How life has changed on this OCD recovery..

It’s been 6 weeks since I embarked on this journey of recovery. Of course before this I was fighting the daily battle and trying but never had I felt this level of determination. I thought it would be good to look back at how much has changed over the last 6 weeks. I have had support from my husband and my family. I have professional support from a therapist in CBT and exposure work and I have support from OCD action with a weekly check in. I also take medication daily. Without any of those things I wouldn’t have got where I am now. However mainly this all revolves around my little boy and being the best for him. For a while I was far from my best and on reflection I can’t believe how impacted I had become but I am stronger and the fight continues.

  • I never cooked, I became scared of my kitchen. Cooking would be too difficult because of how much I’d hand wash. I love cooking but I stopped for about 2 months. Now I am cooking from scratch and serving and I even made my little boys weaning food. Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t an easy feeling but I’m doing it more and more. I went months barely eating and now I’m eating 3 meals a day.
  • I didn’t use the sink downstairs as this is the sink my husband would wash his hands in when he came home from work. I never made drinks and my husband would have to leave me drinks for the day when he wasn’t here. Now I’m using the sink for hand washing and drinks. I still get anxious but this is something I’m working on.
  • The floor: I wouldn’t touch the floor, sit with my feet up, let my boy on the bare floor etc. Now I’m lay on it with him, if a toy falls on the floor he can have it back. My feet are up on the sofa. I used to wash my hands when I put socks on. Not anymore.
  • Getting washed or showered I’d need my husband to pass me stuff and watch me. I’ll never forget how awful I felt looking at my husband sat watching me with our little boy in his arms. Now I get up and get ready. Before that it could take over an hour just to wash and get into pjs…now there’s time to spare!
  • Hand washing : my hands were red raw. I was washing all the time and repeating over and over. If I touched the sink or it didn’t feel right I’d do it again. Now it’s 30 seconds and I’m done. I used to avoid the toilet in the day when hubby was at work. I’d be too worried about being too long washing my hands. Not anymore!
  • I never went out alone – now so far I’ve only done this once. But now when I go out with my family we talk, we laugh. Before I was a nervous wreck. It was awful. Sometimes I wouldn’t make it out the house or when I did I’d come back and meltdown and shower. We have fun now. It’s been so long since we had fun.
  • Getting dressed before was a task. Most of the clothes would end up in the wash as I would find a problem with them. I’d put my trousers on without allowing my feet to touch the waist band and if I failed (which I did a lot) I would put them in the wash. Now I just get dressed and go downstairs.
  • My reassurance seeking was very demanding. I would be writing down 60 things a day. Now it’s one or two. My husband would be constantly getting calls and texts but not now. Now there may be a couple of things but I deal with most things alone now.
  • My relationship with my husband. I wouldn’t let him kiss me or touch me. Now we enjoy each other’s company again. I don’t shrug him away or check he’s clean.

My journey is not over, far from it. But I’m so pleased with how further forward I now am. There are no more daily tears I feel more able now to face those fears.

Going..going..gone..out – Biggest exposure tackled!

If you read: This you’ll see that I planned to tackle my biggest piece of exposure work. Going out without my husband. I haven’t done this since 23rd March.. the day before lock down commenced. Here how it all went..


The day/night before: I woke up in a panic. ‘Where am I going to stand in the porch when I take my shoes off?’… I went and got ready and OCD questioned EVERYTHING I did. I didn’t answer, I moved on from every query and I didn’t reassurance seek. I haven’t for a while now so why start now. I note my behaviours want to start up again – more hand washing, not touching things etc. I don’t rise to it. I even complete some new exposure work. It’s weird because I’m anxious about being anxious but I’m less anxious than I thought. If that makes any sense.

So I’m not going to pretend I’m just walking out of the door with no rituals. I haven’t completed the work to stop my rituals when getting out but I need to get out so this has become a bit of a mission. I’ve prepped what I’ll wear, the porch will be cleaned and mopped, my car handles cleaned, my shoes laid out and hand gel everywhere. The porch door will be propped open so I only have to open the internal door which no one touches. It’s a lot…. but going out alone is a step and two weeks ago I had a breakdown at the thought. All the things I will do does not involve me touching anything that I don’t own, it also doesn’t involve me doing anything I wouldn’t have my husband do whilst we are out and about. I often find with this exposure work that a) just going for it and b) focusing on the feelings that will come after is the way to go for me. I know when I come home, after 30 minutes I’ll be so proud. It’s been over 4 months it’s time to get out.


