Not sure what to write about today…So, here’s this:
As a method of reducing my OCD behaviors, my anxiety therapist has started me on germs and contamination exposures. I made a hierarchy of what things bother me from least to most.
Germs and Contamination
- Using a communal blanket
- Wearing clothing after someone else has worn it (i.e. like if I lent a sweatshirt to someone)
- Dirty tables in restaurants
- Touching things that I consider yucky (a used sponge, mine and other people’s dirty laundry, things that have landed on the bathroom floor, raw meat, etc.)
- Reaching into a trashcan for something
- Not washing my hands after using the toilet
- Not washing my hands (if I feel like they are dirty) before I eat
- Using food that has a broken seal (like fresh from the store, but the seal is torn or cracked or coming off, like on a yogurt)
- Touching the inside of the garbage can lid or having to push the flap in on a garbage can to throw things away
- Eating something that has fallen in the sink
- Drinking out of someone else’s glass
- Bumping my hands in public bathroom sinks or knobs or paper towel dispensers after I have washed my hands (I will have to re-wash my hands)
- Touching my face if I feel like my hands are contaminated (especially with sick people germs)
- Getting in close physical proximity to sick people
- Eating near sick people
- Breathing when sick people have coughed/sneezed/sniffled close to me
- Turning faucets on/off with bare hands esp. in public places
- Touching doorknobs (especially public bathroom or doctor’s office)
The most distressing things revolve around public sinks, doorknobs, sick people and trash cans. These are the things that I use behaviors to avoid every single day, and multiple times a day.
So, now I am practicing “easier” exposures. So I was sent home with my first exposure tasks and a form to rate my distress.
She told me to use the SUD scale to rate my distress.
Subjective Units of Distress Scale
0 No distress at all. Feeling okay and calm.
1 Feeling little if any stress. Not quite fully calm.
2 Faint tension or mild stress.
3 Feeling slightly unpleasant or uncomfortable.
4 Growing distress or discomfort. Mildly agitated.
5 Verging on becoming very uncomfortable and distressed.
6 Very uncomfortable affecting my attention.
7 Emotionally painful becoming severe.
8 The emotional pain is taking over my attention.
9 The emotional discomfort is almost unbearable.
10 The emotional pain is overwhelming me–the worst possible
And so…It has been a long few days.