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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

OCD and Physical Intimacy

     So...I'm going to tackle some thoughts on a taboo subject here on the Internet.  At least, it seems that way for me.  I have struggled with this problem for years and I've done countless internet searches which yield not a lot of information.  Usually, I'm directed to my own blog--ha, ha!  But, it's not really a joke.  Considering the amount of people in this world that struggle with OCD, I know that issues with physical intimacy and all that brings, can create a lot of problems for us.
     When I look back at my life pre-OCD, things just didn't bother me.  I could hold someone's hand without wondering what countless contamination they had been in contact with all day.  I could kiss someone without worrying what contamination/germs were infesting their mouths.  I could have a normal, healthy sexual relationship with my husband without worrying about the many thoughts that would plague my mind in my life with OCD now.  But that is just the thing with OCD in general.  We give way too much thought and attention to things that most people don't even consider.  And it's not that we want to give it that attention.  We desperately don't want to think those things.  But that is the obsessive nature of the disorder.  Dwelling on things, worrying...until we come up with special routines/compulsions to work our way around the anxiety...sometimes even avoiding activities completely because otherwise it just becomes too much to deal with.
     Even when I first started developing OCD, about 12 years ago now, I don't remember having sexual issues initially.  Most of my stuff was targeted around "magical thinking", but I was in the beginning stages of contamination OCD (and just starting out with some germ fixations and handwashing compulsions).  OCD has a way of morphing through the years, however.  I've visited this in previous blog posts, but it's worth mentioning again because I feel there were a couple of defining moments early on with my issues with my husband and intimacy.  When I first started with OCD I was going through a very stressful period in life.  We were having some serious marriage issues, and I was going through a lot of depression/generalized anxiety and some other health issues.  I was having some panic attacks and was simultaneously dealing with some potential food allergy problems that manifested later in life.  I tested positive for a walnut allergy.  Now to be honest, I haven't eaten a lot of walnuts in my life, and there is a chance this could have been a false positive test.  But, OCD does not see things that way.  My OCD mind convinced me I was allergic to walnuts and that if I came into contact with not only walnuts but peanuts or any other form of nut--that I would have an allergic reaction.  And jumping to worst case scenario, my OCD convinced me I would have a life threatening anaphylactic reaction.  Part of the problem was that I ate a Snickers cheesecake slice one night before I had a panic attack, so this wasn't something that my mind just conjured up one day.  There was a definite "I ate nuts and I had shortness of breath, difficulty breathing following"....(although that was later found to be a panic attack).  Obviously an anaphylactic reaction doesn't just resolve on it's own.  After this walnut allergy finding, my mind became fixated on something bad happening to me if I came into contact with with any type of nut.  Suddenly I didn't want to kiss my  husband anymore.  He ate a lot of nuts (still does to this day), and there was certainly a huge risk there for me.  I started inspecting his pants pockets when he came home, for evidence of granola bar wrappers (which were the usual culprit).  I would flat out start asking him every night before bed if he ate nuts that day.  I was scared out of my mind.  But of course he couldn't see that it was anxiety.  He was just very irritated for answering the same question every night.  Maybe part of me was mad at him.  Mad that he didn't stop eating nuts.  Mad that he cared so little about my health that he didn't make a simple change in his diet.  Mad that he couldn't see how anxious this all made me.  But it put a huge dent in our relationship, one of the first in a big series of events.  No matter how small or trivial this seemed, I am certain this played a big part in the downfall of our physical intimacy.  I eventually got to the point where I was so tired of asking him every day, and getting those snarky responses that I decided I wasn't going to kiss him anymore.  I simply wasn't going to take the risk. 
     Even before the nut allergy issues, there were other things about kissing that bothered me as well.  Mouths are just gross, to be honest.  People put objects in their mouths-pens, keys, etc.  They put fingers in their mouths.  They eat without washing their hands.  Not to mention viruses and illnesses that can be transferred through saliva.  It is just too much to think about sometimes.  And that is the sad thing about having OCD...we are going to think these thoughts no matter what.  We will fixate on these things, because that is how our brains work.  So, as far as the kissing...it just seems gross to me.  I can truly tell you that I can't remember the last time I kissed my husband.  Even a peck on the cheeks or lips.  It has been years and years.  My best guess is probably 7-8 years ago.
     But moving on to other things...what about sex itself?  Sorry to be so blunt, but I think this issue could stand to be discussed.  I've tried for years to discuss this with my own husband to try to find a solution, and I can't even get my own spouse to talk about it with me.  For a little background information, our sex life has been non-existent for 4 1/2 years now.  But I will be honest with you, it's not because I'm not willing to try.  It's because my husband is so convinced that there is no way it would work with my contamination OCD, that now he just avoids the conversations.  There is a back story with the sex problems too, just like with the kissing.  I've also discussed this in previous blog posts, so bear with me.  We went through a period of infertility after we had our first child.  We tried for several years to get pregnant, and had one miscarriage during that time.  No successful pregnancies.  Infertility, if you've dealt with that, is already very stressful.  Nothing is more awkward with sex than when you have to plan out when you're going to have it.  Oftentimes falling on nights where you don't really want to do it, and you just end up going through the motions after awhile, hoping that it will work this time.  It was during this trying to conceive phase that my husband developed a hobby of working on cars/machines.  He was doing a lot of very mechanical stuff, spray painting cars and working with a lot of grease/chemicals.  Just imagine "mechanic hands".  They aren't very appealing or comfortable for someone with contamination OCD.  To imagine those hands on your body.  I remember one afternoon he was painting stuff in our own backyard and he came in the house with his hands covered in green spray praint.  Also the fronts of his jeans were plastered with the green spray paint.  He didn't stop at the sink to wash the paint off his hands.  He just came in the house, went directly back to the shower, and there ya go...my OCD was triggered big time again.  All I could imagine at that point was his entire body being contaminated with the spray paint/chemicals.  His green hands contaminating every inch of his body as he showered.  Thus entered in sexual problems.  How do you have sex with someone when you feel they are contaminated?  His hands always felt contaminated to me, as he was inevitably always working on a project.  I could see dirt/grime underneath all of his fingernails.  I had several ways of helping to reassure myself at this time, but all it did was just tear us further apart.  These are the strange lengths I went to:  at first it was just showering/washing hands before intimacy, then at some point I "inspected" his hands before he was allowed to touch me, I eventually had us shower together and I would wash off his genitals (how awkward is that?!) so that they didn't feel contaminated to me.  The act of having sex became so ritualized beforehand, that there was no spontaneity or fun or anything romantic or normal about it at all.  It was the most dysfunctional process.  And even after we had sex, I would go in the bathroom and scrub at my own genitals trying to remove any trace of his bodily fluids.  And I have a deep sense of guilt, shame and embarassment about all of that.  But truth be told, I wasn't trying to be difficult.  It was my OCD telling me that I had to remove every trace of possible contamination or I couldn't even be comfortable.  That is what OCD compulsions are trying to make you do...be comfortable, and give you that reassurance you so desperately need.  After it became clear that we were done trying to conceive again, that took some pressure off and at least a condom was an easy solution for the "dirty genitals".  But our sex life was basically killed off.  Eventually, it just stopped.  I got into the worst of my OCD at that time with clothing contamination..so sheets, bedding and all sorts of things that I never even imaged at the beginning of my OCD would be a problem, were then an issue.  There is a lot more to the story, but I'm trying to keep this short (and not doing a good job with that obviously). 
     For a little over a year now, I've been trying to approach the conversation about sex with my  husband.  As much as it does make uncomfortable, I feel I've come up with a way that this can work.  He's been avoiding the conversations though, just stating that he doesn't see a way that it can happen.  I think it we can find a way to bring sex back into our relationship, that is a big step for us.  I think it is a way for us to connect and to try to brings some intimacy back into our marriage.  I've told him this before too, and as awkward as it seems--I think it would be easier for me to be around him naked, than clothed.  I am so worried about my clothes becoming contaminated, so if we're naked I don't need to worry about that.  I've got a plan set for the bed and showers beforehand.  But no, I'm not going to wash his genitals this time.  And I think my plan is fairly reasonable, considering I'm trying to go out a limb and make this happen.  This a big exposure.  But I can't do it without him,  obviously. 
    Just to summarize about the whole intimacy thing in general.  It's really tough.  I look around and I see people holding hands all the time.  I see people kissing.  It's natural.  I think about all of the kissing and sex that goes on in the world and most people are just fine.  Most people don't see it as a danger.  They see it as a very healthy, satisfying part of their relationship.  And that is how I used to see things.  I wouldn't think twice about a kiss, even after I just ate something.  I know that I had sex without washing hands, and did some very unsanitary things looking back.  But now my mindset has changed, and I see the unsanitary factor in all of it.  I think about the dirty mouth, the unbrushed teeth, the exchange of body fluids, the unshowered skin, and the very dirty hands that are all over each other.  And it's too much for me.  I know it's too much for a lot of you too.  Several of you have commented in many of my blog posts how much these things bother you.  So, I know we're not alone.  I've talked to many others who have also gone years without having sex with their spouse.  Who cringe at the thought of their spouse touching them.  But then I've also connected with others who say that their sex life is not affected by their OCD.  They are still able to completely be able to be with their spouse that way, and not bothered in the least.  It's interesting what our OCD dictates for us individually.  But this is a topic I think is worth exploring.  At least if one other person reads this and knows they are not suffering alone, then it was worth writing all of this. 
     I've tried to think this through from all kinds of angles.  Is it possible to have a romantic relationship with someone, when you really truly don't think you will ever be able to get past this part of your OCD?  Is it reasonable for your spouse to expect some degree of ritualized behavior before sex, in order to at least get that part of your relationship back?  I would love to know how you deal with this.  Please, please don't tell me to seek professional help.  I already know that is out there and an option.  But if you have had this problem and benefited from professional help, I would love to hear your story.  I'm mostly just curious how others have dealt with this.
     Thanks for reading, if you made it to the end!  It's such a horrible topic to explore.  For those of us with OCD, we know it all too well.  For non-OCD sufferers, it's something they will never have to imagine.  We live in silent suffering, those of us with OCD.  Here's to hoping that all of you are doing well!  I will post soon about my progress in general and where I'm at with everything.  Just had this topic heavy on my mind lately!
       

