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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How did this all get started?!?!

I feel like its important to go through the history of my OCD and how it all got started.  It's interesting to think about sometimes.  I understand that there are a lot of theories about how people get OCD.  Some say its biological or genetic.  If you have a family member with OCD, your chances of having it are greater than the average population.  Some say it can be caused by infections as a child.   A lot of people develop OCD after a bout of stress or a traumatic event.  I have read a lot about "conditioning" lately and OCD being a "learned behavior", a habit and viscious cycle basically.  I'm reading a book now which is probably the best OCD book I have ever read.  There must be a biological component somewhere that "turns on" OCD.  Once OCD starts you actually condition yourself to these same OCD responses, going further and further into avoidance and rituals, making the OCD cycle worse every single day.  I don't know.....does it really do any good to determine how I got it?  I do know that certain things over the years have made it worse.  I can definitely find "key points" over the last 8 years where my OCD was driven up another notch.  What I do know is that I have to write this to get it all out, whether my family ever sees this or not.  As of now, I really haven't shared my OCD with too many people.  Of course God knows.  My counselor (that I used to see) knows.  My daughter knows.  My husband knows.  No one else.  Not even my parents or sister.  Sometimes I wish I could tell them.  I think that there such is a stigma associated with mental illness, that a lot of people don't understand.  Once you have made yourself vulnerable to someone and they don't seek to understand, it makes it really hard. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a friend that had OCD.  Someone that could understand on a very personal level.   I don't think anyone without OCD can truly understand.  In the words someone else (in some book or blog I read) someone mentioned once that there are types of non-OCD people.  Ones that try to understand and ones that don't try to understand.  Because thy  never really ARE going to full understand it, since they don't have it.  I remember learning about in nursing school and just hearing about patients that had it, and I could understand what the illness is, but I could never have imagined how it enters your life and affects everything you do.  I remember telling my therapist that back when I was seeing him for OCD and marriage problems.  Anyone can educate themselves on OCD, but there is a difference between reading a few medical articles on it, training to be a psychologist and working with OCD patients, doing some hard core research on the disorder, and living with it.  I think those of us with OCD probably do know it the best.  After all, we live with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  OCD does not take a break, even though we desperately wish it would.  Sure there are times when it is better, and when it is worse.  But it always there.  What has OCD done to me?  It robs me of time and energy.  It exhausts me, it drains me.  It has taken away my ability to be intimate with my husband or to trust him  There are times I don't even trust my own judgment, because I'm not sure I can trust what I'm looking at it is okay.  Its frustrating.  It makes me angry, sad, depressed, and irritable.  It puts me in a rage at times.  It literally leaves me "spinning" 24 hours a day.  It makes me avoid the things I want to do, while I instead get caught up in rituals and compulsions that I just can't stop.  It has made me lose friendships with people (because I have a hard time going out in public and I don't people I have OCD so they think I'm just being rude probably and don't want to get together).  It makes me question everything I do.  It makes me get thoughts in my head for sometimes weeks at a time, that will not leave!!!  It affects my job, my relationships (with my husband, daughter, parents, and friends).  It makes me sad.  I hate it.  I can't get away from it.  And I do question often, "why do I have OCD?"  I hate admitting that, but I do.  I do understand the frustration that my husband must have, through "watching" me have it, but I think he really only understands that I am a "germaphobe" and that is only a very small fraction of my OCD and what I go through.  And I get how its hard to deal with all the quirks and stuff he doesn't really understand and all.  I think I've done a pretty good job hiding it over the years to the point where people don't see how severe it is.  After all, my  husband spends a lot of his time away from home and he is not very emotionally involved in our family.  It makes it really easy to hide OCD when he is gone.  If he could see me and what I do when he is not home, I think he would be shocked.  Honestly.  I have dealt with so many issues on the OCD spectrum.  I am thankful that there are some issues I don't have, issues that scare me.  I do struggle with checking, perfectionism, magical thinking, some counting, and having to do things until I get that "just right feeling", and some scrupolosity.  Contamination is my biggest issue though.  It is probably the biggest issue I have and the hardest one to tackle.  So to back track in time, I want to go back to the roots of this, how I think it started and how it has progressed through the years.  What has happened to get it to where it is today.

