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!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fighting Hit and Run OCD

Hit and Run OCD continues to be a little bit of a struggle for me. Just the other night, I was a passenger in my husband's car. I was turned sideways, talking to him, when we drove over a bump. I was very upset by this, even though he assured me it was a just a sewer cover. I wanted him to drive back to double check, but, being the helpful, non-enabling husband that he is, he said no. I had to remind myself that he was the driver and that it was his responsibility, not mine. We arrived home, and soon enough, I forgot all about it. Well, maybe I didn't totally forget about it, as I'm writing about it now! I did, however, lose the anxiety associated with it.

I know lots of other people struggle with this too, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few suggestions for fighting Hit and Run OCD.

It's really important to try to not give in to the compulsions that tend to accompany Hit and Run obsessions (the bad, scary thoughts). I'm not always successful with this, but every day is another chance to work on it. Probably the most important compulsion to fight is the urge to avoid driving altogether. Once I started avoiding driving, the obsessions about driving got worse.

If you have lots of trouble driving, it may be helpful to start out driving with someone in the passenger seat. After you get comfortable with that, you could proceed to driving on your own. You can also approach driving in stages. Perhaps you are afraid of driving on the highway. You could start driving on a really busy local street first. Once you get comfortable with that, you could get on the highway and then get off at the next exit. Once you've done that enough to be comfortable, you could then get on the highway and stay on for two exits, and so on. It might take you several days or even several weeks or longer to conquer all the different stages you have set up for battling a particular fear. That is ok. There is no time limit on getting better. You will even have some days that feel like you've gone backwards. That's ok too. Just keep trying to move forward.

You can be creative as to how you face your fears. My doctor was really helpful in giving me out-of-the-box ideas. She even suggested that if I had a troubling incident while driving, that I should pull over as soon as I safely could, and then fill out a Thought Record to help me fight my cognitive distortions. Perhaps you could talk about your obsessions with someone else and they could help you to come up with different, small ways to approach what you are afraid of. Just be sure to break it down into little pieces that are reasonable. Each time you are successful with a small piece, it will give you the encouragement and motivation you need to move on.

If you've had any victories, I would love to hear about them. It doesn't matter how small you think they are. Let's celebrate together. Last night, I had some struggles with driving, but I did not turn back around to check. I really wanted to, but my passenger convinced me to instead continue on to my destination. It didn't feel very good last night, but today, I'm really glad I did that.

16 comments:

  1. I have trouble with this kind of OCD. One of my responses that I thought might be a compulsion, my counselor thought it might be cognitive problem solving or something like that. Sometimes, when I drive over a man-hole cover or whatever those round metal covers in the middle of the road are called, I remind myself that people are not round and flat. It sounds silly, but it's true! I like the idea of pulling over and doing a thought record. I might try it if I ever get a really strong obsessive thought. Right now, I'm doing pretty good in that area, though.

    You are so right about needing to keep driving. I used to drive in Puerto Rico in cities - though I avoided the biggest ones. When I went back the next year for a visit, I was afraid to drive, so I didn't. Now I continue to lack driving confidence that I used to have there. But I do drive where I live now. Having to drive on the interstate to get to my psychiatrist and therapist helped. After many months, the highway held much less anxiety.

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  2. Hi Abigail. Good for you for driving to your medical appointments! That's really awesome. I know how hard that can be. My psychologist (and my husband's GI doc) is in Boston and for the last 2 and half years I've had to drive there (well, to the subway station anyway) on a weekly basis. That helped me a lot too. You make a really good point to remember. It does sometimes take many months before the anxiety goes away even though we are fighting the compulsions. That's why it's so important to stick with ERPs because it can take a while to see the results. That's kind of frustrating, but boy, when the anxiety really starts to go down and you see results, wow, what a great feeling of accomplishment.

