The Hairy Blob Monster From The Drain

Today, I decided to deep clean the kitchen, well, okay…the entire house.

If I clean the kitchen, I gotta clean the living room, and if I clean two rooms, I gotta clean all the rooms.  AND, the worst room in the house, the room I always dread cleaning the most, is my husband’s bathroom!  He’s just gross!

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Tackling my husband’s bathroom requires a hazmat suit and all the harsh chemicals my OCD doesn’t allow me to use.  My OCD is so bad, I can’t even keep any harsh chemicals (toilet cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, or even floor cleaner) inside the house, with the fear, someone will get hurt.

I hate OCD. 

However, I have no problem keeping other types of cleaning products in the house, such as disinfectant wipes, glass cleaner, and environmentally-safe (to the sewer monsters) dishwasher soap.  But, it’s taken me years to allow those inside the house.  I do not like them, but they do not bother me as much as the harsher products.  Silly, I know, but it is a work in progress; one day, I hope to not be bothered by any cleaning products in the house- like a normal person.

MY OCD EPISODE 

Today, I managed to deep clean my house, with harsh chemicals, without having an OCD episode.  Unfortunately, the chemicals, it seems were the least of my problems.  IT WAS THE HAIRY BLOB MONSTER IN THE SHOWER that triggered an OCD episode!

My husband is hairy, well, except for his head.  He is slightly (to be nice) balding, however, I do not think the hair on his head is technically falling out.  From my perspective, it just seems as if its relocating to other parts of his body…to fall out.  This, is a problem for the shower drain.

I love my husband. 

Anyway, I decided today, since I am already in deep cleaning mode, I would unclog the showers.  Generally, some vinegar and baking soda does the trick, because for the most part, it’s just shampoo and body-wash clogging the drains.  Plus, who doesn’t like watching vinegar and baking soda react!

Unfortunately, my husband’s shower drain was being stubborn.  I went to the store and got this handy little stick thing (because I do not like chemicals) to try to unclog the drain.  Now, if you have never bought one of these, you are totally missing out on all the fun!

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Simply, it’s a stick, with ridges, that you shove (takes a bit of work) into your drain, and with all your might (with two hands), pull out the most gross, nastiest, hair ball in the world!!!

The coolest thing, is that it works!  The downside, is if you have OCD…  The gunky gross hairball touched me! 

Gloves couldn’t save me, for that it touched the exposed portion of my arm!  My OCD bully brain had convinced me that no matter how much soap I used, no matter what type of soap I used, or how hard I scrubbed my arms, we were all going to get super sick and it was going to be my fault!

It also touched my sweater, that I threw into the dirty hamper, that my kids later knocked over on to the floor….oh mymy world was upside down!  Now, I had to disinfect the floor!

Irrational intrusive thoughts flooded my brain like crazy!

Stopping Intrusive Thoughts

Fortunately, my intrusive thoughts were interrupted by a phone call.   Earlier today, we dropped the car off for an oil change and it was ready for pick up.

Distraction can be an effective way to stop intrusive thoughts.  The drive to the car shop, cleared my mind, and acted like a reset button.  Just like dealing with a bully, sometimes, you just have to walk away.

When we came back home, I was fine.  I even managed to unclog the other shower without my OCD bully brain getting in the way (exposure therapy).

If this would have happened a few years ago, I can tell you…our shower drains would not be hair-free.  I would have broken down in tears.  I would have thrown away my sweater.  I would have scrubbed my hands and arms until they bled.  I would have disinfected the monkeys out of the floor where the dirty laundry touched.  I would have stopped using the shower all together.  And, I would have dwelled and dwelled and dwelled on my thoughts until I felt as if my heart were about to burst.

As silly as this story is, for some, the emotional fears stirred up by OCD can be super real.  It takes a lot of work to overcome the OCD bully brain, but with practice, I promise, it does get better!

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

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Overcoming Intrusive Thoughts

There were times when I was bombarded by dark heavy intrusive-thought clouds.  I used to think that focusing on the intrusive thoughts themselves would make the intrusive thoughts go away.  I always dwelled on one specific question: “Why am I thinking such horrific thoughts?!”  Unfortunately, that question only opened a flood gate of other disturbing irrational thoughts that would only intensify my anxiety and emotions even more, ultimately resulting in hours or even days of extreme emotional suffering.

Turns out, I just wasn’t asking myself the “right” questions?  

