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saddaniels

Uncertain about how to be uncertain & recovery is becoming confusing

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Today I got an intrusive thought that my car radio system was not on "just right" settings.

Quickly, I recognized it as OCD and said to myself "Maybe the settings aren't 'just right', maybe they are. Whatever, I don't care. I'm going to move on."

Well, that only lasted for about 5 seconds. My mind quickly told me that because I said to myself "Maybe the settings are right how I want them, maybe they aren't" that I was performing a compulsion. That I'm not accepting uncertainty the correct way. Because I included the bit about maybe the settings are right how I want them, this was reassurance & I need to expose myself to settings being a little off, even though them being a little off causes hardly any anxiety. '

I don't get it. Am I supposed to expose myself to settings being a little off each time I get an intrusive thought that I need to correct my settings/they aren't perfect enough. Or is it okay to say to myself "maybe the settings aren't 'just right' & maybe they are."

What should I tell myself when OCD throws an intrusive thought my way that something needs to be perfect? What phrase should I come back with to accept uncertainty in this situation without the need to do exposures?

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4 hours ago, saddaniels said:

Today I got an intrusive thought that my car radio system was not on "just right" settings.

Quickly, I recognized it as OCD and said to myself "Maybe the settings aren't 'just right', maybe they are. Whatever, I don't care. I'm going to move on."

Well, that only lasted for about 5 seconds. My mind quickly told me that because I said to myself "Maybe the settings are right how I want them, maybe they aren't" that I was performing a compulsion. That I'm not accepting uncertainty the correct way. Because I included the bit about maybe the settings are right how I want them, this was reassurance & I need to expose myself to settings being a little off, even though them being a little off causes hardly any anxiety. '

I don't get it. Am I supposed to expose myself to settings being a little off each time I get an intrusive thought that I need to correct my settings/they aren't perfect enough. Or is it okay to say to myself "maybe the settings aren't 'just right' & maybe they are."

What should I tell myself when OCD throws an intrusive thought my way that something needs to be perfect? What phrase should I come back with to accept uncertainty in this situation without the need to do exposures?

Just think maybe, maybe not and gently ease your thinking away. 

No need to engage in anything else. 

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15 hours ago, saddaniels said:

What should I tell myself when OCD throws an intrusive thought my way that something needs to be perfect? What phrase should I come back with to accept uncertainty in this situation without the need to do exposures?

Instead of having a phrase to say, just recognise it's an OCD thought and ignore it.

And if further thoughts occur that suggest you need to be doing exposures or worry you've done a compulsion, ignore those too. 

You don't need to 'say' anything, or do anything.

Just accept it's OCD and ignore ALL thoughts related to perfection or getting it right.  

If they persist, keep ignoring them, and resist the urge to do or say anything. Just carry on as though the thought had never been there. 

 

 

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Thanks. I'm tired of doing compulsions around my therapy & how to do it "just right". You think by now I would've caught on to the lies that there is a "right" way to do therapy, but the idea has not gotten old to OCD yet.

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Really, I'd like to just work on response prevention without exposures, but then my mind quickly jumps into its hellish ruminative state about how if I were just to work on ritual prevention, that I'm cheating myself by not doing exposures & habituating to my feared consequence that is feeding the compulsions.

Edited by saddaniels

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After all the talking we've done over this subject I think you know what to do, saddaniels. Although your initial intrusive thought may have been about the radio settings, it quickly morphs into intrusive thoughts that you're not doing therapy correctly. That last one is what you need to work on. You do nothing. You were right in your initial post. When you got the intrusive thought that the settings may not be right, you thought "maybe they are, maybe they're not" then left the thought alone. That was exactly the right thing to do. Then you got the intrusive thought that you needed to do an exposure and what not and that's when you need to clamp down and say, "I'm not dealing with this right now," and leave it alone, regardless how much OCD screams at you that you're screwing up.

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Its extremely hard because technically, for an exposure, I'm supposed to do what causes discomfort, without causing any "harm" & then habituate to it. My ERP therapists would ask me to sit with the anxiety of wrong settings if it made me anxious. They would ask me to sit with burning a CD on settings I didn't prefer if it made me anxious & then habituate to those settings, after the CD was burned. All I want to do, is try not to do compulsions. I'd like to resist checking the radio settings & leave it at that. I'd like to take one look at the CD burning settings & then burn this disc with the uncertainty that I may or may not have selected the settings I didn't prefer. 

