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BigDave

I'm not sure I can do this

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Hi everyone,

I am in a pretty bad place at the moment. To be honest, I don't know what to do. The thing is I feel like I've been in this position now for quite some time and the problem is that I just don't know how to make progress. I've tried doing a lot of the things that were suggested of me including the hierarchy of things which made a lot of sense but I found myself getting stuck on the hard things and finding it near impossible to move forward on them. Right now, I feel like I am never going to grotto any further than where I am at now and that is definitely feeling my depression a million percent. I genuinely do not know what to do.

I'll give you just one example:

I bought a new electronic device the other day and I opened it up and there was a tiny (and I mean tiny) hairline scratch on it. I probably wouldn't have noticed it but I was obsessing over the fact that I may have somehow damaged it myself or whatever and then under direct light, I spot this tiny scratch (to be honest, it's not even a scratch, it's like a scratch but it's probably just something that's happened during the paint job. Anyway, I kind of went into a spiral. And honestly, I called the company, they said if you want, you could get it replaced (though obviously with these things, there is no guarantee that a new one is going to be "perfect" or that there aren't going to be other problems etc. My Dad and my therapist both said that if they are insignificant (my Dad even looked at it), then it's not worth going through the hassle/trauma/risk of sending it back when you could possibly in all likelihood get one exactly the same back.  To quote techradar, these devices scratch and scuff easily. Anyway, in the end, I decided to keep it but you can tell from the process of everything that I've done, researching it online, what is the likelihood of it scratching, calling the company, asking people for opinions, that OCD is fully in control here. And even now, I ma not completely happy with the outcome. I am slightly obsessing over the fact that I paid quite a bit for this to come back with an imperfection but also, the device is working perfectly and I can't even see said imperfection unless I unplug it, move it around, get a torch on it or very bright sunlight and look hard for it. But it's a nightmare.

 

This is just one example. Another example is today, I watched a 3D movie. And in what would have/should have been an enjoyable 1 and a half hours turned into about 3 hours because of pausing to wipe things/wash my hands etc etc because I was uncomfortable over things like maybe my controller was too close to my lap or whatever. 

So what I'm saying is the fact is, I feel like I can't move on from these issues. I can't move on from the urine issue. If I step in urine, I can't just wash my feet. I have to throw my slippers in the wash. I have to have a shower. If I spray myself with my own urine by accident, it's a big deal. After having a shower, I literally can't go to the toilet because I don't want to use toilet paper. And there are a million other things from things such as not wanting to touch anything my brother touches when my hands/I am clean, to walking past the bin. You know all the things that I'm talking about that I have gone over a million times. But honestly, I have tried super hard to move forward with this and I just can't find a way. I'm worried I am not strong enough. I see my therapist again on Tuesday so I get to talk to him about this but we go over the same things, he tells me that I need to do abc and I feel like I just can't. To be honest, I feel like a failure and I feel like I'm letting him, myself and everyone down. I'm just miserable at the moment.

 

Thanks for listening.

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Hey Dave. I think the better OCD therapists are the ones that get you to do the work slowly but steadily, building on small successes so you can tackle bigger issues.

When I read your post above, what I saw was uou doing a constant stream of compulsions. Basically everything you said you did was a compulsion. Are you aware of that?

Goodness knows we've explained that compulsions don't work and actually make your situation worse and cause more obsessions in the future. But do you understand that you are controlled by compulsions and do you realize that much of what you do is compulsions?

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I do realise that a lot of what I said was compulsion. And I do understand that doing the compulsions only make things worse. The problem I’m finding is that I don’t know if I’m strong enough to face off to them. It’s like the scratch. I know that it is minuscule but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to check it which in turn makes me unhappy. I know also that sending it back in no way guarantees that I will receive a perfect one next time. It’s possible, you might argue even probable but like I said, they scratch easy. I should just let it go. But this is the sort of mental argument I have in my mind all the time. It’s tiring as hell and I know it serves no purpose. The problem is not having the strength to acknowledge that pee is not an issue or that nothing is perfectly clean. It seems to defy every gut feeling that I have. Trust me PB when I tell you I know that doing the compulsion is wrong. But it’s so hard. 

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I’ve just been stewing over this for the past 24 hours. I genuinely feel useless. 

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It’s not obviously but you know the problem is that I can’t trust my own judgement. It makes things so arduous. 

