thot it'd be nice to have a little support.  It all went well until we parked in front of the store.  I just stared at it. I said to Bruce (husband) that maybe we should start at the bank down a bit in the strip mall, work our way to V.V.  Nope, it was raining so he was going directly there.  i followed along behind.  In the front door was a green couch.  It looked ok but you never know.  After all it's used by who-knows-who.  ( i manage to keep this voice down to a dull roar at hotels, where the couches have also been used by people i don't know).  So from where i am it looks like my daughter is swinging her hat against the couch.  Strike 1.

 We get into the store and i just stand there and smell it and look around and wander.  Hubby and daughter are down by the toy section because i guess they don't get the words 'children's clothes' very well.  So when i finally got them back to the kiddie clothes section KD ducks under all the clothes and makes sure she is completely enveloped in OCD.  Me, i am about to shriek, freak or just run screaming, so i turn around to get away from my daughter before i grab her and just haul her out of the rack of clothes.  I calm myself down and then decide it will be ok.  KD comes up to me wraps her arms around me and gives me a HUGE ocd hug.  So now i, too am contaminated.  It's what i came for, right?  Not exactly.  I wanted a little integration.  Touch some clothes with my HANDS, not my whole body, try some on and maybe buy one.  Nope, she ensures i get the full-body contact.  So we look for something for her to wear but she's not interested.  (of course not, her task to throw me under the rack is now complete).  So i go to look at pants.

The change stalls are all grungy looking inside and have black spots/ marks on the floor and in the corners.  I make Bruce look in and ensure that the dirt in the corner is not really mold. So i have these 4 squares (2x2) tiles i feel are clean enuf to stand on to change.  Isn't there some rule about having to have at least 1 meticulously clean change room for ocd disadvantaged people?  There should be. 

I try a few pairs of pants on and discover i have no idea what size i am anymore. I have gained a ton of weight in the past 3 yrs. Partly my fault, and partly ocd drug's fault.  I am working on that. Not hard enuf, tho, apparently.

So after all that we leave with nothing. I sat in the car staring out the front window the whole way home.  I was in shock.  Not thrilled, or exhilerated like i sometimes am.  Just in shock.  I asked Bruce on the way home if it was ok to change into pj's when we get home.  It's only 7:30, mind you.  He says yes, it is.  I throw all my clothes in the laundry becasue i don't want ocd reminders on me.  That worked fine for me.  But KD, altho she washed her hands and got into her pj's too, had a head of hair/ face still full of OCD.  This was ok as long as she was watching tv and i was upstairs.  When she came upstairs and wanted to snuggle with me it became a problem.  I told her that i was scared to hug her because of her hair.  She sat for a time and then disappeared into the bathroom.  When she came out she said she'd washed her hair and her hands so i wouldn't be scared anymore.  I let her hug me even tho ocd didn't really think that wiping her hair a few times with her hands really constituted cleaning it. I thot it was nice of her to care, since mostly she doesn't. (she's 5) I even lay in bed with her and read to her. 

When that was done i changed my pj top and decided that was all i could do about/ for ocd today.  Not sure if that was a success story or not.  i certainly didn't like the idea of 'contaminating' my whole house to desensitize myself.  Maybe that was just too much fo r one week.  I still have the anxiety or stress horemones or whatever coursing thru my body.  i hope they leave soon.  At least by tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garbage Delight pt. 2

So i went out tonight to pick up all the dirty paper towels that the birds had strewn around.  Only i didn't know how to do it without stepping on areas that might have been touched by the paper towels as they blew along on the ground.  So i took off my shoes and since they were summery and open i pulled off my socks too and threw them in the garbage can with the shoes and the paper towels.  But there was no bag to take the bin to the house with (since i didn't want to touch it with my ocd-ish hands).  I washed really well and changed into pj's but still had ocd-ish feelings of being dirty.  i put clean sox on too cause i had to walk back to the house in my bare feet.  Well, i sure learned the hard way how NOT to put out the garbage.... At least i didn't have a shower, altho i wanted to really, really really badly.  still do. 

