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!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Worry Questions

I struggle a lot with what I call "worry questions," a/k/a reassurance seeking. "Are you sure I didn't hit anyone with my car?" "Are you sure this shirt is clean enough to wear?" "Are you sure I didn't say something stupid?" "Are you sure what I did wasn't a sin?" "Are you sure it's safe for me to do that?" "Are you sure I didn't write anything bad on my blog?" Are you sure, are you sure, are you sure??!!?? I should write a book and title it "Are you sure?"

Reassurance seeking (in any form) is a compulsion. It continues to be the most difficult compulsion that I fight. In fact, it's probably the compulsion that I've made the least amount of progress with (though I have made some). I can touch something I think might be contaminated if someone says it's alright to do it. I can continue driving after hitting a bump if my passenger says to keep going. I can publish what I consider to be a "scary" blog post if my husband says it's not inappropriate. Essentially, I can do many things now that I couldn't do in the past, however, very often I can do them only if someone tells me it's alright to do them. It seems like I'm putting the responsibility on everyone else, so I can blame them, if I think I've done something wrong in my OCD world. For example, I can say to myself, "Well, he told me to keep driving after hitting that pothole, so I guess it's his fault if something bad happens because of it."

I know when someone reassures me, it is just enabling me. I also think there were times when this type of enabling was probably ok. I wouldn't have been able to move forward with CBT and ERP if people I trusted didn't convince me that what I was doing was right. It would have felt cruel if my family had cut me off of reassurance seeking all at once. I do think there was a time and a place for it. I think that time has ended though. I have to start taking more responsibility for myself. Ugh. It's hard! So often I just don't trust myself to make good decisions. I can't keep living like this though. I'm getting to the point that if I make a bad decision, then so be it. I'd rather make a bad mistake then continue to live in constant doubting torture.

Yesterday, I struggled with an issue. I went back and forth in my mind several times with it. I really, really wanted to ask my husband or my mom about it. I did not. I made a decision about the issue and told no one. I'm not even going to tell you what the issue was, as that would be reassurance seeking too. I'm not totally convinced I made the best decision about the issue. However, I think not seeking reassurance WAS the best decision I could have made.

13 comments:

  1. The first time I heard OCD as the "Doubting Disease" I said to myself, boy is that appropriate. I doubt everything. I can't believe what I see most of the time and it drives me batty. I participated in a OCD study done by researchers in Germany and it was called "Doubt Therapy." Sadly, it did not help me much, but I am so glad to know research continues to be done. I recently read a book, Can Christianity Cure OCD?, that suggested, instead of asking for reassurance from a family member or a friend, to leave the responsibility to God. Most books on OCD warn you not to ask for reassurance at all,especially if your trying ERP, so that was a new take on it. I live in a rural area, and even finding a therapist is difficult so I try to read on my own. I love that you wrote that you were getting to the point that if you make a bad decision, then so be it. Honestly, I think that is a great outlook. We with OCD are pretty conscientious people so it's not like your going out making reckless decisions, right? And so what if you, or I make a mistake? Most people do. You have given me something great to think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful, Krystal Lynn. That really makes me smile. : ) Making mistakes is just part of life. (Though I still hate to make them.)

      I had completely forgotten what Ian Osborn said in his book about giving the responsibility to God! I read that book and really liked it. Thanks for the reminder. I will try to incorporate that into my daily thinking.

      I sure remember not being able to trust my eyes or ears (or any senses for that matter) when I was really sick with OCD. That was terrible. So much doubt everywhere I looked. So much frustration. I can say that the more I worked on fighting the compulsions, the more I started to get control of my ability to trust my senses.

      I'm frustrated for you that you can't find a therapist locally. Ugh. That really bothers me, more than you know. I do know some doctors will treat by online video. That may be something worth looking into. I would just make sure they have a decent amount of experience, specifically with CBT, ERP, and OCD.

      I so appreciate your comment!