Monday, January 9, 2017

A rough start to the new year

     Happy New Year!  I can't believe it's 2017.  I am not really a "winter person", so the cold weather where I live really gets to me this time of year.  I deal with some Seasonal Affective Disorder too, so add that into the mix of OCD, and the winters can sometimes become very long.  Why is this?  I think winter is harder in general just because cold weather and darker days are kind of depressing.  Also for me, the added concern of colds and illnesses circulating really bother me.  I've really kind of a rough start to 2017 and we're only one week in.  I keep telling myself that this is okay.  This is temporary.  I'll get through this. 
     To begin the year, I've had some more problems with my husband.  This is really a separate topic for a post of it's own soon, but I want to touch it on briefly today.  I am really starting to wonder if someone with OCD and someone on the very opposite end of the spectrum (one who doesn't care if he is dirty or unhygienic in any way) can really live comfortably with one another.  I get it, so please don't remind.  I realize I have OCD, and therein lies a lot of the problem.  Most of what bothers me, doesn't bother most other people.  I think that when you have OCD, it is always going to be difficult living with somebody else.  Because they simply will never live up to our standards of cleanliness.  And they shouldn't.  I really get that.  It is an OCD problem.  But....what happens when there are some legitimate hygiene issues?  What happens when these things have been going on for so long, that you really start to lose trust in the other person, and find yourself having obsessive thoughts and engaging in compulsions because in a lot of ways, they are potentially putting you at risk.  At least themselves, and possibly you and the rest of your family.  Sometimes, I think it is a real fine line to walk.  I will delve into this into much more detail in a post very soon (as I have been thinking about this almost 24/7 lately, even in my dreams, yes!).  But to throw out there some very unsanitary things about my husband--involving mold, a lot of it.  The bathroom that he uses, has mold growth in it.  Very bad.  It used to be so, so bad.  Then I made him clean it up and it was better for awhile, but now the shower curtain is growing mold again.  Not just a spot or two, but the whole length of the curtain.  I have asked him to change it and he doesn't.  I have asked him several times.  I can not go in there because I am afraid of breathing it in and causing respiratory issues.  I am actually allergic to mold after all, as are a lot of people.  He wears a night guard for his teeth, and there are black mold and orange stains on it.   He still wears it.  How would I ever be able to kiss somebody (we stopped doing that a long time ago anyway for other concerns I had) thinking that is in their mouth, and going into mine?!  I went to collect some clothes of his to wash the other day and noticed black mold and brown sludge all caked all over the inside of his toilet bowl.    These are just a few examples to show my point  here.  He also went four days without showering over the New Years holiday.  A few of those days he was out the farm working.  Then he changed oil in two of our vehicles, laying down on the garage floor which is absolutely filthy.  At that point I thought he would shower, but no...he simply came inside and changed his clothes and sat on the couch to watch TV.  Didn't shower until the next day...when it had been an official 4 days since the last time.  I don't think these are OCD issues (especially the mold/bathroom issues).  I think they are extremely unsanitary, and I am certain that most non-OCD sufferers would even find that appalling.  But sometimes I think that because I have OCD, my husband feels I don't ever have a valid complaint.  Any cleanliness concern I have is simply chalked up to the fact that I have OCD.  I don't think that's fair.  I think it's put a huge wedge between us, and I'm not share how to bridge that anymore.  I don't know if we can.
     My husband also came down with a cold several days ago, and that has put me on edge too.  One of my absolute worst triggers with OCD germs is coughing.  I simply just can't handle people coughing around me.  Knowing the respiratory germs are airborne, it's almost like I can just visualize the droplets of viral particles all over the place.  Granted, he has actually done very well with this cold.  He has kept his distance, and tried to stay downstairs.  In turn, I've tried very hard to keep my mouth shut.  Sometimes when my anxiety really gets going and I've been triggered, I have a hard time keeping quiet about my concerns.  So far, amazingly, we haven't had any arguments.  But I feel edgy.  I worry about him walking through the house after I've gone to bed, coughing and projecting stuff on the furniture.  It's been rough.  Thankfully, I think he is past the worst of the cold now. 
     I don't know if it's the combination of these things, because of course stress just makes OCD even worse.  But I've been very worried about all sorts of things this past week.  I suppose part of it is just with it being cold/flu season in general, I am so much more mindful of being around other people at the store.  I kid you not, that somehow I managed to be right next to 3 people at the store in a 24 hour period who were coughing in line, mouths wide open.  I washed my coat twice in a 24 hour period, because I can't stand the thought of that stuff being on my clothes.  If I see someone coughing, I generally do everything I possibly can to get out of the way.  As I was crossing the parking lot one of those times, a guy started coming toward me coughing with his mouth open, and I stopped like a deer in the headlights and turned around and started walking fast.  It's like my mind just can not handle that.  But yet, we were around my nephew at Christmas who was coughing in close proximity to all of us, and we didn't catch anything from him.  (This cold my husband has could not have been from my  nephew.  Too much time has passed for that to be from him).
     Also, it's just been cold as can be here!  30 degree below zero wind chills at times.  I'm finding that car exhaust (from the heaters probably) is terrible.  I have to sit in my car while in a parking lot, waiting for the right time to run in the store, so I don't get blasted with the exhaust from the other cars as I'm walking by.  I can just see it like a cloud, and it is so bothersome to me to think of all that yuck/smoky stuff getting into my clothes, skin, hair, etc.  I try so hard to avoid that stuff, but it is not always possible.
     So although this year hasn't gotten off to a great start, I am determined not to let it slow me down.  I know we are just at a point during the year when I typically do worse anyway.  I think a lot of people with any type of mental health issues just have a tough time during the winter.  So, I'm not giving up or anything over the next few months.   It's just a rough patch that I know I'll have to get through.  I've got a lot planned this year for my OCD, and hoping to knock out some big stuff.  I'll keep working, one step at a time.  Albeit a little slower probably through these next couple of months :)
      
