March 2019 is my discharge-iversary. Is that a thing? Probably not. But two years ago, on the 17th March 2017, I had my final CBT session to date. To most, it probably wouldn’t be considered a big deal, and to some of you reading, it probably wouldn’t be either. But at the time, I had gotten through a good 75% of my exposure work, and I was able to do things that most people took for granted that I never thought I’d do again.
Now, I’ll be honest, the frame of mind I’m in at this exact moment isn’t great. And part of me is saying “But you didn’t complete ALL of it did you?” No I did not. Let me also tell you another way my mind is trying to shit on my success. The example I was going to use was that I now use my phone again when I’m out. Before I started my CBT, I wouldn’t use my phone outside of my house at all. I’d take it with me for emergencies of course, but it was essentially useless. My logic behind it? If there was nowhere to wash my hands, I couldn’t use my phone. Why? Because if there were germs on my hands, they’d transfer to my phone, and then what if I inadvertently touched my mouth after touching my phone and got ill? I previously counteracted this by cleaning it with Dettol wipes, literally every time I used it when I was out. But after breaking two phones through – you’ve guessed it – water damage, it became apparent that this was no way to live…so the smarter decision was to stop using it all together. In the times I was drunk or wanting to look vaguely normal, I’d use it but still Dettol the shit out of it when I got home. “But there probably were hand washing facilities in most places you went!” I hear you cry. Yes. Yes there were. But that’s too easy…
- While I could wash my hands in the toilets of most public places, I’d still probably have to touch taps/door handles etc. Far too many people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet and I was not about to smear someone else’s genitals all over my hands and phone.
- Even if I washed my hands at work, usually there was someone there that was ill. They might have coughed or sneezed on or near my phone (I’m embarrassed to even type that but it was a genuine thought).
- What about people’s houses? Surely I trust friends and family? Well yes. Sort of. The phone would stay in my bag because I couldn’t possibly put it on any surface. What if someone had been ill?
You get the idea. If you needed to contact me in an emergency, you’d be stuffed. Apologies to anyone who’s calls I snubbed or texts I didn’t answer immediately. But since my CBT, all that’s gone. I can use my phone on a night out, I can use it at work, shopping, at friends and family members’ houses. For me, that’s huge. But I feel I should be honest and mention something that will probably push me back. I won’t do it unless I’ve washed my hands or used hand sanitiser. I occasionally Dettol wipe it if it’s come into contact with something or someone I deem risky. Namely, if someone else picks it up or if it comes into contact with someone who’s ill.
At the moment, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m not as far as I’d like to be with my recovery. For the above reason and also because I’ve had a few wobbles over the last two years. But, even as I’m typing this now, I’m trying immensely hard to tell that complete bitch inside my head (I’m not sure if it’s me or if I should give my OCD an identity of one of those girls that picked on me school – thoughts?) to stop shitting on my achievements. I spent a long time thinking I’d never get my life back through wasting so much time doing stupid rituals and cleaning things that didn’t need to be cleaned. I still do. But, I do it a lot less. I remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt where for the first time in over a year, I cleaned my bathroom and didn’t shower afterwards. I can still do it – a task that used to take me well over an hour now takes me 20 minutes tops. I mean, it’s probably my most hated chore, but who enjoys cleaning a toilet anyway?
I’m still on a high dose of my medication, and I’d like to reduce it if not come off it completely someday. But those tiny little white pills made a huge difference in helping me feel better, and if they stop me from going back to how I was, then I’m happy to take them for a little longer. Plus, £9 for a prescription every 2 months is much cheaper than therapy.
So, despite a large part of me feeling as though I could have done better, I’m still going to try and be proud of myself for how far I’ve come. If the shit stirring, negative, self deprecating part of my brain really was one of those girls that picked on me at school, I’d stick my middle finger up at her and kick her in the tits – because even though I don’t feel it right now, I’m doing fine.