      Delete
  2. Great post, Sunny. I am a reassurance seeker too. I used to be much worse, especially when I was younger and sought it a lot from my mother. I still seek it from Larry, things like asking him to check the stove behind me, asking him to make sure the light is out, etc. I've started thinking, too, that I need to stop that. What I've recently realized is that there are sneaky ways that I depend on reassurance. For example, if I'm the first one to take a shower in the morning, I don't worry as much about making sure the faucet is turned off because I know my husband is going to follow with for his shower and will use the faucet. In other words, I can walk away from the faucet handle easier, without pushing it more than twice, because I kinow he's going to use it afterwards. Not sure how I can work with that one. Any suggestions?

    Congrats to you for making a decision alone. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we don't know if we made the right decision until some time has passed by. (There's that living with uncertainty again! :-)) If for some reason it didn't turn out to be the right decision, then you can deal with that then.

    You are so wise and determined--I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, Tina, I have to tell you I laughed out loud when I read your comment. I don't usually see the word "wise" associated with me! ha ha ha

      Funny enough, I think the decision I made yesterday ended up being right. But I was willing to risk a mistake, because all this OCD stuff is really starting to drive me crazy. Now that I've enjoyed some improved health, I want it all the time!

      You are so right - reassurance can be very subtle and sneaky. In fact, you just gave me an idea for another post for later.

      Well, you're probably not going to like my suggestion for the shower faucet. I bet you already know what it is. Whether you take your shower first or not, after your husband is done his shower, go back and turn the shower on and then turn it off. No checking. Force yourself to leave the bathroom. You could try this several times a day. But I wouldn't go back to turn the shower on again while your anxiety is still high. That would just be like a recheck to reassure yourself that it was already off. So I would wait until your anxiety goes down significantly before going back to re-do the exposure. I bet if you do this several times a day for several days, you will find it to become less anxiety producing. I know this will be brutally difficult. I also know that you CAN do it. If you need a pep talk, I'm here. I think this is what my doc would have suggested to me. Of course, your therapist may have other ideas, after all he is a mental health provider. This is just my little old opinion, for what it's worth!

      Whatever you decide - good luck with it! I know it's tough.

      Delete
    2. I had never thought of doing that. I was focusing on how I could THINK about it differently, not what I could DO. That's a good idea, even though I don't want to do it, if that makes sense. :-) I kinda liked that feeling of knowing, oh, Larry took his shower after me, so I don't have to worry about it.

      OK, I will work on that, and report back when I have some results. Thank you, Sunny!!

      Delete
    3. Definitely looking forward to hearing about how it goes for you Tina!

      Delete
    4. Tina, I almost forgot. What I have found is that in many cases (not all, but many) doing an exposure can eventually actually change how I think about stuff. I think that's the whole re-wiring of the brain thing that takes place during exposure.

      Delete
  3. I really struggle with reassurance seeking. I've always done it and used to drive my family crazy when I was a child. I still do it and find it very difficult to not do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Elizabeth. Yes, it is incredibly difficult to fight. Even today, I caught myself asking my husband for reassurance. Ugh.

      Delete
  4. Great post! My son Dan never asked the "Are you sure?" questions but as you say, reassurance seeking can be sneaky. He used to apologize all of the time, for things nobody else would apologize for. So if he said, "Sorry our lunch cost so much," I would reassure him that I was happy to take him out to a restaurant. Probably not the best example, but you can see how sneaky OCD is.
    Anyway, congrats on your not seeking reassurance........I think, that's a huge accomplishment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, actually I think that's a great example and it demonstrates the need for reassurance perfectly! It is sneaky indeed.

      I am happy I was able to not ask for reassurance, simply because it's one of the compulsions I've held on to without trying to fight it much. This is the first time I even care to try to fight it.

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement!

      Delete
  5. Awesome on not seeking reassurance! I am a complete reassurance addict, although it morphs into subtle forms and drives me NUTS. Thanks for writing about this because I can work on not asking for reassurance, or at least being more aware of when I am.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alfonsia! I so happy to hear it was helpful. It IS so incredibly subtle, that sometimes I don't even realize I'm seeking reassurance. Awareness is definitely the first step to battling it.

      Delete