The morning: It’s about 40 minutes till I’m leaving. Majority of what I wanted is ready. One of the things I’m worried about is coming home and being in the porch and opening the front door. So I decided I’m going to spend some time in there this morning. Just go stand out there and come back in. That way when I come home it’s nothing I haven’t already done. The porch has been completely cleaned and I’ve prepared everything I can possibly prepare for. I’m just trying to focus on an hour after I’m home. How I’ll be proud of myself, how my family and my husband will be too. How I’ll have a little slice of freedom that I haven’t had for months. It’s going to be ok. I keep reminding myself throughout all of this you could always go out for exercise. It was the safest thing. The government didn’t say to do anything but wash your hands when you leave and come back in. I need to follow the proportionate guidance not my made up OCD mind.


I did it…. And it was fine. I panicked a little coming in the house as I parked close to the plants and had to touch them and my arm touched the car but I took a breath and just got my little boy and got in the house popped him down and washed my hands. I sought reassurance a couple of times from hubby by text but it was my first time out so I’m not going to beat myself up over that! Just like that everything I was building up for over four months, all my worries and it’s done! I’m going to do the same tomorrow and make Sunday’s a regular occurrence until I feel able to go out on other days without hubby being here in the morning. At the end of all of this what’s happened has happened in terms of the worry side. It’s all done now but the achievement of it all. The moments of being so proud of myself for doing it… that’ll stay with me for the rest of the day and into tomorrow. Watch out world I’m coming back!

Sometimes the impossible is not as out of reach as it feels.

When OCD screams

So as per my last post my biggest exposure work is happening tomorrow. The plan is I’m going to leave the house and be out on my own for the first time since the 23rd March.

Now this is now a military style operation. Lots of preparation physically and mentally. Normally hubby would get me out and in so there’s a lot to think about and I haven’t ended all my rituals around this yet and neither am I rushing to, to be honest. I just need to get out first.

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’ve been feeling a lot better recently. However OCD has starting screaming at me. Particularly with tomorrow coming up. I always find if I’m waiting for something I’m worried about OCD jumps on that vulnerability. So far I’m managing to ignore OCD. I’m not sure as the day progresses and getting out comes closer and closer whether I’ll be able to do that consistently.

To help me ignore it I tend the focus on three things. The past, the present and the future.

The past: Have I done what I’m worried about before? This works for both a yes and a no. If I’ve done it before then why can’t I now? If I’ve resisted before then why can’t I now?

The present: My ‘so what’ approach. ‘You didn’t wash your hands well then’. ‘So what’ or ‘yeah and your point is?’ Being prepared to stick up for yourself and argue back! Plus if whatever it is is already done then don’t waste time worrying!

The future: How will I feel when some time has past? I’ll have probably forgotten about that worry or feel ok with it. What I know is a few minutes or hours later I’ll always feel proud. Instead of homing in on the emotions now think about the better ones coming.

I’m going to try and walk into today focusing on the positives. If I do this tomorrow I can do it every Sunday. Me and my boy can get out and about and meet friends and family. If I can conquer this I can conquer anything. I’ll be so proud of me and so will everyone else.

My biggest piece of exposure work. Could it be done, when and how?

I’m bored.. I’m bored of staying in from Wednesday to Sunday whilst hubby is at work. I’m bored at seeing a nice day and being too scared to go out. I’m bored of OCD dictating what I do and when. I’m bored of the contradictions that it’s alright for hubby to go out, or get me out in touching the door handles, laying out my shoes but me oh no better not. I want to get out but that is my biggest exposure and my scariest. Two weeks ago I cried at the thought, last week I started to consider the rituals I do to get out. This week… I WANT OUT but can I get out?

