June 25, 2011

Round Two....or Three....or is it Four or Five in my battle with OCD? I’ve lost count but it really doesn’t matter.

I was going to write a separate post on OCD and PMS, but I think I will incorporate it into this one.  I can’t help but think that the obsessional piece of my OCD fluctuates with my menstrual cycle (and then of course the compulsing increases too).  The bad thoughts get A LOT worse during certain times of the month.  The problem is – I can’t quite pin it down to an exact science – and of course that starts even more obsessing and doubt.  You see, my menstrual cycle is not like “clockwork” – it is usually about six weeks long, but can be up to eight weeks.   And though I know that I do start to feel really crappy sometime after ovulating, sometimes I feel great just before I get my period, and sometimes it takes a few days until after my period is finished to start to feel better.  So is that really PMS?  Who knows.  Of course my OCD latches onto trying desperately to figure it all out in an effort to make it all go away. 

Any other women out there who experience this? 

I had a breakthrough on Tuesday.  I had a good cry in my therapy session, which was very helpful.  And I have no idea what happened, maybe it was the ending of my period, maybe it was just that I was completely fed up, but I SLAMMED OCD.  My therapist suggested that I start exaggerating the thoughts when I have them.  I think I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I was engaging in a lot of thought stopping (of course it took me forever to realize this).  It was SOOOO very hard at first.  The anxiety was incredible.  Horrible feelings.  But eventually it got easier!  On Tuesday I actually said to myself “screw it – I’m going to dress as lesbian – like as I possibly can.”!  I came out of the gates FIGHTING LIKE CRAZY. 

This week I think I’m winning the battle.  I haven’t WON the battle yet – I am still battling every day.  But I feel like I’m getting that elusive control back.  I’m starting to get the upper hand.  I’m so much more aware of my compulsions and I’m not letting myself get away with any of them.  In fact – I’m CHALLENGING the OCD with “come on – hit me with your best shot!”. 

As an example of how insidious my compulsions are – this morning I was packing for an overnight camping trip with a whole bunch of people that I don’t know.  THIS in itself is an exposure for me.  Will any lesbians be there?  Will the people there think that I’m a lesbian?  Etc etc.  Of course one of my compulsions in reaction to my fear that people will think that I’m gay is to “be” as feminine as possible.  I put “be” in quotation marks because it’s not like I wear skirts camping, but for example I went to my closet to pick out a beach towel, and I had three choices – the pink one, the red one or the turquoise one.  As I was deciding my OCD said to me “pick the pink one – the red one is too masculine – if you pick that one – people will think you’re a lesbian.”  Initially I chose the pink one.  Then I realized what I had done, and I marched right back into my closet and grabbed the red one. 



  1. Karin said:

    WooHoo!!! good for you!

    Great to hear you're on the up!

    I, too noticed that my handwashing needs would get really bad and then stop just the day before my period. This happened for awhile, and helped me figure out when my period was coming.( i have a very irregular cycle- sometimes it's every 2 months then it goes to every month. It used to be 3 or 4 times a year)

    Then when i started counting on heavier ocd stuff just before a period, it stopped being a pattern. Figures. I have heard that horemone cycles do affect ocd. Maybe mine still does, but it' s more subtle ocd and so i haven't really noticed it as i was focussing on the big life -stopping stuff. The little rituals i have done now for years so i could shower, wash laundry, do garbage etc. were coping strategies so i could get on with life. At first i thot i'd just live with those little changes, but after reading everyone else's stuff on getting rid of the little hidden rituals, i started noticing that my 'coping strategies' as i called them, were really ocd rituals. So i'm trying to think about getting rid of them, too. Maybe these rituals get worse or more insistant just before my period- i'll have to keep watch!

  2. More and more my need for peace is pushing OCD into this tiny corner. I'm not gullible enough to think it's gone, but after 19 years I have had with this insidious disease. It makes me sick!

  3. Karen - I know what you mean - that's why I don't really want to start keeping track because what's the point? What can I do about it anyway? Reassuring myself that it's just PMS will just be a compulsion, so....
    Dorothy - welcome! I hope you find helpful information and hope here in fighting OCD.

  4. I was googling "what can I do to lessen pure o around my cycle" and your blog popped up. I was diagnosed with pure o at 22, I am now 30 and my recovery has been long and trying, but I can say I am MUCH better than when I began. When you said "yay for small victories" I got tears in my eyes. It's so true, I get so mad at OCD and overwhelmed wishing it would just go away, but when I look at all of the small battles I have won it makes me feel proud and strong. Good luck on your journey and ERP is the best therapy for pure O....just always remember you are not OCD, it is the polar opposite of who you really are :)

  5. Anon - thanks so much for your comment and I'm glad my experience is something you can relate to!