   
            

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas with OCD

      I haven't posted for awhile here, so just wanted to give a little update how I've been doing.  First of all, I am over 50,000 views on my blog now!  It doesn't sound like a lot, but I am reaching people out there somewhere in my little corner of this OCD world.  That is what it feels like, right?  But it's so far from the truth.  I have heard from countless people on this blog, things such as "I never thought I would find someone else who struggled with similar problems", "I never knew other people did things like I did".  What I have learned is that there are so many people like us.  We are not alone.  And we must keep sharing our stories and supporting each other and connecting.  So that we do not feel so alone, and also so we can reach others out there with this disorder. 
     The holidays are usually pretty tough for me.  I was a big avoider for awhile, because I simply didn't want to deal the aftermath of feeling contaminated.  I didn't want to hug people.  I didn't want to sit on their furniture.  I didn't want to possibly be exposed to other people there who "might" be sick.  There was no way of knowing.  I didn't want to deal with the clothing I was wearing when I got home...was it salvageable, would it need to be thrown out?  I didn't want to clean my car out because that was the mediator between the public world and my safety zone at home.  I have learned to face many of these things over the last few years.  But I still struggle in some ways.  It is definitely not easy for me to go to these events, but I force myself to.  I knew this year was particularly going to be tough.  We had sick family members on both sides of the family, so potential for exposures to illnesses the entire day.  At one point it was determined we wouldn't be getting together, but then things changed.  And then a whole new set of concerns entered my mind....it wasn't only contaminating myself with "normal stuff" that people do everyday--sitting on others furniture, hugging, etc.  But rather actual exposure to people ill with colds.  This is super high anxiety provoking for me.  I spend so much of my time avoiding germs and avoiding contamination, and now I'm supposed to purposely expose myself?  And to up the ante even further, I knew I would have to deal with this--or the flip side of the coin would mean dealing with my husband's anger/irritation because we didn't get to our family Christmas because of my concerns.  My husband will never understand what I forced myself to do (pushing myself into a level 100 anxiety situation) but I did it.  I went to 2 family Christmases, where 2 of the children had pretty significant coughs.  Children are even more of a trigger for me, because they typically lack cough hygiene, and I know the "cough germs" are going to be airborne everywhere.  I will admit that I kept my distance to the best of my ability, but I did it.  I went, and it is done.  To be honest, a lot of things happened there that bothered me.  Although I was able to keep my distance fairly well from one of the children, the other one was more difficult.  It was in a smaller house (and mostly we stayed in one room).  My nephew coughed all over the place, mouth wide open--a loose junky wet sounding cough.  His nose kept running, and he was drooling most of the time--spit hanging down onto his clothes.  At one point his mother wiped his nose and then just stuffed the snotty Kleenex in her pocket.  He coughed all over the food as he sat at the table (thankfully we didn't eat there, I have to draw the line somewhere).  Then as they left the gathering (they left before we did, so he could get home to go to bed), they told him to go around and high five everyone.  This is with sticky snotty fingers.  He seemed hesitant at the end and was getting tired, so thankfully I was able to decline and just politely say that I will pass on the high five.  Ugh.  I can't imagine all the germs everyone else collected on their hands from doing that.  Also at one point someone was holding him and he coughed directly in her face!  So many concerns, so many thoughts and worries.  I was so happy when it was over.  I went, but I'm not going to lie.  It was a relief when it was done.  
     I have a lot of concerns moving forward, because my nephew is only a year old.  He is in daycare, always getting exposed to stuff,and I have a fear that he is going to be ill often at family get togethers.  It makes me nervous just thinking about it now, and all of the gatherings we will have in the future and how I will deal with those, but I guess I'm just going to take it one gathering at a time.  That's all I can do. 
    As far as the rest of my OCD, I am doing fairly well overall other than dealing with contamination issues with my husband still.  It continues to be my #1 OCD problem.  Just so many things that I see him do on a daily basis that causes me to lose trust in him.  It makes me more mindful when I'm around him, and I really don't trust his judgment.  Some random examples of things that would bother me that I see him do are:  goes to the bathroom and flushes the toilet without washing his hands, he reuses a cup several times and digs it into the ice bin each time (even though it hasn't been washed for days on end), he handles our dogs rawhide bone and toys and then eats food without washing his hands, he picks up clothes off his floor that haven't been washed for months and months and wears them.  I have actually seen him do the "sniff test" when picking up clothes to wear to work.  He was sick with a cold and wore the same shirt for 5 days in a row, coughing into it constantly.  He lets our dog lick his face, ears, hair and clothing all over.  He lets our dog sit and put her butt directly on his pillow.  He goes several days without showering usually over the weekends.  I could go on and on, but you get the point.  I just feel he is dirty and I just don't want to come into contact with that.  And once the bridge between him and I is crossed, there is no way to protect my spaces anymore.  So I am very protective of my safe spaces, and my clothes with him.  Our worlds just can not collide.
    But back to the beginning of this post, I am so thankful for those of you I have been able to connect with on this blog.  I have already heard pieces of many of your stories, and I feel your pain. Please continue to share your stories, so we can continue to get this out there, reduce the stigma associated with this disorder, and find others to connect with.  There are so many of us out there.  You are not alone.
    
