Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Was Enjoying My ' I Graduated From Therapy' High Last Week. Then This Week Started Happening. Nose Dive.

It’s Tuesday and my thrill of the week: watching the garbage men pick up my trash AND watching the neighbors put their trash cans away- arrived.  I  registered it in my brain with a: "lets not let KD go over there until tomorrow and they’ve had a chance to shower/ wash up". 

 Then Bruce comes home and tells me how this same neighbor’s garage door opener doesn’t work and he promised to go over there and try to fix it.  Sounds down right neighbourly except he doesn’t know much about fixing garage door openers either.

 Anyway I tell him bye and over he goes.  Not til he’s back do I remember the garbage- can- put- into- the- garage-,then- they- touched- the- garage- door problem.  So I told Bruce to wash, but my Dread is still here.  After all he had to touch at least 2 door handles- the garage door to open and close it, and the basement door, same thing.  And knowing Bruce, he probably touched the hand rail all the way up the stairs.  And I cleaned some of that stuff yesterday.  So now i have a choice...well supposedly i have a choice.  I can get upset (done, check) and plan how i'm going to clean the door handles or get Bruce to clean them, or i can feel Dread and decide that since there's probably no VISIBLE dirt on the door handles, i should then change my beliefs to 'oh, that's ocd.  It's not a real dirt problem'.  I guess Suzanne would call that catch it, check it, change it.   

The spike of EWWW has gone down, so i can think rationally- or more rationally.  I REALLY WANT to let it go, but i don't want anyone touching the door handles either.  Why can't i have my cake and eat it too? 

 I'm now trying a visualization: I'm imagining people going down the stairs getting their hands all full of railing-cooties and then adding a few more from touching the doors and then touching my car.  Oh no!!! And now I have to get in the car.  Not a pleasant visualization.  And i'll probably have to redo it a few times before it feels even some-what ok. 

It would just be so EASY to take a paper towel and some windex and FIX the problem.   Rationally I guess I could say that it's pretty cold out, so germy cooties woud just die AND the neighbors don't work at a toxic waste plant, so their garbage is probably benign and even IF the garbage man touched their garbage can after touching all the other people's on the street, those people's garbage cans were probably just as benign (unless they have mice or mold and i woudn't know about any of that since i'm not doing a neighborhood survey to find this out) so it's probably ok ....and it's not really convincing me....

That wasn't a good thot-path to go down. 

 Back to: noone around here works at a toxic waste plant because as far as i know there's none in the city so regular household garbage is probably benign.

To distract myself:  Last Monday was my last therapy appointment with Suzanne.  I now have all the tools and meds necessary to function  or at least to 'look like' i'm fuctioning.  So I was flying high and whenever ocd reared its ugly head i could beat it down just by telling myself " i'm a GRADUATE, now, na, na, na na na."  Kind of like how Harry Potter couldn't be touched by the  depression Dementors on the way out of the woods because he was feeling so good inside (not saying anymore in case you haven't read the books yet).  

It's been a week tho, and my euphoria has settled down to a feeling of loss.  Sometimes I couldn't wait for a week to pass to see Suzanne, now i have a whole LIFETIME left without therapy.  Maybe that fear is what ocd is riding on and coming back into my head by.  Cause yest. I didn't do the garbage all that well, meaning i had to clean lots more than i was planning to after taking it out to the street and putting it in a can.  I guess a grade of 70 isnt' what I want.  I want 90 - 100% ALL THE TIME.  And that is not happening.  Well, there's always next week to get a better score.  Since garbage day never goes permanently away.

Well, i don't feel sooo bad about the garbage can cooties on the door. 

 I don't have a ' someone's gonna get sick from this'  problem, but a 'ew, now my house will be dirty from people touching the garage door and then other stuff in the house ' problem.  Breathe,... visualize, ...breathe,  I understand that the brain doesn't know the difference between a visualized action and a real one, so i can flood my mind with the situation BEFORE anyone actually creates it for real.  This way I can somewhat deal with it without yelling at my family.

ok:  IF there was something yucky on the garbage man's hand and he got it on their garbage can, and they got it on their garage door and then Bruce got it on his hand, by the time Bruce got home, it would be soooo diluted (or whatever the word is for solids) that there isn't any dirt left.  And I bet this train of thot works even better for imaginary cootie ocd dirt.  :) AND it will get all cleaned off next Monday anyway, unless i forget.

Well, now i'm exhausted and need to take a break from ocd thots and go read little house in the big woods to my daughter before she falls asleep.


  1. This, to me is the biggest problem with treatment for OCD - the fact that so often it is "advertised" as a short-term therapy. I disagree 100% with this. These habits (compulsions, thoughts etc) have been "practiced" by you for years - how can you expect to go to therapy for 16 weeks (or whatever) and then go it all alone? First of all, we know that OCD is a chronic condition, so most likely you will be battling this for the rest of your life. Secondly, I think it takes a lot of support to face your fears, and even though you may have been exposed (excuse the pun) to the tools required to battle OCD in your short-term therapy, I think knowing and doing on a concistent basis is very difficult. Don't be so hard on yourself. I have been in therapy with my current therapist for almost a year, and don't see "graduating" anytime soon. The short-term therapy just sets us up for disappointment and a feeling of failure imo.

