“Evening Up”: Carts & Shoes

In the interest of not being OCD about my OCD blog, I’m making a quick, before-going-to-sleep post that will be possibly very disorganized and inaccurate. I’m just testing everyone’s exposure and response prevention therapy skills! 😉

I’m thinking of times when I go shopping, and accidentally kick the grocery cart with one foot. What does a normal person think? I don’t know; probably not much. What I think is: “Oh no. That’s uneven. Now my other foot needs to touch the cart.” I used to give in to this feeling and perform the action, but the problem was that almost every time, it wouldn’t “feel right.” The second foot would either hit the cart too hard, or too softly — or just not in the precisely correct spot. So I kept having to do it over, and over, and over…

I used to have a similar problem with tying my shoes. In the morning I’d put on my shoes, tie each one, and then… when I stood up, one would invariably feel tighter than the other. By a small amount, but this would bug me. So I’d re-tie my shoes, but then… the shoe that was too tight before became too loose, or vice versa. So I’d have to keep doing it over, and over, and over…

I’ve learned that when I get these feelings of unevenness, most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Sometimes it’s really difficult, but my odds are better with ignoring it, because if I give in, it’s almost never easy to satisfy that feeling. I find I’d rather deal with the effort of trying to ignore a false alarm from my brain, than having to repeat something over and over until it feels right for some weird, arbitrary reason.

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4 thoughts on ““Evening Up”: Carts & Shoes

  1. mathematicallyconfused says:

    Yup, definitely the way to go.

    I find that when I ingore the uncomfortable feelings (don’t know what else to call them) they eventually dissipate. But when I give in to compulsion, it’s almost like it feeds them and they keep getting worse and worse (even though at first I think the compulsion will make it better).

    I just recently found your blog, by the way, and I am loving it. It’s amazing to find someone I can relate to.

  2. willitbeok says:

    Yep. Sometimes the compulsion appears to relieve the feeling, but the reality it it’s more like: spend 5 – 10 minutes ignoring annoying feeling.

    or

    Spend 30 minutes (or more) trying to get “just right” feeling. 😛

    Thanks. I just followed your blog, too. My hope with this one is that I can bring more people with OCD/Tourette’s together.

  3. wilson78415 says:

    If this is all impulsive then you still have significant input to what you respond to or am I not seeing this accurately, would seem impulsive also and not just obsession altogether and that is probably just a matter of intensity and level?

    I wouldn’t even presume to respond to any of the posts with the OCD issue unless I felt I had some relationship to the obsessive responsiveness and association as well. At the very least I’m married to an OCD involved spouse. I love her to no limit, but there are so many obsessions she has to work with, it doesn’t escape me, that both she and I have at the very minimum a passing interest in your very valuable perspective. You have it under control, some situations you won’t be able to ignore I’m sure as intensity seems to increase with the value of the object obsessed over, but you are picking your battles and you have a tool for coping with the use of ignoring the behavior.

    We all have to pick those same battles in so many different types of situations and not in all situations does it involve obsessive nature. With knowing you have a working tool the ignoring, you have things on a level playing surface for yourself and for the others you care about with your blog and service to them with your topic. Level in that your tool is an approach to your concerns about obsession, with a simple and average response and not another response that is over the top or extreme in the effort to cope with the obsession. By using available and practical response, you take some of the power away from obsession my thoughts.

    • willitbeok says:

      I suppose it is impulsive, but there’s more to it than just that. I have somewhat of an obsession with symmetry, but depending on the situation, this obsession affects things to a varying degree.

      I hope your wife is getting all the support she needs. Fighting OCD can be very difficult. I’ve had more difficulty fighting relationship obsessions (repetitive, unwanted fears that my partner is going to leave, cheat on me, etc. with no provocation for these thoughts). It’s in these more subtle ways that OCD often destroys lives and relationships, rather than the typical obsessions like germs/handwashing which are famous. (But when extreme, those can be debilitating, too.)

      I also know it can be extremely difficult living with one who has OCD, but in the end the rewards will make it worth it.

      “Just ignoring the thought” is easier for less strong obsessions. And of course, it should never truly be “just ignoring”. It should be a very active, mental process of labeling the thought as OCD, understanding the implications of that, moving on to other thoughts, and continuing to remember that the OCD thought is invalid. I also, and perhaps many others with OCD as well, react better to someone saying “Maybe this is your OCD” rather than “This is your OCD, stop being silly”. We like to have our concerns acknowledged in a respectful way, no matter how silly they seem to others.

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