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PaulM

OCD-UK Member
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About PaulM

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  • OCD Status
    Sufferer
  • Type of OCD
    Special Christmas Assortment Packet

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Canada

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  1. PaulM

    Contamination

    Sorry Hal. I may have overreacted to the criticism. I was surprised and reacted poorly. I'll be honest - this exchange has caused me more anxiety. My intent wasn't to criticize anyone or their response. I hope something I said helps Madchoc. But I think I'm going to bow out for a while for my own health. Best, Paul
  2. PaulM

    Contamination

    You're welcome Madchoc. It will get better with challenging it. You can do it!
  3. PaulM

    Contamination

    It wasn't intended to be "ungraciously dismissive - or pedantic". I saw someone struggling with something I could relate to. My reply was directed at the original poster who used the word "ridiculous" in the second post. Your response is unhelpful and frankly rude. I was doing my best to relate to someone suffering.
  4. PaulM

    Contamination

    I should add too that there are good resources for understanding the cognitive side. My therapists had me read the first three chapters of "The OCD Workbook" by Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick. There are other great books out there that I haven't read - others here might have suggestions of ones that helped them. My therapists also had me write out charts where I would feel a certain way, list the automatic thoughts associated with that feeling, and label those automatic thoughts with the cognitive distortions that were at work. We'd do a score (SUDS - subjective units of distress score) at the beginning and then at the end of the exercise. It was a light bulb moment when I realized I was missing a step all along in what was going on. I thought it was trigger -> feeling. It all happens so fast. It was very enlightening to see I was missing the thought in between, that it's the thoughts about the trigger that create the feelings (trigger -> thoughts -> feelings), and how many cognitive distortions were at work during that thought process. It was easier to see the disconnection between whatever the trigger was and the feelings I was having about it. I guess that's why they're called automatic thoughts - the resulting feelings were instantaneous. Hopefully some of this helps. If there's anything you are learning otherwise and I'm confusing the issue let me know. I'm a sufferer and not a therapist. But I was very lucky to find therapists who helped me see what was going on.
  5. PaulM

    Contamination

    Hi Madchoc, apologies for not replying sooner. In my case my therapists focused on helping me realize what was going on cognitively. That changed things for me - a significant shift in perspective from "oh no this is hell" to "bit by bit this will get me better". For my cooker I began one week of barely touching the top of the cooker with the tip of my little finger. Like, a light tap. And, importantly, delaying my response which was to wash my hands (several times at that). I gave myself 10 minutes sitting with that crappy feeling and then permission to myself to wash. After a week of doing this once a day, things progressed from 2 fingers, etc., up to placing my hand completely on there for a few seconds. Again I pushed myself to the next "step" as far as contact every week, just repeating what I was doing once a day. Slowly (very slowly in this case) I worked up to touching the knobs, handle, etc., and delaying the response longer than 10 minutes. It was very gradual and took a few months but I was able to use the cooker again. All of these little steps might seem inconsequential, but they have an effect. Different people can progress at different rates and perhaps bigger steps. I'd been thought a traumatic experience of flooding (too much exposure at once) at a previous job. I knew for me it was going to be baby steps and gave myself permission that was okay. I went from not even stepping near the cooker and actually thinking I need to get rid of it and somehow decontaminate everything around it (I thought about gutting the kitchen) to being able to have my daughter over for Christmas dinner and cooking together. Once a day, 10 minutes of feeling gross, gradually working up in exposure and time, giving myself permission to make it a gradual process, and with a mindset that these often inconvenient and very uncomfortable steps should feel that way and it will get me better.
  6. PaulM

    Contamination

    Hi Madchoc. A couple of questions - is your exposure therapy part of cognitive behaviour therapy? And has your therapist helped with creating a list of exposures to work up to? The reason I ask is some people (me for one) struggled a lot with exposures without an understanding of the cognitive side and the distortions our brains produce. I had a similar issue with my cooker and contamination. I couldn't even use it. I can tell you what I did if you're interested. It took a lot of persistence, but I got there and now I use my cooker all the time with little to no fear.
  7. PaulM

