Sunday, October 30, 2011
Jeff begins his book by discussing 2 kinds of doubt: Intellect-based doubt and Fear-based doubt. Intellectual doubt is the realistic doubt that helps keep us safe (do i REALLY have enough time to get across the street before the light changes) or challenges traditions (is that really the BEST use of the world's resources?). It is rational, logical and serves humanity well.The great scientists, philosophers and revolutionaries used it to challenge the accepted view of their cultures and changed the world for the better.
Fear-based doubt, OTOH, is the result of catastrophic, emotional or black & white thinking. It keeps the questioner stuck in uncertainty and doing or not doing things in an excessive way to try to reduce or eliminate the anxiety.
He explains how we can tell the difference between the 2 kinds of doubt: Does it spike our anxiety instead of promoting curiosity or caution? Does it cause ever-more disturbing 'what-if' scenerios? If so, it is fear-based doubt.
Once stuck within uncertainty Bell discusses the 6 'trap doors' that people use to try to eliminate this fear-based doubt that instead only lead the doubter further down into the fear. These are checking, seeking reassurance, ruminating, protecting, fixing and avoiding. Doing one or more of these, in an effort to reduce uncertainty, only gives a minimal relief, while taking up lots of time and effort. These make up the compulsions and rituals a person with ocd may perform.
The 'correct' [ocd joke] way to eliminate fear-based doubt is to use the 10 steps to MAKE BELIEF. Standing up to the doubt bullies is done by believing in yourself and in believing in the goodness of life and in the goodness of other people. The 10 steps are as follows:
Choose to see the universe as friendly.
Embrase the possibility in every moment. Live in the present moment (ocd wants us to live in the past or future ) and find meaning in your life.
Affirm your own potential. You are more than your ocd. Use Mindfulness to observe your thoughts.
Put your committments ahead of your comfort. Learn to live with uncertainty in life. Want to be free of ocd more than you want comfort.
Keep sight of the bigger picture and the greater good. Have a sense of humour . Don't take life so seriously. Find a positive reason or purpose to help motivate yourself to NOT give in to ocd compulsions and rituals.
Exercise your freedom to choose Use your independent will to CHOOSE not to obey the ocd bully. Willfully choose to sit with your anxiety. Choose to actively practice ERPs . Delibrately expose yourself to whatever you fear just for the practise of choosing not to do the compulsions.
Picture possibility and direct your attention Choose which thoughts and ideas you want to give attention to and which you will just acknowledge with detachment as having crossed your mind.
Act in ways that empower. Act, believing in the abundance of the universe, rather than the scarcity ocd wants you to feel. Believe there will always be opportunities for you. Ask yourself if you are acting out of a sense of purpose and service to empower yourself or others or out of fear and doubt to relieve anxiety. Fake it til you make it' if necessary.
Accept and let go of what you cannot control Use your free will to accept what you can't control so you can act on what you can control. Uncertainty is inevitable (out of our control) as is the anxiety we feel at times. You suffer when you try to control the uncertainty and fall into one of the 6 trap doors (doing compulsions).Give up your obsessions to the universe and let it (Him, Her, God) take care of the results of you not doing your compulsions.
Allow for bigger plans than your own. Don't get attached to your plan's outcome. There may be something better in store.
Once you've used the 10 steps to stay away from the trapdoors, use the 'greater good perspective shift' Bell describes to keep you on the path to making belief. This greater good perspective (GGP) means making decisions based on service and purpose rather than on doubt and fear (D&F). It means making choices that give you the chance to serve others or bring out the best in yourself.
The D&F framework involves deciding between a 'good' and a 'bad' choice. For example, washing up after touching a door knob would be the 'good' choice because it would reduce the risk of making someone sick and your anxiety will go down. The 'bad' choice would be to not scrub because you 'might' make someone else sick and you must sit with your anxiety.
Using the GGP, your decision would be between: 'good'- wash up to keep someone from getting sick and ' greater good' - don't scrub because you will be on time to xyz function, you will be 'in charge' of your actions. Bell believes that purpose and service are better motivators than fear and doubt.
Making believe is not something you do once and then receive the benefits of forever after. [oh, rats.]You must practice these steps over and over again.The more you work on these steps the easier they become. And when you make a mistake, you also know your way out of the traps.
Bell believes that as students of life, you, not your doubt (ocd) bully is in charge of your decisions and therefore your life. At the end of the day ask yourself 3 qu: In what ways did I demonstrate a passion for life, kindness to others and kindness to myself. By choosing to make believe you will continue to move forward in life, not staying stuck in fear and doubt.