Ocd has cost me lots of money in things i throw out. :(
I also spent a lot of time while reading this morning tearing up.
Tomorrow is the day before my next therapy appt.  I am supposed to have gone into Value Village ( a used clothing store) as my next ERP. I don't know if i'll be doing that.  If i feel tomorrow like i felt today and like i feel tonight i won't have the energy to do it.

Ocd sucks.

Garbage Delight

So last night was garbage take-out night.  Special worry because I also had to take garbage from the basement. That can had towels in it that had acquired fuzzy black spots (from hanging wet over my laundry basket for days). In my book that was mold so this bag needed extra care. All day I thot about how to get it out of the house , finally deciding that if i took it out of the can, put it into another garbage bag upside down then it would be good enuf. I did that, wiped down that can and the walls and floor around it  Because the outside can was already full and it was rainy and supposed to be raining the next few days I just put the bag on the ground hoping the rain would keep the crows/ ravens away.  By this time tho i was tired. Showering took 45 min. But as i was drying off I (or rather OCD) decided that the towel should go into the laundry 'in case' some dirt was still left on me- how that could be after 40 minutes only OCD can say -but i bought into it, instead of telling ocd brain to shut up. So i threw the towel onto the laundry pile which then blasted a puff of air at me. This meant that i should wash my arms - 'just in case' - OCD said. Obediently, and without thinking, i went to do it- i was tired and so just wanted to get done- but then soap bubbles started coming out of the sink hole ( is there mold down that hole?) and i had had it. Anxiety went sky-hi. I moved to another sink, after washing down the original soap pump and sink handle, and tried again to wash my arms 'properly'. Since the kitchen sink has no soap-bubble drain hole near the top, i managed to get washed and dressed in my pj's by 8:40. i was tired. It was now over 2 hours since i started. Ocd is sooo exhausting. I was in bed by 9:15 reading a book to my 5 year-old daughter.   Thinking about how to do the garbage 'right' sure sucks!!!

Since i went to bed so early, i figured i better get up at a decent time of day. Unfortunately, my counsellor doesn't think 10:30 meets that qualification. So i was up at before 7:30, giving my daughter breakfast and getting her ready for school. Everything's fine? Nope, saw my husband putting some garbage into the empty milk box we have on the counter to scrape left-over oatmeal into from daughter's bowl, so it doesn't clog the sink. From my angle it looked like he TOUCHED the box. "Eww" screached OCD into my head. I retorted with, He'll be upset and tell me that he did NOT touch anything, so i'll ignore it.' 'Uh, huh' says ocd. They both leave and i watch them thru the window ( what else am i supposed to do at this time of the night?). So i saw the neighbors come out of their house. The mom has a garbage bag in her hand and the daughter comes across the street to the bus stop WHERE MY FAMILY IS STANDING. ' See that? screams OCD,' i hope she doesn't touch her". Mom puts the garbage in a can and goes back in the house. "Ug, now their door knob is dirty" What if dear daughter wants to go play there? Or worse, their daughter comes over here??" And then not-so-dear husband-with-the-dirty-hands goes in my car and into my trunk. OCD now has a major temper tantrum in my head because my car was clean and safe for me to use. Then hubby blythely gets into his car and drives off, leaving me dealing with OCD -brain all by myself.

And 10 or so minutes after everyone left, i heard a crow squack.  Sure enuf, paper towels were all over the place.  I should have just put it on top of the other bag in the can last night.However,I was too anxiety ridden or something to remember that crows, unlike hummingbirds, can't hover in the air to poke holes into the sides of a bag sitting on top of a garbage can with a lid over it.   So guess who gets to deal with more yuk garbage?? blech. But not yet.
So do i run out and wash my car door handle and the trunk pull etc?  Couldn't call hubby for another 20 minutes until he actually arrives at work. I decided to sit with it and do nothing, and see how long that lasted. (One of Jeff Schwartz' ideas from Brain Lock.) I read a book while i waited and the urge to scream, call hubby etc. decreased. 2 hrs later  i realized the feelings had gone down a lot. But again i'm left feeling exhausted. So it's not a happy win. I did do better than last night.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reviews of OCD literature esp. relating how they mean 'cured'.

