Thursday, 30 June 2011

Some Perspective

So this blog is somewhat late considering my last therapy appointment was on Tuesday.

None of the sessions are easy. They are all very hard and to be honest I dread going in for them because every time I have to face some of my biggest fears and slowly we are working on more and more and I am taking on more than I thought was possible but I am still trying to cope with some of my first exposures.

I get really really frustrated when I fail a task and despite two doctors and my therapist telling me that I have not failed anything and that my previous attempt at a month without dusting was amazing that I managed 10 whole days without dusting. I still feel like I failed but if I didn't feel that way then I might not be so determined to try it again with more determination because I know that I can go at least 10 days. My therapist asked if in my opinion it was a task worth trying again. Mainly because it would not be effective if I gutted out my flat to clean every inch of it, or better yet, millimetre of it. This time around the attempt for a week to 10 days without dusting and when I do, I can only carry on with normal housework. I can't go to the extremes.

I am also having to refrain from cleaning out the fridge. I clean it before we get our food shop every week and I will admit that sometimes I sneak in a bit of extra cleaning on the shelves -just in case- My therapist then asked me to ask others, how often do you clean your fridge?
She told me that she hasn't cleaned hers in at least 3 months and it is grimy and spills and it is pretty disgusting and she doesn't care because it wont make anyone ill.
I am not going to argue with her on that one but I still had a moment where I shuddered and thought about a fridge full of contaminated and inedible food then I thought about the waste and then reminded myself that this was her fridge, not mine. It could be mine soon enough since I am not allowed to clean it.

I also have a major task. I have a hand washing rule. I have a piece of paper that tells me when I can wash my hands, how long for, how much soap and that the water is not to be scalding hot.

I use a lot of soap, I burn my hands in the process of washing them and I wash every bit of my hands and that includes under my nails. I wash my hands constantly, well it feels like I constantly wash them and sometimes I wash them again after the first time because it doesn't feel right.

I have to phone my therapist every day to check in. This is like being in counselling for an addiction. This is very hard to stop and I get very upset when I can't do what it tells me to and I want to do these things until it gets to the point of frustration because I would like to stop after several repeating tasks but I can't. That's where the tears come in. I feel dirty, I feel like I need extra time in the shower or just another shower, I feel like I have to clean everything I touch in my home and everything my husband touches, remote for the t.v and such. I felt like ripping the bed apart this morning to wash all of the bedding even though I had just put fresh bedding on our bed on the Monday. I do my phone call and generally she phones me back. She asks how I have been managing. She doesn't ask me if I broke the rules but I tell her how I feel, how it is affecting me and so far that I have listened to the thoughts and done nothing about it. I feel slightly dependant on her support even though it has only been a few days. I have Friday and the weekend to get through with the support of my husband and he is doing this task with me for extra exposure. I wont be able to speak to her until Monday and then my next appointment for treatment on Tuesday.

I am not sure how I will cope but I have my husband here and he is strict. Apparently strict is what I need.

I got a telling off from my therapist for not making every day about treatment. As soon as I go one day without any kind of exposure then it is easier to do that the next day and the next day and so on. I have not done myself any favours for it. With the telling off my therapist gave me a few good points to look at. The main one was that I want to get through this, I want to get better, I don't want to be in therapy for a year or even close to that and she wants me out of therapy as soon as possible because that means that OCD for me wont be an issue in my life. She explained that she is strict with me and my OCD because I am an adult, an adult who does adult things who leads an adult life and that I should be treated like an adult. She may seem slightly harsh with me at times but I know that it is for my own good.

OCD is having a bad effect on not just that kind of health but my over all health. I spend so much time washing and doing everything that the voices tell me to do in order to keep bad things from happening and to keep myself and my husband from getting sick that over all I have made myself ill over it.

Even though I dealt with a few concerns unfortunately I didn't have it in me to address them all. Even though I go in to deal with my sick lines until I am able to get back on my feet and functional again I still need to go in often to give my doctor updates on how I am managing.

Medication is still an option and it is one that I am considering. I had taken myself off of my birth control again through fears but I have been explained everything about it all over again so I feel comfortable with trying it again. As for the medication, my doctor explained the use and how it would help me but I was assured that in no way I had to take it. It was my choice and if I feel like I am coping then it is something that I don't need.
The only thing about coping is I don't cope so well every day.

