Potty-stench made going to the bathroom awful. Phong would wait for days rather than use a public bathroom. Just going near one left him showering for hours under scalding water and layers and layers of soap. He would work through three bars of soap at a time before he could even think about stopping. Stopping before was too horrific. If he did, before he stopped feeling dirty, than something horrible would happen, or so his thoughts shouted at him. The devil would eat his little girl.
Phong knew that was not going to happen but the thoughts were tormenting and nothing made them better. Sometimes he would rather die than see the bloody gruesome scene in his thoughts another day.
Obsessive Convulsive Disease is a bear. Getting treatment is seriously scary. The treatment not working is petrifying. And just about anything in between is fear invoking. You get the picture. Who will go up against a bear like that?
I remember in the Disney*Pixar movie, Brave, when the dad, Fergus, yells:
Mor’du! Elinor, hide!
[Elinor and Merida run off, one of Fergus’ men passes a spear to him, Fergus charges towards Mor’du (in bear form) but he snaps off Fergus’ spear, then we see Elinor and Merida escape on horseback, then Fergus holds up his sword at Mor’du and shouts]
Fergus, like the beast he fights, growls a bellow:
Come on, you!
[suddenly Mor’du lunges forward and the screen goes blank]
Eventually we learn that Fergus won but suffered the casualty of his leg. The amount of adrenaline in that time and sympathetic hyperawareness Fergus experienced is just close to the amount that Phong has daily or multiple times daily sometimes in his Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy and medications. In ERP, he has to choose to expose himself to this nearly incomprehensibly horrible fear, respond to it and then wait until the fear lessons. This is a bad case of, “it must get worse before it gets better.” But Phong does it. Mostly. He just does not want this to go on and like a prisoner of war, he is eating the grass under the fence line to survive. The man has courage. Can you imagine going through that kind of cortisol crisis every day?
And as mentioned, on top of that, he takes his medications. Anyone who takes medications, knows that we don’t need courage once to do it, but every day, hand to pills to mouth, we need sinew. Phong is one of my heroes.
Question: Do you know you are a hero? Any ideas, why? How do you celebrate that? Or would you if you would celebrate this? Please tell us your story.
Self-care tip: Growl a bellow at what you fight! Be a celebrated/celebrating hero.
- Helping Those With Recovery Avoidance (ocdtalk.wordpress.com)