I really enjoyed the book. He writes in a way that is clear and helpful. I, too, found that it is more motivating to have a positive reason to not do a compulsion. His view of having a higher purpose- even if it is only empowering myself, gave me more ideas to use when i must decide whether to enter one of the 6 trapdoors or not.
In fact i used it last night. I went to V.V. (used clothes store) again yest. but didn't change when i got home. I just put a sweatshirt on over my shirt. When my daughter went to bed last night i debated whether to cuddle her in bed or not ( in case I contaminated the bed.) I realized that cuddling with my dd was a 'greater good' than a 'cleaner' bed, and so i did that instead.
And i went back to value village today to finish my homework assignment. This time, tho while i washed my hands when i got home, i didn't change my pants. I did put a sweatshirt over my t shirt so i could feel a little better (and be warm in my house.) The anxiety has worn off. Maybe next time i won't worry about my shirt either.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
But first make that thot record on paper, not just in my head.
Situation: go to used clothes store.
Moods: anxiety & dread- 120+ %
Automatic thots: The stuff in the store is dirty. It could have come from old people's homes who died/ went to nursing homes and by this time had mice, mold and other gross critters in their houses.
What does this mean for my future: I will have to buy only new stuff unless i know the person it came from. Can't roam around in used book stores anymore.
What am i afraid might happen: My house will get contaminated by the 'what-if's'.
What is the worst thing that could happen if above is true: I would have to clean my house top to bottom.
What does this mean about people in general: they like mice.
What images or memories do i have in this situation: Cleaning out my inlaw's house and garage. When we got to the garage to clean up dh's grandma's stuff that was stored there, mice had gotten into it. ( I kept some christmas ornaments that dh remembered from his childhood but even after cleaning them i have a hard time putting them out. Some years they get used; others they don't.) I was afraid to go back to the basement after that in case there were droppings there i hadn't noticed before. I refused to clean up anymore of the house.
Evidence that supports the hot thot: The store has a funny smell.
Evidence that does NOT support the hot thot: They wash the clothes first ( i hope). Most people get rid of toys etc. as their kids get older or they don't want stuff anymore. Ditto for the adults too. I USED to shop there (in a different city).
Alternative/ Balanced thots: I plan on washing the toys/ clothes later before DD plays with them. DD will be happy.
Rate moods now: 35%- but i'm not in front of the store yet.
( NB i added a couple of things to it as i was copying it down )
So i put on a baggy sweat shirt that was easier to wash than a coat. It also had a big pocket in the front to hold my credit card so as not to get my purse 'dirty' and a large cloth bag to put the stuff in (so as not to get the car 'dirty'. I was prepared.
No couch in the entrance way. So far so good. I went to the toy section and looked them over. No My Little Pony stuff there today. At least not that i could SEE. I'd have to touch the bags to find stuff behind the first bags. Ug, but ok. The bags should be clean, right? Still nothing. i guess it was sold already. i find a purple shirt dd would like and pick that up too.
Then i look at the books. Origionally i had decided NOT to do that in case they were old and moldy, but i figured the children's books should be alright. I found some that dd likes to listen to and picked them up too. Then i went back to the toy section and found some little doggie stuff she'd love to have. i cashed out, but had to open my wallet to get another credit card, but didn't worry about it there. Put the stuff in my big shopping bag and put it all in the trunk.
Went home. Took off sweatshirt, washed hands. Did NOT wash car , or front door handle. Didn't feel THAT dirty. However, i put a blanket on my pants before putting my computer on my lap- just in case. After dd went to bed we put the toys in the sink with dish detergent to soak over night, dh wiped the books off with windex and i put the shirt and bag in the basement laundry. We washed up (him, his hands, me up to my elbows, i put all my clothes in the laundry and got ready for bed.
Better turn-out than last time. Still not sure whether to call the store clean or not so i didn't schedule any other errands for on the way home, and i kept debating about whether to change my pants and t-shirt too. Deliberately didn't touch library books the rest of the evening in case i changed my mind and THEY became contaminated.
One more time to go. this time i'll look for clothes for me to try on -maybe. And will i change clothes when i get home?
On some people's blogs ( The Blue Morpho, Into My Own, ) i can comment under my name automatically, picture and all.