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With the scratch there really is no judgment needed. Leave it alone. Let it go. 

Look, you have to slow down and stop your compulsions. It's going to be really hard. But you have to if you want to get past this. At first it will be like pulling teeth. It does get easier over time. 

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Obviously I think we all know that this is hard, very hard, and takes a lot of courage and determination.

However, if you adopt an attitude of acceptance then it really does make the whole thing less painful. Notice the spiel that is going on in your head that is saying “I can’t do this”, “I need to check this”. And respond with “actually I don’t NEED to do anything and I accept however uncomfortable I feel in this moment in pursuit of my long term goal”. Start to notice when a new urge comes along, and say thanks brain but I’m going to go back to what I was doing actually. The urges will come thick and fast at first but will diminish over time.

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So today’s drama is that I was wiping my tv and I may have burped accidentally on the cloth. Then without thinking I continued to wipe the screen.  Now I’m thinking I have gastric juices/food over my screen. 😭

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On 19/11/2020 at 00:01, PolarBear said:

Yup. In other news, a squirrel got a nut.

So I understand you are trying to minimise the deal of it all but the last 48 hours have been absolute hell. I know what you are going to say though. Basically the only way around it is to stop performing my compulsions. But like I said before, I feel like it’s just too hard for me to do. I spent 2 hours washing my hands yesterday. Time I’m never going to get back. It was ridiculous. It was a waste of time. But I felt like everything around me was contaminated. It’s just ridiculous and I’m not after reassurance. I just wish I knew how you guys were so strong. 

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Dave, I didn't go into this strong. I wasn't some anti-compulsion Superman who just squashed my rituals and then beat my chest in triumph.

Some of my compulsions were nearly 40 years old. They were ingrained. I had to try and fail, try and fail, try and win, try and fail... for about 18 months to win the upper hand with OCD.

Every time you hold off a compulsion for a while, you win.

Every time you reduce the length of time you spend doing compulsions, you win.

Every time you skip a compulsion altogether, you win big.

At first it is maddeningly difficult. Wins are few. But over time it gets easier. You build wins and you build confidence. 

But it's not just delaying, reducing and stopping compulsions. You must start to see the thoughts as the lies they are. That horrendous contamination you so fear doesn't exist. OCD lies, all the time. You have to start calling OCD'S bluff. 

Edited by PolarBear

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Thanks PB. Honestly I’m trying hard. My current thing is panicking that I told someone my date of birth (a close friend) and now I’m worried that I have disclosed something too valuable and that I could be vulnerable to some sort of criminal attack. I know it’s stupid but I’m so worried about it. 

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On 14/11/2020 at 21:43, BigDave said:

Hi everyone,

I am in a pretty bad place at the moment. To be honest, I don't know what to do. The thing is I feel like I've been in this position now for quite some time and the problem is that I just don't know how to make progress. I've tried doing a lot of the things that were suggested of me including the hierarchy of things which made a lot of sense but I found myself getting stuck on the hard things and finding it near impossible to move forward on them. Right now, I feel like I am never going to grotto any further than where I am at now and that is definitely feeling my depression a million percent. I genuinely do not know what to do.

Hi BigDave,

Sorry to read that you are struggling at the moment, but it’s also great to read that you are trying your ERP 😊.

Progress is never a linear straightforward process... it has bumps and plateaus along the way, and that’s fine & all part of recovery :) It sounds like you have come a long way already, and I am sure that with time you will reach your goals :) 

Making a hierarchy is great, but only move up it at a pace that suits you and only move on when the thing you are working on no longer bothers you. I sense that you may be rushing things? 
 

The more difficult things are, well, more difficult, but you learn from the easier things and that helps you along. 
 