I think that is everything for this blog. I hope that I covered my events of today and my last treatment session. I don't want to say that I am doing well or feeling positive. Last time my mood was great and within a short while my mood turned back into the crazed depressing mess all over again. Just one day at a time because that is all I can manage at the moment. Well, just.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

My Extreme Moods - high and lows high and lows high and lows high and lows

So today was a big day with treatment. It went alright compared to what played out in my mind since my mad cleaning spree that ended in me failing my no dusting for a month task.

If it wasn't for the help and support from my therapist I wouldn't have taken on a slightly different approach to the treatment.

I know that I am trying hard but I also know that I am too hard on myself the minute that I fail anything. I hate failing anything but I am willing to keep trying until I get it right.

I don't want to spend my life struggling to cope with this illness and I don't want to spend longer in therapy than I have to. There is no quick cure but being more strict with myself is a must. No more days where I avoid doing my exposures just because I can't face dealing with the stress and anxiety. It hasn't done me any favours in avoiding doing what I should have been doing. If you see my last few posts you would notice how it really did get the better of me. I just hope that my moods improve and I don't face the extremes of the highs and lows.

I will again about the detail of my treatment that I had today but I will post it tomorrow. I want to give it all a good think about and put a few things into practice first.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Just Some Thoughts, out of my head and onto the screen.

I spend a lot of time thinking about everything, well just about everything but more than I should be thinking about.
Thinking about life and thinking about all the time I have wasted. My attempts to cut myself out of peoples lives because it makes my own easier for a short while.
My struggles with going out of the house because fear and paranoia overcome any rational thoughts that I once had.
It is not the mere seconds, minutes or hours that I have wasted in total on performing tasks over and over again, until it feels right and that nothing bad will happen afterwards and then to do it all over again because the thoughts returned with a vengeance.
Those days wasted turn into weeks and those weeks turn into months and yes those months have actually turned into years.
I have done nothing to better myself or my life. I have done nothing worth while or exciting. Some may argue that I have done things but my argument back is blurred and full of doubt.
There are only a few times that I could see past what my illness shows me but the thoughts are so dark and sometimes too real and they have taken over my whole life.
I feel like I have let everyone down and somewhere I have really let myself down too. Everything I have attempted ended with failure.
I can't seem to finish anything that I have started, even the things that I enjoy. Books that are a hand full of pages left to read are put aside and plans that I had are forgotten.
I am so tired.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Finally. I Found My Positivity. It was put in my lunch. Possibly Drugged.

Despite my ongoing downfall I managed to get out of the house without much hesitation today. I mean, it did take me an hour-ish to face getting out but I have gotten to the point where I give myself enough time before going out to deal with it. Rarely I am late for anything and only taking an hour to get out of the house is a reduced amount of time, well compared to the times where I am ready to go out and my shoes are on and everything but I just can't quite open that door and get out. Instead I go back and do all of my checks all over again and several times and then I end up thinking to myself that it really isn't worth the risk in going out anywhere.

The minute that we arrived into city centre and we were off of the train I actually felt pretty excited to do the things that I could only think of doing but could not get myself out to do. We checked out what bands were playing and to my horror a Katy Perry concert was sold out before Alice Cooper. Even though Alice Cooper is getting a bit on the old side I am sure that he can still put on a better live show than a chick who sounds like another Brittany Spears who pretty much sounds like Christina Aguilera and she sounds like Hillary Duff. It is a never ending vicious cycle and such a waste of your parents hard earned money.

The next step was to one of my favourite shops to buy books and browse the CD selection. I stocked up on books. I actually really stocked up on books. I didn't know when I would be back to buy the ones I wanted so it was better to just get them while I was there. If I was there any longer I wouldn't have just bought 9  books. I would have bought 20 or more. I read a lot and I go through books like they are going out of fashion. Just like how I spend Nicks money.

It is a positive note today, well more positive than the last few. I think my mood itself has brightened up because I did have a successful day out of the house. I never had to rush home and we only went home when we did everything that we planned to do. We got to see a good friend who was down visiting. I love seeing him and even though I know that I don't say a hell of a lot I am genuinely fascinated by the majority of his stories and his perfect memory. Despite the amount of Blackadder and Father Ted that I indulge in I can never remember a thing afterwards and even though I read more than a normal person should I can hardly remember what the book is about and that is even while I am still reading it but the effect of putting it down for a few hours or a day or two. I think that being in the right company can make a lot of difference on whether you feel anxious or not. In large groups I feel horrible, anxious and I really can't concentrate on anything that is being said to me or around me. I tend to start to shake, sometimes my hands or my legs and rarely my entire body but it does happen and my mind wonders off and I have a whole conversation going on between me and the voices in my head and it keeps me from even attempting to have a good time. I much much much more prefer the company of certain people and if I am out of my comfort level it is noticeable but for a few hours today I felt a tad bit 'normal' It was nice and I think after the last couple of weeks it was badly needed.

