Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Muggle World of OCD and Garbage.

I've been on a bit of a vacation / hiatus lately.  My daughter has swimming lessons in the local lake and so we've been there a lot.  We play together and while she has her lesson, I exercise.  Also I've been learning how to kayak.  I've gained a lot of weight the past 4 or 5 years.  Probably due to the OCD.  What else can you do when your life has been hyjacked by a weird illness? Plus with my husband's new job, we moved 5 hours north.  We knew no one here and have no relatives anywhere close.  However now that he was out of school, there was more money.  So I felt it was just fine to have donuts regularily, rather than once every few weeks.  Ditto for chips.  Chocolate became a food group while pregnant and this 'craving' didn't leave.  I indulged in it all.  Also I  could eat more at a sitting before I felt full.  I  finally checked the web for clomipramine side effects and lo and behold, weight gain was on the list.  So between the pills and my new inablility to say 'no' to junk food, my weight skyrocketed.  So am now trying to lose it.  But that's not what i want to talk about today. 

A week or so after my last post we went on a mini vacation up north.  Just before we left i started feeling anxious.  Not sure why, but it was enuf to make me take 2 clomipramine pills the night before  hoping it would cut back some of the anxiety.  I made a deliberate decision to only take enuf meds with me for 1 pill a night rather than increasing the dose  because I wanted to see how I 'd do in a strange new environment.   ( i used to take 4 pills a night, but have been cutting back since March or so. I'm down to 1 pill a night so increasing the dose would not be a problem.  It's been my choice to reduce the meds.)

The trip seemed full of OCD.  I freaked when I saw some black stuff on the chrome in the bathroom. My mind jumped to MOLD.  YUK.   I also couldn't touch the shower stalls or would have to rewash.  Ditto for touching any sink counter. (That's a problem i also have at home.)  At the train station on the return trip home a lady dumped over the garbage can with her backpack and then picked it up.  (Naturally.  Only because I was there!!!) She didn't go to wash her hands.  She then got into the same car as we did. Ahead of us.  AAARG.  Why not?

Besides making my trip very anxious, with tons of emotions running thru my head what did i do?

 I had a bath and even had the water go over the blackened chrome.  I tried to ignore it.  I touched things after my bath.  They then became 'contaminated' Even tho the next day my husband TOLD me that the black stuff in the tub was just the worn off chrome, i still couldn't let go of the fear it was mold.  So much for trying to ignore my ocd brain.  At the train station I wouldn't go out the same door as the lady did (luckily there were 2) but then she went into 'our' compartment.  I didn't touch the railing she touched to get onto the train, but i touched the door to the compartment because by this time i was able to tell myself that it was only the CAN she touched.  So it was probably ok.  I didn't wash my hands and didn't feel dirty at all thru the whole train ride.  YEAH!

I hate having to live my life backwards.  A few days after an  OCD event, when the emotions have calmed down I can look back and say "I had a good time."

But there were some things I learned from that trip:  I don't add new ocd problems and i don't re-add ocd  issues once i've conquered them.  I only had problems with the same stuff i have problems with here at home. It's the mold, the sink/ shower ritual i've created, mice and the garbage. 

Since i've been working on the garbage problem I've had lots of 'opportunities' to practice and notice my weaknesses.  OK, so i can now drop something in a can without having to wash my hands. (Hey that's a big one, earlier on this OCD journey I couldn't stand to be closer than 2 or so feet from the top of a can of open garbage so the 'splash' into the can wouldn't come back up at me.  Throwing things at an angle into a can was also a practice of mine so i'd be more than the requisite 2 feet away from the opening.) But can i stand a garbage can being dumped over and then touched?  Apparently i can.  Check.     

   Don't ask me to actually push open a lid with my hands without washing afterwards.

Monday night I went to the rowing club to kayak.  The kayaks that were up on a cart were all taken, so the instructor said to take a blue one, sitting on the ground with a garbage bag at it's bow.  I didn't like the idea ( I'd already been to the washroom to wash off the key i'd dropped on the floor in case there were mice in the building.) but was too shy/ stunned/ embarassed to say no, i want one without garbage.  I DID ask if there were mice in the dusty kayak, and he said no (It didn't look used much to me. So what does that lead to in my head, but to mice in the kayak.).

 My husband took the front end by the garbage bag and hauled it to the lake.  I did go out in it.  On my return i asked the coach what was in the garbage bag that she shoved the kayak beside- in case it was just a bag of storage.  She said it was wrap used that weekend when they took the kayaks to a competition or something.  Unfortunately that still didn't calm my ocd brain down.

 And then i found out that my husband HAD NOT washed his hands after touching the bow of the kayak NEAR the black bag.  He had driven home. So now the car was contaminated as well as the door to the garage and anything else he touched before he decided to wash his hands.  That meant that when he went to work the next day, after touching the steering wheel, the office would be contaminated too.  I was in a dither all Tuesday and asked him to re-ask another coach what was in the bag.  He came home from that evening from boating and affermed it WAS a garbage bag.  Don't they have a designated garbage corner?  That's odd.

 And i don't see my counsellor for 2 weeks soI get to figure this all out for myself.  Now it still could be the kayak wrap, as i'm sure that's a one-time use of the plastic.

 How can i go out and do things?  Is this a NORMAL way to treat garbage?  Can i get over this at all? Would more pills help?

  I tried really hard today to not think of the line of contamination- to just tell the ocd to 'SHUT UP'.  It's not in the prescribed CBT tool kit, but seems to work for me when I run out of better ideas.  It just takes longer, and more continuous monitering of my head to make sure I don't run away with my ocd thots again. 

 Why can't we live in a wizarding world where with a flick of the wand all garbage would be wisked away??????


  1. @ Lady Delphinium:

    Hi! Yes, i got your comments in my email box. I was confused when i didn/t see it at the blog site, but then i can't comment at all except under 'anonymous', so what computers do is a mystery to me and i just go with the flow!

    Actually you are better with the garbage than i am. ON garbage take-out day i do that and then have a shower, not just wash my hands. Once upon a time, i could do that. I can take the empty trash container back up the drive way and just wash my hands, unless it bumps my leg. Then, so far, a shower is involved or if i have long pants on it may just involve changing clothes. Glad to know that you are improving. That means i can too! Patience is not my strong suit, tho!


  2. I am glad to know that you got my comments. I will try commenting as anonymous and see if it shows up.

    I know exactly what you mean about those feelings when the trash container bumps your leg. I too used to shower and change clothes after that. It is so stressful, isn't it?!


  3. I (Elizabeth) am Lady Delphinium by the way.

  4. Karin asked:

    What do you tell yourself now, when you bump the trash container? Not clean ones inside MCD's for example, where they just open it up and take out the garbage bag, but 'dirty' ones- the ones that might get touched by the garbage truck or overflowing garbage?

  5. I play the therapist in my head and ask myself the same questions my therapist asks me. What am I afraid of? (I answer honestly-- worse case scenarios). Then I ask myself, "and then what?" I keep answering and then I ask myself to access the risk. Is this HIGHLY likely to happen or very unlikely (most of the time the risk is very small). Then I think about all the other people in the world who touch garbage cans and continue on and they seem okay.