You do know what to do... just keep going 😉 

On 14/11/2020 at 21:43, BigDave said:

I bought a new electronic device the other day and I opened it up and there was a tiny (and I mean tiny) hairline scratch on it. I probably wouldn't have noticed it but I was obsessing over the fact that I may have somehow damaged it myself or whatever and then under direct light, I spot this tiny scratch (to be honest, it's not even a scratch, it's like a scratch but it's probably just something that's happened during the paint job. Anyway, I kind of went into a spiral. And honestly, I called the company, they said if you want, you could get it replaced (though obviously with these things, there is no guarantee that a new one is going to be "perfect" or that there aren't going to be other problems etc. My Dad and my therapist both said that if they are insignificant (my Dad even looked at it), then it's not worth going through the hassle/trauma/risk of sending it back when you could possibly in all likelihood get one exactly the same back.  To quote techradar, these devices scratch and scuff easily. Anyway, in the end, I decided to keep it but you can tell from the process of everything that I've done, researching it online, what is the likelihood of it scratching, calling the company, asking people for opinions, that OCD is fully in control here. And even now, I ma not completely happy with the outcome. I am slightly obsessing over the fact that I paid quite a bit for this to come back with an imperfection but also, the device is working perfectly and I can't even see said imperfection unless I unplug it, move it around, get a torch on it or very bright sunlight and look hard for it. But it's a nightmare.

Ok, I think you know what you need to do here... apply the principles of ERP that you have learnt...

maybe try something like deliberately looking at the item and keep your obsessions in mind as you try to resist your compulsions (eg resisting checking for blemishes, ruminating, seeking reassurance from others that it’s okay etc).

keep doing this until it no longer bothers you if the item is perfect or not :)

On 14/11/2020 at 21:43, BigDave said:

This is just one example. Another example is today, I watched a 3D movie. And in what would have/should have been an enjoyable 1 and a half hours turned into about 3 hours because of pausing to wipe things/wash my hands etc etc because I was uncomfortable over things like maybe my controller was too close to my lap or whatever. 

Perhaps you could make yourself a hierarchy just for this situation, for example

Watch movie with controller on lap

watch movie with controller on lap after wiping it

watch movie without washing hands

watch movie and delay washing hands by 5 minutes after touching controller

Watch movie with a tissue on your lap that has been ‘contaminated’ by touching the controller

etc etc etc 

Remember to work up the hierarchy from the easiest to the most difficult :) 

On 14/11/2020 at 21:43, BigDave said:

So what I'm saying is the fact is, I feel like I can't move on from these issues. I can't move on from the urine issue. If I step in urine, I can't just wash my feet. I have to throw my slippers in the wash. I have to have a shower. If I spray myself with my own urine by accident, it's a big deal. After having a shower, I literally can't go to the toilet because I don't want to use toilet paper. And there are a million other things from things such as not wanting to touch anything my brother touches when my hands/I am clean, to walking past the bin. You know all the things that I'm talking about that I have gone over a million times. But honestly, I have tried super hard to move forward with this and I just can't find a way. I'm worried I am not strong enough. I see my therapist again on Tuesday so I get to talk to him about this but we go over the same things, he tells me that I need to do abc and I feel like I just can't. To be honest, I feel like a failure and I feel like I'm letting him, myself and everyone down. I'm just miserable at the moment.

Perhaps make another hierarchy for your ‘urine worries’ and then make up some ERP exercises to practice the thing at the bottom of your hierarchy. 
 

Remember to keep in mind your obsessions and fears as you do your ERP exercises (I’m guessing this would be something like I will be contaminated if urine touches me & this means...).

You are not a failure... remember to think of the things that you have achieved... write them down if it helps :)

You haven’t let anyone down... not if you are trying your best :) 

I think that perhaps one of the problems is that for therapy to really work well, both you and your therapist need to use each other’s expertise and work together to think of suitable ERP exercises, work at your pace etc. It’s no good if your therapist is marching on ahead without you and if you are ‘just doing what you are told to do’ rather than working together... you both need to be engaged with the exercise and mean something to you. It may be something to discuss with your therapist? I’m not having a go at you... more at your therapist! 
 

hope this helps,

catherine 

 

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4 hours ago, Ocd10 said:

Hi BigDave,

Sorry to read that you are struggling at the moment, but it’s also great to read that you are trying your ERP 😊.

Progress is never a linear straightforward process... it has bumps and plateaus along the way, and that’s fine & all part of recovery :) It sounds like you have come a long way already, and I am sure that with time you will reach your goals :) 

Making a hierarchy is great, but only move up it at a pace that suits you and only move on when the thing you are working on no longer bothers you. I sense that you may be rushing things? 
 

The more difficult things are, well, more difficult, but you learn from the easier things and that helps you along. 
 