After the lunch date we went off our separate ways and I was up for getting a few things done in town that I haven't been able to.We finally looked at a chair for the living room. One that I looked at online 3 weeks ago and that we planned 4 weeks ago to have a look in the shop. It doesn't feel like it has been 4 weeks since the original plan of 'we need an armchair' but it has been. I wasn't kidding when I said that I struggle to get out of the house.

I am going to look into some medication. I have heard some good things and some bad things but if I look it up and ask the right questions then maybe it could be a way forward. I can't control my thoughts and I can't stand the idea of CBT where I don't try to control them, shut them out or ignore them. I don't want to hear them. I don't want to be forced to do things that I don't want to do and then to do them again and again and again. I don't want to be kept from doing the things that I want to do. I applied for college and I didn't make the interview. I waited 5 years to go to college and I was kept from doing something I dreamt of for so long. I don't want this to be my life any longer. I don't know how much the medication could do for me and I don't know yet if I could manage to take it. I don't want to get my hopes up but there has got to be some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. Even if its a string of blue Christmas lights so as long as they aren't burnt out by the time I get there.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Negativity, it is still here and there and over there and right here.

I made it to my treatment on Wednesday. Thankfully my therapist didn't put me back in the disabled toilets and make me touch the surfaces that I fear most. I was mainly fearful of going to my last appointment for that reason and then the other reasons, my feelings of complete failure with my best attempts with CBT.

I am honestly trying my hardest but I am just not moving forward. Maybe it is normal? I mean to do well one day and do horribly for the next 2 weeks? I feel more unstable lately and I have gone back to feeling chest pains and my face going completely numb just from my anxiety alone. I cry far too much in one day and I feel like maybe I should drink more water? What if crying to this extent makes me dehydrated and then they will have a reason to put me into the hospital.  I feel depressed and I feel completely hopeless and helpless. I am scared that I will turn into someone who isn't me, like someone else completely takes over my mind and they make me want to do things that I don't actually want to do, worse than the things that I am already forced to do. My illness is worse than my childhood bully and I would really just like for it to stop and leave me alone.

My doctor mentioned again about the medication that they could prescribe me. I just can't bring myself to take any kind of medication. I can't even take anything for the migraines and my average is about 3 a week. Is this normal? I want to look it up online but then I know that I will turn my illness into 10 illnesses and I will lock myself away from the world all together.

My thought today, if I took the medication maybe then I wouldn't have to do treatment. I could just live on the pills and I wouldn't have to face any of it. I don't think that is how the medication route works but then again I wouldn't be able to try it out anyways because I fear medication.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

It is a bit negative

Treatment is in a couple of hours from now and the panic has really set in. Last night I was determined that I would skip this one but Nick insists that I go. I really don't want to go out let alone do anything that raises my anxiety. I am sick of feeling scared of just about everything but I don't want to deal with it right now. I would very much like to crawl into my bed and go deep under the covers and hopefully wake up to find that my OCD is gone and it left a little note to say that it wouldn't be back.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Just Another OCD Filled day

I have been avoiding writing anything about my struggle with OCD for the last few days. Things have not been going as well as I hoped. I am feeling ashamed with myself for not bouncing back within a few days or weeks of my breakdown. It has been over two months and I still don't feel right. Anxiety and panic attacks are at an all time high and my depression is at an all time low. Going out is still a no no and it is hard because I want to go out and look for a super comfy armchair for our living room but I just can't quite get out that front door on my own. I hate the way that it restricts my living and my own freedom to go out and do what I want when I want feels like a distant memory. I don't feel like I had really done all of those things or accomplished anything at all.

I feel like today is an over all bad day followed by many other bad days. I had to be forced to bed last night because I could not stop checking the stove. I would check and check and go back again and check. Scream because I want to stop checking but I have to go and check again and it gets so frustrating.