I don't remember having any OCD symptoms as a child or teenager.  I have always been somewhat of a "perfectionist" going back a long time.  Also a very type-A personality.  I like routine.  I like organization.  I can remember a couple of times feeling fearful that I left a curling iron on at home or very basic things like that.  Maybe even could be considered normal behavior at that point, as everyone questions those things at times.  But I suppose in retrospect it was OCD, I just didn't know it at the time.  I remember going to a wedding out of town once and calling my parents to have them go to our house and check if I had turned off the curling iron.  I was just SURE that I hadn't and couldn't get it out of my mind.  They checked, and I had turned it off.  Early on in my dating relationship with my husband, we had a great relationship.  We talked, we were intimate, I wasn't worried about germs or anything at that point.  We could go out to eat at restaurants and I'm sure I didn't even wash my hands before I ate back then.  We could go to the lake, and I could get in the lake water with no problem.  Sleeping in hotels I wouldn't have even given a second thought too.  We could be intimate in cars for crying out loud.  I could kiss him with pretzels in my mouth.  He hugged me every day when he eft for work and when he came home from work and we were always laying on the couch cuddling together, watching TV.  He even hunted back then and I remember when I was pregnant he would come home late in the evening with take out for dinner...fresh with his hunting clothes on and the bag of food on the front seat of his truck (which would mortify me now).  It seemed back then I wasn't concerned with that kind of stuff at all.
   After we had our daughter, I think I started becoming a little more concerned with germs and not wanting her to get sick.  Our moms would come babysit at that time, and I made everyone wash their hands in the kitchen before they could care for her.  Even when my husband got home from work, I remember making him wash his hands before he came in the house was the rule, starting back then.  Even back then though I remember working evening shifts at work and he would be responsible for taking care of our daughter.  He even made her meals, like grilled cheese or cut up hot dogs for her, and I didn't seem to be concerned with him touching her food at that point.  It was more basic hygiene at that point, having everyone wash up.  But things hadn't gotten too serious at that point.  I think a lot of new parents become more germ conscious after they have children.  My husband is somewhat of a work aholic.  Not in the sense that he had spends hours at the office and gets home after everyone is in bed, but he is a "busy body".  Maybe that is a better word for it.  Early in our dating relationship I didn't realize this.  We spent almost every waking minute together, that we were not working or in school.  We did everything together.  Even hanging out with our friends, the other would generally tag a long.  Right before we got married, we started building our first house together.  I remember ground had been broken and cement had been poured and when we got home from our honeymoon, that was the first place he wanted to stop was to check the progress of the house.  Him and his dad did a lot of work in there and it seemed he was always over there checking how it was going.  He went back to school for his Masters Degree shortly after we got married and then his nights became filled with studying and homework.  I remember sitting in the computer room with him while he studied, just to be close to him, as we were starting to not have a lot of time together back then.  Shortly after that we became pregnant.  Him and his dad started finishing our basement at that time and then evenings became full with that.  He was also spending a lot of evenings out with friends, coming home late at night/early in the morning.  It just didn't feel like I had a husband anymore.  After our daughter was born, he was helping a friend all summer and would be out again until late at night/early in the morning very often.  It just seemed like there was always something.  I think after a couple of years of really struggling in our marriage, I kind of had a nervous breakdown in 2005.   We were having serious marriage problems.  I remember keeping a journal at that point and I hated my husband.  I wanted divorced.  That was probably the worst summer I have ever had, not counting this summer of 2013 when my OCD has escalated terribly.  Things between us started going downhill at that time fast, and have continued that trend.  Starting that summer I began to have a lot of health problems.  I remember feeling so stressed and overwhelmed.  I had a 24 hour heart monitor on that summer and problems with chest pains.  Earlier that spring I had horrible fatigue and I remember having a brain scan done and my under eyelid just twitching by itself, a tic of some sort.  I remember just sitting in my family doctors office that summer crying my eyes out.  I was so scared that something was wrong with me, I felt so physically and emotionally terrible.  That summer I also had allergy testing done and was found to be allergic possibly to foods that I had always eaten, such as milk and nuts.  I was driving to work one afternoon and I crossed an intersection and all of a sudden I had this indescribable feeling come over me.  I honestly can't explain it.  I just had a feeling of doom.  Something was really wrong and I was scared I was going to die right there.  