      

Friday, October 14, 2016

Medication and OCD--is it worth a try?

     I want to talk about medication today and it's use in OCD and depression in particular.  I have been opposed to medication for quite some time...but the tables seem to be turning, and I think I am reconsidering my view on this topic for some very important reasons.  There was a time when OCD completely consumed me.  It was all I did, it was all that I was for awhile.  It was during that time that depression reared its ugly head, and I believe was probably the downward spiral that sent me into such a deep dark place I never thought I could recover from.  I knew I was in a deep depression, I knew I was not functioning.  I knew I did not want to live that way, but I could not pull myself out.  In all honestly I was not capable of thinking clearly at that time.  OCD was a way of life for me, and I was stuck.  It was just the way I resigned myself to living for quite some time...ruled by obsessions and compulsions, and avoiding everything that I could.  This only deepened my condition.  I didn't really have a support system at that time (as far as someone I could talk to safely about my OCD).  After all, the only people that had a name to what I suffered from was my husband, my daughter and my doctor.  My marriage has been extremely dysfunctional, and highly toxic at times.  We have had our share of marriage issues that alone would be difficult for a marriage to endure, but once OCD was thrown in the mix, it became a whole other type of nightmare.  It brought about issues in our relationship that most people could never even fathom.  You can visit previous posts or search my blog for "husband contamination" if you want more details on all of that.  But in addition to the stress that OCD brought into the marriage, and the toll it has taken, one thing stands out to me that I never in my wildest dreams anticipated would be a problem.  My husband's anger at my OCD.  His daily anger at me for having this condition.  I've often questioned whether or not I can stay in this marriage.  I love my husband, but I hate what this is doing to us.  We don't have much of a relationship at all anymore.  And I am certain that OCD is not the only path that has led to that.  I never imagined that a spouse would check out when their partner became ill.  And yes, OCD is an illness.  It is a chronic, day to day struggle.  I needed someone there for me in my darkest days, and he failed to show up.  In fact he became more angry at me, which I believe further worsened the cycle.  I don't know how to get out of the mess with him.  For religious reasons, I don't believe in divorce.  Yet I also struggle with "Does God really want me to live like this?" 
     I have worked so incredibly hard over the past 2 years to reclaim my life back from OCD.  This was with a lot of hard work with ERP self treatment.  And I have a long ways to go, but I am definitely getting there.  That is something I truly believe he will never understand.  But it is something I am so proud of for myself for doing.  I have pushed myself and fought against this, in the midst of a highly toxic environment.  Without professional help.  Maybe I'm just stubborn, but I was bound and determined that I was going to do it that way.  Maybe I didn't want a professional pushing me when I wasn't ready for certain things.  But for awhile, I've felt at a standstill.  I feel like for some reason I'm not making huge jumps of progress anymore.  In reality, I think its just because I have the "big stuff" left on my list to do.  No more baby steps.  At this point, its jumping in and ridding myself of my safe zones.  I will never fully overcome OCD if I don't make that step.  Although I'm trying to get better sleep and exercise more, I just feel that I'm not getting anywhere.  In fact I went to my doctor yesterday and discussed all of my symptoms again (fatigue, irritability, low mood, low energy) and she feels I do have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I mentioned in my previous post), and she wanted to see me feel better this winter.  I'm already dreading winter and already feeling blah.  I am so tired of feeling like this.  I want to live life again and feel like myself again.  OCD has already taken so much life from me, and my family.  It has taken away experiences I can never get back.  And it has created situations that I'm not sure can be repaired.  So, I think I have made a big decision....
     As I stated earlier, I have always been opposed to medication.  I took an antidepressant for a few days in my early 20's, and experienced such terrible hallucinations on it at night I thought I was going crazy.  I have never wanted to take anything similar to that again.  Another problem is that my OCD, believe it or not, has also not "allowed" me to take medications as my OCD fears I will have an allergic reaction to the medication or something bad will happen.
     What I do know, is that I can not continue to live like this.  I fear for my health--physically,  mentally and emotionally.  I looked at the Serenity Prayer again recently,
and in relation to my OCD and marriage, this is what I know.  I can not change the fact that I have OCD.  I have accepted that.  My husband has not.  I can not change his attitude or reaction to my OCD, and I have a hard time accepting that, but I need to learn how.  All I can do at this point is to keep changing the things I can.  Keep myself healthier.  That means working even harder at eating better, and exercising more.  One key component I have really been considering lately is my depression and feeling down about the way he treats me.  Feeling hopeless in the marriage.  This is an even bigger problem than the OCD at the current point.  For awhile I didn't think there was anything I could do about that.  But after talking more to my physician yesterday, she believes that medication could be a useful tool for me and she urged me to give it a try.  I'm not excited about taking the medication, but I'm considering giving it a try.  Because ultimately I want to feel my best.  I owe that to myself, and I owe that to my family.  I want to know that I'm making the best decisions for myself to improve my health, even if my husband's attitude never changes.  And the bonus part of the medication is that it is not only an antidepressant, but it has been shown useful in OCD specifically, to help filter those intrusive thoughts out of your head faster, so you're not getting so "stuck" on certain things. 
    I know that medication is a very personal choice for each person with OCD.  I've heard from quite a few people over the years from writing this blog, that it has truly helped them.  So, I'm thinking it may be worth a shot.  I still believe that ERP therapy is the gold standard, but I am hopeful that maybe this medication could be a useful tool in helping me do the rest of the work that needs to be done, and just to feel better in general.  Part of me feels frustrated that I have to take medication.  Part of me is so frustrated at my husband, and feeling like I shouldn't have to take meds just to deal with a marriage.  I'm torn between the "what if this doesn't work?  what if I have a reaction?  what if something really bad happens because of this medication", and the other side of the coin, "what if this can really  help?  what if I feel a lot better on this and can start living life more fully again?"  I am concerned about the black box warning on the medication, I won't lie about that.  That terrifies me. 
     I'm picking up my medication today, and I haven't made a set decision yet, but I know I'm  more apt to try it once it's purchased and sitting in my medicine cabinet, so I will definitely keep you all posted on how things are going.  If you are reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!   


