Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Something Important To Know

Seeking CBT for the treatment of my OCD was one of the very best decisions of my life. I highly encourage anyone with any type of anxiety disorder to consider CBT, using ERP (see tab titled "Helpful Acronyms" above). It is very frightening to undergo this type of therapy, therefore it takes tremendous courage to pursue this treatment. I happened to read One Anxious Gal's blog today and she mentions starting CBT. I'm really excited for her. However, this also got me thinking. There is something about CBT that really needs to be stressed. It takes time to feel better. I have to repeat this. It takes time to feel better.

When I first began CBT and started fighting the compulsions successfully, I was incredibly frustrated by the fact that I didn't actually feel better. I mean here I was, touching things that I considered dirty and not washing my hands afterwards, and yet I still didn't feel any better. I started to wonder if there was any point to CBT if I still felt awful even though I did the homework. This has probably been the most difficult part of treatment for me. I did eventually start to feel better, but it took time. I can't tell you how many times I had to touch the door to the bathroom at my church before it stopped bothering me. It was weeks, maybe months. Now, I can touch the door and I may get a slight obsessive thought sometimes, but it is of no real consequence. My psychologist explained to me that my own experience confirms scientific research that found that it can take quite a while of doing exposures before the feelings improve and the obsessions diminish. She says that there is often a lag time before experiencing improved feelings following the performance of ERPs.

If you are doing CBT and ERP, please, please don't give up if you don't feel better right away. It will come. I have also found that the more experience I have with this therapy in general, the faster my anxiety goes away with other new ERPs. It seems I have begun to retrain my brain. Hang in there. Every time you successfully complete an exposure, you are slowly retraining your brain too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I sincerely hope that you are able to find some peace and cheer during this Christmas in spite of OCD, panic disorder, GAD, anxiety, depression, or any of the other illnesses that many of us live with. I will pray for you (and me) that we can experience some of that "Joy to the World"! I do believe, that in spite of everything, I have so very many reasons to be thankful and glad. For me, the biggest one is Jesus. God Bless You!
  
For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Isaiah 9:6 NIV

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Contaminated Christmas Cards

I'm sending out Christmas cards tomorrow. Better late than never I guess. The problem is that I was worried about making the cards dirty because I think I am dirty. I worry I will make others sick. My husband said I should send them anyway, that it was just OCD. They are now all filled out and ready to be mailed tomorrow. If any of my friends or family are reading this - I hope you enjoy contaminated Christmas cards! I wonder how many of the cards that are sent to me are contaminated . . . hmmmm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

1 Step Forward, 2 (or 3) Steps Back

Sometimes I become disappointed with my progress in recovery from OCD, GAD, and CSP (see helpful acronyms above). It is very easy to forget the improvements I've made thus far. This is especially true on days like today, when I've performed extra compulsions in response to some obsessions. What is worse is that these obsessions are ones that had not bothered me as much recently. Just when you think you may have defeated the power of a certain obsession, bam! The next thing you know, it's whispering in your ear and demanding attention again.

A few months back I whined to my psychologist about my seeming inability to have greater success with my anxiety. She suggested that I write a list of all the things that I had conquered since I began CBT. Once I wrote the list I was honestly amazed at what I had done so far. I still feel like there are a million more compulsions to overcome. I also get really impatient with myself when I've gone backwards. It is during these times of seeming backwards motion that my doctor will draw two different graphs on a piece of paper for me.

This first graph shows the trajectory that patients want to be on: a solid (and quick) straight line with no slip-ups toward full recovery.
This second graph shows the trajectory of recovery that is based on reality. Sometimes it is one or two steps forward and one or two or even three steps back, but overall, the entire line goes up towards recovery.
Recovery takes time. Most of us probably did not get ill all at once (at least I didn't), so unfortunately, we won't recover all at once. It's not a clear path to the summit either. Because there is no perfection in life, there will be no perfection in recovery. Now that's a bummer! We need to keep reminding each other of that. We also need to celebrate our daily triumphs because each little victory adds to our uphill direction. So hang in there, we're on our way to the top!