Friday, June 24, 2011

I get knocked down, but I get up again.. Repeat.

I was having a nice quiet fairly ocd free day (ok i was sitting around reading and doing stuff on my computer which means that i wasn't doing anything that could give me  OCD trouble.)  However, i started feeling guilty and anyway the dishes needed to get done.  No problem there, but there was lots of cardboard from empty boxes just laying on the counter.  So i decide that since there were so many i should do the right thing and- ug- recycle them.  I put them in a bag and took them outdoors.  I threw the bag at the recycle bin but unfortunately i missed.

 Now my problems start.  I cant leave the mess in my front yard (can i?) til it's garbage day, so i bite the bullet and pick the bag up with 1 hand (so i can touch the door and faucet with the other one) and throw it in the recycle box.  Well, now my hand is dirty anyway, so i might as well get the garbage can from the end of the driveway where it's been sitting since last garbage day. (Dh isn't home to put it away.)  I''ve done this before so it's not too freaky.  I pick it up out of the ditch, put the lid on and carry it back up the driveway.  Just as i'm about done i feel something touch my leg. It's obviously the can. I calm myself down, saying it wasn't so bad, just take off the long shorts and socks and wash that leg.  That kept me calm until i decided i should take my shirt off too 'in case' it was somehow contaminated in the process.  So i pulled my shirt off with my 2 dirty hands. UG. Now i want to wash my hair too just in case.  Anyway washing my legs doesn't go so well so i end up having a shower.  While i'm IN the shower i start calming down and deciding that MAYBE, just maybe the can wasn't that dirty ON THE OUTSIDE anyway and i didn' t need to do any of this.   Too late to change my mind mid-shower, but it is something for me to think about for the next time it happens.

I think i'm done with ocd, but the way it seems to work for me is that once ocd has a grasp on me, it goes for the jugular.  I was tidying up the living room, picking up all of my daughter's drawings to thro out ( she's very artistic even at 5 so we have LOTS of her papers around. We even bot some insulation boarding to put up in th e famly room so she can post her creations. but we can't save everything).

I think about where i can put the pile where dd cant find it to retrieve all her stuff. I check the garbage can (cause NO WAY am i trying the recycle bin again today) and surprise, there's plenty of room.  I stuff it all in and then ocd goes to work:  "Even tho I'm working on NOT washing up after putting stuff in the garbage,  THIS doesn't count, right? Maybe i got some garbage on my hand while placing it all in the can" (Usu. i just pitch stuff in). Instead I got a cloth to wipe the counter and wet it so now the my hands AND the cloth are dirty (  even tho i put dish soap on the cloth ). I wipe the counter, all the while listening to OCD saying: "now the counter is dirty.  There's no way you're gonna prep food on that right?, This is just a preliminary cleaning, right? "

Here's to hoping that writing it all out  and rereading it continually while editing will give me enuf distance to not clean the counter again, not because i forgot (yeaah, like i'd forget about it anyway) but because i trust that it was an ok thing to do.

On an imaginative thot record i get as far as: 'i have ocd cootie germs on my hand and on the counter AND i'm going to do nothing about it.  No enlightening thots just : yuk, but i'll survive.' 

I guess on the good side i actually got some stuff cleaned up.  A couple of years ago i would have just left all the mess for Bruce to clean up when he got home. I would just have felt useless.  Clean but useless.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Attack of the Killer Garbage Can.

Over the past week I've been getting rid of one more compulsion. It's been around for almost the whole 5 yrs since i started 'handwashing' brand of ocd. It was so benign for me that i never worried about it. It was one of those things that allowed me to function in my daily life while i battled the 'big ones'.

When i saw my counsellor a week ago she asked if i wanted to get rid of the small compulsions or did i want to just live with them. Earlier in my therapy i was quite happy to say i'll live with them. Now i don't want to. But as soon as i said that to her i knew i was in trouble! See, SHE doesn't have to do anything if i want to get rid of my ocd compulsions. Saying YES means I have to do more yucky work. Because the only way to get rid of the compulsion is to DO IT over and over until it doesnt bug me anymore. UG.

I chose the one that i can 'logically' see isn't really dirty. And that one is to put garbage in a garbage can with a lid without washing my hands after. We have a pop-up can with a lid that goes down very slowly. Bought when i had ocd as a ocd-ok garbage can. Except my ocd was so bad that i was still scared of the garbage. I mean: what if the 'air' being compressed when the lid goes down shoots garbage-contaminated molecules in the air that then touch my hand that put the garbage in the can. I had already worked thru being able to drop something in an open can closer and closer (but still far enuf away to feel ok to me) That sort of happened naturally. But closed garbage cans still bugged me.