Ok so to get out the house presently this is what happens…

My husband mops the porch, anti bacs the doors and the car door handles. He lays my shoes out and opens the front doors and the car doors for me to get out. When I come back he again opens the doors and I come in and wash my hands and often get changed. Hubby will also put our son in the car, get him out of the car and set up the pushchair.

So this weeks task to start reducing these rituals I had to get my boy out of the car and set up the pushchair and do reverse when getting into the car. I also had to get him out of the car and bring him back in the house. I did this ok, I was anxious but anything around my little man I tend to be able to overcome because he’s so important to me.

So today sat here I thought… I just want to get out. Do I want to wait for weeks whilst I get rid of rituals each week – not really. So how could I do it whilst not getting rid of every ritual in one go and overwhelming myself. So my thought is this… when I’m actually out and about I’m ok. It’s the getting in and out that I avoid interaction with.

Sunday my husband doesn’t start work till 11. So technically he could do as he always does when we leave the house (perhaps minus getting the boy in the car I can do that as per my exposure work). On a Sunday we would have no post or deliveries therefore I know no one will have been near my porch/front door. I could go and meet my parents at a local national trust I’ve been to now twice so I know how it works. Then I could ask them to follow me home and watch from the driveway as I go in for some extra support. I could hand gel my hands before I come in the house and then I’m clean and just wash my hands and avoid getting changed. I did that on Monday and managed to stay in my clothes. I feel that could be achievable. Worst case scenario I just get changed it’s not the end of the world for my first time out without my husband since feb!

Then Monday I could do the same as hubby wants to do the garden so he could help me out and in but the actual being outside I could just do it.

Worst case scenario is I struggle but at each step I’ll have someone around for support. Also I’ll be so proud of myself and it’ll be a good start for me to get out with my lad. The thing I would need to do that I haven’t before is enter the house without my hubby opening doors but if he does it and it’s fine and they’d have been cleaned etc then it should be fine for me to. I can keep my hand gel on me and then if I need to use it I’ve got it and that kills the virus so that would do the trick in the worst case scenario.

I think maybe I could actually do it? I am very all or nothing. I am constantly set tasks in CBT for exposure work and then I add a few extra things on and I am nearing the end of my fear ladder. I just might be able to do this… and I’m quite excited about that!!

Working through the emotions. Real life situation.

So tomorrow will be the first time I have planned to go to my sister in laws garden. She has a new puppy and she is desperate for us to go and say hello to pup. Now my sister in law is aware of my OCD. Now the plan is we go, take our own things, our own chair and just stay 2 metres. This in my brain is mostly ok… it’s all our stuff and the same as meeting in the park which we have been doing. However of course I have found/created a list of issues I have with this. When reading I want you to do so loudly to mimic how my OCD is shouting in anticipation:

  • The chairs will be on their grass, where will they go after to quarantine.. if they go in the boot they will by my sons push chair so that won’t work.
  • Where are you going to put the nappy bag? The only place is the floor and the dogs will be all over it.
  • What if my sister in law or someone who visits her before us has Covid and has stroked the dog. Then we stroke the dog or our dog plays with the dog and we get Covid.. and then die.
  • What if my husband touches something and I’m unable to tell him because it’s embarrassing in front of his sister.
  • What if my clothes or my husbands clothes touch something.
  • What shoes should I wear? Should my shoes me exposed?
  • How and where will I change my boys nappy?

Ok… so there’s my OCD brain shouting away like a **** (choose your word accordingly). Here is my ‘normal/rational’ thinking in response:

  • The chairs will be on their grass, where will they go after to quarantine.. if they go in the boot there by my sons push chair so that won’t work. – They will be outside on grass just like you have been in the park but this is private with people you know are careful. You can only mitigate so much. They also have covers so there’s no reason for them to touch the push chair anyway.
  • Where are you going to put the nappy bag? The only place is the floor and the dogs will be all over it. That’s ok – the dogs are going to touch you. You can’t avoid them in their garden and that’s the reason we are going. We will just sanitise our hands appropriately in line with the government guidelines. If we start playing don’t put things where the dogs have been we will be playing the floor is lava.
  • What if my sister in law or someone who visits her before us has Covid and has stroked the dog. Then we stroke the dog or our dog plays with the dog and we get Covid.. and then die. – Ironically my sister in law has to have a Covid test for work which she will have had before we go. Can’t say safer than that. My husband has arranged this visit because we are the first to meet the dog other than them. Dogs can’t give you Covid either… think about how many dogs in the world and how many go to the park and dog centres etc. If dogs were a source of transmission we would know. In fact the WHOs guidance is clear that dogs can’t pass Covid to humans. Is my OCD smarter than the WHO? Yes of course if someone coughed on their hand and touched the dogs with Covid it could spread however you could say that about anything. That’s why you have to be as cautious as possible but not too over the top.
  • What if my husband touches something and I’m unable to tell him because it’s embarrassing in front of his sister. – I can’t be responsible for his actions. He is careful to but to the right level.
  • What if my clothes or my husbands clothes touch something. – Same as above
  • What shoes should I wear? Should my shoes me exposed? – is there any guidance on this from the government – no. Why? Because it’s not an issue just one in your head.
  • How and where will I change my boys nappy? On your chair? On your husbands lap? Where there’s a will there’s a way. We could take a picnic blanket.

Am I still anxious? Yes. Will I still be tomorrow? Yes. Is there a risk? Of course we are in a pandemic but all we can do is just follow the guidance and do our best. It is just as important to look after our mental health to. People around the world are meeting outside. We will keep our distance, use hand gel and clean our hands when we get home.

Week 6: OCD Recovery

03/08/2020: Today I cooked a meal from scratch for the first time in over a month. I washed my hands once and just cracked on. This is an achievement for me but particularly on a day where I’m going to my sister in laws garden which I have been anxious about. I am on the way there now. I’m thinking when I come home not getting changed when I normally would but I’ll see how it goes. It would be good not to because it would be near impossible to do when I pop out with my son on my own in the not so distant future! I’ll let you know how I get on. I just want to try and relax and enjoy it.

So I’m home, in the same clothes and I just washed my hands and done! I’m even now thinking of doing some more exposure work. Dare I say it things are moving forward! My plan is to put my little man to sleep (baby not husband) and then wash hands go and cook pasta and garlic bread. Serve tea and eat. That’ll mean combatting a few things 1) washing hands once before preparing food, 2) touching things before I eat and 3) using the downstairs sink.

I haven’t used the downstairs sink or cooked a meal from scratch since my husband went back to work at the start of June! My little boy needs me to do it because in a week he’s going to be eating! So why wait, start as we mean to go on. I’m getting my life back!

04/08/2020: So I did it last night I cooked and used the downstairs sink. Today I started some new exposure tasks these are:

  • When I go out with hubby to be in charge of my little boy so get him in and out of car seat, get push chair out etc. This is to start preparing me to go out on my own.
  • Prepare and have lunch daily
  • Cook tea every night
  • Use downstairs sink at night for a drink
  • Shower without support
  • Take medication without hubby getting it.
  • And of course continue past tasks.

So I’m not waiting or putting it off to tomorrow. I’ve been out and done everything for my son. I’ve made my lunch for tomorrow and my little boys food. I showered without support and took my own medication. Tonight I WILL cook tea and I WILL use the downstairs sink. Come at me week I’m ready for ya!

05/08/2020: So the work continues and it feels good. It feels easier each time and like ‘normality’ is on the way. Today I wrote this post:

Blog post about leaving the house

I have made plans to meet my parents on Sunday. Since then I have started to feel my anxiety rise and I’ve had to take some time to calm down. There was a hair in my food and post dropped on the floor. Two things that could have resulted in rituals. They didn’t, I did panic but I was able to bring myself down quicker. The anxiety is there but it feels like background noise rather than centre stage.

06/08/2020; Woke up anxious this morning. I thought who do I think I am planning to go out alone. I had a dream I got Covid too that didn’t help. My little boy also decided that sleep was not important last night so another factor that doesn’t help. I’ve taken my medication slightly earlier than normal and I’m just going to sit with it. If it comes to Sunday and I decide not to go, fine. But I’m not letting anxiety scare me off days before when I felt so ready yesterday. It’s going to be a few days of apprehension but once I’ve done it I’ll be so so proud.