BUT, you do exposures to make yourself anxious, so technically exposing yourself to wrong settings would be the right thing to do. Other people do it for exposures, why would I not?

Its a mess & I truly believe its my fault for not doing these exposures. I feel worthless & its getting to the point where I feel like a failure for not doing these exposures. Its getting to the point where I truly cannot take my own self-loathing for not being able to do what the therapists ask when it comes to exposures.

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And I know the advice you guys have given me & it sounds a lot more reasonable that when I get an intrusive thought, to resist the compulsions, NOT to do an exposure. It just doesn't add up because I can't take the risk that I'm doing something wrong. Therapists have patients mess up their settings. Its a thing & they do it for exposures. I keep bouncing back and forth between "no, i don't need to do an exposures just resist compulsions" but " yes, I do need to do an exposure because what is ERP without exposures?".What is ERP without habituating to your feared outcome, like wrong settings/things you don't like?

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42 minutes ago, saddaniels said:

Its extremely hard because technically, for an exposure, I'm supposed to do what causes discomfort, without causing any "harm" & then habituate to it. My ERP therapists would ask me to sit with the anxiety of wrong settings if it made me anxious. They would ask me to sit with burning a CD on settings I didn't prefer if it made me anxious & then habituate to those settings, after the CD was burned. All I want to do, is try not to do compulsions. I'd like to resist checking the radio settings & leave it at that. I'd like to take one look at the CD burning settings & then burn this disc with the uncertainty that I may or may not have selected the settings I didn't prefer. 

BUT, you do exposures to make yourself anxious, so technically exposing yourself to wrong settings would be the right thing to do. Other people do it for exposures, why would I not?

Its a mess & I truly believe its my fault for not doing these exposures. I feel worthless & its getting to the point where I feel like a failure for not doing these exposures. Its getting to the point where I truly cannot take my own self-loathing for not being able to do what the therapists ask when it comes to exposures.

I still maintain that you are mixing up what your therapists said. I also maintain that you are trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Your OCD right now, the theme that you are having problems with, is how to do therapy properly, not the settings of things. I don't know how many times I can say this same thing.

You have this belief that if it causes you anxiety, you should expose yourself to that thing. That's nuts. I brought up before, if wiping your butt with the wrong hand would cause you anxiety, why don't you then wipe your butt with your wrong hand? I mean that's what you're talking about. How far do you go? Soon enough you'd be living a life with everything backwards and set wrong. That's no life. That's not what CBT is all about.

You are getting intrusive thoughts that you need to expose yourself to some crazy things. In response you are doing compulsions: the biggest one being ruminating. This is your problem and it has happened over and over again. Stop the insanity. Do NOT expose yourself to anything to do with settings and work hard to stop that ruminating. That's what you need to work on. Do you understand?

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43 minutes ago, saddaniels said:

And I know the advice you guys have given me & it sounds a lot more reasonable that when I get an intrusive thought, to resist the compulsions, NOT to do an exposure. It just doesn't add up because I can't take the risk that I'm doing something wrong. Therapists have patients mess up their settings. Its a thing & they do it for exposures. I keep bouncing back and forth between "no, i don't need to do an exposures just resist compulsions" but " yes, I do need to do an exposure because what is ERP without exposures?".What is ERP without habituating to your feared outcome, like wrong settings/things you don't like?

Because it makes no sense for you to live your life with everything around you set wrong. Plus, as I noted above, this isn't what your OCD is honing in on anyway. You have OCD about how to recover from OCD. That's your theme. That's what you need to work on.

 

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1 hour ago, PolarBear said:

Do NOT expose yourself to anything to do with settings and work hard to stop that ruminating. That's what you need to work on. Do you understand?

My therapists had me expose myself to wrong settings until I didn't care anymore. Honestly, I don't fully understand. If the therapists say to habituate to wrong settings, there must be a reason for doing so. The matter of the fact is, I can't habituate to wrong settings. I find it miserable to habituate to settings I don't prefer. To sum it up, I still believe there is something wrong with me because if the therapists say to do it & I can't habituate fully to settings I don't like, then something is wrong with me. I hear what you are saying PolarBear, I just can't get out of this hole. I've tried to not care about if I'm doing the therapy right or wrong, but the truth is, I care ALOT. I care so much about not doing the therapy wrong, that i'm willing to risk my health for it, hence the horrible state of anxiety i'm in right now.

