Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anxiety Group Causes Anxiety!

Things have been pretty good around here lately.  Over the March Break we went back down south for a few days.  Hotel living!! My idea of fun.  Because there is very little cooking or cleaning to attend to and Katrina is getting old enough that entertaining her in a hotel room is getting less stressful.

Things I noticed on the trip:

When we parked things on the tables in the hotel I didn't have to tell Bruce : oh, don't put that here, that spot has ocd" or "  Don't use that/ touch  that' etc.  How nice not only for me (yeah) but for the other 2 who don't have to cater to my weird ideas and orders.

I showered and didn't worry about touching the shower walls, which means that that erp DID really work because last year up in Moosonee, i was freaking out with every different shower at each hotel we were at.  Here at home, I still get the thots:  'you touched the wall/ curtain' which i can then choose to ignore, or do something about.  I expect these thots because i spent so much time avoiding my shower walls, but didn't expect the thots at hotels so i'm glad that's over with.

I didn't worry about touching remotes or curtains etc.  I drove Bruce's van without freaking out about where that steering wheel has been.

Today was my first day of anxiety class.  It's a weekly program where they review CBT techniques.

 So I get into my car and the first thing i notice is the breaks are squeaking.  'Great, another bill'.  But it  goes away as the car warms up.  A few minutes later I smell something odd.  Naturally, I'm now sure the car is on fire except another part of my brain is saying: 'ocd, ocd'.  So which part do I believe?  My sneaking suspicion is ocd is trying to freak me out. I keep driving and the funny smell goes away. When I get to the building I park the car, and check the engine by sniffing around the front wheel and wind shield area.  See, I COULD open the hood, but that would be 'checking' and anyway if I touch the hood I might have to wash my hands afterwards and I don't want to do that.  So sniffing around like a dog is a much better plan. :P

So OCD is now stopping me from doing an ocd check. 

I decide that if the car is actually burning, someone else will be noticing it soon enough and calling the fire department for me.  So I went in for my meeting. 

I first had to meet with the facilitator which meant that it was a half an hour before the rest of the group show up.  And guess what, NO ONE comes in with the news that there is a burning car in the parking lot.  So far so good.

The meeting is mostly talking about how each person dealt with  their anxiety this week.  I was told I didn't have to participate, so I  didn't say anything. Except feeling anxious that I might have dropped some vinegar on my pants yesterday as I was doing the  laundry and then  (after NOT changing my pants ) telling OCD to shut up and the 'fire' episode this afternoon, I didn't have much to say.

The lesson was on doing thought records.  The leader was re- explaining the difference between a thot and a mood (feeling).  Lots seemed confused still.  That's how I felt when I first tried to do them so it's nice to know I'm not the only one!  Then we were to write out a thot record and my anxiety came back.  I've written lots, but they still confuse me .

It was mentioned that thought records help up become our own therapists because we learn to dig below the  feeling or thoughts to get to the 'hot thought' and then give ourselves evidence that it's NOT true.

  Of course, if I could figure out why  it's not true, I wouldn't be having the problem in the first place!!    So I used to ask my couseller for the answers to that section until I finally could figure some of them out on my own.  

When I went into the parking lot after the meeting, my car was still there, all safe and sound.

But my vacation from ocd work is now over.


  1. I definitely agree with your title that groups can cause anxiety. Hopefully they end up being more helpful than triggerful. :) I remember written thought records. I think I liked them, but I haven't done one in a long time. Maybe I should try it again...

  2. Congratulations Karin on your successful vacation. That's so great. It sure does make it less stressful when there are less compulsions you and your loved ones have to do, doesn't it?

    I've always had a hard time with thought records too. Something tells me it's very natural for OCD patients to struggle with them, as mixing up feelings and facts is a major part of our problem. I think it's great that you went to the group. I do hope it will be helpful for you. In any case, it will probably provide lots of exposures for you. I'm curious to see how it goes in the future for you.

  3. Glad to hear things keep getting better for you. Hope the class is more helpful than harmful in the long run. :)

  4. Oh, Karin, I laughed so hard at the way you told the story about the car. I could just picture you shrugging and thinking, well, if my car's on fire, someone will call the fire department, and then walking on into the building. And the comment about sniffing around like a dog--I've done that too!

    You have such a wonderful, funny sense of humor. And congratulations to you for doing so well in the hotels. Just keep telling OCD to shut up!

    I think I'll ask my CBT therapist about thought sheets and see if he thinks they would help me. I hope the anxiety group will be helpful to you! Keep us updated on it!

    I've missed your posts. So glad to hear from you! :-)

  5. I just found your blog and I've been reading your posts to my son as I'm helping him do his ERP - so far he's done five and has a long way to go, but your story is encouraging to him. Thanks for taking time to write and share.
    Rhonda in Ohio :)

  6. Great job on the holiday!!! Seems to me like you've made some progress. :o) I like the idea of the anxiety group, but I can understand the anxiety that goes with it and I also agree - if we knew how to do some of this stuff (look at our thoughts rationally) - we wouldn't be in this spot in the first place!!! Keep up the great work!!!

  7. Hello, Karin--

    I have nominated you for the HUG (Hope Unites Globally) Award. You can find out more about the award by going to

    Please also check out my blog post about the nomination!

    Congratulations! You deserve it!


    1. Thank you Tina. You're so sweet. I feel so honoured.

  8. Thank you Rhonda. Give you son my best wishes! One of the most important motivators to being able to do an erp is to have a positive reason for conquering it that is important enuf to go thru the work and pain of erp. If he likes Harry Potter think of this as his 'happy thot' for producing a patronus.... Ok, i love harry potter and that works for me :)

  9. I have never heard of thought records before..can you share more with me about that? I have contamination issues also. Also checking. I have had some real success with ERP in checking but contamination..not so much.

    1. Hi Krystal!

      Here's what i wrote about thot records. They are a mental/ thinking exercise where you look at your thots and evaluate them and see where you may be doing some incorrect thinking.

      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- How i 'know' it's true.
      Evidence against the thot (this is the hard one because if i knew that, i might not have the thot in the first place :)
      Alternative or balanced thots
      How is my mood now:

      Example from past post:

      So for me: SITUATION: Do they have mice in the boathouse?
      MOOD: anxious, worried, 90%,
      AUTOMATIC 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 THOT: 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 THOT: 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 OR BALANCED 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.

      I'll look for other examples from my posts and give you the references. I had a hard time figuring out thot records. The ones in the work book sounded so easy. Til i tried them in real life. So i wanted to give people REAL thot records that i wrote :)

    2. Krystal here are more posts with thot records written out:

      AAAARG!!!!! Here I Am Waiting For Dread To Leave (jan 2012)

      Happy New Year (jan 2012)

      Update, cleaning/ showering erp's (dec. 2011)

      My homework this week is to go to value village ( oct. 2011)

      hope these help.