07/08/2020: Woke up better this morning. I reflect back just a few weeks ago when mornings were awful. My husband would have to watch me get washed or showered, then watch me get dressed, about 3 outfits would go into the wash because of some issue. My husband would watch me put on my trousers as I did so trying to ensure my feet didn’t touch the waist band. Then once I’d done that I’d have to wash my hands again. I never had time or confidence to wash my face or brush my teeth. I’d go downstairs and husband had a long list of things to do to make me feel comfortable for the day. Something always went wrong, we’d argue, I’d be crying and he’d be late for work. Mornings dare I say it have become normal. I get up, get ready and my husband does the same. There’s still a couple of bits of ritual lingering but there not all consuming and will go eventually. Other than being tired today was a good day.

08/08/2020: Since my husband went back to work in June he has had to be in the room when I showered. He’d turned it on and passed me what I needed. Well today I just had a shower like a ‘normal’ person. I had some anxiety over going out tomorrow but not as much as I thought I would. It could come but it’s ok. Also you know the girl who threw the food on an oven tray and couldn’t stand to be in the kitchen? Yeah well she’s cooked tea every night and even made purées for my little man.

09/08/2020: Another week done. Another huge list of exposure work done and continued. I even got out on my own. The impossible tasks have become possible. 6 weeks ago I was terrified of my kitchen I didn’t know how when my boy starts eating how I would manage it. But guess what? It starts tomorrow and I’m ready. I’ve cooked most of the week, I’ve had lunch, I’ve made drinks. I can do it and I am not phased. 6 weeks ago some times we would plan to go out and I couldn’t make it through the front door, today I went out on my own. I’ve done so much, life is so much better and I feel so much stronger.

Week 5: Recovery

27/07/2020: Today was good. There were a few moments I was on the edge of meltdowns and clawed myself back. I also did more around the house and feel motivated and accomplished. I have my CBT tomorrow too so going to prep for that tonight. Didn’t go out today given it rained all day but hope to tomorrow!

28/07/2020: I’ve had a good day. I had CBT today and it was really positive to reflect on how far forward I’ve come. We have decided that exposure work must happen immediately and this is why I find Wednesdays so difficult as it’s the anticipation. This weeks plan is to be involved in cooking and serving, touch the dog and not wash my hands, only wash hands for 30 seconds and do some cleaning. I’m also going to make a plan to get me out of the house! Last week after CBT I cried at the thought of making that plan. It’ll be cutting out part of my rituals bit by bit but I’m actually hopeful and excited now. To think soon I could meet friends or take my little man out on my own!

29/07/2020: It’s a Wednesday… and it usually is my crappy day. It wasn’t. I ploughed on with my exposure work. I woke up anxious but overcome it anyway. I pushed myself rather than avoiding and I feel accomplished and strong for it. Bring on the next challenge. Today was a lovely day and I began to think of going out alone. The thought of this before would make me sweat so even the thoughts a big move for me.

30/07/2020: Today was good this morning felt normal. I got up, got ready and went downstairs and started my day. My husband lapped up the extra time he didn’t have to be apart of my rituals or meltdowns. I faced a lot again and continue to do so. I’m feeling stronger every day. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m already starting to look to next week and getting ready for the next challenges.

31/07/2020: Today I woke up anxious but I carried on. I got ready swiftly, I made it downstairs and I just sat with it. I was looking for something to worry about and yeah I found it. Course I did. But I also resolved it to. I started ‘next steps’ today with OCD action a UK charity. The idea is that I get 12 weekly calls alongside my CBT to make sure I’m getting the most out of CBT and to be a support mechanism. I’m hoping this will help solidify things throughout the week!

01/08/2020: Another good day. I managed to clean the living room without panic and I started to think about doing some more exposure work. I am still not asking for any reassurance either. I feel a lot stronger and positive for the future.