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts can be nuisance little buggers.  They are unpleasant thoughts, mental images, or ideas that involuntarily pop up in the mind.  Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts, it’s not just an OCD thing.

See, the brain is constantly scanning and processing information, thus why some junk information may end up in the processing line with thoughts that actually matter.  For the most part, our brain does a pretty good job at pushing intrusive thoughts through without us taking notice.  However, we tend to dwell on thoughts that are attached to emotions; so if an intrusive thought just so happens to pass through our mind at the right time, like during a period of anxiety, we might accidentally lock onto that intrusive thought by attaching an emotion to it.  

Generally, intrusive thoughts don’t linger around for very long and cause little to no emotional distress, because the fight or flight response system quickly realizes these intrusive thoughts are harmless and doesn’t require an emotional response; thus, releasing the emotional attachment allowing the intrusive thought to drift away from the mind.

However, for me, my faulty fight or flight response system doesn’t exactly know what to do with an intrusive thought and keeps me emotionally attached to my intrusive thought until it can be processed appropriately.  Almost like, when a customer service representative encounters a questionable problem, but has to wait until their manager comes back to lunch to resolve it.  Yet, with OCD, instead of waiting for the manager of my faulty fight or flight response system, I get the moody on-call supervisor (my OCD) to try to handle it for me, in which, we all know just makes matters worse causing emotional distress.  I wonder if I can sue my OCD for emotional distress?  

None Shall Pass, The Never Ending Thought Loop 

Imagine you are stuck running in a loop and there is a toll booth.  If you ask the right questions at the toll booth, you are free to leave the loop.  If you ask the wrong questions, you continue running in an endless loop, dwelling more and more on your intrusive thoughts.  Also, think of the loop as a dirt-road track, because the more you go round and round in your loop, the deeper the track gets from continuous tread from your shoes. Overcoming intrusive thoughts is a bit like that…at least for me it is. 

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I learned that the more I dwell on trying to analyze my intrusive thoughts, the more my anxiety and emotions intensify, leading to self-doubt.  Once self-doubt kicks in, that is it!  My OCD bully has nailed me in the gonads and I am just left to wait it out until my OCD episode ends on it’s own.  This is because self-doubt is much more difficult to overcome than the emotions attached to intrusive thoughts.  Self-doubt makes the intrusive thoughts personal and without cognitive practice, self-doubt is emotionally painful.

When intrusive thoughts become stuck, you just can’t not think about them….

Asking Different Questions

It’s all about changing tactics.  If you do the same thing over and over again to try to solve a problem, you always get the same results.  Usually, if you change your point of view, you discover a new way to tackle your problem to gain different results.  So, if dwelling on the same questions is making anxiety worse, why not try asking different questions?  Here are some examples: 

  1. Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I thinking about these horrific thoughts?”
    Ask yourself, “Why do these horrific thoughts bother me so much?”
  2. Instead of asking yourself, “Where did these horrific thoughts come from?”
    Ask yourself, “Am I anxious about anything that could have triggered these thoughts?”
  3. Instead of asking yourself, “Why can’t I just let go of these thoughts?”
    Ask yourself, “Are these thoughts really worth my time and energy to think about?”
  4. Instead of asking yourself, “Who am I?”
    Ask yourself, “Who am I not?”  Remember, intrusive thoughts do not define you.
  5. Finally, ask yourself, “What emotions am I attaching to these thoughts?”
    And then, begin defusing those emotions.

Try to think outside the box!  Ask questions that are constructive and positive to help lead you away from intrusive thoughts.  And, always remember to take a deep breath!

It’s Not Always Easy

There is always more than one way to release yourself from your anchored thoughts, you just need to find which way works for you.  The OCD bully brain wants to take advantage of intrusive thoughts to make you feel like a bad person.  Don’t let it!   You may not be able to control your thoughts, but you can for sure control how you respond to your thoughts.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intrusive Thought Clouds

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Illustration by Ginny 

 

Sometimes when it rains, it pours.

Dark heavy intrusive thought clouds can be overwhelming, but clearer skies are on their way.  Like all massive storms, intrusive thought storms seem to last forever.  They can be scary, especially, when the storm intensifies with emotion causing more anxiety.

Whenever a storm threatens a perfectly good day, one can either seek shelter and wait it out in comfort or learn to dance happily in the rain.

It is completely up to you, how you choose to respond to your intrusive thoughts!  ❤