     

Saturday, October 1, 2016

One step at a time

    
     

     Wow--I can't believe it's been about a month and a half since I last posted.  When I first started this blog, I remember posting all the time.  Probably because OCD was completely consuming my life at that point, and it was a means of journaling and trying to process this disorder.  I don't post quite as much anymore.  In some ways I guess that is good, because it means OCD is not in the front seat anymore....but it is still definitely there, more than I would like it to be. 
     I forged ahead pretty well over the summer, and a lot of that had to do with my motivation and feeling better physically during that time.  Now that we are in October already (what?!), I feel the change in seasons wreaking havoc mentally.  I don't need to be diagnosed, I know that I deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It is a real thing.  As summer starts winding down, and we are back to school for several weeks, and especially when the days start getting shorter, and that much needed sun isn't showing itself as far into the day anymore, I can feel myself mentally slipping into this.  I am aware of what I'm facing, so I just need to stay one step ahead of it.  I must keep exposing myself and working on all things OCD, at least doing something day to day so that I keep making progress. 
     So the whole car thing so far has not been an issue.  My husband hasn't needed to ride in the car yet, so that is good.  That was one of my primary OCD stressors over the past month.  I think I have figured out a way to deal with this when the need arises, so now I just wait for the time he needs to ride in the car, and go from there. 
     I've been doing exceptionally well with laundry.  I'm down to about only 6 loads of laundry per week now (excluding my  husbands stuff which is easy to do in a half day), which has given me back loads of time--pun intended!  It is so nice to be able to run some errands, or whatever I should be doing, without worrying about my laundry lurking in the background.  Now, if I could just figure out a good detergent balance we would be good to go there!  I still feel like the clothes don't rinse out well, and I'm down to not using much detergent at all, so I don't know what else I can do there, but those few extra rinses per load do take some extra time that I wish they didn't need to do.  I am able to do laundry now while my husband is home.  I still prefer not to, because it brings about way too many obsessions if he could somehow open the door when I wasn't looking and "contaminate" the laundry.....but if I absolutely need to do a load while he is here (which isn't very often), I can do it.  All of my toilets can flush now while I'm doing laundry (that has sure come a long way since 3 years ago).  If things get contaminated, I am able to throw them in a wash cycle by themselves.  I rarely throw clothing away anymore (but if I'm being totally honest, I have on occasion). 
     Things still aren't going great with my husband either.  I told him that he needed to clean up his room/clothes situation before he could even get in my car and he agreed to this.  He wasn't doing anything about it, so I actually cleaned up his room for him about a week ago. Sorted through everything and vacuumed that room for probably the first time in 2 years.  Then I told him he needed to go through all of the clothes so that he could toss/donate what he doesn't use anymore and I could get everything else washed and back into his drawers and at least feel some semblance of normalcy in his room.  He still hasn't done this.  I just don't honestly know what to do about this situation anymore.  I bring up things that bother me about the OCD in relation to him and living together in the same house,  and he just still doesn't want to hear any of it.  I have thought about going to see a therapist again strictly for this reason...to see if I can get some guidance on how to deal with this, because I just don't know how we are going to continue to do this.  But then I get frustrated, because why should I go spend $200/month on a therapist, when I feel that my husband could just easily listen to me and we could work on a plan together.  After all, he knows that I've been able to self treat most of the rest of my OCD, so I'm not sure why he feels it would be different with him.  Basically I have always been willing to do the work, but I don't feel he is willing to listen/work together.  And there is a lot of resentment on both ends, and it is just big mess.  To add to this,  he has also been sick with a cold for over a week now and this really has me on edge.  I'm worried to leave the room because I want to make sure he covers when he coughs...the other day he didn't.  Coughed completely open mouthed right onto me and our daughter.  That turned into quite the argument, and I will leave those details to your imagination.  Sigh.
     Onto other exposures....my neighbors had a block party last week where they welcomed some new neighbors that just moved in.  It was a fairly good sized gathering with lots of kids there.  I went!  It was a fun time too!  Not too many problems, other than one of my neighbors touched my sleeve (why oh why do people feel the need to touch others?  I know it is human and all of that, I just don't ever remember doing that to people even when I did not have OCD), but fortunately I was able to just wash that the next day and it was fine. 
     I've continued trying to "resist" OCD thoughts, meaning if my OCD is telling me to do something, I am trying really hard to just let that pass.  Such as when it tells me to wipe the couch down, or go wipe my car down.  I don't always win, but I am getting better so that is good.
    And that is the essence of the image at the top....Two steps forward, one step back still gets you ahead.  Please always remember that in your fight against OCD.  OCD can consume us, it has taken away so much from us.  We can't let it win.  We must fight, and that means constantly moving forward.  It is hard, hard work.  Don't let the days that OCD wins (and we all know there will be those days) defeat you.  As long as you keep pushing yourself (even despite the inevitable setbacks), you will be staying in the race.  You will eventually get ahead of this monster, which is what we all want.  A life that is not consumed by OCD.  And that is what we need to keep fighting for.
   
    
      

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More exposures....moving along