I read a book called Saving Sammy written by his mother, Beth Maloney. It was a very fascinating book. He Here is the summary from

The summer before entering sixth grade, Sammy suddenly began to exhibit disturbing behavior. He walked and ate with his eyes shut, refused to bathe, burst into fits of rage, slithered against walls, and used his limbs instead of his hands to touch light switches, doorknobs, and faucets.
Sammy’s mother, Beth, watched helplessly as her middle child descended into madness. Sammy was soon diagnosed with OCD and later with Tourette syndrome. Unwilling to accept the doctors’ prognoses for lifelong mental illness and repeated hospitalizations, Beth fought to uncover what was causing this decline. Racing against time as Sammy slipped further from reality, Beth’s quest took her to the center of the medical community’s raging debate about whether mental illness can be caused by infection. Beth searched until she found two cutting-edge doctors who answered that question with a definitive yes. Together, they CUREDSammy. Five years later, he remains symptom free.

He had strep virus or the antibodies running thru his system. They weren't giving him strep throat but were causing the ocd. He still has to watch his stress levels and stuff, but if there's a flare-up he goes back on the meds until it settles down again.

Train your mind Change your brain by Sharon Begley says this about ocd:

P8: The brain can be rewired. It can quiet circuits that once crackled with the aberrant activity that characterizes depression & cut pathological connections that keep the brain in the some-thing-is-wrong state that is ocd. The adult brain retains much of the plasticity of the devloping brain incl. the power to repair damaged regions, to grow new neurons

P139 Schwartz had another objection to erp: it’s cruelty. He looked for alternatives that were both more humane and more effective.

