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.