So i either piled the garbage on the kitchen counter for my husband to take care of as he cleaned the kitchen up or i washed my hands each time i put something in the can. Oh yes, and made sure that everyone else who deposited garbage also washed up afterwards. So the pluses in getting rid of this problem was less handwashing for me, less garbage lying around the kitchen counters and less bugging of the rest of my family. So i decided to go for it.

One foot on the garbage pedal, one hand over the can and the rest of me leaning as FAR away from the can as possible. Open the can, drop the item and jump away from the can like it was going to explode. Whew. It was done. Not quite like it was supposed to be, i suppose but a good start. No handwashing afterward. So far so good. Did it this way for awhile. Slowly got a little closer to the can and didn't jump away so spastically afterwards. Then the can was getting full. Back to the drop and jump. Don't want to get too near to the garbage. Now the can is nearly full and i refuse to put anything bigger than a small flat object in it. Garbage day is tomorrow. So then i get to start again.

Not perfect this week, but a good start. I have 2 more weeks before i have to tell my progress to my counsellor. So i'll have to work on the 'full-can' garbage. I guess i could push the garbage down and then wash my hands but i didn't feel like it this week. It was just easier to leave the garbage on the counter again or dump it in the bathroom garbage which doesn't have a lid and i just have to pitch it in.

When i asked my husband if he noticed anything this week (like no big piles of garbage on the counters, he said no. I guess out of sight out of mind. Oh well. Maybe next week.

I see people opening garbage lids and dumping stuff in at public places and go EW. I can't remember if i did that years ago myself before this brand of ocd hit me. I might have. I did use one of Mcdonalds pull handles to throw garbage in without washing up afterwards.

Other pluses this week: i am finally able to touch kd's backpack for school and the stuff in it without having to wash up afterwards. I would throw her papers onto the living room floor, pretend i hadn't touched them at all , wash up and then look at them. At the same time i wasn't making my daughter wash her hands after bringing it home. She was rebelling against the handwashing, so i backed off. Unfortunately, now that i have no problem touching the bag i won't be needin g to worry about it as school is done in a week!

Also let both daughter and husband touch the 2 doors that i think are 'yucky': the back screen door and the garage door without getting them to wash up. I just sat with the yuckies until they went away- not too long- thinking about how then I"LL be able to use the doors too!...maybe

Now if i could just get myself to exercise! (not an ocd thing just an avoidance thing :)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I went out clothes shopping and to the library.  For both those places i needed my wallet.  I didn't touch it until i was at the cash register and i needed tp pay.  I pulled it out of my pocket as if everything was normal ( don't want to make the cashier think i'm weird), paid and left the store.  Ditto for getting my library card out later on.  And i wasn't even that anxious.  I was a tad UPSET that i wasn't anxious.  Anxiety/guilt is so much a part of my life i feel weird when i don't have it.  Also that little voice starts going:  maybe you don't REALLY hace ocd.  Maybe you're making it  all up.  My rational mind says that's crazy and anyway that's my GOAL to not have anxiety when faced with a spike.  So i am glad i got off so easy.  i think it's the analytical part of me that wants to know WHY i felt ok.  That part must be in cahoots with Ocd and until it switches loyalties again i will just have to NOT listen to that either.
(Great, now i have 2 buggers living in my head:  Ocd and Analyzer!  A few more of those and i can  have parties in there. snort:)

It's frustrating that i can't handle variations in routines very well.  For example Bruce (husband)  decided to BACK the van into the garage.  No big deal, right.  Wrong.  My mind starts going: now KD (daughter) has to get out and walk all the way around the car to the door.  Will she touch anything on the way?  She LIKES to touch things as she's moving.  Will she bump into the garbage can beside the door?  It took me half the winter just to get comfortable with using the garage for parking the car and being ok with thinking the garage is clean enuf for that.  Now it changed.  and my anxiety radar was not pleased.  Bruce stooped doing that, but i guess he should be still doing it so i get used to it and don't care anymore.

What a pain in the butt ocd is. 

Also i am down to  1 pill a night.  i used to take 4 clomipramine a night ut in the past few months have been tapering off.  hopefully i won't be so tired and blah. Or is it the constant figuring out of how to do the minutia of the day that makes me tired?

