Amusingly, she mentioned that what we hadn't done was cognitive therapy because it's not really something she does. I said to her that I wouldn't have come back originally if her solution had been for me to lick a toilet - that I'm just not going to do that and I also don't think that would work for me. She agreed that she thought that method was a bit simplistic. Personally, I have no idea why one action once would completely undo a very long period of complete obsession and repetitive ritualisation. For me, if my fear was leaving the house and someone made me do it once and nothing bad happened to me, that would in no way make me think, "Oh well then, my fears are completely unfounded." The issue for me is that my fears relate, I think, to an unbalanced risk assessment - that my fears are founded on reality and science but that I have overestimated the level of risk, or deemed that level of real risk to be personally unacceptable.
That's where I'm at with that, in any case. And people around me IRL agree that I am better than I was ... but for me it's an active everyday thought process of reassuring myself that particular risks are acceptable to take. And that it's ok to deem some things unacceptable - which is one of the issues with this whole illness, the level of "normal" behaviour to which I can allow myself to return to. For example, it's acceptable to expect handwashing after going to the toilet and before preparing a meal. Funnily though, well not, is that what when I talk to people, everyone has one *thing* that they do that's a little OCD and what I have done is to take the sum of all those things and made that my lifestyle. And that in having to decide what is "unhealthy behaviour" I have had to come to a point where I say, "it's ok to do x, y and z UNLESS those things adversely impact on my ability to actively enjoy my life" and that is where I have come to in drawing a line over which I walk into crazyland/mental unhealth. And enables me to be ok with troubleshooting future potential OCD triggers, and allow the troubleshooting to actually be healthy behaviour. Like if not washing dishes for three days is going to make me feel like those plates could never get clean, then I have to wash them now, to avoid the loop of panic/anxiety. (which, you know, would be healthy - to do your dishes straight away)
But coming back to "but where does all this come from?" and "will I be cured of this, ever?" I discovered that maybe it's always going to be an issue of balance for me and that maybe everyone is always in an act of balancing their own worries and anxieties. And that, you know, that's the best I can hope for. Which was a bit depressing, to be honest (and only *very* briefly had me contemplating licking a toilet.)
I wanted to explore the idea that this is some kind of response to the onset of my chronic illness. I guess if it was, that would be some kind of explanation for it all? I think, if my attitude and response to Crohn's was reasonably "healthy" - I did not consider it a handicap but rather looked for ways to get on with my life, and did so - then it's not fair to really go back and look for some kind of PTSD or whatever. But what we did discuss was the ways that Crohn's impacts on my life and how I have come to manage it. Essentially, I am aware of every single thing that I eat, every single time I open my mouth and put food or drink in it. I am constantly hyperaware of every potential way that food and drink can take me down be it by hives, pustules on my hands, skin rashes, acute stomach cramps, ongoing stomach aches, diarrhea, frequent and unpleasant trips to the bathroom, wind, indigestion, nausea and constipation. And that if I am not careful, any of these can be ongoing for months at a time. So what managing my disease has taught me in a very real, repeatable way is that what I eat and how I am in the world directly affects my physical health.
So that's the first thing that I have been mulling over.
But what none of the above captures is the kind of thing that happened to me last night. See, what they don't tell you, and what people do not discuss in polite company, is that once you have had a major disturbance to your gastrointestinal system, you get a kind of irritable bowel syndrome and that that can be permanent - especially if the kind of disturbance has meant scouring of the walls and lining or prevention of creation of particular enzymes and so on. Basically, I was told by my doctor that my bowel function has changed - it's not the way it was before I got sick - and probably will never return. What does that mean? I'm too polite to talk of such things. But basically, going to the bathroom for me is often painful, time consuming and embarrassing. It's not the kind of personal detail a girl wants to have to share with some hot guy. And inevitably, if you are in a relationship that's intimate, you can't hide that stuff forever - you will spend more than 24hours in a row with that person and *they will find out*.
Toilet capacity and capability is a big deal for me. I use *a lot* of toilet paper. And it occurs to me that this constant pursuit of wanting to feel clean could be related to this particular lifestyle change that has been forced upon me. It's embarrassing if I stay at someone's place and they realise I have gone through a lot of rolls of toilet paper. It's also embarrassing because I need to flush in the middle and people might ask what is going on in there? And last night, I overestimated when I should flush and thus broke the toilet.
And you know it's not something you want to ever have to tell anyone. maelkann asked if I wanted him to go down and fix it/take a look at it, and I was like, "hell no!" I still kinda think I am keeping the romance alive here. But seriously. I wanted to cry. I didn't want to be the kind of girl who can't go to the toilet like a fucking normal person - go, flush and move the fuck on with their lives. No, I'm the person who constantly has to figure out how not to block up the toilet, every fucking time I go. EVERY FUCKING TIME. Several times a week, I find myself in the toilet angry at myself at how long it's taking or how much paper I'm using or whatever. Do I need that much paper? Yes. Does it cut me up inside? Yes. Welcome to "bum cream" and the glamorous world I fucking live in.
And in the end, I had to go to my parents's place to finish going. My dad has Crohn's too so they didn't blink an eye. But on asking how I broke the toilet, I could tell my Dad was so not wanting the full answer. Noone really wants to know this stuff. And I was like "you asked me how I broke the toilet? How is that going to end well for you?" (He has a weak stomach)
The best way to deal with such a plumbing problem is to let it rest and come back later. And yep this morning it all sorted itself out again. But lying in bed last night, I was worried I'd get an attack and ... well ... that just would have been beyond coping with.
But yeah, thinking about how this is related to the rest of the OCD stuff and figuring out how to find a balance. As usual.
I should add that when I got back from my parents', I discovered maelkann had spent the time researching bidets and selected one he thinks I should get, t some point, having heard the somewhat censored version of the problem I was having and observing my distress. It was really reassuring that his response was not one of being grossed out etc.