I remember I had raisins for lunch and for some reason I was keyed in on the thought that I was having an anaphylactic reaction to raisins.  At that point I didnt really know what was safe to eat.  I remember thinking I was going to drive straight to the hospital, I think I rolled my car windows down so I felt like I could breathe.  I just felt like I needed to get out of my car.  I remember feeling like I just wanted to stop my car and get out on the median and scream for someone to help me.  For some reason I continued to make the trip to work.  I did sit at my desk for only a few minutes and worried my coworker.  I remember her asking me if i was okay and taking me back to an exam room.  One of the doctors in our practice came right in and gave me an allergy pill and a breathing treatment.  I probably did look like I was having a bad reaction to something.  I probably looked crazed, is that even a weird?  I was frantic, I wa spanicked.  She looked in my throat/airway and told me it was not swollen as it would have been in an anaphylactic reaction.  I was in the room a few minutes by myself while the breathing treatment was going.  I can recall I kept looking in the mirror with my mouth open, just sure that my airway was closing in.  So scared that I was going to die and picturing my little girl at home. I ran out to the nurses station, even more panicked than before.  I don't remember a lot more after that incident.  The doctor came in and sat down and told me she thought I had just hada true panic attack.  My dad came and picked me up and took me home.  That was the beginning to middle of  that summer.  I don'tt remember a lot about that summer, but I know I was very  overwhelmed and depressed and had a hard time taking care of our daughter, who was 2 at the time.  I remember not sleeping at night being so anxious and just needing to rest during the day as much as possible.  I would lay in bed and my mom would come over  a lot during the day to watch our daughter, so I could sleep or rest.  My  husband was gone a lot in the evenings still, and my daughter and I would go over often to my parents for dinner.  I don't even know to this day, if my husband realizes that.  A couple of weeks after the first panic attack, I had another episode.  This time our daughter and I had  went through a drive thru and I also ordered a piece of snickers cheesecake (with nuts).  I took our daughter in the  tub that night and was trying to relax.  About 11:30 or middnight even, I'm unsure of the time, I started to have that dreadful feeling come over me again.  Something was wrong.  I can't recall everything perfectly, but I kind of remember calling my parents and telling them I felt anxoius and couldn't breathe.  Maybe having a reaction to the nuts I ate.  My parents I think offered to take me to the ER, but I didn't think I coul wait.  I felt like I needed to call 911.  I thought I was having a reaction to the nuts in the cheesecake.. part of me thought it was anxiety.  But I wasn't sure and I was scared.  Something was dreadfully wrong.  I called 911.  I was so scared.  I couldn't breathe. The ambulance ended up coming out and took me in to the hospital.  My husband had been out that night with friends and ended up coming home when they were there.  I remember he drove to meet the ambulance there.  My parents stayed behind to watck our daughter who was sleeping.  He drove us home from the ER and I just remember him being mad at me..  Irritated.  Anything but supportive.  It almost seems like I was in the ER twice that summer, but I can't be sure.  I remember them one time working me up for a pulmonary embolism because of the difficulty breathing I would express.  I think that was a separate time.  I suppose when I look back on it now, somehow maybe him being gone that night set my anxiety off.  The feeling that he wasn't involved in our family.  I don't know.  I really do think that our relationship problems/stress have contributed to the OCD/anxiett.  I had a lot of trouble eating for about 6-12 months after the allergy testing.  I was scared to eat anything.  After all if they told me I was allergic to foods I had always eaten before, how did i know if anything was safe to eat?. That is when I stopped kissing my husband for the most part.  I know as a nurse that it is possible to go into anaphylaxis from kissing someone that recently ate nuts.  I would question him all the time before were intimate, "did you eat nuts today"?  I think he got tired of me asking him and I probably got tired of his reaction, so just decided I wouldn't kiss him anymore.  I think our mariage problems were so severe, that resentment and bitterness started taking some really deep roots at that time, and lets be honest, pure hatred, started to develop toward him at that point.  I remember being mad at him and I did not want to be married to him anymore.  I just remember feeling alone in our marriage.  He was hardly ever home and I was trying to work part time and raise our daughter, mostly by myself.  I can always remember being it just the 2 of us-our daughter and I--most of the time-- ever since she was born.  Pictures and videos will capture that too.  It seems he went from one project to the next.  He always says that he feels like an outsider, and I get that.  But to be honest, I think he made yourself an outside from very early on after our daughter was born.  I started to feel I couldn't count on him, that he wasn't there for us emotionally or physically.  I started to "leech on" to our daught3er and became so worried what if something bad ever happened to either one of us.  That is when I honestly think the OCD really started to set in.  