Leaps and Bounds

Wow. Where to begin. I’m come even farther than my last post. I am amazed at the things I’m capable of doing. Because I’ve always had so much within myself to fight against, I’ve always operated under the assumption that something in me is weak. I’ve always known I had some amount of strength, but the last few months have shown me exactly how much strength I have—and it’s so much more than I thought possible.

I’ve done some really BIG things lately.

Thrift Stores

The last time I purchased something at a thrift store was in early 2001. I needed a costume for the school musical: Oklahoma. I’d never been a big thrifter, but it hadn’t been a problem before. And the clothes we bought for my costume were perfectly fine. Nothing traumatic happened.

But that’s when I learned that allowing OCD to question things is dangerous. I didn’t know it was OCD then. All I knew was that I was wearing clothes that had been who knows where. Even though my mom had washed them, they felt very dirty to me—like no amount of washing could actually clean them. Because I didn’t know where they’d been, who’d had them before. The concern wasn’t that they might be a little dirty. No, it was more of a terrible fear that these clothes could have been exposed to some really serious diseases, and what if I contracted something from them?

Yes, obviously, I know you can’t catch diseases from clothes like that. Let me remind you that OCD—like all mental illnesses—is irrational. That’s the whole point. If it were rational, it wouldn’t be such a problem.

So. I became terrified of secondhand clothing. It got to the point where I couldn’t even go inside a thrift store without having a panic attack. It was a crippling fear, so I just marked thrift stores off the list of places I could go. They ceased to exist in my world, and that was totally fine with me.

Fast forward to college. Clothes are expensive. So I learned how to sew and began making my own clothes. Much cheaper. Problem solved.

Fast forward to grad school. Clothes are still expensive, and I don’t have time to sew anymore. So I’ve been wishing that I could go thrift shopping because I really need to update my wardrobe. But holy hell. Thrift stores have been terrifying for SO long. Just thinking about actually going into one made my anxiety spike.

But two weeks ago, my best friend wanted to go look in Denton Thrift for some baby clothes because she’s pregnant. I figured, yeah, I’ll go in. It’s not like I’m shopping. Just going into a thrift store will be good for me. I’ve been on a brave streak lately. So I went in. I followed her as she browsed the baby clothes, but at one point, she jumped back really quickly. There was a huge beetle on one of the onesies. We both freaked out.

I told her I was done. I’d been kind of toying with the idea of looking at clothes—like actually touching clothes—for me, but I knew then that I was just done. Wasn’t come back from that. But she wanted to keep looking, so I followed her and made sure not to touch anything. She wandered over to the women’s clothing and came across a green blouse that she thought would look cute on me. She pulled it out and held it about a foot from me—because no, she couldn’t hold it under my chin—and decided I needed to have it. I said I’d think about, fully planning on declining when it was time to leave.

We kept looking and she pulled a few more things out that she wanted me to buy. Everything she pulled was really cute, and I found myself wanting to buy it.

Next thing I knew, I was purchasing the six items she’d pulled. WHAT?! Yes.

I wanted to be proud of that accomplishment, so I promised myself that if it took multiple washes for me to be okay with wearing these clothes, then that would be okay. I didn’t want to ruin it by getting mad at myself for giving into OCD when it came to washing.

I washed them separately from all of my other clothes because oh god what if they passed their icky germs onto my other clothes in the washing machine? (haha, right?) I washed them just one time and then decided I felt okay trying everything on, so I did. And I didn’t die.

So thrifting is something I can do now. I have and wear clothes that I bought at a thrift store. I honestly didn’t think I would ever do that again. Ever. I had written that off as something I’d never get back from OCD. But I did!

Aluminum Cans

Like anyone else, I used to drink soda out of cans. A few years ago, though, I read an article about all of the bacteria that can be found on cans since they just sit in the factories and warehouses and stores and have no protection from things like rats and bugs and whatever else is crawling around. Seriously. They’ve swabbed cans, and it’s horrendously disgusting. I can’t. It’s bad.

And then I read an article about some guy finding a dead frog inside his can of soda. Are you kidding me? There’s no way to see inside to check!

So I stopped drinking out of cans. I just could not do it.

Last week, riding the high of successfully thrifting, I made a joke on Facebook that my next hurdle would be drinking out of a can. I immediately regretted posting it because I knew it meant I actually had to do it. Everyone was so supportive and excited for me. And I knew that I had to do it after putting it out there. I could have kicked myself.

On Thursday, I was hanging out with some friends, and they had cans of beer. That was all they had to drink. So I thought, well, I might as well go for it. The thrifting thing went well; maybe this won’t kill me either.

It didn’t kill me. I drank two cans.

Tonight, I had two more. Those didn’t kill me either.

Cans were another thing that I didn’t think I would ever get back from OCD. I had truly accepted the fact that I couldn’t drink from them.

But now I can.

What else can I do? I’m dying to find out.


3 thoughts on “Leaps and Bounds

  1. Well Elly. Thank you for sharing. Helps me much to understand OCD. Also bring HOPE. Keep up tha GoodWork and GodSpeed. Paul
    Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

    1. Thank you! And agreed. That’s what’s so exciting. I no longer think anything is completely closed off to me. Some things will be a lot more work than others, but things feel possible now.

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