A Taste of Freedom

As most of you probably know, I tend to beat myself up a lot, especially over school work.  I also frequently beat myself up for failing so miserably at my ERP (exposure response prevention, for newer readers) homework.  I like to drown in self-pity over wasting my time and my therapist’s time.  I spend lots of time focusing on my failures.

But I realized something today.

I am free from a couple of compulsions that used to have serious control over me.

Before, when I finished showering, after turning off the water and pulling back the shower curtain, I had to turn the water back on to wash my hands because the shower curtain seemed so contaminated.

Then, after drowning my body (except for my feet) in lotion (because contamination OCD leads to super dry skin), I had a very ridiculous and complicated process for putting lotion on my feet.  I would grab new clean socks and tuck them into my pajama pants.  Oh, this is embarrassing.  Then I had a towel that I would use to wipe off my feet.  Immediately after wiping off one foot, I would quickly put lotion on it and then the put a sock on it before putting that foot down.  Then I’d repeat with the other foot.  I looked extremely silly hopping around on one foot at a time, trying not to fall over, trust me.  I just couldn’t handle being barefoot because floors are dirty.

I don’t do either of those things anymore.  I haven’t done those rituals in months.  I don’t even think about doing them anymore.  I completely forgot about them until today.

And I don’t even have to thank my meds for that.  It’s all me and my hard work.

It’s easy to forget these things because that is the goal, after all.  The purpose of ERP is to erase compulsions from the brain, so I didn’t notice when these two disappeared.  It’s easy to forget about the things I have accomplished when there are still so many hurdles in front of me.  But today I want to look back and reflect on what I have conquered.

So therapy is working, slowly, but that’s ok, and it will keep working if I keep up with it.  I have proof for myself that it’s worth it.  Now I just have to get back to work.

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16 thoughts on “A Taste of Freedom

  1. Huzzah! Yay for you! Seriously, huge things. I am so happy for you. There must be a sense of freedom that comes from realizing these things are gone.

    I have the same problem. It’s so easy to focus on all I still have yet to conquer that I lose track of how far I’ve come. Yay, me, too. I’ve come a long way.

    Thanks for the reminder to celebrate the successes.

    1. I’m glad my success reminded you of yours! I was hoping it would have that effect. It’s important to look back every once in awhile and see how far you’ve come. It makes continuing the work easier.

  2. It’s an amazing feeling to suddenly realize that something that used to torture you is gone. I know that feeling, feeling like an idiot for doing something so stupid and yet you just can’t NOT do it. What a relief to be done with the thing that not only brought you torture as a ritual but also tortured you since you knew it shouldn’t be necessary!

    Congratulations and keep up that great work!

    1. Thanks so much! It is amazing to realize that I do have the power no to do these things. I have the power to stop rituals. I have the power to overcome OCD.

  3. Good for you! It is the BEST feeling to realize that a compulsion is totally behind you! You should be so, so, so proud of yourself – it’s not easy to do, especially when it’s one that is an everyday routine!
    It’s so inspirational to read about overcoming OCD rituals – and even more so that you can attribute it to hard work, and not just the meds! I have some similar routines for getting out of the shower (I HATE the shower curtain!), and I’ve really been trying to eliminate those. I’ve been able to reduce them, but I just haven’t been able to completely overcome it (especially if I felt super dirty when I got in the shower). Reading about how yours are behind you, and that you were even able to forget about them makes me want to work even harder to get to that point, too!
    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Just keep working at it, and eventually it will be behind you, too. My therapist made it part of my ERP homework for awhile, and eventually I just completely forgot about it. I still have a few other post-shower rituals, but it’s nice to be free of some. It is just an amazing feeling to realize that I don’t have to do those things anymore. I used to think I had to do them. But I’m ok not doing them. I can’t wait to see what else I can overcome!

      Good luck with your rituals! Just stick with it, and you’ll succeed, too!

  4. I’d like to congratulate you about getting rid of compulsion. I know how it improves quality of your life as I have OCD myself. I have to read more about that ERP. I am sorry if I wrote something out of context, but I’ve read just one of your posts. I just had to express I feel happy for you getting rid of compulsion. I have slightly different compulsions, but that doesn’t change the fact all of them are pain in the ass. I wish you all the best in fighting.

    1. No apology needed! Thanks for reading!

      I have lots of posts about ERP if you’re interested. I also have links to resources over on the side in the Links section. ERP has worked really well for me. I first learned about it when I read The OCD Workbook. After reading that, I decided to find a therapist who specializes in OCD and ERP therapy because doing it on your own is REALLY difficult.

      What are your compulsions? I have a lot of different ones. In addition to contamination-related compulsions, I also have checking ones, perfectionism-driven ones (especially with school), among others. And yes, they are all a pain in the ass!

      1. I have a huge compulsion on numbers. I’ll not eat, touch or do anything if the number of it is even. I am also affraid of certain letters and Godd forbid that two letter of that sort comes to appear one next to or above another. I also have a comulsion ot doing things a certain number of times. I’ll be describing them broadely on my blog, but yea I guess those are the most annoying ones. It’s also hard for me to read because I can’t make any mistake, misreading or omission of any sort at all. And I used to love reading books. In Poland it’s hard to find any therapist, not even mentioning one who specializes in OCD. I’ll read the rest of your posts and find more about ERP, maybe this helps. It’s always good to know that you are not the only one who suffers from this illness, even though I don’t wish anyone to have it – even my enemy.

        1. Exactly. That is what I have loved most about this blog. I have gotten to connect with other people all over the place who have OCD.

          I also have things with numbers, though they were strong when I was a kid. I like the number 4 and multiples of it. I’m ok with any even number, but 4s make me most comfortable. I hate odd numbers, so I’ll purposefully make myself have to deal with odd numbers. Like when I listen to the radio in my car, I set the volume at an odd number. It drives me CRAZY, but I’m starting to get used to it.

          That’s basically how ERP works. You slowly expose yourself to your fears, and eventually, your brain stops seeing those things as threats. It’s like jumping into a pool. First, it’s cold and feels like you’re going to freeze, but if you stay in it long enough, your body will adjust, and the water feels warm.

  5. Ahhh, I have the same with the radio. You’ve had problem with numbers since you were a child? My OCD started like 1,5 years ago. It’s that I’ve always been sensitive and overreacting.
    Hmmm, so you say I have to acknowledge my fears. I can do that. It’ll be difficult but I can manage.
    Cheers.

    1. Yes, I started showing signs of OCD when I was 5 or 6 years old. I was diagnosed when I was 12 years old. Now I’m 23. I just started ERP therapy last summer. So my OCD has been building up and worsening my whole life. Until last summer, I thought I could handle it on my own. I finally realized that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

      Yes, acknowledge and face them. The more you expose yourself to your fears, the less scary they become. Your brain learns that these things that it is afraid of aren’t really going to harm you.

  6. I’m so glad you were able to look back on your success and feel good about how much you’ve accomplished, and I’m so glad you shared it with us! I think we all need to hear about the good times, as well as how we work through the struggles. Looking back on the rituals and compulsions I’ve been able to overcome helps me to have faith that I can get through the hard times.
    I liked hearing about your ritual for putting lotion on your feet. 🙂 It reminded me of when I used to be so freaked out about touching door handles that I would open doors with my feet! It was good to heard that somebody else had things like that that they did, and that you overcame it.
    Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

    1. Thanks for outing yourself as a fellow weirdo! haha It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in weird rituals. I’m glad this post made you remember your accomplishments! It’s so important to remember those things because it’s so easy to get bogged down in the failures.

      Thanks for sharing, too!

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