     Well, school started this last week and that means my summer of downtime and some heavier exposures is now finished.  I have to say that I have done pretty well this summer.  Almost everything on my list of exposures to accomplish I did, minus 2 or 3 things.  As always, there are frustrating things that happen every week, but there are also areas that I push myself and find success.  It seems I am continuing to follow a pattern of improvement, so I am pleased about that.  This is by far the best I have functioned in the last 3 years. 
     It seems my post are following a pattern of talking about my steps forward and my steps back. so I will stick with that for now.  It helps me to be able to document my progress and at the same time my thoughts on frustrating events that did happen or things I am anticipating (as those can cause a lot of anxiety).  Last week, I had a pretty big day on Tuesday.  I had to make a trip to the DMV to renew my drivers license in the morning.  That was pretty uneventful.  Then my daughter and I went to the dentist for our 6 month check ups.  Dental visits have created an issue for me in the last several years for two main reasons:  first of all, the spit factor and worrying that the instruments are not clean enough.  Secondly, the hygienist always takes chemical disinfectant wipes and cleans the entire chair right before we sit down.  Now sometimes it is still even pretty wet from the wipes as we sit down.  The feeling of chemicals on my clothes is very bothersome to me.  I always feel icky after we leave there, and of course wash those clothes separately and wipe the carseats down.  There has been times in the past where I've stretched my dental visits out to closer to a year between (simply to avoid dealing with this more often than I need to), but I've really been trying to get there every 6 months now.  Things didn't go too bad though.  She did drop the mirror instrument on the chair as she was cleaning my teeth, so of course I was concerned about that going back in my mouth especially since it was on a surface just wiped with chemicals.  I wanted to go home and use mouthwash immediately following the visit, but by the end of the appointment I wasn't as concerned about it anymore, so we went to out.  The next exposure of the day.  Since I already felt the clothes were contaminated, I thought it might be helpful to sit with that anxiety for several more hours, so we headed out to one of my favorite restaurants, one which I hadn't been to for several years.  This is an Italian restaurant where they serve unlimited bread and salad with your entrĂ©e, so that has always made me nervous too.  How do you know that this is really done sanitary?  Also another weird thought I've had with the breadsticks is worried that somehow they brought someone elses unused bread to our table (like someone else didn't eat all the breadsticks, so they "recycled them" in a sense for the next customer.  I really hope things like that don't happen, but those are my thoughts.  I still haven't managed to eat with the restaurant silverware yet this summer, so I did bring my own.  But it was swapped out easily and things went well.  It was a nice meal, I enjoyed it, and ate a ton of bread and salad. 
     I also celebrated my birthday this past weekend.  We ended up getting take out from the same restaurant again, it was just so good!  I was a little more nervous about this time though, because my husband ordered seafood which really concerned me because that is an allergy trigger concern.  I opted to get take out this time, because eating out with my husband means added stress during the meal.  I know he does not like the thought of me swapping out my silverware (even though it really doesn't affect him and no one else even sees it), but in order to avoid the argument, eye rolls, etc. I thought it would just be easier to get take out.  Before we ate, all three of us went out driving through car lots, in preparation for the new car I will be getting very soon (more to come on this later).  This bothered me immensely because I am really bothered when sitting that close to my husband.  I am very concerned that he is going to bump his arm into mine or touch my seat somehow and I feel like I am constantly watching him out of the corner of my eye while I am driving.  It is very stressful being in the car with him, and I need to try to push myself to ride together more as a family, but that is hard...
     A few nights ago, my parents took our family out to dinner for a late birthday celebration.  I have avoided going out to eat with my parents for years, for many reasons.  Usually my sister and niece would come along and that concerns me as they are more highly contaminated in my mind too.  Also just the thought of contaminating myself unnecessarily in a public seat has made me avoid this in the past.  Also wanting to avoid the hugs, etc.  Also the fear of someone coughing across the table without them covering their mough while I am eating and then feeling trapped, like I can't finish my food.  These are still thoughts that go through my head, but I decided to go ahead and accept the invititation.  I know in the past few years my parents have gotten increasingly frustrated with my behavior (beause they don't know about my OCD) and things have been going better with my parents  recently since I've been to many more family events over the last year, so I decided to give this a go this time.  No hugs involved thankfully (my parents aren't really the touchy-feely type anyway), so that part went okay.  The one snag I did run into is instead of a table as I was hoping for, we got seated in a tight booth.  My husband sat down on the end of the booth and slid down to the other side, which meant I had no choice but to sit where he just sat.  I actually sat down where my husband sat.  And it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would (although I have no idea where he pulled his clothes from in his room, but at least they didn't appear visibly dirty), but it still bothered me enough obviously to want to get rid of that contamination.  When we got home, I showered (as I would anyway at night normally), and cleaned my car out.  I also was able to rewash those clothes, which surprised me because husband contamination is at the top of my hierarchy.  These ones still feel dirty to me though, and I'm not sure if I will move forward treating them as such or not.  This will be the first time that I have sat somewhere he has sat knowingly, and rewashed that outfit and reworn it.  I think this is easier because the contamination occurred in a dirty zone anyway.  This does NOT mean by any means that I could have him contaminate something inside my house, in my safe zones and feel okay with it.  But this leads me into the next situation, which I am going to have to force myself into fairly soon.
     This is the anxiety provoker for me and this is the situation that has been weighing heavily on my mind the last few weeks.  If you've read my last couple of posts, you'll remember that a new car was on the horizon soon.  Well, that time is here.  We did get a vehicle purchased, and will be picking that up in a few days.  Here is the strange thing which will show that I did not always have contamination issues:  the car that I am currently driving is 10 years old.  It was bought used when we got it several years ago and I was okay with that at that time.  We actually purchased that vehicle from a dealer several hours away from us and my husband went and picked up the car himself and drove it home.  I got in the car immediately and started driving.  No cleaning out process of the car, and no concerns that it had been used.  Also no concerns that he had been in it.  I drove that car for several years like that, until one day something clicked in me and the contamination grew worse and before I knew it I was cleaning off the seat and becoming more concerned about keeping it "perfectly clean".  In a sense this vehicle has become comfortable to me now through the years.  It has become one of my safe spots and I am very particular about keeping it contamination free.  I really don't want to let this car go, because transitions are difficult with OCD.  It has had several things need to be fixed over the last few years and my husband is growing tired of fixing it, thus wanting to get a new vehicle.  I know that he has had his eye on a certain vehicle (that I think he really likes the make/model, as he is really into cars) and I've been telling him numerous times over the last few weeks that we need to sit down and have a talk about this.  I needed to explain my concerns about having a new car, having him sit in the passenger seat, the level of contamination concerns I have with him, and all that entails (see previous posts for further details).  He texted me the other night and basically said they were finishing up a deal and if the dealer took his offer we had just purchased the vehicle.  I was very upset at first, thankfully this was over text.  I couldn't believe that he would just decide to do this without having this conversation yet, especially when I've tried on my end to have this conversation multiple times.  I was fairly certain that when we had this difficult conversation about my car concerns, that he would never expect me to say "you can't sit in the passenger seat".  Now I'll be very honest (I hope that he will never sit in my passenger seat), but I knew I needed to make some kind of bargain so that this didn't sound so terrible and offensive to him.  If you are new to my blog, I have a zillion issues with my husband.  One of the things that I would really wish he would do is to clean up his room and sort through his clothes.  Because all of his clothes are laying around on the floor, clean mixed with dirty.  Nice professional work clothes mixed together with dirty stained farm clothes.  Nothing feels clean to me anymore.  It all gets washed together, it all goes in dirty and it comes out feeling dirty.  I have a HUGE problem with his clothes (thus why I basically can't sit anywhere he does meaning we have our own couches, kitchen chairs, clothes put in separate bedrooms, and I have my own bedroom) and I was really concerned how this would affect a different vehicle, one in which I would ultimately be riding in the passenger seat when my daughter learns how to drive in a couple of years.  I ended up calling him after I got the text, so that we could have this.  I knew we needed to have this talk beforehand, because I absolutely wanted to make sure this was agreed upon before the car came home so that it would not cause any future arguments.  I basically tried to explain where I was at with my OCD, how much trouble this would cause me if I were to try to jump into this right now, and reminded him of how hard I have worked and how far I have come and hoped he could have some compassion and understanding with all of this.  I tried to explain that it is not him that I feel is contaminated persay, it is more his clothes and that being spread to different areas.  I reminded him that this is not directed solely at him, as I have my own issues spreading contamination and won't even sit on my own couch after I have sat in a public seat, necessitating washing/cleaning of my safe zones.  I explained that until he cleans up his room/clothes situation I did not want him riding in the passenger seat.  That he would either need to sit in the back seat or we could all take his vehicle when we go somewhere as a family (which would still cause me immense problems, but it would be easier than having him contaminate my car).  I don't want to sit in his car, but this is something I am going to have to force myself to do coming up very soon.  I thought we had a fairly productive conversation on the phone and I thought all was well.  I made sure he agreed to this if he was going to go through with the purchase, and he did.  I said I didn't want to have any future arguments about it and he said that was fine.  We agreed that whether he cleaned up his room/clothes this weekend or 3 months from now (and I was able to feel that he had clean clothes that could be worn in my car), that would be the clicker for when he could sit in the passenger seat.  But...then he came home, and boy were things different.  He walked in the house and declared a magic solution to the problem--a car seat cover!  As if ar seat cover is not something I'd ever thought of before.  I explained that a car seat cover takes care of the car seat, but it does not however solve the problem of the seat belt being contaminated.  And wow...that set him off.  He told me I was "changing my story" and had not mentioned anything about a seat belt before, only the seat.  I tried to explain that it is all one and the same to me.  Everything about the seat needs to be clean, that includes the seat belt.  I understand he doesn't get this, because people without OCD just don't think about these things.  And unfortunately this is a really gray area, as is everything with OCD.  I really don't have a clue how to navigate this.  But I am really hoping this is not going to turn into a problem.  I know he is upset because as I stated earlier he is "car person" and I think he is irritated to think can't ride in the passenger seat in a vehicle that he wanted very badly.  To be fair about it, I did not push for this vehicle.  I was very happy to settle for something different, something less expensive, something that he would not think as so "cool" to get into.  I understand that the OCD is my problem.  But I am really not there with my OCD as to contaminate my car.  Am I wrong to expect that from him?  I have been willing to give in other areas and I do believe that my OCD affects him much less than it used to, because of all of my hard work.  But I feel guilty, as I typically do when my OCD butts in.  I just wish that he could understand not take it personally.  Honestly we don't ride often in the car together anyway, maybe twice per month tops.  But I can already envision him scowling in the backseat when we go places.  I can see myself being panicked to ride in his car.  I am very afraid of feeling so contaminated after being in his car, that I am worried about starting to throw my clothes away again because I may feel they aren't clean enough.  I am worried about this situation potentially making things worse.  I am very anxious.  We will be getting this vehicle in a few days.  But the good news, that I will keep remembering and focusing on, is that I am stronger now.  I can push back against my OCD, I've proved that in other ways.   This will be another challenge to get through.  I will update soon.  Hope you all are doing well. 
 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

