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!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The 100 On My Hierarchy Scale of Fears

My psychologist constantly reminds me that she is a scientist and that she only deals in scientific fact, not assumptions created in OCD land. Let’s just say that my land has lots of assumptions a/k/a cognitive distortions. One of my big cognitive distortions is that others will look at me and think I’m a disgusting, gross pig who deserves to be unloved and rejected. I think that may be one of the reasons I struggle with contamination issues. I don’t want to be dirty and gross.

Well something truly terrible and disgusting happened to my house last year and I’m afraid it reflects on me. It’s so gross I try not to think about it. My doctor wanted me to write about this a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been afraid to. I'm finally going to do it.

Last year we had mice. Not just a few mice. I mean, a whole disgusting infestation. They were only in the walls, with the exception of our finished basement. I could hear them in the walls every night. It literally almost drove me insane. (I am not exaggerating here.) We had the problem treated. Unfortunately, we had such a bad problem we had to have them re-treated. Finally, that took care of the problem. Then another problem arose. Many of them died. IN. THE. WALLS. The smell was horrible for about eight weeks. Yes, count ‘em, eight. The mouse people told me there was literally nothing we could do, short of tearing down our walls. I was so grossed out that I practically lived in our upstairs bedroom for two months, as I could not smell them in that room.

The big problem I am left with now is what to do with the basement. We have a ceiling in the basement, but there is a small trap door to allow us access to some water pipes, etc. Mouse droppings fell through the gap around the trap door onto the pingpong table underneath, and onto the bookshelf nearby, and onto the rug. We went into the basement to pick up the droppings, but other than that, I have not been down there for almost a year. I want to throw every last thing in that basement away. The ping pong table, the bookshelves, the books, all the furniture, the file cabinet with all our personal papers, all our dvds, you name it. I want to rip up the wall-to-wall carpet and throw it out.

I have literally been avoiding this exposure for ten months. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’ve never been so tormented by one exposure. My doctor wants me to start making some progress on this again. I’m too afraid. I don’t think that room will ever be clean enough, no matter what we do. I also don’t want to expose my husband or myself to any diseases that may be lurking because of droppings or rotting mice in the walls. I am petrified that if people find this out about my house that they will think I am a disgusting pig and will not want to have anything to do with me. I was even ashamed to tell all of my wonderful new blogging friends about it. I just know that if I can get through this, I’m well on my way to recovery. I have to get through this first, though. I'm stuck. I'm scared.


  1. Sunny, First of all, I don't think you're disgusting. The house you live in had mice in it. It would have freaked me out too, but I don't think bad things about you because of it.

    I would feel the same way as you do. In fact, one of the problems I want to work on with the therapist is my cleaning issues, and the way I procrastinate because I don't want to face the anxiety the cleaning brings into play.

    What does your doctor want you to do? What do you think you need to do? Is the goal to go into the basement and clean it? Or to just spend time down there?

    I don't think there's any "right" answer. I don't think you'd be a failure if you hired professionals to come in and totally get rid of any droppings in the ceiling and sanitize the area.

    Would it perhaps help to focus in on just what you believe you need to do to conquer this fear, whether it's you down there cleaning or someone else? Then you can work on ways to accomplish it.

    I think your recovery can continue while you work on this 100 item. Remember all you've accomplished so far. You don't have to get through this item in one fell swoop. Just take baby steps if that helps. There's no time limit.

    I probably haven't made much sense, but know that I understand and I'll be thinking about you. And write about it any time you feel like it!

    1. Oh Tina, I cannot tell you how comforting your words are! I even had to hold back a tear when reading them. Your words make much sense and actually echo quite a lot of what my doc has been saying. There probably is no "right" answer. I have been debating hiring some professionals to clean and sanitize. I just fear that I will find something wrong with their cleaning. I guess I'm just going to have to tackle this like every other exposure: break it down into little pieces and work from there. Writing about it is the first piece. The anticipatory anxiety is what is killing me here. I so appreciate your willingness to "listen" about this. It does help. You also ask a lot of good questions and I need to re-read them and think about them. Thank you, thank you.

  2. I'm glad you took the step of writing about this! It helps me to start with the first thing I am willing to do, and it doesn't matter how small it seems. Jonathan Grayson's book has some stuff on this I think. I used to have a script I listened to on my ipod that I recorded--that maybe I was a bad person, and maybe people would reject me if they really knew me, but that I really won't ever know for sure, and with the help of my exposure therapist, I was able to stop fleeing from those thoughts and move on.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement!! Good idea, I will have to check Grayson's book out again. So much helpful stuff in there. You're right, I just have to stop fleeing from those thoughts. I hadn't thought about it in that way before, but that's exactly what I'm doing. In fact, I guess I have to go so far as to embrace the thoughts and accept them as a possibility and somehow find a way to go on anyway. Ugh this is hard stuff. But then I guess that's why its a 100 on my hierarchy. Wish I could skip this one.

  3. One of my big triggers is mice, too. Just around the time that the contamination ocd was starting, we went to visit some friends, who just had to tell us about the house they were doing construction work on and it had dead stuff in the walls. Well, i took that to mean mice and i was freaking out in the car on the way home that now we- maybe- got some of the mouse droppings accidently on ourselves just by being at their house the same day as they came home from this trip. In my ocd mind the car was full of mouse droppings, we had to shower when we got home, now the living room carpet was full of mouse droppings. It was horrible- and that was just from 'what if'.

    Fast forward a year or so. We moved into a semi in a new city. Next door is a shed with tons of kids toys in it outside. Well i start creating this story to myself about how there could be mice in the shed, and maybe on the kids' toys, so maybe at the school where they go and that was the same school i took my baby too for mom & tot activities in the gym so maybe that was all contaminated now.

