Reply To: The last ten years of contamination and checking ocd. And where I seem to be now
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Today I have been taking it easy… I was explaining to one of my relatives about how our thoughts can go way out of control, and make us panic. Panic attacks are very frightening. We can pass out, so our body re-regulates the breathing and heartbeat to ordinary values, and what our own body does when it is resting. I think it might be likened to a car rolling down a hill out of control. I park the car at the side of the road on a downhill stretch of road. I stand on the pavement, and realize I haven’t set the parking brake correctly, and the car is beginning to roll forward, slowly gaining speed as it does so. Now, if we picture that situation for a moment. We know that, In order to prevent the car fast rolling forward into say, another car, or a wall, the sooner we begin to attempt to stop the forward motion somehow, the greater the chance we have, of bringing it to a safe stop. Otherwise it could eventually begin going too fast, for us to do anything about it, and we just have to let it go, because we don’t want to get run over by our own car.
I reckon it can be very like that metaphor, during our day, when our analytical thought patterns kick in, and we begin to worry about everything that will happen to us in the future, or anything else that happens to be on our mind. A thinking ‘Catastrophe’. (See my other thread about that). The sooner I begin to fight back, metaphorically speaking, the greater my chance of saving my situation. So from; I can lean back in my chair, resting my weary head back against the cushion. I could then worry that something in my hair is now on the cushion, and will thus pass to the head of the next person who sits there, and then to their house, car, bed, children etc.etc.etc.!! I go to;
If I pause when I first lean back on that cushion, I STOP the whirring gears from going way toof ar or fast, by deciding that whatever is already on my hair, is harmless, as per everyone else who has A) sat in the chair before me, and B) Whoever else will sit in that same chair in the future. My hair is fine… Therefore, the chair must be fine, as was everyone who sat there before me. I’m not going to cause harm, Whatever could ever be on my hair. And thus, the whirring gears of panic never actually get to the point of being out of control… Brilliant! I don’t need to worry about the chair cushion…
We can apply this to other things… In CBT we get to the point where whatever could have ever been there, is fine on our hands our hair, everywhere, because we ERP it, and yes, no one gets ill… Not because of ourselves anyway. I was like this in a daycentre a while ago… I was the patient… I couldn’t even touch door handles, so would find myself trapped in rooms.
In a supermarket or food establishment toilet facility, a lot of the time there are two doors to return to the main area, both of them with pull handles. I think it is okay to suggest that not everyone washes their hands… It only takes one… It is suggested that the door handles are made with anti-bacterial coatings or metal. But even that needs time to work. So it stands to reason that, for a lot of people, by the time we get to the till, our hands are ‘grubby’, and so is all of our shopping, which is handled by the checkout operator, and will in turn be passed to the next person in the queue, and so on…
Now, Have you ever heard of anyone getting ill, because of someone else, in a supermarket, or a finger restaurant? It doesn’t happen, at least, not enough to get in the papers, and give them adverse publicity…
Society has been doing this without thinking for decades now… Eventually My CBT therapist got me to be able to cope with other instances such as this, after a few years of, literally, using antibacterial gel, not just once at the door, as we do now in pandemic, but also multiple times around the store, getting through bottles of it at an alarming rate, and ruining my skin in the process. I wouldn’t even go through a till, if there was any packaged raw meat on the conveyor belt… These days, I don’t bother to look.
In a freezer food shop, the assistants wear cloth gloves… To keep their fingers from getting frostbite… At the till, those gloves are probably wet… But that must be okay, or health and safety people would change it.
So, We now have evidence and can praise ourselves for any achievement, however small. Coming from someone else it might be like receiving reassurance, which, as we have found out, can actually make us worry about something else, and so on, perhaps from our distant past… Self praise is different… Try it… ‘ Life is about the journey, not just the destination… (Ralph Waldo Emerson et al)’ So the trick is to enjoy the journey by praising ourselves for getting better at this Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Exposure Response Prevention stuff.. (Even if we have just got on the wrong train or bus! LoL) Metaphorically speaking. And each day, just until bedtime.
Did I used to do this stuff? Oh yes… I struggled with door handles, even touching cutlery in cafes, worktops, light switches, Walking on outside and inside flooring, Blankets, clothing, shoe laces, and trying to be perfect at everything I did, whilst inadvertently, giving everyone else the right to do things their own way, and if that meant not being surgically clean, then so be it…
Tonight I am using a scrollball mouse on my computer… Impossible to clean anything like 100%. So I don’t bother at all most of the time. What would I use anyway? It has delicate electrical devices inside, so it has to stay dry, even though it will be low voltage off the usb port. So, the more I use the computer, the more dna I put on it. But is it really that dangerous? The evidence I have in life experience says no… And anyway, what is already going to be on the next persons hands? We don’t honestly need to know, do we? So let’s sleep tonight. Listen to some favourite music, happy TV… Allow the mind to think happy thoughts, or simply go blank. And tomorrow, when it eventually gets here, we’ll go gently through the process again, knowing that, it does get easier for others, and soit can for ourselves. And that is good enough. Even for me. A OCD sufferer in Recovery mode.
God bless you for reading,