    Contamination

    No. It doesn't sound ridiculous. Not at all to me. It's OCD, sure. But not ridiculous. I can relate because I have very similar fears. I've put off cleaning things for fear of just spreading the contamination around. And like you I've struggled for a long time. It sounds like this is something that would be near the top in a hierarchy list of exposures. You mention therapy - are you in therapy now with someone? CBT?
  8. Yes. In my case I lost most of my regular support system as a result. Some were mutual friends that I had met her through. Others were people I'd been friends with for years who started leaving me out of things. I left a volunteer job I'd had for 5 years because it hurt less to choose to isolate than be pushed away. That's not meant to sound like self pity. On the contrary it was necessary for me to protect myself from getting hurt by more people. The only relief I've had was a brief visit to another part of the country. I didn't want to come back here. I know I have an issue with associations. And depression. Of course, OCD doesn't help. While grief and loss themselves are normal, catching things like these intrusive thoughts and not engaging with them is another challenge altogether. Do you do any writing or creative pursuits? I've written more stuff in the last 16 months than I probably ever have. Even yesterday I finished off something I had started writing before. My therapist says it's a good thing to do. I even read him what I'd written on the bus going to my last appointment with him.
  9. Sorry bruces. Yeah, I can understand that. I avoided the Halloween events this weekend because I didn't want to risk running into her. Actually, I avoid a lot of things, which probably isn't good.
  10. Thanks gingerbreadgirl. I've since been to my therapist and he said the same. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain it. He also said my reaction to the breakup is something other than OCD, but that my obsession prone brain is going to make it last longer if I'm not careful. He was talking to me about other conditions that are manifesting as a result. It's a bit of a mess, but getting the picture together will hopefully help.
  11. I suppose I should have stayed on topic about intrusive thoughts.
  12. PaulM

    Normal break up or ocd?

    Timing. I just posted something about intrusive thoughts vs ruminations. I'm having a terrible time with this as well.
  13. I was wondering if anyone has intrusive thoughts that are a bit like ruminations. I had a girlfriend that dumped me 16 months ago. It's been a downward spiral since. I try to start my day with a clear head, but that lasts about 3 seconds before upsetting thoughts show up regarding the experience and the hurt. I don't want to have these thoughts. It's like being haunted. Actually, it is pretty much haunting me. I don't know what to do anymore. I can catch myself going down that path and try to refocus. But every day for the last 16 months it just persists. I've been told things like "time heals all wounds" but I don't believe that at the moment. Time might habituate me to missing her. But what happened, how it happened, and the things that happened for a few months after keep coming back. Is this OCD? Or something else?
  14. PaulM

    can we discuss meds

    Yes, agreed. I had many years of citalopram and later escitalopram at various doses and I spent the whole time wondering what they were supposed to do. Aside from some side effects they had little impact. I gave up on them and went med free for a few years. In my case it didn't go very well. The, reluctantly, I started taking fluoxetine and it has been life altering. Even in spite of my own skepticism it had been a huge benefit. So, as PolarBear says, what works for one person may not for another. The positive side of that is there are several options, so don't give up like I did.
  15. Hi BigDave. No real advice but I wanted to post that you're not alone. I had a job at a place that was quite disgusting in my mind - pretty much every trigger I have on a daily basis regarding contamination, and - to make matters worse - my cubicle was right by the toilets. Unfortunately it was all too easy to hear the activities within (I swear the door worked like a speaker) and I'd know every moment it was being used and hand washing was a very infrequent activity. One individual (credit to his regularity) would need to plunge the toilet (again, I could hear it all) after his visit each day and never once did I hear him wash his hands after. It was nasty. And that's not including other habits that would probably not be suitable for dinner table conversation. Like you, I felt trapped. I still do at times. As an obsession "disgust" seems to be one of the toughest to navigate. Throw in responsibility and protecting my loved ones from this filth that, in my mind at least, exists. But it's getting better. I've nearly made it through my apartment and organized things. I left that job almost 7 years ago but was caught in the trap of "what if" I contaminated things at home after work. Much to my skepticism, a combination and a very gradual approach to CBT (working on the cognitive side of things first helped me) actually has given me my life back. The right help was key. So was patience with myself.
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