New phone, who dis?
Alright so that might be a slight exaggeration but I’m kind of feeling myself with how well I’ve been doing with tackling my OCD.
As I’ve previously mentioned my OCD relates to ~cOnTaMiNaTiOn~, specifically being touched by other people. In other words: you make me feel dirty. And not the good kind of dirty either, more like imagine someone rolling you around on the floor of a public restroom that some big filthy fat dude’s just been in times a million kinda dirty. Shudder. My coping mechanisms to counteract this obsession were obsessive washing, scrubbing at my skin, scratching my skin and also avoidance of contact. I’d full on swerve out the way if I saw someone’s hand or other body part coming within a certain radius of me. Being quite close to others, no matter how well I knew them would cause me considerable distress.
Maybe that sounds extreme, but the illness came about as a result of being raped which of course involves being touched when I neither wanted or asked for it. It’s pretty weird how your brain reacts to something like that, and how it goes into crazy defense mode thinking that every other person that touches you is going to do you harm. Rationally I know that isn’t the case, but it’s not something I can just switch off.
I’d received a course of CBT with ERP which I have to admit, ended up being very effective in helping me cut down on my compulsive behaviour and stop obsessing so much. But these things don’t last forever and so I was left with the tools I’d been given to keep fighting it on my own. It hasn’t been easy, especially as it seems to go hand in hand with my PTSD responses i.e. have a flashback, feel like I’m being touched, feel dirty, itch itch wash wash.
However, it soon came to my attention that although I complain about living with two men essentially all the time I realised that this could actually be advantageous to me getting better. Contact with men in particular seemed the warrant the strongest response from me, something my therapist at the time also noticed and therefore incorporated them into my sessions. So, after I was finished with her I decided to keep this going by myself. For example I would approach one of my housemates with my arm sticking out in eager anticipation asking them to touch it. At first it was met with some confused looks and them saying, “erm, what?” but eventually it just became the norm. The more I did it, the longer I could let them touch me and I progressed on to other areas like my back. However, to this day I’m still not okay with my neck being touched which considering I was nearly strangled and had a bone fractured from this I guess that’s understandable.
I’ve always been a bit of a hygiene nerd, and would usually shower twice a day. I think already being like this is what made my compulsions so severe. My obsession with washing literally began to take over my life, with 17 showers in one day being my record. I just couldn’t stop, no matter how much I’d wash it was just never enough and it only offered temporary relief. I’d gone as far as using bleach and wire wool but it was still never enough and I ended up damaging my skin quite badly at times.
But, slowly over the past few months with continuing to push myself and expose myself to contact the compulsions have lessened as I’ve come to realise that no one else I’ve come in contact with means me any harm. I’m back down to a normal washing routine (occasionally and PTSD dependent, it can be a little more) and the scrubbing/scratching has reduced considerably too. It feels really nice actually not to feel so physically isolated from other people, and not too feel as crazy either!
I feel really proud of myself at the moment, and I’m beginning to realise how in such a short space of time I’ve come such a long way from the shell of a person that I was at the beginning of the year. Hopefully in time I will be able to get to that stage with my neck being touched, but I don’t want to try too much too soon. Again, I couldn’t have done this without the help of my friends and I’m really grateful for their patience and support with me. It feels really nice to have people around you who want you to get better as much as you do.