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What if a particular action is both a possible compulsion AND a possible trigger you want to avoid?

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Sometimes compulsions themselves are triggers for me, so I do another compulsion in order to relieve the doubt-- even though it's a trigger.  But what if the action is possibly what a normal person would do in a unique situation? In other words, you're not sure if the action is a compulsion.  It may be an action you do compulsively, but maybe this time it is rational. So maybe you should do it just to be sure, but then you really don't want to because you know it would just trigger you, and start a never-ending cycle. 

What should you do in this situation? You have 2 options: 

1) You could not do the action, thereby avoiding the trigger, and move on.

2) Do the action even though it's possibly compuslive AND it's a possible OCD trigger.

If that's confusing, let me give you a very graphic example (sorry about this). 



This morning I had a lot of cramping, gas, and out-of-the-ordinary bowel movements.  It wasn't quite diarhea or constipation, but it wasn't normal.  I was on the toilet for a long time to make sure I was done.

I was taking the morning shower and felt a particular feeling that I feel a few times a week.  I'll try to describe it.  It is when there is irritation in the bowels and anus, almost like you might need to go again.  This is usually followed by body tension, and it goes away.  Seconds later, you feel normal.  

When I feel that feeling I sometimes wonder, "Did I just **** myself? Is that why that irritated feeling went away?"

So, I am in the shower , and I feel that feeling.  Nothing too out of the ordinary. As always I think, "Did I just suddenly take a ****?"  The compulsion I usually do is ruminating.  Sometimes I will physically check, but I try not to do this one because it is a trigger in itself-- one of those things that would start that compulsive cycle.

I consider going to the toilet to check, but I had a two reasons not to.  1) I often feel this and it turns out to be nothing. I often experience GI discomfort, and I am sensitive down there due to too much wiping.  2) Checking would involve irritating the anus even move, psych me out, and trigger my OCD. 

I wanted to move on with my day, so I did nothing.  But should I have done something? On one hand, I avoided a trigger (avoidance), but on the other hand I chose not to do something that was likely a compulsion.

So in this situation, or situations like this-- where you avoid an action (a possible trigger) because it is probably a compulsion, but you're not sure-- what should you do?

1) Not do the action (the trigger) in order to avoid triggering you and causing more compulsions.

2) Risk the trigger in order to relieve the doubt, because it may be a vailid response.

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You did the right thing by doing no checking either on the toilet or in the shower. The irritation most likely is due to wiping too hard and too often.

When the thoughts appear, think 'maybe I have soiled myself, maybe I havent' and do not physically check or monitor for feelings of having soiled yourself or not. Just allow the irritated feeling to be there and allow the questions to be there but don't bother answering them. 

So go with option 1


Edited by Orwell1984

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On 11/02/2019 at 06:41, ineedahug said:

This morning I had a lot of cramping, gas, and out-of-the-ordinary bowel movements.  It wasn't quite diarhea or constipation, but it wasn't normal.  I was on the toilet for a long time to make sure I was done.

Have you been diagnosed with any GI conditions?  I became lactose intolerant about 10 years ago and what you are describing sounds EXACTLY like what happens to me if i have too much dairy and/or forget to take my lactase enzyme pills if i know i'm eating dairy.  

Since lactose intolerance is one of the more common causes of this kind of issue you could start with that even before you see your doctor.  The simplest approach is to wake up on a morning where you don't have to be anywhere and drink a big ol glass of milk and don't eat or drink anything else for awhile.  If you have a reaction in a relatively short time you'll know that its probably lactose thats your issue.  If not its probably not lactose, but it might be and you should then follow up with your doctor.  You can also try an elimination diet (your doctor might recommend this) where you remove dairy as much as possible and see if your symptoms ease/go away.  Then you reintroduce dairy and see if it comes back.  The tricky part is dairy can be in a lot of products without our realizing it so you'll have to do a little sleuthing by looking at labels.  One particularly tricky thing to look out for?  Whey, which is a dairy byproduct leftover from making cheese.  That stuff is PACKED with lactose (cheese meanwhile tends to have less lactose, especially the harder and/or more aged it is.  Cream cheese? lots.  Aged cheddar? hardly any.

If lactose isn't your problem it might be other food items (nuts also cause me some trouble if i have too many) or possibly irritable bowel syndrome (which can be managed through diet and/or medication).

Addressing your GI issues would help you have to wipe less, which would reduce irritation and potentially other problems.

Aside from that:

On 11/02/2019 at 06:41, ineedahug said:

When I feel that feeling I sometimes wonder, "Did I just **** myself? Is that why that irritated feeling went away?"

Yeah i've had this feeling too, also sometimes after passing gas it can feel like maybe there was a little something 'extra'.  
Here, as in any situation, whether or not checking is compulsive or just reasonable depends on a few factors.  How often this happens, and how much checking you do when it happens.  If it only happens occasionally, and you only check once when it does, then you are fine.  If its happening multiple times a day and/or you are checking multiple times after each incident "just to be sure", then that would be an issue.  

If you are in a position to pop in to the bathroom/loo to do a quick spot check and then can get on with your day, thats probably not an issue SO LONG as its not something you are doing multiple times a day.  Plus, when you check you can do so without further irritating yourself.  Rather than wiping for example, take a little toilet paper and simple pat/dab the area.  If there is anything worth cleaning up you'll notice on the paper.  Meanwhile, if you really want to treat your rear, you could always look in to getting a toilet with built in shower function.  They are VERY common over here in Japan and are wonderful!  Not only are they easier on the ol hind end, but they are less wasteful since you use much less TP.  A nice splurge if you can afford it, they replace your normal toilet seat, involve little as far as extra plumbing work required.

But again, definitely try and figure out whats causing the GI issues in the first place.  Generally thats a very addressable area to solve!

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No need to check.

If these problems happen in the shower, it doesn't matter, you're showering and will wash things away. If it happens significantly at other times you will become aware, you'll feel it, notice odours or notice that your underwear is frequently  badly soiled.  Bear in mind though, everone's underwear gets soiled, it'just not a topic people discuss openly.....but that is why it was invented, to protect outer clothing from being affected from urine, faeces, blood, semen etc.  It would need to be frequent and excessive to constitute a problem.

GI problems are common with anxiety conditions but as Dksea suggests, maybe check it out if it's excessive or problematic.

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