Treatment is not until Wednesday this week and I am dreading it. I don't feel up to challenging the OCD and facing the exhaustion that follows from the extreme anxiety. My husband tries his hardest to be tough on me and to keep me on the right track but it ends badly when I get upset and tell him that I want a day that I can just give into the OCD because I just can't face dealing with the highs and lows. On the plus side I have not failed my tasks entirely. I clean as normal but I leave the dust. It is getting noticeable and I am struggling to touch any surface in my home that has the layer of dust. I know because I don't want to touch it that I should just run my hands over it and not wash my hands for the better part of the day but like I said I just rather do what it tells me to do because I just can't face another day of treatment.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Walk With Nick and My OCD - The OCD Version of Events - We Didn't Hold Hands For Long

During the weekend I managed to get out of the house for a couple of hours. At the moment I am pretty much house bound through my own paranoia and fear. It goes too far and the only days I manage to get out is for a ridiculous amount of doctors appointments, treatment and food shopping. Surprisingly food shopping is the most difficult. Too many people and too many things that I have to touch. It needs to be done and I am trying my best. The photos were taken not far from where I live but soon I will need to venture out further so I can't get home as quick. That frightens me already and that was only a thought.

I posted a similar blog to this on my second blog Bazzle Dazzle and it slightly clashes with my Day in the life of OCD. Unfortunately every day is filled with irrational thoughts and fears, compulsions and constant checking. Bazzle Dazzle is my day to day idle chit chat, ranting and thoughts. I can't help it but my OCD invades everything and I am not yet at a stage where I can completely stop my own madness.

I wanted to post some of these photos we took from our walk. Along the lines as a reminder of what I am missing out on and anyone else who is in the same situation as me. I actually enjoyed the walk but I was more than happy to get through my front door and shower and put on my indoor clothes but because of my constant changing of clothes my laundry piles up to a never ending load of washing.

As much as I enjoyed the walk there was just one little incident. A very cute puppy ran up to me. As much as I didn't want to touch it because well it is hardly clean and god only knows what kind of germs it is carrying. I did touch it, petting the dog as if it was a normal thing to do. I didn't want to do it so I had to do it because at the end of the day it is exposure and I need that. My hands were covered with invisible dirt, germs and every other thing that the OCD tells me. I couldn't wait to wash my hands but I was going to let the thoughts run through my mind. The only problem was when my Nick grabbed my hand, then a whole new set of fears started and before I knew it he kissed my germ ridden hand. I went into a complete fit followed by accusing him of bullying me. Maybe it is a fortunate thing that he already knows how much of a bully my OCD is so he doesn't take much notice and slowly he isn't giving into it anymore. It is hard for him too but even harder for both of us if he doesn't.
After about 5 minutes I stopped being in a huff with him and he was no longer enjoying the silent treatment.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

More Treatment Followed By Serious OCD Butt Kicking

I wonder if anyone feels as tired as I do when I finish another day of treatment. By the time I get home I am in a state of exhaustion and I pass out where ever I can comfortably pass out for several hours. I wake up starving and craving anything sweet - preferably chocolate and lots of it.

I felt very anxious about treatment this week. Not so much of what we would tackle but along the lines that I completely failed last weeks tasks. I did try but I didn't succeed. The whole journey to the clinic my mind kept playing out the scene where my therapist tells me to just get out and give up therapy because I didn't try hard enough and I don't deserve to overcome my OCD.

Obviously that didn't happen.
Instead she told me that the treatment is my choice and if I would like to quit then it is entirely up to me. I am not being forced to go through with it. The only person that should be angry at my failed tasks should be myself for letting the OCD win that round and I am angry. I completed my tasks halfway and that wasn't good enough. What is the point of finishing half a task, through the time and effort not to mention the anxiety I put myself through turned out to be for nothing and all I can do is try again. With the right mindset and determination that I will not quit halfway through.

So what did I do today. Well, we started with touching her dusty keyboard then the telephone. I had to touch the dusty bits more than anything because I didn't want to. I could picture the dust mites crawling around on my hands afterwards. I had to touch the fingerprints off of the phone while being reminded that her office is used by several people everyday. We don't know their hygiene habits and when the cleaner comes in at night we don't know how raggedy his cloth is that he uses to dust, besides by the look of it he or she doesn't do a very good job in dusting. I could teach them a thing or two!

After I had accomplished the keyboard and phone task and with the even more dreaded of dreaded tasks - touching my face and lips and not being allowed to wash my hands at all. Not even a drop of soap. I felt like a child being bullied into eating brusel sprouts. I don't want to do it but at the end of the day it is good for me.

