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Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakthrough in Britain

I feel that I should apologize profusely for not keeping up with my blog for the last couple of months. In my defense, I have been awfully busy. Guess where I've been? ENGLAND!
That's right! I had the opportunity to go visit family in England for several weeks this summer, and I've only recently gotten back. I had a great time seeing the sites and getting to know my family better, but another interesting aspect of my trip was the effect it had on my OCD.
I found that some of my symptoms were very much suppressed, probably because I was in someone else's home all the time. It simply isn't possible to maintain the same level of contamination control in another person's house that I can in my own. Even if I could, it would be insufferably rude. And while that was sometimes difficult for me to handle (okay, actually it was always difficult for me to handle), I think it was also very good for me.
There were plenty of germ-related things I had to do on my trip, such as sleeping on other people's bedding; using public toilets; taking buses, trains, and tubes to get where I wanted to go; eating off of other people's dishes; doing laundry in someone else's washing machine; need I say more?
Aside from germs, there was the problem of organization. Living out of a suitcase is simply not conducive to sanity. If anyone has managed to keep the contents of their suitcase in any semblance of acceptable order for two months, I want to know how you did it!
And then there was the anxiety aspect of it. In my own home, I make the rounds every night, checking to make sure we're shipshape. But in a house where I was staying as a guest I couldn't bring myself to prowl around every evening, wiggling doorknobs to make sure they were locked, washing and drying any stray knives that may have been overlooked and placing them in a drawer, checking closets for intruders, and drawing blinds and curtains.
The longer I was over there though, the easier it became to deal with all of it. Despite the challenges and initial homesickness that accompanied them, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. To me, that seemed to indicate that at least some of my symptoms, evidently going into shock at some of the things I was doing, were temporarily incapacitated. Either that or they realized that I wasn't as much in their control as usual, simply because I didn't have the option of carrying out their demands to the same extent that I usually did.
So, aside from a great vacation, I think my trip also gave me a little more insight into my OCD and how I can control it more than it controls me. Now that I'm home I've been trying to apply some of those things so that it's not just a temporary change, but something that can continue and help me to keep figuring out ways to keep my compulsions in the background no matter where I am.
I'm really excited about this little breakthrough, and I'm looking forward to posting about my successes. And my failures, of course. :) After all, the failures are what make the eventual success so sweet, right?