    Yeah, I do agree, technically I think your reminding yourself about people not being round or flat is a mental reassurance compulsion. I do similar mental compulsions as well. I bet most, if not all, people with OCD do the same. It would be great if we both got to the point where we never had to do those mental compulsions either, but I think in the big scheme of things it's probably minor compared to the compulsions we could be performing. But hey, it's something to work on in the future as we continue to get better. Thanks for sharing! : )

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  3. Great suggestions, Sunny. I used to have the hit-and-run OCD a lot, but not so much lately. I think it helped me, as you said, not to give into the compulsions and look back or drive back. It is incredibly hard to NOT do the compulsions. But it's amazing how quickly I forgot about the anxiety.

    I went through a period of being terrified to drive. I was so afraid that I was going to hurt someone with my car. That's a main reason I quit a job I had that was an hour away from my house, on narrow country roads. As I was able, with medical help, to get my anxiety under better control, I began to drive again. Plus, I got another job, so I had to drive.

    These suggestions of yours could help with other types of OCD too. I'm going to try some. Thank you for sharing what you've learned. It's very helpful!

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    1. Hi Tina. I'm really glad it got better for you. I would have a hard time on narrow country roads too. That is probably still the hardest type of driving for me. I have been amazed at how quickly I've been able to forget about anxiety too in certain situations.

      These tricks and tips have been very helpful for me with all kinds of OCD issues. I often forget to break things down though, so it's great if someone else notices and reminds me that I don't have to do everything all at once. It's especially hard to see that if I'm in the middle of an anxiety spike. In fact, it's hard to think at all! I'd love to hear about how you break down some of your compulsions. I'm always looking for new ideas.

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    2. I saw my therapist again today, and he gave me a lot of pointers and clarified some things for me. Once I get it clear in my head, I'll tell you about it!

      By the way, read my response to your comment on my latest blog post. You don't have to like poetry! :-)

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    3. Oh good, I'll look forward to hearing about your appointment.

      But I WANT to like poetry. It seems so sophisticated and intellectual! I just wish I could understand it more.

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  4. I get the hit and run OCD when I am really really anxious. I used to get it at random and it would scare the life out of me but these days it's just on really terrible anxiety days that it will sometimes rear its ugly head.

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    1. Elizabeth, I'm glad that it has improved for you. I'm the same way, it gets much worse on days where my anxiety is really ramped up, or if I'm very tired. Every now and then I will still catch myself driving back to check the "scene of the crime." Then I feel guilty because I know I'm not supposed to drive back. Ugh. So I feel guilty for the supposed accident I caused and then I feel guilt for doing the compulsion. Some days it feels like you can't win! Thankfully not every day is like that anymore.

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  5. What a great post with wonderful suggestions. I can't help thinking back to around five years ago when my son, who has OCD, stopped driving.....he did tell me he was afraid of hurting somebody. I knew so little about OCD back then, and never in a million years would have thought so many with the disorder felt as he did. He also was concerned about being "rude," like cutting another driver off by mistake, or making the driver behind him late because he was driving so slowly; things like that. Somehow I'd get him laughing about it, saying he should write apology notes to everyone else on the road. Once he got into his ERP Therapy, he was able to get back behind the wheel and now seems to have no issues with driving.

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    1. Hi Janet! I'm so glad your son no longer has trouble driving. It really can have a large impact on your life if you can't drive yourself anywhere. It's good that you were both able to laugh about it. Some of the stuff we do really does look silly!

      The first place I read about Hit and Run OCD was online. I remember it was in 1996, when I was first officially diagnosed. I almost fell off my chair when I realized it was a common obsession/compulsion. Up until that point, I thought I was literally going insane and that I was the only person in the world with this problem. It is really amazing how thousands of people from all walks of life can come up with the same fear. I guess that just proves that it's from an illness!

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  6. I have contamination issues and I check things (pictures on the wall have to be straight, any decorative items on coffee tables, dressers, etc., symmetry is a big deal to me)constantly. The contamination stuff is much harder and who am I kidding here, almost impossible for me to resist the compulsions with. But I have had some success with checking. ERP works but it is soooo hard. It used to take me so long to even leave a room because I would check over and over that everything was straight and in its place. I don't feel like anything bad will happen if I don't check, but it's like I need to know everything is in order or my anxiety level just skyrockets. If I can manage even one day to say I am going to leave this room without checking anything, then the next day it is much easier to do that so I know the ERP works. It is just frustrating because if I have a set back of even one day, it seems like I have to start all over.