The next task of that session was the harshly lit disabled bathroom. Looking at all of those disgusting surfaces full of fingerprints and dirty water. We started to rate from 1 - 100 of what would be the easiest to touch. The first was the sinks tap. I had to touch every inch of it and keep my hands on it. Even the splatter of water on the tap, it was cold and it felt germ ridden so I had to touch it and then rub my hands together, touch my clothes, my hair, my face and then my lips. I did turn into a blubbering idiot when I had to touch my face and having to touch my lips made me panic. The OCD threw everything at me that it could and I had to sit there and listen to every thought, image and feeling.
The next was the soap dispenser. Same thing all over again but the soap dispenser felt even more disgusting. It has a greasy feel to the plastic and the reassurance soon kicked in, telling me that it was probably just the soap residue. Instead of telling the OCD anything I did what my therapist told me to do. Just let the thoughts come. We did the same, touched it all over and touched my hair, face, clothes and unfortunately my lips. If I had to lick my lips I think that I would have blacked out from panic and the chest pains that magically come along the moment that I start to feel anxious.

Between my blubbering I grabbed a piece of toilet paper to wipe my nose. This part shows just how embedded the thoughts are. I threw away the first few sheets of toilet paper and took the next up 'because it is cleaner' I have done it since dinosaurs roamed the earth and I never gave it a second thought. I was quickly asked why I done it and then what it felt like slightly been given trouble for doing just that. Especially during treatment. Some cheek from the OCD that's what it was.

My tasks for this week. Well, one is a month long task of not dusting any surfaces. It is extreme but what is the point of only not dusting for a day or two or a week or two. I will have a month to let every horrible thought come into my head. I will go room to room and see this dust piling up on every surface. Soon my flat will look like an abandoned castle with cob webs hanging from the doors and giant rats sharing a block of cheese with my cat. That is an extreme exaggeration because my cat wouldn't share anything, especially cheese and that and a month of dust surely wouldn't look like what I am picturing in my head. It would only be a half attempt like my previous tasks if I only went a week or two without dusting and I am determined to kick OCD out of my life.

The other task is one of my failed tasks from last week. No shaving any part of my body for a week. It may not sound extreme but the temptation to get back in that shower because I am unable to feel clean without shaving off every strand of disgusting germ and bacteria ridden hair. I have to learn that I am going to feel like that regardless and then learning to tolerate that feeling and tolerate the thoughts.

I feel like this will be a shameful month and I also feel like my husband will think that he has done something wrong or his wife has all of a sudden turned lazy. I at least explained it to him and told him that even he is not allowed to dust because that would ruin my task and it would make me feel good for only a short amount of time until that moment where you realize 'What have a I done???' Just like the other day when I polished off an entire Galaxy bar and I don't mean the small galaxy, oh no, this was the proper 500g and every time I look in the mirror I see it on my hips and it asks me if it was really worth it and no, it wasn't.

I am going to add towards the end of this blog, that I have not changed my clothes the moment I got home, I am still wearing my outdoor stuff and I have not washed my hands yet. I left treatment at 12 and it is just after 17:00. I touched every light switch and door handle while telling OCD where it can and should go, I just hope that the neighbors didn't hear any of it. I made lunch, ate lunch. Hands are still unwashed. Yes it bothers me. I feel like there is a layer of grime and if I look closely I can see the germs multiplying and moving up my arms and spreading to my entire body. I am completely contaminated, 100 filthy and I am going to sit there with my thoughts and let it be what it is and I will wash my hands when I feel like I made my point but first I am going to touch every surface that I can think of to really stick it to my OCD.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Another Day of Treatment. OCD takes a backseat and It is not a comfortable ride.

Another day of treatment and it is going well. I feel lucky that I have a good therapist and the woman knows what she is doing even if what she is doing feels cruel at the time I can understand why it has to be done and I have to admit that it is starting to help. Even if I do spend the rest of my day in self pity and it takes me up until the next morning to function all over again.

