Thursday, February 25, 2016

MY ANXIETY / EXPOSURE MASTER HIERARCHY

The Giant Storytelling Bed at the Southbank Centre, London, last week: Fighting OCD is zapping all my energy, so I just want to snuggle up in bed early and hide from the world.

My Anxiety / Exposure Master Hierarchy

1.         I avoid smear tests / the doctor / waiting rooms / hospitals: 100
2.         I am terrified of being alone anywhere with a man: 99
3.         I avoid and fear being alone with children in case I sexually molest them and don’t remember I’ve done it: 99
4.         I avoid staying with people in case they rape / attack / contaminate me and because my routine will be disrupted: 99
5.         I avoid taking medication when the cat’s around / feeding the cat alone, and fear making meals and drinks for loved ones in case I poison them: 99
6.         I avoid and fear using appliances like electric hobs before going to bed or leaving the house alone: 99
7.         I am scared of being in bed / home alone in case I get raped / attacked / contaminated: 99
8.         I fear checking / sorting my e-mails in case I delete one forever, meaning that I will have missed life-changing information: 98
9.         I avoid red spots and anything that resembles a needle on the pavement or on toilet seats, as well as sitting down in public spaces like on walls or grassy areas: 98
10.       I avoid bumping into people for fear that they will contaminate me: 97
11.       I avoid responsibility for locking the car or doors, and fear not putting my musical instruments in their cases properly and leaving them behind: 95
12.       I fear leaving the house in case I leave an appliance on or a door open causing the house to burn down / the death / disappearance of loved ones: 94
13.       I fear writing something offensive / incriminating in my correspondence with those I love / respect, or with work colleagues and thereby jeopardizing my future: 93
14.       I fear missing pages out when reading a book: 92  

As you can see, I've scored six of my fears and avoidance triggers a SUDS level of 99, which is reflective of how during my waking hours I feel permanently stressed and hypervigilant.

Some of the items on here I took out, for example, I avoid sitting near to people who are eating noisily, because I don't perform a compulsion, such as writing down a reassurance, to counteract the irritation / anxiety I experience in such circumstances: They are more like by-products of my OCD.

After three drafts, I managed to get my master hierarchy down to the required 10 to 15 specific situations that trigger different levels of fear and anxiety, whereas when I began this journey, I reckoned I had too many fears and triggers to contend with.

I've written to Survivors' Network, Brighton, requesting help with the PTSD side of my diagnosis to do with my abuse, and await their reply, plus members of the OCD support group I belong to on Facebook reassured me that it's normal for OCD to get worse before it gets better when tackling it with ERP.

The other day, however, I managed to refrain from checking page numbers as much while I was reading a magazine; the first of my fears I plan to challenge: I'm so ready to see the back of this damn disease!

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