For the next little while, the blog will be my “accountability” platform for my exposures. For those of you just joining in, I’ve had a major “relapse” into my contamination OCD in recent weeks/months and recently went on a new medication and just started buckling down and doing exposures “seriously” again. Hierarchy Exercise
Almost two weeks ago I wrote out my “hierarchy” of fears and anxieties—basically I started a Google spreadsheet and went mentally through my day, listing out the things that happen or that I do that cause me anxiety or trigger my OCD. It was basically almost everything—even walking on a floor that looks “dirty” or going to the bathroom, hugging my children or husband, touching the door handles or light switches, etc. It was about 4 pages long. I then assigned a numerical value to each item from 1-10, with 1 being the “least” amount of anxiety it caused and 10 being the greatest. I organized the list with 1’s at the beginning and 10 at the end.
This is a relatively common way for people who struggle with OCD to begin their exposures. Many therapists have you start with the 1’s and work your way up to the more difficult activities. That’s basically where I am, though many of the lower numbers are things I do anyway (though maybe with some rituals).
Monday was a relatively good day for my exposures. I sat on couches or chairs that I typically avoid. I sprayed the “urine” spray around the house. I touched door knobs that I purposefully avoid, light switches, etc. I washed laundry and folded it without excessive handwashing (though I did wash after putting in a load of dirty clothes). Yes, I had some high anxiety at one point in particular when my mom touched some dirty underwear from my son and then touched a duster without washing her hands—and I was reminded of my tendency to try and retain control and tell others what to do, when to wash, etc. I am, however, trying to restrict how much I ask my children whether or not they have washed their hands. In regards to my own hand washing, I think I kept to around 10 total washes?
Overall, it was a fairly good day. Maybe not the most high intensity day of exposures, but that’s okay. Baby steps, right?