Friday, September 3, 2010

OCD Purgatory: Neither Here nor There but Caught Hanging In-Between

As much as I would like to write a cohesive post on some theme related to OCD, these days I haven't been as, well, reflective, I suppose.  So I'm just going to spit out the thoughts that come to mind - the things that are bothering me right now - so that I can try to get myself back on board.

I am lethargic today, both mentally and physically, and I don't know why.  Well, maybe I do know why.  It comes from procrastinating the things I don't want to do - like showering.  And the longer I procrastinate, the dirtier and more stifled I feel.  Everything seems less satisfying with the thing I am procrastinating looming on the day's to do list.  And on top of that, I have OCD labeling me as "dirty" until I do, even if I only really need to shower for OCD reasons in the first place.  It's like waking up and lounging around in your pajamas all day.  You never feel like you have "gotten up" and started your day until you have gotten dressed.  At least I never do.  It's now evening and while I have been productive, I still feel like there were other things I wanted to accomplish but "couldn't," at least by OCD rules, until I took my compulsive shower.  Oh OCD...

So there are two things I could do to remedy this situation:

A) I could just go shower instead of putting it off longer and longer, because really, it's unlikely to get any easier the longer I put it off - usually it gets harder and I start to dread it more and more the longer I wait, actually; or

B) if I really wanted to give my OCD a nice blow, I could say, "Forget it!  I'm not going to shower just because I spent time at a house with dogs last night!"

...because that is, in fact, the reason I feel I "need" to shower.  I went and hung out with a friend who has dogs, dogs that I played with, and then I spent the night at her "contaminated" house because it would have been a long drive home and I wouldn't have gotten back until late at night.  Also, I knew if I came home I would feel the need to shower before sleeping in my bed.  And if I was too tired to shower, which seemed quite likely, I would probably end up sleeping on my bay window seat...which is not very comfortable...because I would feel too "contaminated" to sleep in my bed.

Does my bed actually need to stay "clean?"  Rationally, no, it doesn't.  I know that...a bed is a bed and is meant to be slept in.  But that's OCD for you...I just feel like my world would fall apart if I did sleep in it when "dirty."  It would be throwing my carefully constructed OCD rules down the drain, and that frightens me.  Of course, I know the world wouldn't end if I slept in my bed when "contaminated."  But that sort of logic and reasoning doesn't make it any easier to do.  Though I'm sure that there will be some point in treatment where I am forced to contaminate my bed and sleep in my bed when I am "dirty" on a regular basis, I am still unwilling at this point...ugh.

So I am currently wading around in OCD purgatory - I can go in either direction but until I gather the determination to overcome my fear of doing one or the other, I am stuck and will be sleeping on a window sill for the night...

I wanted to write more, but I am feeling tired and worn by the nagging desire to do SOMETHING other than wait.  Perhaps I will try to summon the courage to shower, because I don't think I will be summoning the courage to blatantly disregard my OCD and just sleep in my bed "dirty" any time soon.  I did blatantly shatter the rules in a different way yesterday - but that's a story for another day.

So off I go to muster my courage...or find some other temporary distraction while I continue the procrastination.  Oh OCD, why do I let you play these unfair games when I know exactly how to beat you?  Oh OCD...


  1. umm, this was very helpful to read, thanks for posting about this. my ocd kiddo has a lot of trouble with showering and really becomes aggitated about doing it, we set deadlines and timelines and i walk her to the shower, then, she showers and showers when she finally gets in...and her mood does lift...i'll keep in mind the long the wait the harder it is. tell that bully to stuff it and think of your cozy bed!

  2. I have issues with that too. I especially did when I was breastfeeding my kids, because if my bed was dirty, then I would be dirty, and how could I feed my kids if I could get them sick?

    I am no longer in that phase of life with newborns, but the OCD fear is still with me. In my mind I'm convinced that if I get my bed dirty, I'll contaminate everything else and make my kids sick.

    Here's hoping you have a more comfortable night's sleep than you would on your window seat.

  3. I hope you get some rest! Remember that the OCD only wants to maintain itself--you don't need to know which action is the "least OCD"--that can keep your avoiding doing anything for a long time. Whatever step you can take toward doing an exposure strikes fear into the OCD! It helps me not to think of "someday I will do the big exposure" because someday usually doesn't come--but I can do tiny steps right now.

  4. Tiffany - glad this helps! Do you know if your daughter is performing compulsions when she showers? She could be avoiding it because it seems like she won't be able to do it "right." That's what I tend to do.

    Shana - You captured how I feel about this perfectly when you explained how you fear getting your bed dirty because then you'll contaminate everything else. As illogical as it is, this is how I often think about it, too!

    Expwoman - I fall into exactly the trap you mentioned all the time. I keep waiting for "someday" to do those exposures that seem big to me, but waiting for that day to come has meant slow recovery. It's helpful to think about it like this, and doing tiny steps towards the big things always helps. I tend to get caught up in thinking it's not a real exposure unless I can do it all at once, but I think that's just another OCD trap!



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