My fear became so great--what if something ever happened to her?  What if something happened to me?  When I think about the root of all my OCD that is what it always comes down to.  I don't want to take any risks.  I am very uncomfortable with the uncertainty of things.  K (I'm just going to start referring to our daughter as K from now on) and I had each other and I was absolutely terrified of something bad happening to one of us.  I remember developing "magical thinking" at about that time.  All of a sudden being in the middle of a routine task, and thinking I absolutely had to do it a certain way or something terrible would happen.  I can not describe to you what OCD feels like.  Its an awful, dreadful feeling, that won't go away.   You become "obsessed" or fixated on something--the obsession.  Then you are driven to perform the compulsion or ritual, in attempt to decrease the anxiety.  For example I would be folding laundry and all of a sudden I would think to myself, I have to make sure all the tags are folded into the T-shirts and none of them are sticking out, or something awful will happen to one of us.  And so I would take the time to fold all the tags into the T-shirts.  And if I tried to resist the urge, it wouldn't work.  I HAD to do it, in order to get on with my day.  In order to get rid of the thought and make sure everything would be safe.  And then nothing bad would happen, so my brain would be conditioning itself to feel like somehow the action I was performing was preventing something bad from happening.  I remember being at the grocery store and walking past an item and all of a sudden I would get the most intense urge to back and look at the item and read what it said.  Or I might be reading a book and if I didn't read a particular sentence absolutely perfect, I would have to go back and start the whole paragraph...or even the whole page.  Sometimes I would get fixated on a sentence and didn't understand what it was saying, and it would just torture me.  I just had to figure it out.  These things were happening on a daily basis, and these are only a few examples.  I was becoming worried about if doors were unlocked, if ovens were shut off, that type of thing--checking behaviors.  There are so many examples I can't even cover them, these are just a very few examples of the many, many things I would feel driven to do.  Still at that point though the germaphobia hadn't really started.  It was more the magical thinking and checking behaviors from what I can remember.  I really think the germaphobia started about the time K turned 4.  I can remember certain things during that time period...for instance I was really worried about germs getting into mouths at that time from people coughing around K or I.  I remember coming home from places and scrubbing my lips and the skin around my mouth raw with soapy wet paper towels.  I remember K looking like she had terribly chapped lips/mouth during that time, because I would do the same thing to her.  My mouth looked the same way.  In 2008 a little girl in our town died of influenza and that is when the germaphobia really got bad.  I thought to myself influenza is supposed to be such a harmless illness and a little girl died of it and I just couldn't take any risks anymore with germs.  I remember it was around that time when K was now in preschool and out and about more.  I really started drilling into her to wash her hands well, use hand sanitizier, not touch her face or eyes or mouth with her hands when they weren't clean.  To not stand by children that were coughing.  If her friends were sick, to find someone else to play with.  I would start Lysoling off the covers of library books that she brought home, sometimes even the pages if I could.  I was starting to wash my hands after touching everything....after getting the mail even.  I was concerned that there was a possibility that there could be germs on anything I touched, so nothing was really safe to touch anymore.  That is why I wanted everyone to wash hands when they got home, because then in some sense our house was considered a "safe place".  I started becoming more observant about things around me--mindful of what people were doing around us.  Starting to get more concerned about those who might be coughing/sneezing around us.  Are they covering their mouths?  Do they seem sick?  Not wanting to touch surfaces of things.  Lysoling off doorknobs and remotes.  Wiping my desk keyboard down at work with a Lysol wipe before I started my shift.  Using hand sanitizer after getting gas at the gas station or going into the store.  I also had some more magical thinking issues that started interfering with work, and a lot of "perfectionism OCD".  I had to type things a certain way, or I thought something bad would happen.  If I made a mistake while typing (which I did often, because I type fast and would have to go back and correct myself) I would have to go back to the error and type in the right letter then backspace, and repeat it 7 times.  There was one winter where I was really bad with this, but this is one of the OCD things that I HAVE been able to break (for the most part).  Every once in awhile I will have that urge.  I also wanted my charting notes as complete as possible.  For instance instead of writing "Child has fever and vomiting.  Temp up to 100.5.  Eating poorly.  Low energy", I would write something like this--"Mom says that child has had fever and vomiting.  She has had a fever up to 100.5.  She has been eating poorly.  She has had low energy".  I wanted to have complete sentences.  You can imagine that my productivity has gone down significantly.  