An eventful week, some triggers, some triumphs!

     I've had a pretty eventful week, but some good things have come out of it too.  At the end of last week, I started off with a pretty bad OCD day, and I don't have those too often anymore thankfully. So it was a fork in the road, but I got through it.  If you've followed my blog before you probably remember my indoor plumbing issues.  We've had some issues in our house with 2 out of the 3 of our toilets, but thankfully never the one that I consistently use.  That day, I was working out in my living room and I heard my bathroom toilet flush by itself in the bathroom, which created quite a situation for me.  The toilet seat had been up, and after I heard it flush I went in there to find some urine splats all over the toilet seat.   I'm not sure what happened exactly, but something must have been backed up and it flushed by itself (very powerfully) as the whole bathroom smelled like sewage for awhile.  The urine splatters all over the seat made me question where it else it had went--shower?  shower curtain?  all of my soap and toiletries lined up on the counter?  My OCD convinced me that everything in the bathroom was contaminated--after all this is sewage we are talking about-- and I had to throw everything away in the bathroom.  And I mean everything pretty much.  I emptied the shower and my countertop of my products (including my hair dryer).  I cleaned the entire bathroom and scrubbed it down and then replaced everything at the store later that day.  I was feeling very stressed and on edge already because of that, then later that day husband put his hand on the back of my seat cushion on the couch when our dog went back there with something she wasn't supposed to have. This is an invasion of my safe space and I felt very panicked.  I felt stuck in that situation again.  I had to clean it off multiple times before I even felt remotely that it was safe to lean back against.  This resulted in a huge argument between us, namely him not understanding my OCD again.  These are the times when I debate what is the best way to handle these situations?  Do I say "please don't touch my couch" when I see he is coming over and possibly going to touch it, so as to hopefully avoid the problem?  Or do I just let the problem play out and not say anything, and then go clean it up when he is not around.  I don't the latter is the solution, because it forces me to hide the OCD which in turn just kind of makes it worse.  Hiding it makes me feel ashamed and obviously like I can't talk about the situation.  But if I forewarn him to not touch the couch, it just triggers his anger. So it seems there is no way to win in these situations.  I feel like communication is the key, otherwise it just keeps going in circles and the more we don't talk about it, the more I will hide it and the worse it will get.  But he will not communicate about it, so what am I to do?  I'm feeling very much frustrated toward my husband in general still, and his general attitude toward my OCD.  So last weekend was tough to get through too.  Every time these things happen, he just shuts down completely, gives me the silent treatment for a few days and it is very frustrating.  Anymore I just try to keep my distance too.  The problem there seems worse a lot of times.
     After the weekend, last Monday was my father in laws retirement celebration.  We went out to dinner that night with his whole family, including some aunts/uncles/cousins.  There was about 17 people there total.  Of course there was hugs (which I don't like, I'm not sure I ever will), but I was able to hug people and pretend it didn't bother me (it still does, but not quite as much which I guess is good).  I was able to eat the food there with my hands (I won't use the restaurant silverware still, so I need to order finger foods).  I also ate French fries at the restaurant, which was a food exposure.  Normally I will not eat anything fried at a restaurant.  It goes back to my food allergy problems several years ago, being concerned that if I eat fried foods, that they may have been cooked with certain types of fish and I worry I will have an anaphylactic allergic reaction.  I ate the fries (even though there was a good chance they had been fried with some fish, as my  husband ordered fish tacos), and it was okay.  I did not have a reaction.
     On Tuesday I had a hair appointment with a different stylist than I typically go to. This makes me nervous in some ways.  After my daughter had headlice earlier this summer I started having some worries and thoughts about hair salons and if I could potentially get lice there.  She also, I believe, is a smoker because I could smell the smoke on her clothes and that bothered me that she could have chemicals from the cigarette in her fingernails working with my hair.  Of course the chemicals from the highlights are an exposure too.  Then she kept drinking from her straw and putting her fingertips on the tip of the straw ,kind of playing with the straw, pulling it in and out of the cup and all I could think about in that moment was her spit on her fingers and that eventually being in my hair.  Yes, the thought was in my mind, but I tried not to dwell on it.  And it actually didn't bother me really at all after I had put it out of my mind. 
     On Wednesday my daughter had an animal encounter at the Childrens zoo in our city.  I wasn't quite sure what this was going to entail beforehand, so I was a little nervous as I did wear my regular clothes to this event.  I did know that there wouldn't be any handling or holding of the animal from what the zoo had told me beforehand.  It was a behind the scenes experience, so we actually got to back where the zookeeper goes, on the opposite side of the display.   There were tons of trees and tall grasses, as we had to make our way through a pretty wooded area. Tons of large ants, one was actually crawling on my phone at one point.  Then the zookeeper handed my daughter 2 large bowls of apple chunks and asked her if she wanted to feed the red pandas through the fence.  Actually, she said we both could feed them.  I would have liked to try it as an exposure, but I declined and opted to take pictures of my daughter instead.  In hindsight I wished I would have fed them, but I'm not sure how I would have dealt with them eating from my  hand and then feeling like our phones weren't contaminated afterward.  So, I just let have the experience.  We did end up going back to meet another older red panda that was "retired" and not currently on display.  We actually went partway into her cage, then took a tour of their kitchen area in the back.  After the tour/meeting we did find a bathroom so she could wash her hands.  But that is normal, right?  When we went in to the bathroom a little boy and his grandma were going in right before us.  The little boy used the toilet and then just ran straight out of the bathroom.  His grandma went in after him and flushed the toilet for him then walked right out too without washing her hands.  I don't know why, but seeing this really bothered me for quite some time afterward.  They weren't touching me or anything, but its just that the OCD mind still absorbs these things and can't filter them out.  I start questioning other people's hygiene habits and episodes like these are why I don't want other people touching me.  I don't know where their hands have been.  Watching this situation play out made me think of a toilet exposure and how touching my own toilet at home and not washing my hands and carrying on with my business for the day would be super anxiety provoking, and this woman did this probably without even worrying about it and she would likely not think about it the entire rest of the day,  maybe even stopping to eat or something afterward (as it was getting very close to lunchtime).  Most of the population as non OCD sufferers wouldn't even give thought to these types of things, but we with OCD focus on them. 
