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, April 8, 2016

Was Your ERP Successful?

Over the years, I've noticed a common observation that a lot of OCD sufferers have made after performing an ERP. They will often consider their ERP a success if they didn't panic or have a lot of anxiety or if they did not feel too bad afterwards. Please do not use your feelings as an indicator of whether your ERP was a success or not. It's not an accurate measure. How do you know that an ERP was a success? It's the fact that you did the ERP in the first place!! And the less you compulse after the ERP, the more effective it will be. (You don't want to undermine all that hard work with compulsions - because that is what compulsions will do.) One of my very biggest ERP successes brought on some of the very worst anxiety I have ever felt. And that's ok! It just meant that I was facing a fear that was really huge. It's not about how we FEEL - it's what we do in spite of how we feel.



P.S. Ironically, after repeated ERPs, the anxiety will usually go down over time. However, it's important to note that the goal of treatment is not to reduce anxiety, but to learn to tolerate anxiety, which, yes you guessed it, eventually brings the anxiety down anyway, and on and on we go in a circle of irony!

9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this information, Monique, I am sure it will help many people. Sending you much love and many hugs.

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    1. It's so good to hear from you Linda! Sending you lots of hugs back. Hope you are feeling a bit better.

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  2. Hi Monique! Good to see a new post from you--it's been awhile! I hope that you are continuing to do well, I am still working on contamination stuff. Because you are a lot further in this process than I am, I wondered if you could give me a suggestion somewhere. I have done a lot of my mild-moderate level exposures, but I am stuck on the big stuff. I just don't want to start invading my safe zones, as I know its all over then with the protection. Can you just give me a little background on how you started working on that? That is my goal for this summer, I think if I can knock that out and start to not protect those zones as much anymore, then I can probably even classify myself as mild on the spectrum at that point. At any rate, I hope that you are doing well! Sounds like your latest exposure went well, I am so happy! I find that the hardest exposures are the ones that truly bring about the best progress!!! :)

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    1. Hey Hopeful! Oh you are so right - the hardest exposures are the ones that really give us our freedom back. I have found that the only way over OCD is through it. Just no other way around it. And that's hard. Super hard. BUT, not at all impossible (though we always seem to think it is). The biggest thing is just being willing to take a chance that disaster might happen and that even if it does, we will survive it. Because we will. Every time. We just convince ourselves that we won't be able to. And honestly, even when things don't turn out the way we want, they are seldom as bad as we think they will be. I think if you can start to get rid of your safe zones, OCD will not have a chance. And I totally get the whole "safe zone" thing. But maybe look at them as what they really are - prison zones. Every time we protect them, we are thickening the walls of our own prison. And you don't have to get rid of all of it in one step. You can start slow. Start with the least troublesome issues, and just do that part. Then as you make progress, you will be encouraged and you will get momentum. It's going to feel terrible and scary. And that's really ok. It sucks, I know, but it is ok. It just means that you are tackling something big. And anxiety is a funny thing - it can't stay at its peak forever. Our bodies simply can't maintain that high level of anxiety for super extended periods of time. So it will go down, eventually. And you can practice mindfulness and deep breathing to get you through the worst of the anxiety. But if you can, try to let the anxiety go away on its own, over time. Because it will. I wish I could offer you some great piece of wisdom, but the best thing I can say is just jump in and do it. If you have someone who could do it with you, that can also be helpful (as long as they understand that they are not there to enable, but to gently and lovingly push you forward). And I'm more than happy to encourage you at any time. Hope this helped a little? You can do this. You really, really can.

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    2. Just want to clarify - I suggested trying deep breathing and mindfulness through the worst of the anxiety - I think you could use it through all levels of anxiety. And when I mentioned letting the anxiety pass on its own over time, I just meant that it's best if you try not to do any compulsions to bring the anxiety down faster in an artificial way.

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    3. I appreciate your thoughts, and that is very helpful! As I go through all of my exposures that are checked off the list, I can honestly say that I don't regret a single one. They have all helped me get back parts of my life, and sometimes I still remain frustrated that I lost so much time and missed out on so much due to avoidance/certain rituals. I didn't figure you would have a magic answer for contaminating safe zones! :) I agree with you, the only way through it is to actually walk through it. I wish there was a detour! What you said about prison zones is absolutely ringing true with me right now. One of the biggest areas I see this in for myself right now is the inability to leave my house when my husband is home. I am so worried he is going to contaminate something and so my prison is essentially my own home while he is here. There are a few areas of my house that I keep "safe"--my couch, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Those are limits to him. At this point currently I need to feel that those areas at a minimum are kept clean, so that I don't have to worry about my clothes being contaminated in my room, and I can still continue to live with my dirty/clean words separated. Crazy, huh?! I look down to the road to 9-10 years from now when our daughter will likely have graduated from college and I just can't imagine still at that time working my life around when my husband is/isn't home, and so I really want to get a grip on this now. Thank you so much for your thoughts. I know it will be hard, but it will be worth it in the end.

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    4. I'm glad to help any time! Absolutely, it will be worth it in the end. Just think about how much progress you have already made. Bet you didn't think you could do it? But you did.

      I remember when I first started to merge my dirty/clean worlds. It was awful and I ended up feeling dirty all the time and I thought it would always feel that way. But eventually, the dirty feeling went away. It wasn't really replaced with a clean feeling, but just a kind of regular feeling. I don't know how else to explain it. I think that's much better than a clean feeling anyway. Cause when you have a clean feeling, you're always worried that something will come along to take it away.

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  3. Great post, Sunny, and I think it will help a lot of people. So much of this is counter-intuitive, as in it's good to feel anxiety?? But you explain it so well, it actually makes sense :).

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