My background is scientific – I like facts and figures, I love biology and human chemistry, I’m logical and practical; a great lateral thinker. That’s one of the things I find most annoying about myself and my OCD. I know logically that most of the things I worry about are scientifically ill-founded, and I know the scientific realities. However, my OCD mind has been the one in control over the past several years and its voice drowns out my scientific one.
In earlier posts I’ve already declared that I’m upping the fight against my OCD this year, but what I haven’t specified is how I’m going to tackle it. I’m going to record how I plan on doing it and what success I have with it in the hopes that if it works, it will be useful to others. As I find ‘exposure’ terrifying, I am instead, going to treat this battle as a scientific experiment.
As a scientist I know that when conducting an experiment, it’s not a good idea to change more than one variable at a time and to do it gradually so effects can be recorded. If you change more than one thing at a time you won’t know which variable was the one that actually made a difference. If you shift something too much, you might miss the fact you didn’t need to go so far – or you might end up in a much worse position than you were. This is the method I’m going to use on my OCD.
My OCD has many layers including my safety, family safety, security and contamination. I am going to pick one of these things to tackle at a time and I’m going to start small. For example, I have a certain bedtime ritual, which can take almost 45min-1hour to complete and can put me off wanting to go to bed. My first ‘experiment’ is to take this ritual and reduce it, bit by bit. I’ve set myself marker points of the 1st of each month. ie on 1st February I will start the reduction in the ritual and see how I cope and adjust – scientifically I expect to prove to myself that whether I do a certain ritual or not, will have no effect on me or my family – except I might get to bed earlier! With this proof and knowledge, come 1st March I will be able to take the next step and reduce another part. I plan to be clear of this bedtime ritual, which must be about 5 years old, by June.
It doesn’t sound much, but this is the first time I’ve felt strong enough to actually consider getting rid of this particular routine. Then, when that one is out of the way and with much more ‘evidence’ I will pick another issue (perhaps changing all my clothes every time I go in and out of the house, even just to pick up a pint of milk) and do the same month by month reduction.
It does mean that getting over all of my OCD will take a long time (I have numerous worries, fears, compulsions & obsessions), and there maybe elements that won’t ever go. What I hope to achieve is freedom from quite so many obsessions and compulsions. If I can get to this point, I think I will be less stressed (as I will have less things to look out for and worry about) and I’ll be less tired (less things to fight in my head, as well as getting to bed earlier and easier) and maybe then I will feel in a position to tackle the really, really big 2-3 things.
Until then, watch this space!