Summer is coming to a close (hooray!). This has been a doozy of a summer for me, what with having my “breakdown” right around school getting out, going to the ER, getting on new medication, and going to weekly group therapy (unless we were out of town).Having the kids around has made it more difficult to focus on doing my exposures and trying to work through my OCD. Mostly I am worried about what we are doing and keeping them from hurting each other! I was able to buckle down when my mom was in town, but after that I was more on my own and responsible to make time if I wanted to do so.
How Things Have Been Going
Skipping two consecutive group therapy sessions due to being out of town also threw things off a bit, though going on vacation presented its own opportunities for exposures and having to live with anxiety rather than do compulsions. For one, I had been using those flushable wipes most of the time to wipe my butt in the bathroom at home before our vacation….but I didn’t use them on our trip (we were using toilets that were on septic and then toilets on the cruise ship, plus toilets out in general) and am trying to keep that up at home. It might sound silly, but those wipes had been a huge crutch and made it so that I didn’t want to use the toilet out (since they wouldn’t be available). So, baby steps!
I had also let myself get a little out of control with the hand washing. I used more soap than I need to, in addition to washing more and for longer amounts of time than I should. I am back to writing down my reasons for and number of hand washes per day.
Other assignments that I’ve been working on include touching the bottom of my shoes before I put them on (and not washing my hands), cutting down using the “sanitary” wash option on my wash machine and dryer, sitting on the ground, picking things up off the floor, and working on my mental reviewing.
I’m not great at many of these assignments (the shoes have probably been my most consistently down exposure), but the mental reviewing may be the most difficult. Basically, instead of reviewing my obsessions, triggers, or thoughts that are related to the OCD at all, I am supposed to return to the present and focus on something else. That might mean talking to someone, singing a song in my head, watching TV, reading a book, doing mindful breathing, or starting or continuing a specific task. This can be so difficult. My thoughts often want to return to the obsession or to try to “solve” the problem that OCD has presented. This is obviously not helpful to my OCD recovery and causes me to remain stuck in the trap that OCD provides.
Anyway, my next steps are to rewrite an OCD hierarchy based on how I’ve been feeling lately and then work on doing exposures based on that. I also know that I need to do more purposeful exposures rather than just dealing with things as they come. (Touching the shoes counts here, but I could up my game a bit).