p 141 Willful, mindful effort can alter brain function. Mental action can alter the brain chemistry of an ocd patient.
So if mental action changes brain function does that mean drug free, or what? I'm getting Schwartz' books to see if i can find this answer. So far i found a summary of his and his collegue Dr Gladding's ideas from Brain Lock & You Are Not Your Brain at the website: Here is a short summary of the info found there:
OCD is caused by damage to a specific part of the brain called the basal ganglia. Thus, OCD is a biological disorder, rather than a "mental problem." Scientists proposed that any damage to the basal ganglia might result in the onset of OCD symptoms. Physical damage to a brain structure results in a neuropsychological condition.
Although the patient realizesthat these obsessions and compulsions are "unwanted, unreasonable and excessive," they cannot stop listening to the thoughts and acting on them because of the pure feeling of dread the patient experiences until the compulsions are correctly performed.
Researchers postulated that OCD occurs as a result of the OFC and ACG [parts of the brain]being overstimulated. If they are stimulated beyond normal ranges (hyperexcited), they cannot accurately detect errors and may fire at inappropriate times. Thus, they would send excessive, erroneous messages to the basal ganglia that there was a problem. This is exactly what patients report, a sense of "dread and an intractable feeling that ‘something is wrong’."
Medications passively alter brain chemistry and decrease the intensity of OCD signals, while in CBT patients consciously alter their brain chemistry by changing their responses to obsessive thoughts.
Train yourself to say, "I don't think or feel that my hands are dirty. I'm having an obsession that my hands are dirty."
We now know that these urges are caused by biological imbalances in the brain. By calling them what they really are--obsessions and compulsions--you begin to understand that they are simply false messages coming from the brain.
Just relabeling these thoughts and urges won't make them go away. The worst thing you can do is to try to make them vanish. It won't work because the thoughts and urges have a biological cause that is beyond your control. What you can control is your behavioral response to those urges.
STEP 2: Reattribute
"It's not me--it's my OCD." It is a reminder that OCD thoughts and urges are not meaningful, that they are false messages from the brain. "My hands are dirty" can be so powerful and overwhelming. Understanding why the thought is so strong and why it won't go away is the key to increasing your willpower and enabling you to fight off the urge to wash or check.
Deep inside the brain lies a structure called the caudate nucleus. In people with OCD, the caudate nucleus [C.N.] may be malfunctioning. Think of the C.N. as a processing center or filtering station for the very complicated messages generated by the front part of the brain. Together with the putamen, which lies next to it, the C.N. functions like an automatic transmission in a car. The C.N. and the putamen together take in messages from very complicated parts of the brain--those that control body movement, physical feelings, and the thinking and planning that involve those movements and feelings. They function in unison like an automatic transmission, assuring the smooth transition from one behavior to another. Typically, when anyone decides to make a movement, intruding movements and misdirected feelings are filtered out automatically so that the desired movement can be performed rapidly and efficiently.
In OCD, the problem seems to be that the smooth, efficient filtering and the shifting of thoughts and behavior are disrupted by a glitch in the C.N.
As a result of this malfunction, the front of the brain becomes overactive and uses excessive energy. It's like having your car stuck in a ditch. You spin and spin and spin your wheels, but without traction you can't get out of that ditch. With OCD, too much energy is being used in a frontal part of the brain called the orbital cortex. It's as if the orbital cortex, which has an error-detection circuit, becomes stuck in gear. This is probably why OCD causes people to get a "something is wrong" feeling that won't go away. You have to do the work to get it out of gear--to shift the gears. You have a manual transmission. People with OCD can teach themselves how to shift gears through self-directed behavior therapy. In doing so, they can actually fix this broken gearshift in the brain. We now know that you can change your own brain biochemistry.
Using the Reattribute step will also help you to avoid performing rituals. Knowing that the urge to get that "right feeling" is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, you can learn to ignore the urge and move on. You will actually change your brain and make the feeling lessen.
Step 3: Refocus
This is what we mean by shifting gears: Do another behavior. This. Takes. Hard. Work. The Refocus step is where the real work is done. Mental exercise is like a physical workout. In Refocusing, you must shift the gears yourself. With effort and focused mindfulness, you are going to do what the C.N.normally does easily which is to let you know when to switch to another behavior. After a while a person gets a "feel" for when he's scrubbed enough. But people with OCD can't get the feeling that something is done once it's done. The automatic pilot is broken.
The idea is to work around the OCD thoughts and urges by shifting attention to something else, Any constructive, pleasant behavior will do. Hobbies are particularly good. For example, you may decide to take a walk, exercise, listen to music, read, play a computer game .
When the thought comes, you first Re-label it as an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge and then Reattribute it to the fact that you have OCD--a medical problem. Then Refocus your attention to this other behavior that you have chosen. As you keep practicing, the same amount of effort will result in a greater decrease in intensity.
Sometimes the urge will be too strong, and you will perform the compulsion. Never perform the compulsion without some time delay. This is not an invitation to beat yourself up. Just continue to Relabel the behavior and to acknowledge that this time the OCD overwhelmed you. Remind yourself "I'm not washing my hands because they are dirty, but because of my OCD. The OCD won this round, but next time I'll wait longer." Relabeling a behavior as a compulsive behavior is a form of behavior therapy and is much better than doing a compulsion without making a clear mental note about what it is.
If your problem is checking the door lock, try to lock the door with extra attention and mindful awareness the first time. This way, you'll have a good mental picture to refer to when the compulsive urge arises. Anticipating that the urge to check is going to arise in you, you will be able to Relabel it immediately and say, "That's an obsessive idea. It is OCD." You will Refocus and begin to "work around" the OCD urges by doing another behavior, with a ready mental picture.
Step 4: Revalue
For obsessive thoughts, Two substeps--the two A's--aid you in Step 2: Anticipate and Accept Anticipate means "be prepared," know the feeling is coming, so be ready for it; don't be taken by surprise. Accept means don't waste energy beating yourself up because you have these bad feelings. You know what's causing them and that you have to work around them. You want to stop reacting each time as though it were a new thought, something unexpected. Refuse to let it shock you.
So it sounds to me that he is saying that you can be med-free and after a while mostly symptom free, with a system in place for dealing with any thots that DO occur. However i will see what the actual book says since this is a summary of a summary.