Saturday, December 20, 2008

emptiness--- fears and exposures and responses, OCD

I have been pondering this post for a few days now, but it was reading this meditation on Mary that tied a few things together.

In my life I have gotten to know quite a bit about those who suffer with OCD. The rituals that get our attention are ways to cope with fears that the person cannot release from their brain (and heart and soul). I am contaminated... I must wash my hands again. I ran over someone... I must circle the block 5 times. I must make the right decision... I will ponder and research it endlessly. I don't know if the door is locked, I will circle the car 20 times. They desire absolute certainty in a world not designed for it.

My mind is much more akin to the anti-obsessed end of the spectrum, and the students with ADD following their names. However...

winter weather can creep into my brain and while my brain will flutter away from the thought it will come back and back and back. I want certainty that I will be safe, that I will not get stuck, that I will be able to park, that that that that...

One of the best treatments for OCD is the old prescription for fears..."get back on the horse."

It is called exposure and response prevention therapy... here is link to a book by an expert in the field , Jonathon Grayson

contamination--- touch a garbage dumpster and eat without washing. locked doors---- leave them unlocked on purpose. decisions--- flip a coin and admit to your self that it may have been the best or worst decision that you have ever made and move on. Feel the fear and anxiety and see that you can survive. No guarantees, remember this is not about certainty.

So Tuesday night I drove out into a winter weather advisory to do some yoga with a friend. Last night I drove out onto roads that only needed a degree or two drop to become black ice to attend the school's holiday party, and today is a big test. Facing your fears does not mean you won't get an infection, make a wrong decision, or get stuck in a snow bank in the Poconos, but it means you will have emptied yourself. And even though you feel the ritual is a treasure that protects you, releasing it from your life is realising it is not magic and is a release that can lead to greater joy, peace, and hope.

So there is the connection to the meditation. emptiness.

I won't drive out into a northeaster, but I may just be listening to jazz tonight instead of feeling I protected myself by staying home.


  1. I often think about OCD whenever I'm putting the cutlery away. In fact, I did so just yesterday. Years ago, I watched a documentary on the subject and they showed one person who had to put the right utensil in the right spot and, if one ended up going in the wrong slot, he had to empty the entire drawer and start all over again or else.... impending doom, I guess.

    Sometimes, I think that my mind flirts a little too much with OCD thoughts and mind games. "If" is a word I link with those games; if this happens then that..... It certainly does seem to revolve totally around control, doesn't it? Occasionally, I do as you did and force myself to do exactly what I fear. But more times than not, I play it pretty darn safe.

    In reading the meditation, once more, and in light of this post, you've given something more to ponder. Thanks for that.


  2. Mich--- it goes like this... I really wish the forecast was worse or better. I could stay at home and hibernate, but a meteorite could kill me. so much uncertainty.

    With OCD the if and the that give false assurances. If I stay home I will be safe. Well, no I won't be safe, and I will miss the jazz, and I will also miss the adventure of the drive home tomorrow.

    anyway, I think we decided to go, but who knows for sure. Although the roads look dry, they may be frozen. and who knows what tomorrow will bring for the forecast calls for snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain... that gives me no assurances at all ;')

  3. I hear ya, Wayne. Can't say that I'm fond of winter weather either for the same reasons. This resonates in a huge way: "I really wish the forecast was worse or better." (I'm already thinking how nice a snow day would be on the day we go back to school. But that's probably another story altogether, eh?) All the best with whatever you decide to do.


  4. You?? REALLY??? I didn't know!?!

    I do not have it, but I was cured of any slight inkling of belief that I might suffer not so terribly long ago when I had some water on for tea.....gas stove, and a not so big pot with just enough water in the pot for one cup of tea.... Didn't set the timer to remind me that I had water on to boil.... I got distracted and then not so Didn't remember...didn't remember didn't remember...until I heard sirens drive by the place where I was attending a meeting. I felt all of the blood leave the upper part of my body as I broke out in a cold sweat, because I had remembered at that moment that I had forgotten the hot water boiling on the stove.... Now, I don't worry about much because if it's real, my body and mind will tell me so.... Happy end to my story...husband was in the door practically as soon as I was out, found the stove issue right away and all disaster was averted. Needless to say, I ALWAYS set the timer now!!

    No catastophizing allowed!

  5. Giggles--- I do not have OCD, as I said I am more of the opposite, but can relate in a small way about how it is to have OCD when it comes to winter weather.

  6. Oh, sometimes I just don't get it....sorry....

  7. Hmmm. A I was driving home from the mountain on Tues, I got stuck on a hill leaving the parking lot. I couldn't get up, but I was terrified to slide down (that whole losing control thing). After about ten minutes (mind you, cars were passing me as I was screaming and crying), I let it go. Slid down (not into a ditch thankfully) and drove painfully slow and steady to get up the hill. Got out on the main road and damn if it didn't happen again. This time I didn't wait - slid back down and off I went. As I was driving - still a bit terrified, I wondered is it really that bad or is it just because its the first one of the husband says Texans can't drive in the snow. I happen to agree with him, but I muddle by, heart racing, up the hills.

  8. One of the hardest things about my current student teaching assignment is that it is a fair distance, over freeways and back country roads with no choice as to whether I can decide not to go. Last week two days had impossibly bad road conditions.

    Tomorrow is expected to be bad too. I will think of it as facing my fears and try to be braver.

  9. MsKlem--- you got a lot going against you because your are from Texas.

    Kathryn--- I am on break, however, I am helping to move a lot of stained glass tomorrow. Ice and glass go well together. I wish us both well.


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