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.


  1. Isn't it just amazing how loud and intense OCD can be? Great way of putting it!! Great exposures and great effort! You can do this!!!!

  2. Good for you!

    I am also very good about little tiny small details like a speck of something that could be blood or something else I'm phobic about.

    I saw your note on Maggie's blog that you are on Good reads. Me too! Want to be friends? I just joined a few weeks ago and I love it!

    Here is my profile:

  3. @ Elizabeth: i sent in a friend request...hopefully to you :)

  4. I don't think I told you my full on mold exposure story. It's how I mostly got over what used to be a really really really big fear of mold:

    In 2004, right before I was to sell my house in Seattle, I was doing some cleaning in my bedroom and pulled back a tiny piece of peeling paint. Black dots! OMG!!!! My house had a SERIOUS mold problem. That probably explained the mild sore throat I'd wake up with every day.

    Had to spend $2000 for someone to remediate it. Was sure my house would never sell. Was sure the remediation would spread mold throughout the house. Was sure death and destruction would ensue.

    None of these things happened (well, i did spend that $2000). The new walls were beautiful, I learned how to install drywall, the house sold in less than a week.

    And the very very best thing of all? My fear of mold is gone. It does turn out that I'm allergic to mold. But afraid of it? Nope! Best exposure ever!

  5. Hi Karin. Congratulations on your successes. You sure seem to work hard at it. Good inspiration. I am always amazed when I read about someone's symptoms and they are so similar to mine. And I thought I was unique with my OCD!

  6. So I am a Christian, love God, actually am in Taiwan right now as missionaries (my wife and I that is), but this has really been on my mind. So I say all that to say this, does anyone deal with sexual obsessions? Is it just me struggling as a man, or does anyone else deal with this type of intrusive thoughts? Again I am not trying to be perverted, just looking for help. I thank you all for the help so far and hope I have helped as well.

  7. @abandoned:

    yes, i did for years. I didn't know they had to do with ocd. After my son was born 21 yrs ago i was constantly afraid that by changing his diaper i had somehow molested him. I would feel guilty for days/ weeks. then the thot would disappear for a few days until it happened again. I was the only person i knew who put diaper cream on the diaper, not the baby! I didn't tell anyone except my husband about this for years because i felt so guilty for having such awful thots. I finally mentioned them to a public health nurse i was seeing for depression/ child abuse when tom was 4 or 5. She said it was just stress. Yes, i had the thots even after he was long out of diapers. They were never any specifically detailed thots as i would stop the thot quickly, only feeling the dread and guilt, knowing the 'thot' had been there.

    Sometimes sitting in church or elsewhere and someone had their arm over the back of the pew, i'd have the quick thot that they were going to touch me inappropriately. Another session of guilt. I finally resorted to wearing pants to church to help eliminate the thots. Now i know that they are just ocd thots and i let them just travel thru my mind, if they come, and either say "i must be stressed out today" or wow, wonder where that thot came from' but not in a ruminating way where i try to figure it out. In fact one day while i was having a 'thot' something told me they were just thots and didn't mean anything and to just let them go. That thot probably gave me the courage to confess the molestation thots to my counsellor who confirmed that they were stress thots. I also helped myself not be so upset about the molestation thot by saying to myself that if it were true (and i knew it wasn't) that i would just pay for son's therapy when he grew up. So these thots helped neutralize the sexual thots in my head. After a while, as i didn't entertain them or get upset or feel guilty, they slowly disappeared, until now, they only pop up rarely. This took me years and years to get to as i didn't have meds or know why or where they were coming from. I thot they were me trying to make myself feel guilty so i'd feel humble or something. If you havent' tried meds yet, do so. They really help- if they don't it's the wrong med.

    I hope this helps. Good luck on your journey out of ocd! Just remember the less you entertain the thot the less they come. Just as the more you ruminate / feel DREAD and guilt, the more they come (a spiral effect) it works the same getting over ocd.