This intense treatment I had for my OCD has royally screwed me over. I feel like the whole six months I was in the residential treatment program, I did everything wrong. This is awful. I want to go back to how I was before I ever went into treatment, before I ever learned anything about exposures. This is awful. Therapy should not induce this much pain. I should not be contemplating whether I want to live much longer because I may be doing my therapy wrong/I'm a failure for not habituating/I'm not trying hard enough. This is my lowest of all lows that I've ever experienced with OCD. I don't feel like there is much hope left.

Edited by saddaniels

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Of course you're not going to habituate to the wrong settings on a TV or radio. Who would? But again, your OCD right now is not about settings in things. It's about trying to do therapy perfectly and on doing exposures when they aren't necessary. 

Exposures are only one part of ERP. The other part is response Prevention, which means not doing compulsions. That's where you fall down because you ruminate endlessly.

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But the exposures that I'm not taking in part in at the moment, like screwing with settings/settings things off a little bit. How will I know when I'm actually supposed to use those exposures again, if ever? Why are exposures even used when the primary key to healing from OCD is to accept uncertainty in all aspects. Why do therapists have people expose themselves to faulty settings when accepting uncertainty that the settings may not be 100% perfect is supposedly key. I'm trying to wrap my head around why exposures are used at all, basically.

Because if someone is exposed to settings being off some, well then, those settings are certainly off. You've taken uncertainty out of the picture here. Its no longer "Maybe the settings aren't just right, maybe they are" but instead to "The settings aren't just right." 

Am I making sense? I don't see how uncertainty and exposures connect, at all. And in treatment with OCD, I hear that exposures lead to accepting uncertainty. Call me crazy, but I don't understand.

Edited by saddaniels

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Or maybe putting it this way:

Correct me if i'm wrong & where i'm wrong but this is my reasoning behind where ERP makes zero sense to me.

Exposure: Getting an intrusive thought that my settings aren't just right

Response Prevention: Accepting uncertainty that settings may not be just right/don't engage in compulsive checking

vs.

Exposure: Putting the settings off a bit

Response Prevention: Don't change the settings/habituate to anxiety

 

These two situations are completely different but are used in therapy all the time. Being "confused" by this is an understatement. Its causing wreck havoc. I mean, which one do you use if they are both technically considered ERP around the same issue?

 

Edited by saddaniels

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1 hour ago, saddaniels said:

If the therapists say to habituate to wrong settings, there must be a reason for doing so.

The point is not to habituate to wrong settings, the point is to habituate to not reacting to thoughts.

You have got in to the habit of responding to thoughts with behaviour which calms you, the point is to stop responding to them. It's not about wrong settings. It's not about feeling contaminated by something dirty. It's not about getting comfortable with looking at child porn. It's about ignoring the worrying thought that comes with a spike of anxiety (obsession), and doing nothing in response (compulsion).

Your therapist has told you to expose yourself to wrong settings because they make you uncomfortable, to allow you to learn to control that discomfort, not to constantly live with wrong settings, if right settings had made you uncomfortable, he'd tell you to expose yourself to them. What he's trying to get you to do is to ignore the stuff which worries you irrationally go back to your life and get on with that.

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2 minutes ago, saddaniels said:

Or maybe putting it this way:

Correct me if i'm wrong & where i'm wrong but this is my reasoning behind where ERP makes zero sense to me.

Exposure: Getting an intrusive thought that my settings aren't just right

Response Prevention: Accepting uncertainty that settings may not be just right

vs.

Exposure: Putting the settings off a bit

Response Prevention: Don't change the settings/habituate to anxiety

 

These two situations are completely different

 

I don't see how they are different. If you purposefully put the settings off a bit (your second scenario) would you not then have the intrusive thought (your first scenario)? This would lead to both of your preventions. Both of your preventions are the same thing. Accepting that the settings feel not right is how you habituate, to habituate is to get used to something, so it's accepting it.

