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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?


  1. I think i can finally comment! Hi, I'm karin and i've been reading your posts now for awhile but could never post replies(even tho i've tried) because i could only do so under 'anonymous' which you don't use.

    Anyway i live in Ontario and also have ocd. The fear of contamination- handwashing kind. I used to have more of the pure o, and some checking but really got hit badly after my dd was born 5 yrs ago. THats when i looked up symptoms of ocd and found out that my weird thots were part of ocd. It has morphed into the physical kind.

    I would soooo love to go to england!!

    Glad you had a great time and that the ocd didn't ruin it for you. That was also very courageous of you too! Gives me hope that i can travel because i love europe and want to see more of it in the future. When we went last time 10 yrs ago, we stayed in youth hostels and that was fun, but with ocd, i thot i might have to give it up. Maybe i dont, which makes me feel better because traveling is what i want to do and i'd hate to have ocd keep me from it.

    WEre you able to keep the gains you made?

  2. Hi, Karin!
    Thanks for posting. I certainly hope that you are able to travel in the future. The OCD does make it kind of hard, but it is so much fun and it gives you the opportunity to learn so much too.
    As difficult as it is, I try not to let my OCD stop me from doing anything I want to do. (Easier said than done, I know!)
    I wish you the best of luck as you continue dealing with this disorder. Just know that you're not alone!

  3. Hello Sam,

    I have OCD too and i'm from the U.K. :) I'm glad that you had a good time over here and the trip helped to alleviate some of your OCD behaviours - Maybe I should take a trip to your country to see if it works for me too! :)

    All the best and I look forward to reading your future posts.