I decided that I was going to leave the house late compared to the ridiculously early in fear of having to walk back up my street to re do every check. I only had enough time to do my checks once and I was running late. Of course my anxiety went sky high when I left the house. When doesn't it. I just ignored the thoughts the best that I could. Easier said than done but I didn't cave. I went straight to the station and I refused to walk back to do any more checks. By the time that I got myself to the train station I had to just jump on the train as it approached the station. I would always buy my ticket first but I decided that routine needed changed and I did not need to fear having to communicate with the ticket guy and hand over money. I still felt the fear but leaving the anxiety to do its thing. I was calmed down by the time I reached my stop and I pushed the button to open the train doors without using my sleeve or hoping someone else would do it for me. However, I did cheat. I used the back of my hand. Next time maybe I will be the bully to the OCD and I will not only touch that button with an open palm but I will give it a good rub and maybe if I am feeling particularly cruel I will rub my hands together and tell it that hundreds of people touch this button every single day and they probably don't have good hygiene habits. I feel like taunting it but then again I am a wuss and it might taunt me first.

My session went well. I handed back the piece of paper but I had to admit that I still have a niggling doubt about it. Maybe a 1 or 2 on the scale of 1-100. I was scared to admit it. All morning I had the thoughts going through my head that she would notice that I was still slightly uncomfortable and then if I admitted it I would be accused of not trying hard enough. Believe me I gave it my all. I touched the paper every day. At one point I was so angry at the paper and germs that I gave it a good crumple up. Then I apologized to it and flattened it back out again.

We went through what else we could do to see how I felt about the surfaces. I handed over my phone and my ipod. I felt that I would be OK with her touching them and putting finger prints all over the screens. When she handed back the phone I took it. I felt slightly anxious but I said that the thoughts are unjustified and it felt OK. With the ipod she had done the same but she took it a step further and put my earphones in her ears. I was uncomfortable with the idea and the longer she left them in gave me even longer to think about spores of bacteria multiplying and going into the surface of my earphones. I could take back my ipod without much bother but when I had to put in my earphones and keep them in until my 90 reached a 40 it was a struggle but as she assured my anxiety would decrease naturally and it did. She taunted the OCD and spiked my anxiety up a few times but it quickly decreased this time. Well. Compared to last time.

The next task was shaking hands followed by holding hands mid shake. Putting my other hand onto hers and her other hand onto mine. It started to feel warm and clammy. I felt fear of the germs her few rings would hold and put onto my hands. Then a nightmare situation came. I had to touch my face and then from my face touch my lips then lick my lips. She showed me that she could do it and she even licked her finger. I sat there like I was watching a horror film. I wanted to shut my eyes and ignore what I had just seen. No matter how often I looked down at my feet I was told to look up. I felt like a child getting into trouble and I felt silly to hold such fear. I did manage to touch my face but touching my lips was a much harder task and licking them felt impossible but I did it. I then had to sit with my thoughts. We were triggering the OCD and then taunting it and giving more fuel to the fire. I sat there with the thoughts throughout the session. With each trigger my OCD made up the most elaborate stories of what would happen. Then I sat with them longer. Trying to keep the reassurance away and any kind of distraction. I was not even allowed to tell myself that the thoughts were unjustified. It was a case of letting the OCD go on and on and then seeing it for what it is. Nonsense. Completely absolutely nothing but nonsense.

I could write down my elaborate stories that the OCD creates. I could give it names like.
'The travelling germs' and this is how the story would read.

One day the travelling germs decided to hop on to the light switch from my hands. They quickly jumped onto my husbands hands when he flicked the switch to go into the other room. They quickly spread all over and multiplied. It was an ideal spot for their holiday. Toasty warm with the most ideal body temperature. Here they thought that they were in the Antarctic when they were on my hands. They didn't stay long because they prefer the warm climate.

The travelling germs soon went into town with my husband and into his workplace and they hopped onto other switches and surfaces and they infected other people. Within a day their travelling party spread to the whole office building. Switches, keyboards, elevator buttons and door handles. When they found another ideal person to jump onto and have another luxurious holiday and they took advantage. Saw the sights and had a tour of every organ and went on a raft ride through the blood stream. However they didn't stay long because the body temperature soon heated up. They caused another flu outbreak and they didn't like such high temperatures. Off to the next victim the party leader said and off they jumped onto another door handle.

OK. So I might not have the best stories but I am sure that it could be made into a horror film. It definitely scared me under the covers when I got home.

I have 3 tasks to do this week. I know that it will be tough but I am going to give it my best shot. I end up with the fear of getting into big trouble if I don't complete them all by next Tuesday. That only makes me more determined to complete them all and show it who is boss. Even if its a wussy boss.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The evil scrap of paper. No, it's just OCD is disguise! If it weren't for you meddling therapists!!

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, 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.