    Fast forward another year. We move out of the semi into a single house. It looked all nice and prestine. So i go in thinking the kitchen cupboards just need a wiping to get any food dirt out that is still there. Well in the middle of it i found mouse droppings that they'd not bothered to clean up, under the kitchen sink, in the drawers. And the mouse killing stuff was also still there. I freaked and started taking all the drawers out and throwing them in plastic garbage bags and pitching them on the front lawn. We were getting a new kitchen. So the debt from that freak-out we are still paying off. (i like my new kitchen, tho :)

    and because the droppings were in the kitchen i imagined these people eating breakfast, then going to their mail box and getting the mail and now the mail box was dirty and so was the key and so was any mail that came to that box. I wouldn't touch the letters for maybe 6+ months or more and hubby had to take them to work and tell me what the bills said so i could pay them. That was my first erp i did (and the only one for a while). So now his office was contaminated too. But that was before my blog started, so that whole story is still in my journal waiting to be posted.

    And that was just my dealings with the mouse stuff and my imagination.

  4. cont. from above (too long)
    The first 2 houses we lived in also had mice. Once because we moved it from the country to a vacant lot in th e city and we think we brot them with us. Tried to get rid of them 'humanely' by catching them. (I was young and naive then.) Still more mice. Tried killing them and hubby getting rid of the mouse remains cause no way was i going to do that! That did it for a little while. Then they came back. thru the garage weatherstripping. They made a nest in a box in the basement. Got a professional in. End of problem. Had to clean up the mess tho.

    years later we moved to another house that hadn't been lived in for a year. Mice were in the garage. Got the professionals in right away this time. I helped hubby clean the garage out and get rid of all the mice droppings. Next year, before i had a chance to clean out the garage again and check to make sure no mice had come back, i was pregnant. After the baby ocd hit. So as far as i was concerned anything in the garage was 'contaminated' on the off-chance there was more mouse poop still in there. Hubby says there was none, but lots of stuff got thrown or given away thanks to that.

    So i quite understand your reluctance to want to do anything down in your basement.

    As for mice showing up in the first place, i understand that they can squish themselves thru a hole the size of a dime. So if you have a crack, or area where caulking came out or weatherstripping that they could chew on mice could get in. It's not your fault! Glad you managed to kill them all.

    My husband wants to go do something with the electrical in the basement roof under the kitchen. i don't want him to in case there are mouse droppings in the ceiling and they drop thru to my uncontaminated floor.

    As far as i know, mice aren't dirty themselves. it's just the droppings. So while you may want to clean stuff, unless there are droppings there, the stuff doesn't have to be disinfected. Clean up the mouse droppings, wash area with disinfectant,let the disinfectant sit for 10 or so min. and then reclean those areas again to get the disinfectant off. then rince. Yukky work, i know. I like the suggestion of a professional doing it, but then i may not trust the professionals to do a good enuf job.

    (((HUGS))) i understand how awful you must feel about having this problem.

    1. Hi Karin. WOW. You sure had a lot of run-ins with mice! While I'm very sorry you had to go through this, I at least appreciate that I'm not the only one - although it seems like you had it even worse! It is crazy how OCD builds on itself. One little thing is contaminated, then the thing that touched it is, then the next thing . . . it's exhausting trying to remember it all. I've spent a lot of $$ throwing stuff out. I really hate when I do that. I feel so wasteful, yet sometimes I see no alternative. Thank you for being so understanding and kind and thanks for the hugs. I will definitely take those!

  5. Sunny,


    I am so glad to know you through blogging.


    1. I'm glad to know you too Elizabeth. Thanks for the hugs! : )

  6. well it's sure a great ERP isn't it? :) As for the mice. I'm not sure I know anyone who hasn't encountered them at some point.

    I once stored a fridge in my garage over the winter- unfortunately with some popcorn kernels still in it. Ooh mice moved right in!

    But eventually I scoured the heck out of that fridge and gave it to my mom. And I ate food that came out of it for years!

    So you're sure not gross- but it sounds really unpleasant!

  7. Hi Ann. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever lived anywhere that had mice (that I know of). Maybe that's why I'm so creeped out about it. Wow, I never knew that mice were into popcorn. It just doesn't seem like mouse food to me. You're right about it being great ERP. Sooner or later, those ERPs will find you, even if you try not to do them. That was very brave of you to eat out of that fridge. I'll have to remember that when I try to tackle the basement. Thanks for your support! It helps.

  8. Most of the houses I've lived in throughout my life have had evidence of mice.........and more than once we have had animals die in the walls.....very smelly, as you say! But none of this is a reflection on you in any way, shape or form.
    As you say in one of your comments, it is the "anticipatory anxiety" that is killing you. My last blog post was on something you probably already know...........the anticipation is usually much worse than the actual event......you can handle this ERP!

    Oh, and if mice continue to be a problem, how about getting a cat?

    1. Hi Janet. OK, now I'm finally starting to be convinced that I'm not the only one with this problem. Wow, so that happened to you more than once?! That's tough. Thanks so much for commenting. I guess my doc was right (as usual). She told me to write about it and she said to see the reactions of other people and that it would prove that it wasn't a reflection on me. I didn't really believe her which is why I put off writing about this for over 2 weeks. I keep thinking that what I feel is equivalent to what is true. One of these days I'll get it thru my thick head. Ugh.

      I actually do have a beautiful, extra fluffy, Ragamuffin cat. She's a fabulous pet but obviously a terrible mouser!