However, on most other people's blogs i must sign in under 'anonymous'. And if the blogger hasn't allowed for anonymous writers ( and i can certainly understand why, in blogs this personal), i can only read and not comment at all. I've also tried to sign in under open id url, but that didn't work either. So 'Just Me and my OCD' and 'I Am Not My OCD", i do read your blogs and have tried to comment but so far no luck.
Anyone have any idea what is going on? How can i fix this?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I had done some pre-thinking. Coming up with reasons why it would be nice to go to value village. (not too difficult- i get to pick the style of clothes i like and the prices are cheap.) I looked at the store on line but VV has a particular smell to it that the internet pic's didn't bring across. Or else my extra-sensitive - pregnancy -nose is at it again. Imagined walking in the store. No big trauma in my mind, so i thot 'this will be ok, easy even.' HA!
Anyway i didn't get there til after everyone had come home from work and school. I should have gone alone but i thot it'd be nice to have a little support. It all went well until we parked in front of the store. I just stared at it. I said to Bruce (husband) that maybe we should start at the bank down a bit in the strip mall, work our way to V.V. Nope, it was raining so he was going directly there. i followed along behind. In the front door was a green couch. It looked ok but you never know. After all it's used by who-knows-who. ( i manage to keep this voice down to a dull roar at hotels, where the couches have also been used by people i don't know). So from where i am it looks like my daughter is swinging her hat against the couch. Strike 1.
We get into the store and i just stand there and smell it and look around and wander. Hubby and daughter are down by the toy section because i guess they don't get the words 'children's clothes' very well. So when i finally got them back to the kiddie clothes section KD ducks under all the clothes and makes sure she is completely enveloped in OCD. Me, i am about to shriek, freak or just run screaming, so i turn around to get away from my daughter before i grab her and just haul her out of the rack of clothes. I calm myself down and then decide it will be ok. KD comes up to me wraps her arms around me and gives me a HUGE ocd hug. So now i, too am contaminated. It's what i came for, right? Not exactly. I wanted a little integration. Touch some clothes with my HANDS, not my whole body, try some on and maybe buy one. Nope, she ensures i get the full-body contact. So we look for something for her to wear but she's not interested. (of course not, her task to throw me under the rack is now complete). So i go to look at pants.
The change stalls are all grungy looking inside and have black spots/ marks on the floor and in the corners. I make Bruce look in and ensure that the dirt in the corner is not really mold. So i have these 4 squares (2x2) tiles i feel are clean enuf to stand on to change. Isn't there some rule about having to have at least 1 meticulously clean change room for ocd disadvantaged people? There should be.
I try a few pairs of pants on and discover i have no idea what size i am anymore. I have gained a ton of weight in the past 3 yrs. Partly my fault, and partly ocd drug's fault. I am working on that. Not hard enuf, tho, apparently.
So after all that we leave with nothing. I sat in the car staring out the front window the whole way home. I was in shock. Not thrilled, or exhilerated like i sometimes am. Just in shock. I asked Bruce on the way home if it was ok to change into pj's when we get home. It's only 7:30, mind you. He says yes, it is. I throw all my clothes in the laundry becasue i don't want ocd reminders on me. That worked fine for me. But KD, altho she washed her hands and got into her pj's too, had a head of hair/ face still full of OCD. This was ok as long as she was watching tv and i was upstairs. When she came upstairs and wanted to snuggle with me it became a problem. I told her that i was scared to hug her because of her hair. She sat for a time and then disappeared into the bathroom. When she came out she said she'd washed her hair and her hands so i wouldn't be scared anymore. I let her hug me even tho ocd didn't really think that wiping her hair a few times with her hands really constituted cleaning it. I thot it was nice of her to care, since mostly she doesn't. (she's 5) I even lay in bed with her and read to her.
When that was done i changed my pj top and decided that was all i could do about/ for ocd today. Not sure if that was a success story or not. i certainly didn't like the idea of 'contaminating' my whole house to desensitize myself. Maybe that was just too much fo r one week. I still have the anxiety or stress horemones or whatever coursing thru my body. i hope they leave soon. At least by tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Ocd has cost me lots of money in things i throw out. :(
I also spent a lot of time while reading this morning tearing up.
Tomorrow is the day before my next therapy appt. I am supposed to have gone into Value Village ( a used clothing store) as my next ERP. I don't know if i'll be doing that. If i feel tomorrow like i felt today and like i feel tonight i won't have the energy to do it.
