I could not write or function after my last appointment. The treatment felt harsh and by the end of it I was worn out. Getting there this week was no problem at all. My anxiety for leaving the house to get to the clinic was at an all time low and I wasn't feeling too bad either. Getting home on the other hand was harder than usual.
I was exhausted, nearly falling asleep on the train. Not a good idea when you are only 3 short stops. When I got myself home I made lunch and then passed out on the couch for a few hours. I was so tired and I just wanted to sleep. That exhaustion did not leave me alone this morning either. Neither did the self pity so I refused to get out of bed. I did get up once when I heard the mail come through my letterbox. I got up to see if my copy of the magazine had arrived yet. It did not so I stormed back to bed.
So here is the update on the treatment itself.
The previous week I wrote down 14 compulsions and then rated them between 1 and 100. I didn't get below 86 and only having 14 things jotted down was borderline failure. I had a week to do this task and I could not manage better. I did try, believe me I gave it my best shot. Where I could have had 86 things on that list I had 14 and it looked and felt like a half hearted attempt. It wasn't a half hearted attempt but looking at it now it sure feels like the OCD won the upper hand on that task. Making me feel like it was bad enough to talk about these things but writing them down made it all the more real.
Why should it make it all the more real? It is real and even if you are having a good day and you feel like you have nothing wrong with you. Well remember what those good days are like and that they are worth fighting for.
OCD is not a friend. It is a bully. It might as well steal your lunch money and push you in the mud. It is the enemy and it is ruthless. It consumes your life and gives you no life to live if you let it. So we should be ruthless in tackling it into the ground and don't let it get up and don't help it back up. It wont be your friend no matter how nice you are to it and even if you share your cake on Friday's it still wont give you a break or better yet, go away forever. Drive it down to the country side and let it out of the car and drive off as quickly as you can. Don't let it follow you back. You don't need it.
We started to add things to my list, we even needed another sheet of paper. It felt better to write it down in the end. It is as if the monster that is under the bed has been found and it turns out it is only that teddy bear that you thought you lost as a kid and it only looked so frightening because of the layer of dust that covered it.
The next part of the therapy was hard. I will admit to the distress it had caused me. I knew it was coming and my therapist took out a few charts, graphs and what have you. She explained how we would trigger the anxiety. We were going to tempt the beast out of hiding. Although she had explained that I will only feel so much anxiety it would not keep going up and up, it would slowly decrease. So as we looked around the room for something that we can use for the example of this experiment I felt scared, anxious and somewhat nauseated. She suggested me touching her keyboard, I quickly shook my head. She scanned the room and suggested other items.
My therapist picked up my piece of paper, the one with the half hearted list of compulsions. She asked how I would feel if she rubbed her hands all over it. I shook my head, 'no no...no, it would be 100'
She started to rub her hands on every bit of that paper. Folding it and unfolding it. Rubbing both sides. I sat there watching her and my eyes were filling up. I started to shake with fear. My legs were practically jumping off of the floor and my face was drenched with tears. She told me to take the paper. I was hesitant and eventually my head fell into both hands while I sobbed uncontrollably. My therapist was insincere. That was needed. Again I heard the words. OCD is not your friend. Now take the paper.
It took me several minutes, or what felt like several minutes to grasp the paper with one hand. Trying not to use the sleeves of my sweater to shield my hands from the contaminates. My body still shaking and I was still crying. In a matter of seconds I was reduced down to tears. It felt humiliating that this bully, and I don't mean my therapist, that could bring me down to that extent. I was told what to do and I had to do it. I held the paper and then I held it with both hands. She asked me how I felt. I felt scared, anxious and I felt angry. I didn't want to do this. I didn't like doing this. I wanted to put this paper down and I wanted to bolt out of that room and find the nearest ladies toilet to wash my hands countless times while juggling about with paper towels to not touch any other surfaces while I was in there but that was not an option and it wasn't an option. I stayed and I followed on with her orders. I did the task.
I was told to move my hands around the entire piece of paper. Touch the raggedy bits on the end. I hated the texture that I was feeling and I hated how I was feeling. My therapist, she asks me. 'what are you thinking?' I was blunt, maybe slightly rude. 'I don't know where your hands have been. I don't know what you touched or even if you have washed your hands lately' She agreed, not only did she agree but she added, 'You have no idea how many hands I have shook today either'
I was not allowed to let go of this piece of paper until I had more or less touched every inch of it and both sides and not until I brought my 100 down to 40. Both hands on it at all times. She asked 'Can you see the germs' and I replied 'No, and that makes it worse, I don't know which part of it to avoid'
Eventually, and I mean eventually we had brought my 100 down to 43. 40 would have been the better result but this was a good start. She was right that eventually my anxiety would decrease. It had increased with every one of her blunt comments about where her hands could of been but over all it had decreased.
During that 40 odd minutes of holding that paper I went through every stage of it. My OCD tried to distract me. I would start mumbling random things to add to my list. I would reply that this is not so bad, it would be worse if the paper was more creased and worn and felt dirty instead of crisp and new. That was reassurance and it was not what was needed. My therapist replied that 'The OCD is trying to tell you why it is now OK to be touching this piece of paper'
What was needed was for me to fully concentrate on what that paper was and it wasn't until the end of the session that I realized what exactly it was. A piece of paper and nothing else.
So, my task for this week. I was forced to take that paper home. In my bag. I have to take it out of my bag and touch it. By the end of the session it didn't seem as bad as it was at first but is this the reassurance all over again?
I am not in that chair in that office and I am not being forced. I have to do it all on my own. It is harder than it sounds. Just like the list of compulsions it was harder to do than I thought. But I am determined and I will do the best that I can with it. I am going to bring that paper back next Tuesday and I plan on handing it back to her as if it is no big deal and it wont be a big deal at all. It is only a piece of paper and there is no reason to think more of it than what it is.
So what that she rubbed her hands over it. Go away OCD, I have a task to fulfill and there is not enough room for you on my sofa and I don't like to share so leave my scrap piece of paper alone. Put it down and step away.