While there are definitely a lot of important topics still to cover relating to OCD and Mormon life, I think it’s nice to take a break from all that for one day a week and do an update. If I were going to my psychologist, this would be similar to the first five or ten minutes of the appointment: a general run down of how I did over the last little while that will then partially determine the discussion points for the next hour or so.
If you have a doctor and he/she is anything like mine, you’ve probably received “assignments” of what exposures you are supposed to do, maybe articles or chapters to read, or even some writing homework. Some of my assignments in the past were to write down how many times I washed my hands each day (making tally marks on my planner). This was a depressing and really good exercise that I highly recommend to anyone who has issues with contamination or hand washing in general. I’ve also had to purposefully park in between cars in a parking lot instead of finding a more open space. I was instructed not to ask for reassurance—and that could be a whole post right there, so I’ll save that for later.
Sometimes you may be told to restrict doing a compulsion, and other times you are to purposefully expose yourself to something you normally avoid. Typically, I do a lot better on the restricting compulsions than on the purposeful exposures. For instance, restricting myself to only one hand wash after going to the bathroom is way easier than, let’s say, touching the toilet seat with my hand (and not washing it immediately). Also, it seems a lot more natural to restrict doing what isn’t “normal” (see yesterday’s post) than doing something that seems totally random and strange. Who would actually want to give the toilet seat a good ol’ rub down with their hand for fun? Or fake throw up a can of soup into the toilet bowl? Or purposefully let clothes fall on the ground as you switch the laundry and then throw them into the dryer? Sometimes the exposures sound odd, and deliberately overriding the OCD mindset of extreme caution can be hard.
But I digress. Back to “Everyday Thursday.” Let’s do this: if you are currently in treatment, commit to doing your exposures (or restricting your compulsions). That’s why you are in treatment! Don’t save it until the last day possible. Try to do something every day. I will also try to do this (my psychologist doesn’t really appreciate it when I say I “tried” or “am trying,” but oh well).
I haven’t always been the best at it, but I’m learning that just doing something once in order to check it off a list isn’t really embracing the exposure and relishing in the anxiety of it all. If you really want to make progress, you have to be progressing. Doing things. Frequently. So let’s commit to doing them and check in here each Thursday to see if we’ve been staying on track..
Self assigned homework
If you aren’t going to a psychologist or group therapy session currently, think of what makes you uncomfortable or triggers your OCD and come up with your own restrictions or exposures. Take a week and work on them. For the last week or so, I’ve been attempting (mostly successfully, I think) to use all the bathrooms in our house, as well as the soap and towels in that bathroom. I have tended to avoid the “kids” bathrooms and soaps/towels because I convinced myself that since the kids are less sanitary and careful than I am, those toilets/soap dispensers/towels could be dirty or contaminated. I am not perfect (i.e., I may have started using disposable/individual use “towels” in those bathrooms…) but I’m trying. Little steps.
Remember: progress isn’t always in leaps and bounds. Sometimes it is in baby steps and sometimes it’s shuffling. And other times it’s like two steps forward, two steps back. But just try and keep moving (and in a forward direction if possible)!
Leave me a comment of what you are going to commit to do/not do, and then check back in next Thursday! Also, register for the website to make comments or ask questions on the forum.