    1. Hi Pure O. I have to say you hit on a bit of a hot button issue for me. What does short term mean? That can mean so many things to different people. I agree with you - 16 weeks is definitely not enough. I've had anxiety issues for 43 years. 16 weeks is sure not gonna cut it. I've actually been in CBT for 2 1/2 years now. Many would say that is way too long. I disagree. I consider 2 1/2 years of therapy on a life long severe problem to be short term! Once I get past my huge issue with the mice thing (I talked about this on my blog the other day) then we are going to go to every other week, then monthly, and then just occasionally when I need a boost. Ugh, I cannot agree with you enough on this subject!

  2. Karin, I love reading how your mind works, how you go through the obsessions and talk to yourself and then think of something else--it's so realistic and honest!

    I understand the feeling of being kind of lost without the therapist's appointment. I think we can get attached to and comfortable with seeing a therapist because no matter how bad the week is or whatever period of time, we know we're going to see him or her again and get help.

    I agree with Pure O Canuck--we still need support even after "short-term" therapy. Just because we're through therapy doesn't mean we are completely ready to win every battle effortlessly. It's a day by day struggle, some days easier than others.

    I think you're doing great. You're so aware of obsessions being obsessions and compulsions being compulsions. And if you more more therapy, is that possible and available? Maybe not as often, but on a regular basis? I have been seeing my psychiatrist for over two years and still see him every 6 weeks or so. I have no plans to stop.

    Hang in there!

  3. Thanks Pure O & Tina for your concerns. I have been seeing someone since Katrina was 16 months old, when i realized my crazy thots and cleaning habits weren't disappearing. Then we moved up north and i saw someone for 6 weeks but my daughter changed day care days and he wasn't available any other day of the week. So i went to the Health unit and they provided me with the address of the mental health center in my city. I saw Suzanne for over a year and then Heather. I decided to leave therapy because i was feeling fine, but was back in 3 months. So, in fits and spurts and some long term therapy it's been 4 years, or so. This time i felt more ready and worked my butt off so i could leave when Suzanne retired. Suzanne did say that if i felt i needed more i could come back. The center has a 3 month -quick intake method. If i go back within 3 months, i don't have to be reassessed etc. So i do have a chance if this isn't working out. I just like knowing that a 'professional' thinks i can handle myself. It gives me the courage to try harder than i might if i was just terminated after a set number of weeks or like when i left cause I thot i was ok. While i don't mind letting myself down, i don't want to let Suzanne's belief in me down. Odd, but that's how my mind works. It's just going to be harder than i thot it was going to be.

  4. Hey there Karin. You sound like you've been in my head! Ah yes, the wanting the cake and to eat it too.

    You know, just because you've finished therapy doesn't mean that you can never go back for the rest of your life. I know of people who go back for one session every once in a while just to get a "booster", so to speak. My doc and I talked about that just today.

    You are dealing with a loss, so it's probably important to give yourself a break and acknowledge that loss. If you're anything like me, you've come to depend on your therapist and in some ways, she/he may even have felt like a friend. That is hard to just end that kind of relationship. The OCD will probably especially challenge you in the near future just because this is floating around in your mind.

    You do have the tools to survive this. You've been doing it already. Now you're just doing it without the training wheels! Pretty soon it's going to be my turn to take off the training wheels too, not looking forward to that, so I get it. You can cry on our computer shoulders any time you want! Hang in there!

  5. Hi Karin!

    Congrats to you!

    You do what you need to do and what you think is right for you.


    P.S. Little House in the Big Woods is one of my favorite books ever! I have read it aloud to children many times and it is such a great read aloud!

  6. I used to have a "touched which touched" rule for contamination. The name of it amused me, and amusement helps me deal with things. I decided that once something becomes a "touched which touched" then I shouldn't worry about it... unless it was raw meat or an issue that OCD was picking on. So I guess it didn't solve much. But at least it amused me when I thought of touching the towel which touched someone else's hands which touched the counter which touched the pan which held the batter with raw egg in it (or something like that).

  7. I find the discussion about "short-term" therapy interesting. My son Dan has been doing well for a couple of years now, but he still sees his therapist every few weeks. If you can do it (financially, logistically..), why not? In my mind, touching base with his therapist is one of the main contributors to his doing so well in the first place. I don't think therapy ever has to be "all or nothing." And we certainly know that doesn't work with ERP. Good Luck!

  8. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hey. I understand completely that idea of contact contamination, like so many others who commented. Wouldn't it be nice if windex really was a fix? Except we know that it only helps for a moment, until the next fear comes along. I also happen to be afraid of windex :)

    I agree with the other commenters that short-term therapy isn't always the answer. I'd say it is rarely the answer. My psychologist is my touchstone. I'd give up my general doctor before him. I see him as needed, once a week, once a month, whatever works for me. I've been seeing psychologists for years, and I doubt I will ever utterly stop. It is too valuable as a support mechanism and a reality check. Of course, I have multiple diagnoses and a host of trauma issues to deal with, but the OCDs alone are plenty to deal with. CBT does not work for everybody. I've found it to be very useful, but had to combine it with other therapies to really get some long lasting relief.

    Anyway, I hope you have a great year! I'm glad there are folks like you blogging out there to be a part of this community!

    Adventures in Anxiety Land