Since i went to bed so early, i figured i better get up at a decent time of day. Unfortunately, my counsellor doesn't think 10:30 meets that qualification. So i was up at before 7:30, giving my daughter breakfast and getting her ready for school. Everything's fine? Nope, saw my husband putting some garbage into the empty milk box we have on the counter to scrape left-over oatmeal into from daughter's bowl, so it doesn't clog the sink. From my angle it looked like he TOUCHED the box. "Eww" screached OCD into my head. I retorted with, He'll be upset and tell me that he did NOT touch anything, so i'll ignore it.' 'Uh, huh' says ocd. They both leave and i watch them thru the window ( what else am i supposed to do at this time of the night?). So i saw the neighbors come out of their house. The mom has a garbage bag in her hand and the daughter comes across the street to the bus stop WHERE MY FAMILY IS STANDING. ' See that? screams OCD,' i hope she doesn't touch her". Mom puts the garbage in a can and goes back in the house. "Ug, now their door knob is dirty" What if dear daughter wants to go play there? Or worse, their daughter comes over here??" And then not-so-dear husband-with-the-dirty-hands goes in my car and into my trunk. OCD now has a major temper tantrum in my head because my car was clean and safe for me to use. Then hubby blythely gets into his car and drives off, leaving me dealing with OCD -brain all by myself.
And 10 or so minutes after everyone left, i heard a crow squack. Sure enuf, paper towels were all over the place. I should have just put it on top of the other bag in the can last night.However,I was too anxiety ridden or something to remember that crows, unlike hummingbirds, can't hover in the air to poke holes into the sides of a bag sitting on top of a garbage can with a lid over it. So guess who gets to deal with more yuk garbage?? blech. But not yet.
So do i run out and wash my car door handle and the trunk pull etc? Couldn't call hubby for another 20 minutes until he actually arrives at work. I decided to sit with it and do nothing, and see how long that lasted. (One of Jeff Schwartz' ideas from Brain Lock.) I read a book while i waited and the urge to scream, call hubby etc. decreased. 2 hrs later i realized the feelings had gone down a lot. But again i'm left feeling exhausted. So it's not a happy win. I did do better than last night.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
The summer before entering sixth grade, Sammy suddenly began to exhibit disturbing behavior. He walked and ate with his eyes shut, refused to bathe, burst into fits of rage, slithered against walls, and used his limbs instead of his hands to touch light switches, doorknobs, and faucets.
Sammy’s mother, Beth, watched helplessly as her middle child descended into madness. Sammy was soon diagnosed with OCD and later with Tourette syndrome. Unwilling to accept the doctors’ prognoses for lifelong mental illness and repeated hospitalizations, Beth fought to uncover what was causing this decline. Racing against time as Sammy slipped further from reality, Beth’s quest took her to the center of the medical community’s raging debate about whether mental illness can be caused by infection. Beth searched until she found two cutting-edge doctors who answered that question with a definitive yes. Together, they CUREDSammy. Five years later, he remains symptom free.
He had strep virus or the antibodies running thru his system. They weren't giving him strep throat but were causing the ocd. He still has to watch his stress levels and stuff, but if there's a flare-up he goes back on the meds until it settles down again.
Train your mind Change your brain by Sharon Begley says this about ocd:
So it sounds to me that he is saying that you can be med-free and after a while mostly symptom free, with a system in place for dealing with any thots that DO occur. However i will see what the actual book says since this is a summary of a summary.
To me, cured means done with, able to live relatively normal life, no meds, only a few random ocd thots going thru my head every few months like other people may have. That i could change my brain to meet and conquer this challenge. And lots of books talk about 'curing' the person with ocd. But maybe their idea of cured is different from mine. I suppose if I am taking a dose of medicine that makes most of my ocd thots disappear and do cbt/erp to get rid of the remaining ones that is 'cured', just not the way i defined it. I never thot i'd be totally free of ocd thots (who is) but free enuf that i'd easily notice one and be able to target it fairly quickly and dispose of it in a few hours not a few years.
So i have a pile of books from the library and some on interlibrary loan that i will be reading to see what their 'cured' means. I don't want to be aiming for an impossible goal, but neither do i want to sell myself short- esp. on the meds thing. I have been on meds of one kind or another for ocd now for around 5 years and so i don't even know if they are affecting me adversely anymore. I was too scared to drop the final pill to see what would happen. Would the ocd have come back to the way it was 5 yrs ago? It takes time to get the pills out of the body, and if the ocd is back it takes another 6 wks or so of re-admitting the pills and i was just too scared to take the final step. Oh well. I guess i'm not as much of a guinea pig as i thot i was.