The only difference I can see is the origin of the stimulus. In your first scenario you are getting an intrusive thought, or forcing yourself to get one, in the second scenario you are causing one by changing the settings. You are still getting an obsession which you feel you need to compulse to. You are still supposed to ignore it and do nothing.

I don't mean this offensively, but do you understand the mechanism by which OCD works? I think you need to look in to that, see how it works as an abstract concept, then notice that cycle in your life and deal with it in the same way each time regardless of the subject. In simple terms, you worry about something, you feel you have to do something to stop worrying about it. It's not about the subject matter, just stop doing that.

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3 minutes ago, AttemptingToHeal said:

The only difference I can see is the origin of the stimulus. In your first scenario you are getting an intrusive thought, or forcing yourself to get one, in the second scenario you are causing one by changing the settings. You are still getting an obsession which you feel you need to compulse to. You are still supposed to ignore it and do nothing.

The big difference I see is that an involuntary intrusive thought, like in the first scenario, is not a concrete fact. Its just a thought. Same with the response prevention in the first scenario. It may or may not be on the wrong setting. Okay. I can live with this not knowing

In the second scenario the exposure is putting the settings off. The settings are certainly off. Then, I am supposed to not change the settings/habituate to the settings being certainly off.

When I hear the word habituate,I hear "get comfortable with". So the second scenario scares me in that I'm supposed to habituate forever to settings being off

Does this make sense?

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And yes, I acknowledge the content doesn't matter & that OCD operates the same no matter the theme. What scares me is that I'm supposed to habituate to my exposures & the physical acts that come with them, like having settings off from the way I want them/things being backwards/things being messed up. It freaks me out.

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If the two scenarios are supposed to be the same, then perhaps this is where I've gone off the rails. I see them as complete opposites. One has a natural accepting of uncertainty & letting things go, the other is an exposure that doesn't deal with uncertainty, but instead certainty that the settings are actually off & then habituating to them being off.

Edited by saddaniels

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Yes, but what happens when you purposefully set them to off? You get a thought that they're wrong. Whether you're sure they're wrong or just think they might be, you're still worrying about something totally irrelevant that doesn't need to be paid attention to.

1 minute ago, saddaniels said:

And yes, I acknowledge the content doesn't matter & that OCD operates the same no matter the theme. What scares me is that I'm supposed to habituate to my exposures & the physical acts that come with them, like having settings off from the way I want them/things being backwards/things being messed up. It freaks me out.

I think this shows that you don't understand the process. You are not habituating yourself to a physical act. The compulsion you get will probably change over time anyway, I know mine do. If I only felt comfortable taking three steps to get somewhere, then I should take two instead as exposure. But if then I feel that only those two numbers are correct, I need to change the number again. If I think I've done an incorrect number of steps or I know I have, I still ignore that worry and get on with it. I don't go forever constantly taking the same number of steps. I'm not getting comfortable with a specific behaviour, I'm getting comfortable with not caring what the behaviour is.

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I'm not meaning to be rude but I think you're arguing over the precise meaning of the word uncertainty, and you're definitely obsessing about it, it's also not the point, your uncertainty is an obsession in itself. Take another read through what people have said here, it's all the same. You worry about something that doesn't matter, stop that.

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7 minutes ago, AttemptingToHeal said:

Yes, but what happens when you purposefully set them to off? You get a thought that they're wrong.

I don't get a thought that they're wrong. They are wrong. When you purposefully set it off, its off. No doubt about that. Its way different than getting a thought that something may be wrong and saying "Okay, it may or may not be, whatever. I'm not in control of that" What you are in control of is setting the TV purposefully off for an exposure & then habituating to the fact that your TV is actually off. Is the setting detrimental to my TV viewing experience? No. But that isn't the point I'm trying to make. 

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I feel so stupid & I'm afraid no one is going to understand my point of view. You are saying they are the same because its the thought you habituate to, not the action. But why would a therapist say "I want you sit here with this setting being certainly off & habituate" They obviously want you to habituate to the action, not the thought. This goes over my head because why can't I just accept that my TV may or may not be on perfect settings, and then decide not to engage in compulsive behavior by taking a "so what" approach. The exposure of actually, physically setting your TV off & then habituating to it makes zero sense to me. Its not the same as habituating to a thought. But you are saying the whole purpose is to habituate to a thought, not an action?

Edited by saddaniels

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