    For the end of the week, we had a family wedding to attend out of town.  The day started off challenging due to an incident I had at the gas station that morning as I was filling my car up for the long drive we would be taking.  As I was filling up my tank, the pump shut off by  itself--way before the tank was actually full.  So I started it up again and got back in my car.  Then the pump somehow didn't realize when the tank did get full, as I started to hear a weird spraying nose and looked over at the nozzle, and gas was literally spraying out everywhere from all sides of the nozzle, making a huge puddle of gasoline all over the parking lot.  I went into panic mode, because I have huge issues with gasoline.  In fact I had an incident a few years ago when my OCD was starting to get pretty bad where gasoline became a huge trigger for me and in turn caused all kinds of issues with me using my hands, showering, eating.  Things that I have been working really hard to get out of these last couple of years.  The only way to shut this thing off was to go unhinge the nozzle from my tank.  Of course as soon as I get close to it, the OCD fears that gasoline has sprayed on me, my clothing, mjy shoes everywhere.  I don't know if I did, but that is what was going through my mind.  My car reeked of gasoline, because it had sprayed all over the side of it.  This happened about 2 hours before we were set to leave.  If this had happened in the past it would have been enough to throw the entire day off, meaning we didn't make it to the wedding.  But, I came home, cleaned up my carseat (because of course if it had possibly gotten on my clothes, then that was possibly transferred to my carseat now), took a shower (even though I normally only shower at night), threw my outfit into the washing machine (I would have thrown it away in the psat), but I did pitch my shoes.  The whole situation definitely threw me off, but I knew that I needed to attend this weekend, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and did what I needed to do, so that I could decontaminate everything and it wouldn't upset the wedding plans.   This wedding was a huge improvement from the last wedding we attended, meaning my OCD is getting somewhat better.  Flashback:  to 2 years ago when I was in the deepest throes of my OCD.  I remember that year going to the wedding, and purposely driving separately from my husband, so that my daughter and I could immediately come home from the ceremony.   I couldn't have even fathomed at that point letting myself sit contaminated after people's hugs.  After that event we went immediately home, I cleaned our car seats up, and showered right away.  I had no motivation at all to go to the reception.  I just felt downright dirty and disgusting the moment someone touched or hugged us, and I just wanted to get out of those clothes as soon as possible and scrub the contamination away from everything.  Fast forward to last night.  This wedding was a 4 hour round trip.  In my mind, I am worried about sitting in public seating and being hugged by all kinds of people.  Those things I've done better with over the past several months, so this wasn't as tricky as I thought it would be.  I knew I would still wash my car seat off, because I'm not to the point yet where I have been able to cut that out.  It's not a painstaking process, just one I wish I wouldn't have to do anymore.  I logically understand it is not necessary, but my OCD convinces me otherwise still.  I did fairly well at the wedding, we even sat in the third row from the front (and I always, always sit in the back whenever I go anywhere).  I think partly it didn't bother me as much because its summertime and we are not into cold/flu season yet.   Also this wasn't a huge crowd, although there was probably 300 people there.  The ceremony itself went fine and then we headed over to the reception.  A few hugs were shared here, but that is okay.  Now, the issue I have with the reception is the eating.  I do not eat at social gatherings, I do not do buffet style meals, I do not use silverware at restaurants (or gatherings such as this).  If it has not been washed by myself, I don't trust it to be clean.  I had no idea what to expect with this reception.  I was hoping they would have a sit down meal where each plate was served individually.  I know that was a stretch, but that would have been best case scenario.  I brought my own silverware, planned out beforehand) and promised myself that if they brought each plate out (and it was not buffet style), that I would use my own silverware, discretely swap it out and eat the food.  Well....it ended up being buffet style.  As soon as I saw that, I felt discouraged and started feeling self-conscious right away because I didn't want to field the usual questions I get such as "Why are you not eating?",  and it just feels plain awkward and I feel so ashamed of myself during these times.  My daughter was telling me she was hungry and I was very hungry as well.  I kept looking around me looking at everyone eating, and everyone seemed healthy and normal, and I thought about all of these people that were looking forward to their meal and not anxious about like I was.  I also worried about people's reactions if we didn't eat.  I also was worried about all of the hands on the serving utensils and what if someone coughed or sneezed into the food?  What if children were walking by it and did something to it?  All of these thoughts were swarming in my head, and suddenly I just grabbed the plate (before I could change my mind) and I said to my daughter--we are going to go ahead and eat.  This was something I had absolutely not planned on at all.  But I ate buffet style--and I filled my plate well.  I still swapped out my silverware (and no one knew the difference) and I did it.  I am actually really proud of myself for this.  Sometimes I push myself, other times are more difficult though.  The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful except for a situation that occurred right before we left.  I had not seen the groom's mother (my husband's aunt) the entire course of the day yet.  When I used the restroom before the ride home, I was standing in line for the next open stall.  Who should come out, but her?  She had just used the toilet and was exiting the stall, hadn't even stopped to wash her hands yet.  I was walking toward the stall, she was walking out.  She walked directly to me and wrapped me in a huge bear hug, and I felt mortified right on the spot. I felt so contaminated and I still had to drive 2 hours home before I could do anything.  There was pee on my clothes.  That's all I could think about. I had no choice but to sit with that anxiety, to get in my car like that, wearing my seatbelt and feeling grossed out by everything.  I found this hard to get out of my head the whole way home.  I wasn't incapacitated or anything by it, but my brain just had a hard time letting that go.  I am always worried to hug people, thinking through all the "what ifs". What if they went to the bathroom before they hugged me?  What if they did this or that?  So it really raises my anxiety when I know that she has just used the bathroom and not had a chance to wash her hands.  When I came out of the stall,  she was washing her hands, so I don't know if she just felt awkward and felt she needed to hug me or if she thought she would be rude to wait to wash her hands first or if non-OCD suffers even think about these things.  It was a very eventful day, all in all.  After the way that my day started out (with the gasoline incident) and feeling like I wasn't even going to go to the wedding, ending with being able to go after all and eat at the buffet and withstand toilet contamination.  I call the day a success.  You win some OCD battles, you lose some.  I will keep trucking along.  Hope everyone is doing well.