June 1, 2011

Back up on the OCD Horse

I am fighting back.  I was knocked down by OCD, but I’m back up and fighting back again.  I don’t feel super strong at the moment, but I had a great session with my therapist, and I have a new perspective.....once again I am starting to “smarten up” to the OCD tricks.  Don’t get me wrong – throughout this latest “blip” over the last couple of weeks, I haven't TOTALLY given up.  I have continued to do my exposure homework.  But the compulsions have been there like crazy – which has put me in a constant state of anxiety and discomfort.  I HATE that feeling.  I need to learn to accept that feeling of disquiet as well. 

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding a therapist who SPECIALIZES IN OCD.  Today alone, my therapist pointed out a several instances in which I was compulsing and I didn’t even realize!  It drives me crazy when I read about OCD, and the author of the article proceeds to list of examples of rituals.  The majority of the time the examples are washing and checking.....way too simplistic really to accurately portray how complicated and – as I said a few posts ago – insidious this disorder can be.  For example, today during my therapy session, my psychologist and I were discussing how in my OCD world so many things have to be black and white in order to maintain my “safety” - all lesbians are “man like” with mostly male characteristics and interests.  I could always reassure myself that way because I knew for sure that I could never be attracted to a “butch lesbian” (please excuse me if that is insulting to anyone).  Now that I am doing exposure, I am realizing that lesbians – just like all people, come in all shapes and sizes and they all have different characteristics and interests.  This of course has made my OCD sky-rocket.  If I might have something [insert interest here] in common with this lesbian – I MUST be a lesbian!” I didn’t even realize that very subtly I was reassuring myself.....thank Goodness for a highly skilled OCD therapist.  :o)

Another example of how I reassure myself are days when I dress more femininely.  In the past, these days are reassuring to me because I could always assure myself that lesbians don’t dress femininely!  Of course I knew logically that this was incorrect.  But OCD doesn’t care about logic as we all know.  So now that I’m exposing myself to lesbians of all shapes, sizes, etc etc – my OCD really enjoying saying “You dress similarly to some of these women – you MUST be a lesbian!”. 

I love my therapy sessions.  My therapist so calmly, supportively and skilfully points out so many things that I miss when I am slogging through ERP on my own.  I just hope that one day I will be as skilled at he is at catching OCD’s tricks, because these days I feel as though I’m fighting a bully that is 10 times my size. 

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like 2-steps forward and 1 step back. Remember you are still going forward...just noticing more of the same. Kind of like if you are trying to develop more patience or something. You know you have a few impatient moments in a week, but as you start to watch closely you see that instead of a few a week, there are a few a day. So you feel overwhelmed, but as you practice your new 'patience skills' you find that your impatient moments really are decreasing.

    It seems like that's what's happening to you.
    Hang in there!!!
    -Karin

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  2. I'm a little confused. I thot pure o meant no cumpulsions? Just thots you cant get out of your head.
    -karin

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  3. Hi Karin - you're awesome! So positive and supportive. I do feel like I have renewed motivation. The thinking used to be that Pure O meant no compulsions, but really now they realize that people who have Pure O just don't have VISUAL compulsions - it is more stuff that goes on in our heads. Like reassuring ourselves or mentally checking things. Does that make sense?

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  4. Karin, it is so confusing, yes, but here is a good example of a compulsion to a pure o thought-

    Obsession- "Maybe I'm a lesbian, maybe If I wear these birkenstock sandals I'll look like a lesbian. I just looked at a woman's chest, does that mean I'm a lesbian? If I watch a TV show about a lesbian, does that mean I could be a lesbian? OMGOMGOMG!!!"

    Compulsion- "I'm not a LESBIAN! I can't be! I've been attracted to men my entire life! I enjoy sex! I'm definitely not a lesbian! I like men and only men! Wait, let me look at women and check my feelings and see if I really am a lesbian!"

    Continue with obsession, compulsion, obsession, compulsion, obsession, compulsion... Get it? Every day for the sufferer of pure-o. Hope this gives some perspective. :)

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  5. Awesome explanation and example Lolly!!!

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  6. I know that kind of experience. It happened to me years ago while i was at university. One day i looked at a woman and boy my mind took off. I was a lesbian.(i was in a homophobic 'church')No praying, or fasting took that thot out of my mind. i had no idea WHY i was having it. I thot it was my overactive religious guilt- i figured maybe i needed lots of experience feeling humbled and guilty and these thots provided it. I had no idea it was Ocd. At that time i had never heard of that. I just never had any physical compultions, so i wasn't sure what was meant when you said compulsion. I didn't think of ruminating as a complulsion. I have ruminated over all sorts of things as long as i can remember. N ow i get it. Thanks.
    -karin

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  7. Yup, it's that cycle that we have to stop dead in it's tracks... Glad this gave you some perspective, Karin... Be well. -Lolly

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  8. nb: that obsession took me years to get rid of.I don't know whther my mind finally just got tired of the thot, but i do remember thinking: since i had n't done Anything yet with anyone, o was pretty much just asexual, ( based on my juvinile understanding of sex at the time) TMI. i know. :P, but that thot was the beginning of me ignoring rather than entertaining the thot and subsequent religious guilt that went with it. Good luck with your struggle.
    -karin

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  9. I am so glad you found an OCD specialist! You are in the midst of the thicket of mental rituals, but I think you are getting the hang of looking for the flashes of light. It is a process--I wasn't ever hit with a thunderbolt and suddenly able to see it all. It happened slowly, which I hated, but at the same time, I was excited that I was actually recognizing the rituals.

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  10. Karin - yes that's exactly how it happens. That's how it happened for me years ago as well! I was having boyfriend trouble, and suddently the thought popped into my head "Maybe you're gay" and now - 15 (or so) years later this is where I am! I had other OCD themes too, but this for some reason has latched on.
    Expwoman - thanks for the support! You're so great at commenting with wisdom and great words of advice. You help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. PLus - the experiences that you write about have helped me to accept that OCD is really about just taking a positive step every moment of the day and whenever faced with a situation where I want to ritualize - doing my best to make the "therapeutic" choice. I think I really am starting to recognize rituals which is helping me to outsmart OCD. I am still struggling sometimes though.

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