Next Ocd challenge: if clothes in the clean laundry smell musty because i guess they weren't dried long enuf, then sat overnight in the dryer, are they moldy? or is it just a smell problem?  Should i be concerned?  Is the whole basket-load now contaminated?  For years and years i never had this problem because i always hung my clothes to dry.  That's what i mean by a new routine.  Now i have to answer questions that weren't an issue before i got this germ/contaminating part of ocd.  And bruce jusr thinks i'm weird.  or maybe i can just smell too much.  that has been a problem since KD'S pregnancy 6 yrs ago.  it will hopefully go away over the next few years.  cant even wear perfume!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Saying Good bye To A Roommate

Normally I like spiders. They're small, don't leave poop on the ground and eat bugs- of which we have lots in our house by the woods. So usually they get left alone to help us in our battle against the Northern Ontario bugs. But tonight we found a huge spider hanging on our curtains. In fact, Bruce thot i had put a fake one there to scare him. I just laughed, then got a small container and lid and told Bruce to get a camera. I captured the bug guy and took him outside to the edge of the trees far enuf away from the house that hopefully he can't find his way back. I know, not about ocd, but too good to pass up posting :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Thought Records Explained & Example

I've been trying to figure out why i cant post a comment on anyone else's blog, even tho i have a google account.  I even have it set to always stay signed in.  I can comment on Wyvern's peak blog and she can comment on mine.  So strange.  I'm guessing i'm doing/ not doing something simple that once i figure out will seem so simple i'll wonder how i missed it.

As for ocd. The wallet someone found at the canoe club or just outside it is safely sitting in my coat pocket.  I feel like i will contaminate my world if i touch it without washing afterwards.  i know i can solve the problem quickly by getting a cloth and some vinegar and wiping it clean.  But i don't want to do that.  So for now it is in limbo.  Unless i'm stopped by a police officer who probably doesn't want to hear about how i cant' touch my wallet to get my liscence out and if he will just reach into my coat pocket....  Yeah, like that will go over well.

So i will try something that worked last time i had a mouse/ocd problem.  Mice are the BIG issue for me.  I  can create a mouse story out of just about anything if the 'what-if's get going.  And then what used to be no problem becomes one.  I was listening on a website - i think on cult recognition- and the psychologist altho talking about cults mentioned something very interesting.  That he not only tries to get his patients to think of the issue to acclimatize their brain to it, but he also has them think about how great it will be to be able to DO what you cant do now.  For example i think of touching the wallet.  I get bad feelings.  Then i also think about how great it will be to go canoeing all summer ( i can't afford to buy the canoe and all the stuff that goes with it, so canoe club is my only option, or renting from someone else who could have the same issues anyway)  So i will think about canoeing on the lake and watching the wildlife- birds, fish etc. and the peacefulness of canoeing.  Last time it took me 2 weeks of thinking before i actually DID the thing (touch the mailbox).  the next time i did it for something else, i started the thinking process but then decided that since i was going to TOUCH the thing anyway at the end, i could avoid lots of suffering thru all my thots first and get it over with.  And i actually did it!  We will see how long it takes before i touch the wallet this time ( wallet and canoeing have the same issues.  i guess i could imagine taking my wallet out and shopping with it, but i'm thinking the canoe thots will be more positivly powerful for me.  Or maybe i'll do both.  Will report on it as soon as i touch the wallet!

Sometimes the thot record works for me.  Mouse issues are extremelly difficult, so even tho i have solved the problem intellectually, emotionally it's still there. hence part two.

Thot records:  A Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) tool looks like this:

From Mind over Mood by Dennis Greenberger & C. Padesky   c1995:

Write the situation down.
Describe your mood with percent intensity
What are your automatic thots?- what am i afraid of, what's the worst that can happen etc.
Evidence supporting the thot
Evidence against the thot
Alternative or balanced thots
How is my mood now:

So for me: situation: see above.  Mood: anxious, worried,  90%,
 auto thots:  there are mice in the building, i will contaminate all my stuff if i touch the canoes or use them,  i'm ok ocd -wise, why create a potential problem?  if i ask if they have a mouse problem they will lie and say no even if they do,  i will have a big mess to clean up if i'm right.
evidence for:  the building is unocuupied a lot, so mice might be able to get in., the canoes are stored in an outside area, so even bigger mice opportunities.,
evidence against:  the boats are stored upside down, any mice droppings will fall out, mice will eat the equipment so they'd have to solve the problem or all their equipment will be ruined (Counsellor helped me see this point),  at least the problem isnt RATS :) so ignore it,  
alternative balance thots:  not all mice carry disease, or germs.  country mice are probably healthy mice. 
Mood now:  30%

It is spelled out in more detail in the workbook: Mind Over Mood.