Monday, January 7, 2013

Checking OCD and not waiting for the reassuring click

Let me explain what the reassuring click is.
When I take a shower, I use liquid soap and shampoo, both in bottles that make a snapping sound when the top is pushed back to the closed position.
I depend on that snapping sound to tell me that the bottle is properly closed.
Because if it’s not properly closed, then one of the cats might be able to open the soap or shampoo bottle and lick the soap or shampoo.
Never mind the fact that neither cat has ever shown an interest in doing such a thing. Never mind the fact that Sam doesn’t get in the shower. Never mind that Chase doesn’t have free rein of the house unless he’s supervised.
The OCD mind just cares that it could happen.
Different bottles make different sounds when they’re being closed. Some snaps are a loud clunk. Some are more of a faint tap.
The OCD mind particularly doesn’t like the faint taps. The loud clunks are more reassuring. But even the loud clunks have their problems. Because the OCD mind can find reasons to doubt even those.
The result is that I spend time in the shower opening and closing each bottle I use several times until the resulting snapping sound is “right.” That elusive “rightness” that only the OCD mind can recognize.
I’ve described my shower routine before in a post about OCD and slowness. I have gotten a little faster in my routine since I started focusing more on exposure and response prevention, but I still had rituals, including the bottle-closing ritual.
So I decided that I was going to address that particular ritual.
I decided that I was going to have to live with closing each bottle just once, no matter what sound was made when I closed the bottles.
“I’m just going to have to live with it” would become my mantra in the shower.
So I tried it. And it worked.
I liked having the decision already made that I would close each bottle one time only. I would not allow myself to open and close it repeatedly until I liked the sound it made.
Of course, that means that I have to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing for sure if the bottles are properly closed.
But I am finding that the anxiety actually fades pretty quickly as I focus on finishing my shower, drying my hair, getting dressed, etc.
Now I’m wondering if it would be helpful to apply this “I’m just going to have to live with it” mantra to other OCD rituals.

What are some of the things you tell yourself as you strive to make changes in your life?

24 comments:

  1. This is amazing - YOU are amazing, for taking steps to change what you wish to change. I smiled while reading this, as I know that this is healing and recovery for you, and hope that you're incredibly proud of yourself.

    That's all I wanted to tell you! As my friend in Australia would say, "Good on you, mate!"

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. I love that "good on you, mate"! I appreciate your kind words!

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  2. Hey girl, I think you have to find out what works for you and well, as the Nike ad says; Just do it! Hang in there!

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  3. That's so awesome that you took the initiative to create your own mantra and that it's working. Awesome Tina :)

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  4. So nice you're making progress Tina!
    My psychiatrist gave me a one cent coin at my last appointment. When I have OCD-doubts about doing something, I have to flip the coin in "head or tail" way and if it's head, I must push through my doubt and do whatever I'm doubting about. If it's tails I can leave it until later. In that way I must learn to do things when they have to be done, despite the doubts.
    It works pretty well, even though it's difficult at times.

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    1. Thank you, Klaaske! I like the one-cent practice that your psychiatrist has you doing. It gets you doing things despite the doubts. Good luck with that!

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  5. I think “I’m just going to have to live with it” is a great mantra for you.....especially because it works! Good for you, Tina. Sounds like you are off to a good start fighting OCD in 2013!

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    1. Thank you, Janet! I wouldn't have thought it would be a good mantra, but it's working so far with this ritual.

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  6. I am sitting at my desk here at work eating lunch and reading blogs. I laughed out loud when I read your blog title followed by your first sentence: "Let me explain what the reassuring click is."

    I almost said outloud....uh, cuz, you do NOT need to explain what it is to me :-)

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    1. Elizabeth, I thought I better explain what the "reassuring click" was, but I thought some people might already know! :-)

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  7. Would it help if I told you that cats definitely don't eat shampoo? At least none of mine ever have - they're way to smart for that! :-) I hope you find a way to let it go - it sounds like you are on your way.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! You are right--I know intellectually that cats are really picky about what they eat and I've never had one lick shampoo. OCD wants me to think about the chance that they will . . . but I'm working on letting it go!

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  8. Way to go! I like the "I'm just going to have to live with it" mantra.

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    1. Thanks, Becky! It's working right now for this ritual.

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  9. It is so refreshing to read how step by step you are working toward your goals. It is wonderful and inspiring. And the mantra, spectacular! A lot of commitment in those words.

    Madison:-)

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    1. Thank you, Madison! It seems like slow-going sometimes, but it takes one step at a time for me. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  10. Boy can I relate..I have the toothpaste tube that has the flip top and hearing the click makes me feel good. I check so much stuff that it can be overwhelming but then when I can eliminate just one of my checking routines which, unfortunately, is always just the tip of the iceberg, it feels so good. And as long as I keep it up, it is gets easier to not check the next time. My mantra has been "to risk what is uncomfortable." I have found that if it (the ERP) is not uncomfortable, then I am not doing the ERP properly. This stuff is hard work, isn't it? Always cheering you on Tina.

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    1. Thank you, Krystal Lynn, I'm cheering you on, too! That's a brave mantra, "to risk what is uncomfortable." It's so easy to shy away from the uncomfortable. But the hard work must be done to reap the benefits. I agree with you--eliminating just one checking routine can be a relief.

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  11. Hi Tina, bravo for tackling the snapping lids. I understand what you said if something "could" happen... emphasis on could. Sometimes the thought that it could happen was all it took to send me over the edge. Fortunately this isn't such an issue any longer. I applaud you for your continued efforts. You rock!

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    1. Thanks, Grace! It's amazing how much worry that word "could" can cause.

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  12. I think one of my main "mantras" for dealing with OCD is something like, "Well, that's a risk I'm just gonna have to take" (if the corresponding ritual is too far out of what I'm willing to do) or "Well, that's a risk I'm going to take" if the corresponding ritual is something I could do but choose not to. I think it works in part because it doesn't deny that a risk "could" exist, it just accepts it.

    I have my own reassuring clicks, like the gas tank lid, or the door of my apartment... Good for you in fighting this one!

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    1. Thanks, Abigail! I like your mantra and the way it takes into account risk.

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