Friday, June 25, 2010

Vacation and OCD: It wants to come along. . .

I'm getting ready to go on vacation. I know I am not alone in having my OCD get more active before travel to somewhere unfamiliar and away from routine. My husband said I am dramatically better than in past years, and he's right. Of course my OCD jumps all over this with, "Well, he just jinxed you. Can you live up to the pressure to be sane???" But I do know that in the past vacation was like a gauntlet of anxiety, with a big dose of anticipatory anxiety in the form of hypersensitivity to body symptoms, fears of getting a bladder infection, difficulty deciding what to pack, unplugging everything in the house, fear of dying while away.

This year though, although these same kinds of thoughts have occurred, I haven't latched onto them, and wrestled with them until I was a sweaty mess. I used to compulsively research vacations in order to try and get some kind of control, but I am learning that part of vacation is making it up as we go, and as daunting as my OCD finds anything spontaneous, I am making this an exposure, to have a good time dammit. . .OCD also came in the form of "am I enjoying this trip enough? Did I experience that right?" along with fear of not choosing to do the right activities at the right times, so again, big exposure time here, because the flashes of freedom, fun and joy I've had when I stay in the present moment are lighting the way.


  1. I know what you mean. Going on holiday brings out all the anxieties and more. I think your attitude of using it as an exposure opportunity is very positive and will be of huge benefit. Your awareness of the fact that you are better than you used to be does not jinx it but should enable you to be more confident.

    I wish you a peaceful holiday.

  2. The "am I enjoying this enough?" question comes up for me a lot when I am embarking on something I want to be able to enjoy. What works for you in confronting that particular spike? I know for me what seems to work best is just saying, "Maybe I'm not enjoying this enough, maybe I am. Oh well. Guess I'll never know." And then doing my best to get back to the present whether I feel like I am enjoying it the right way or not. I do the same when I feel like something has been "jinxed." Or, if I am feeling particularly strong I might even try to joke about it in a flooding sort of manner. Something along the lines of "Yeah, I probably will go insane while we're on vacation. Watch out!"

    Not to jinx you or anything ;), but it seems like you're quite the vet when it comes to dealing with these kind of OCD thoughts. I hope you have a wonderful vacation that puts OCD in its place!

  3. Thank you for your encouraging comments! In terms of dealing with the "am I enjoying this enough?" question, I do a similar response of, "I might not be, but the more I try to figure out if I am extracting every last bit of enjoyment perfectly, the less I will actually enjoy. I know it feels uncomfortable to have these anxious questions pop up, but ocd is promising something I can't have--complete enjoyment." I think I had a script about this a few years ago--I'll see if I can find it.