Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

I assume this is positive progress.

I washed my hair today for the first time in a month. That sounds more disgusting than it is, since my hair is usually very, very dry and washing it daily is not even an option. Still, not pleasant or pretty to go a month. I had just stopped caring about everything, though, and that is most definitely not like me at all.

I called two people who I have not spoken to since May, and had promised to call. The conversations were positive and uplifting. Though I was reminded how far from my former self I am, I was also reminded that I am heading back that direction now.

I tackled a part of my kitchen that had needed organizing really bad. It was an exposure issue, as is anything I don't deal with regularly. I got it done and it feels great. I also organized my cupboards and cleaned and organized my fridge. These are also exposures, since they contain groceries. And groceries really freak me out due to the number of people who touch them before I do.

So that is all good stuff. I did have a bit of a meltdown this evening when the groceries came home, however, and cried for about a solid hour. While wiping down the milk container, I found something on my towel that looked exactly like a piece of dead skin. Skin and skin diseases are the things that freak me out most of all, so this did not sit well. After asking no one in particular, about fifty times, what am I going to do!? I ended up crying and doing a massive cleaning of the kitchen and every grocery item than came home. And, of course, the floor. Sigh. So that didn't go as I might have hoped. Later on, I discovered a similar piece of something on my son's dinner plate. I suspect it was actually a dried up piece of fish fillet. I sealed it in a plastic bag, and when I moved it around in there, it left greasy marks on the bag. Dead skin wouldn't, unless there was something on the skin.

I touched my hair, my freshly washed hair, after touching the scary object in question. I desperately need to highlight, so I am using that as an excuse to re-wash. Oh well. At least I can identify and admit that I am using it as an excuse. Honestly, I'm just kind of relieved that I have the motivation to bother. I was really lost for a while.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Slow and Steady

I seem to be emerging slowly from the latest fear tsunami. It's funny, because after most incidents where I feel out of control or afraid, the waters seem to recede from the shore and all looks deceptively calm. And then, the huge wave comes. I had a nightmare about it last night, actually.

It's easing. My mind is clearing. My hands feel less raw. I washed them only twice today, though the second washing was 15 minutes long and felt all wrong the whole time. The big, thick patches of injured, thickened skin on my palms have given way almost completely to normal, soft skin again - even with the recent washing injuries. My left hand looks completely normal, though my right hand is still dry and peeling a bit. I am actually surprised the scabs are minor and already healing. I guess having some healing already helped save them a bit from my recent setback.

My thoughts are healing. My actions are slow to follow, but the things I am thinking are healthier. I am trying to focus on healing and separating myself from the negativity. None of this is easy, particularly given that my OCD is highly related to the amount of stress I am experiencing and I am under a load of stress. I hate the idea that this is all taking much longer than I hoped, but I keep telling myself that - while this form of OCD is new to me - my experience with OCD has been going on for half my life. Now that it is identified as such, the real work is taking place.

But still, it is trying my patience.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sticking With It

Some goals are too embarrassing to bother posting. However, since I have made some progress, I will fess up now. A few challenges - some new, some old, dealt with in the past several days:

My children have a new swing set. Things not within my home are not within my control. Thus, the thing feels like a source of possible contamination to me. I am afraid of it. They, however, are not. And the thing is awesome. The mere thought of having such a something in my backyard at their age nearly gives me butterflies just thinking of it. They must play on it. Though my 0 - 100 anxiety level was a 90 when it arrived, I am now at about a 30.

My kitchen has been relatively clean. Back in the day, before this contamination OCD took over my life, my home used to be the envy of others. It's not big, it's not fancy, and it's not even new. But it was nice and tidy all of the time, even when my children were babies. Funny how fear of touching everything makes keeping a tidy home impossible. Dust accumulates, dishes pile up, crumbs sneak up on the kitchen table and seem to multiply while there. But my kitchen is currently, aside from a few dishes in the "soaking side" of the sink, clean. And it has been all week. I have been touching the dirty dishes, loading the dishwasher, putting clean dishes away, all like clockwork. Easy? No. But it is getting easier. I am really proud of myself for sticking with it.

I have gone full 24 hour days without washing my hands, 3 times this month. Now, I am not going out of the house on these days, nor am I doing laundry, but I am doing other typical household necessities. The episode of The OCD Project where everyone had to give up their rituals inspired me. These exposures, I think, have led to massive progress elsewhere. A couple of months ago, this would have been unthinkable.

I cleaned the kitchen floor. There was a semi-permanent layer of film over the floor from accumulated floor soap. It took me all day today, but I did it. And I did a load of laundry - after messing with the nasty floor all day. And I cleaned my kids' summer sandals and shoes and they are ready for wearing, also after the floor. Exposures, exposures, exposures.

And I am really feeling good.