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    1. Hi Krystal Lynn. I'm sorry you struggle so much with contamination and symmetry issues. It is very hard and painful. I still have a hard time with contamination, though I've had some large successes recently and I'm further along than ever before. And yes, ERP is really, really tough. I could never do it alone, which is why I did end up going through CBT with a psychologist, and I enlisted the help of my family to do the exposures. Have you tried CBT? It was literally a life saver for me.

      I know bad days are frustrating. But just because you have a bad day, it doesn't mean that you've lost all the hard work you've put in so far. Don't give up. I know it feels like you have to start all over, but I bet your brain remembers some of what you've done. And if nothing else, you've at least proven to yourself that you were able to accomplish those exposures. I remember feeling like all my hard work was for nothing. Eventually though, I was able to string together enough good days that I realized I was healing. You CAN do this too. Start small, and keep at that one small item over and over and over again until you feel comfortable. Then add another small item.

      I'm so glad you stopped on my blog. I would love to be an encouragement to you at any time. Please "visit" again. Best wishes.

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  7. I have tried some exposures on my own .. and with the help of my husband. I have made progress - but I think if I had a therapist I would do better. I live in a small rural town of 800 and am quite a distance from a metro area. I actually lived very close at one time, to some doctors who were well known in the field of OCD. But I was not aware of ERP then, and probably would have been to scared to even attempt it at the time.
    You have a great blog going..thanks for sharing your story and experiances.

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    1. Hi Krystal Lynn. Oh, I definitely understand being too scared to attempt CBT. I waited 13 years before I would agree to it!

      Wow, I am really impressed that you've been able to do some exposures with just you and your husband. I'm sure that was not easy.

      Elizabeth McIngvale has been a long time sufferer of OCD. She started the Peace of Mind Foundation at www.peaceofmind.com. I know that they have some type of self-help website stuff called the OCD Challenge. I really don't know anything about the quality of it or if it works or not. I don't even know if it uses CBT. Perhaps you may want to check it out. I'll have to look at it at some point.

      Thanks for the encouragement and hang in there!

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  8. I'm so glad I found this site. My hit and run ocd was great for years but has recently taken a turn for the worse.

    I recently have begun thinking about these two articles in the paper I read last year or the year before. They were both hit and runs in areas where I had been driving around that time. In one article the pedestrians suffered minor injuries. In the other, the pedestrian suffered major injuries. In both articles, anyone with tips was asked to call the police. I didn't because I knew I wasn't responsible and it would just worsen my ocd. I hadn't thought about either of these articles until recently. I just started a new job recently too. I wasn't nervous about this job, or maybe I am on a subconscious level and don't know it. I've talked with my counselor about this and she thinks that's the case.

    But my ocd is so real that I don't know if that's the case. I know I get very frustrated with pedestrians. I also know my car has no damage and hasn't in the last year or so.

    I'm wondering if this has happened to anyone else, and could really use some support.

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    1. Hi KMA! Welcome! I'm glad you found me too. I'm so sorry you struggle with this. Ugh it is truly terrifying.

      I have found that OCD can suddenly get worse without any apparent reason. Sometimes I just wonder if it is our brain chemicals acting wacky or something. Although, sometimes, something stressful will happen, and that can make the OCD worse too.

      There were times when my hit and run OCD was so bad that I would be crying in agony because on one hand, I was just convinced that I must have hit someone and left them in the road for dead. But then, deep down, I knew I didn't hit anyone so I felt terribly frustrated for worrying about it.

      Sadly, hit and run OCD is a very common struggle for people with OCD. You are most definitely not alone.

      You mentioned a therapist. Are you receiving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy using Exposure and Response Prevention for treatment of the OCD?

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