You do know what to do... just keep going 😉 

Ok, I think you know what you need to do here... apply the principles of ERP that you have learnt...

maybe try something like deliberately looking at the item and keep your obsessions in mind as you try to resist your compulsions (eg resisting checking for blemishes, ruminating, seeking reassurance from others that it’s okay etc).

keep doing this until it no longer bothers you if the item is perfect or not :)

Perhaps you could make yourself a hierarchy just for this situation, for example

Watch movie with controller on lap

watch movie with controller on lap after wiping it

watch movie without washing hands

watch movie and delay washing hands by 5 minutes after touching controller

Watch movie with a tissue on your lap that has been ‘contaminated’ by touching the controller

etc etc etc 

Remember to work up the hierarchy from the easiest to the most difficult :) 

Perhaps make another hierarchy for your ‘urine worries’ and then make up some ERP exercises to practice the thing at the bottom of your hierarchy. 
 

Remember to keep in mind your obsessions and fears as you do your ERP exercises (I’m guessing this would be something like I will be contaminated if urine touches me & this means...).

You are not a failure... remember to think of the things that you have achieved... write them down if it helps :)

You haven’t let anyone down... not if you are trying your best :) 

I think that perhaps one of the problems is that for therapy to really work well, both you and your therapist need to use each other’s expertise and work together to think of suitable ERP exercises, work at your pace etc. It’s no good if your therapist is marching on ahead without you and if you are ‘just doing what you are told to do’ rather than working together... you both need to be engaged with the exercise and mean something to you. It may be something to discuss with your therapist? I’m not having a go at you... more at your therapist! 
 

hope this helps,

catherine 

 

Hi Catherine,

thank you for taking the time to go into all the detail that you have. I really appreciate it and it’s actually made me feel a bit better. So thanks. 
 

The thing I find really tough I guess is that I kind of having a sliding scale of things that freak me out. One would argue that this should make for a perfect hierarchical system but it seems a bit too daunting. 
 

So while not exclusively, one side of my OCD is very clearly contamination OCD. People tell me that this is easy to treat but I don’t know how they make that out. 
 

My contamination fees can be broken down into 

- faeces (probably the worst, I can’t even have something touch the seat of my pants without panicking. Other peoples and animals too). 
- Semen (both my own and the possibility of other peoples). 
- Food waste/general waste (rotting food etc is just horrific)

- Urine (again both my own and other peoples). 
  
In terms of ERP, I think I could possibly get my head around urine. Don’t get me wrong, I find it revolting but it’s sterile and I probably could live with it to some degree. Though for example, I couldn’t put a gadget cloth or something like that on a wet lap because I’d be worried of spreading it around. 
 

Semen at the moment is a particular problem. Last time I saw a psychiatrist, they asked me how often do I “do stuff” and I answered that I tend not to because it makes me feel unclean. He immediately sent me for a prolactin test and was really worried because he said that it was something necessary to do. So I try every now and then but whenever I do, I feel disgusting. I think both on a moral and cleanliness kind of way. I hate the idea of it getting on other things of mine. Indeed, tonight for example I put away my games console controller and it went quite close to my lap and now I’m worried I’ve got semen on all of my controllers. I’m sure you’d argue that it would only be a microscopic amount but even that is too much. 
 

Walking past dustbins or washing baskets is an absolute nightmare. And I literally am terrified every time I have to use the bathroom. Not just because my autistic brother pees all over the place either. I’m afraid that water will bounce off the toilet onto me transferring faeces or something or part of my clothing will touch the toilet. Sometimes, and by that I mean often, I change my clothes whenever I need the loo. 

Like I said, faeces is a particular struggle. I can’t comprehend how people can pull up their trousers or whatever after going for a number too and not contaminate their clothing. I know that toilet paper is supposed to the brunt of the punishment but I’m not a perfect person and I know that there might be, no matter how small, faeces on my hand. So then you pull your pants up and you get stuff on them. You then sit on a chair and you get it on that. And so on and so on. You spread it around. 
I realise that there is no easy fix to these things but accepting they aren’t as revolting as they are seems like a hard ask. Especially for some of them. 

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It’s actually amazing at the variety of things I’ve been freaking out over today. I’m doing my best to steady the ship but it’s not easy. Hope everyone is doing ok. 

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Jeez man. I actually think I can cope with feces better than I can cope with semen. I don’t know how people go about with this idea that it is anything but revolting. It’s actually making me feel like I want to hurl. 

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