02/08/2020: I woke up today and I thought right I’m having a shower and no husband isn’t going to put it on or open the door. I’m just going to shower like a normal person… so I did. My husband was in the room bathing our son but I reckon in a weeks time that won’t be necessary. Tomorrow I’m off to my sister in laws garden to meet her new dog. I’m worried about this, I’m worried about the contamination from the dog, from the garden etc. My mind keeps coming up with problems as per usual! I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m even thinking of booking a holiday in the UK to. I’m starting to push myself more and more. In just over a week I’m weaning my son so I’m going to have to cook on my own so this will be a huge focus next week to my husbands delight. I’m also going to start making my own lunches to prepare for it and expose myself to using the downstairs sink. I also can’t stress enough how much easier life is with less hand washing time. I am actually not avoiding going to the loo or eating because of having to hand wash. Life dare I say it… is starting to feel ok. Maybe even good.

Dear OCD

You’ve taken so much from me. You’ve taken time and ruined relationships. You’ve tainted memories. You’ve made me feel weak and afraid. You’ve hurt me so much and most of all you came when I was most vulnerable and when I could be nothing but alone. Please will you be quiet I’m trying to concentrate on living my life. I don’t believe your words but you are often so convincing. I know your wrong but you always find your point to prove. You never advise me properly, your ALWAYS looking for a problem. Why do you want to scare me? Why lock me away? I will be free of you. You are not real, you are unreliable and you are not welcome. You are the bad smell that will disappear. I have asked you nicely to back off. Well now I’m telling you, I’m done. Ssh. I’m not interested. I can’t trust you. But I can trust me. Don’t underestimate me, I must be strong because I’ve put up with you for this long.

Physical reactions to anxiety.

Sometimes the OCD voice is so loud it’s hard to notice anything else but recently I have noticed that my body is physically reacting to high levels of anxiety:

  • Pacing – when I found out I was pregnant and waiting for my husband to come home I paced the hall way looking out of the window for his car. That’s the first time I noticed that when stressed I go back and forth. When I’m in a high state of anxiety I go back and forth until it’s resolved in my mind.
  • Fidgety – I cant sit still. My hands tend to shake about. I become this person muttering with jazz hands.
  • Talking out loud – I can’t shut up just like the OCD sometimes. Everyone must know. Sometimes I just declare things… ‘I JUST TOUCHED THE TAP’. I’m not sure what I achieve when doing it. It’s almost like I’m fighting the thoughts.
  • Sweating – now I’m not sure if this is post natal, anxiety or both. But my goodness when I’m stressed I’m a hot mess.
  • Clenching my jaw – when I last went to the dentist he said ‘do you grit your teeth’ I was shocked. Absolutely not. He was shocked that I didn’t. Well turns out I do. I’m doing it right now. I can’t seem to stop myself!
  • Tired so very tired – ALL THE TIME!

Recovery progress update – Exposed.

For therapy I had to make a fear ladder and grade my fears/compulsions 0-10 (10 being the worst)

For perspective there are 40 points on my fear ladder. All of different levels of fear to me. Each week I choose 3 in CBT to accomplish that week. Each week I have been choosing some additional ones so I thought I’d review where I’m at.

I have actually completed or started 20 of them! So I am half way on the road there I guess.

Exposure work is difficult particularly in a pandemic because there are fears that are legitimate and there are things I have to do to ‘stay alert’ (I am the definition of alert right now).

For me exposure work always starts with anxiety. Straight after CBT I get scared and I have put off exposure work the next day. I come up with a reason to avoid it or I ignore it. All of a sudden it feels too much.

I then hit Thursday and I flood myself. I go for it and then touch lots of things quickly so I can’t take it back. Then through the week the things I am doing start to feel ok. My brain seems to calm and I start to work things out myself and become more rational.

It’s a really interesting journey because OCD will tell you that doing ‘X’ is the worst thing in the world. Yet the more you do ‘X’ the more you realise it’s fine and always was. The more you do the more you then realise that actually OCD is not as reliable as you thought and this is how the journey to recovery can start.

For example one of my worries is the floor. I feel that the floor will be contaminated. However the more I touch it, the more I sit on the sofa with my feet up, the more it feels ok. The more I start feeling ‘normal’ and feel more comfortable. Another worry was soap splashing me when I wash my hands. The more it happened the more I ignored it the more I can walk away from it feeling confident.

OCD makes you question everything. However the moment you begin to question it, is the moment you realise it’s been lying to you the whole time.

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