I used to be able to manage about 8-9 phone calls/hour.  Now, I average about 4-5.  We also have templates set up with our medical charts, so you basically just push a button and the words you want go in there.  Well those aren't complete sentences and it kind of smashed the notes all together, so I take the time to write out my own notes rather than use the templates, or if I do use the templates, I have to correct them when I am charting.  Also I make sure that the notes are not "running together" and put spaces or breaks to break up the parts of the note, so it looks nicer.  Around this same time I started doing that, I also became obsessed with strep throat.  I don't know if the thought of influenza causing death in a child somehow made me think that any illness could be life threatening, and I did not want my daughter to get strep.  Every time I would do a phone call on a patient, I would go through their "problem list" section of their chart and look to see how many times they had strep.  If I didn't do this, I would be afraid that my daughter would get strep.  This kind of goes into the magical thinking again.  In reality I knew that those two things could not be tied together, however I just HAD to do it.  If she did get strep throat and I hadn't done those checks, it would have been my fault.  This kind of leads into hyperresponsibility with OCD too.  I remember that same winter I hade a tube of lip gloss by my desk, I must have taken it out of my pocket (which is really unusual for me in the first place) and laid it on the counter.  One of the nurses that was taking sick patients back, came back to talk with me and grabbed the lipgloss tube and just was kind of playing with it?  Did I throw that away?  You bet!!!  All I could think of was all the germs she had touched that day and there was no way that I was putting that lip gloss on myself!  With OCD there is very much heightened awareness of what is going on around you.  I am always on the look out for things that could bother me.  Shortly after this, H1N1 flu became a of the biggest flu pandemics the United States has seen.  My mind just literally couldn't handle it at that point.  I remember stopping going to church for a few months.  I wasn't able to take communion--I didn't want someone touching the wafer and putting it in my hand.  I didn't want to be around people.  People weren't safe to me anymore, because any of them could be sick and pass something on to us.  When we did get back to church, I started sitting in the very back row.  At the movies, the same thing.  I did not want to be in crowds of people.  I honestly just wanted to crawl up in a ball and be in a "safe place".  I had a hard time being at work, because one of my co-workers (Nan) was always sick.  She was always coughing and had the worst cough hygiene.  Hacking all over the place and I had to sit 5 feet away from her at work.  It was right around this time that I asked to be moved to another office, and I will always wonder if she thinks I had something against her for that reason.  It was all around this point that I became mysophobic--germaphoibic.  I also at that point had a scare with a breast lump. I was 31 at the time and had felt something in my breast.  I remember going to the doctor and the nurse practitioner that I saw was trying to reassure me, but sent me right away that afternoon for a mammogram.  Something about the look on mher face worried me--it was probably my own anxiety though and my interpretation).  I ended up having an ultrasound and a biopsy done and I was so scared.  I was literally crying through the whole ordeal, convinced that something was wrong with me.The radiology tech knew how nervous I was and a wonderful person she is--she personally called me the next morning to let me know that everything was okay.  Got permission from the doctor to let me know right away.  Thank you, God!  Very shortly after this, I started to movedto more contamination issues also with chemicals, etc.  This all started when my husband was doing more work at his dads farm and working on fixing and painting cars and different things.  He would do mechanic types of things out in our garage, hands getting greasy and filthy.  Back to a prevoius post, one time he used one of my eyeshadow compacts to use as a mirror to see down into his truck engine.  His clothes would be covered in various white pastes and paint.  Even when they went through the washer they did not come out clean.  All of his work clothes were stained.  Underneath his fingernails would be dirty and just very visibly soiled with stuff stuck underneath them.  I can remember when he started spay painting parts in our backyard.  One afternoon he was outside painting and we needed to leave to go to K's end of year kindergarten day.  I remember him walking in the  house and he had his hands covered in green spray paint.  I have to think partly that day he were rushed because you didnt wash his hands at the kitchen sink like he normally would, but he went straight back to the shower and all I could think about was the chemicals/paintaa ll over his hands.  Him getting in the shower and washing his body , just basically contaminating his whole body, rubbing it all into his skin, genitals, etc., getting that stuff all over him.    Now I don't know what he did in that shower.  Maybe he did wash his hands off real well, then took his shower.  But in my mind, that is what I saw.  From that point on I didnt want him touching me. I didn't want to sit on the same furniture or chairs that he was sitting on.  I stopped sitting on the couch because that is what he laid on all the time.  I didn't want to hug him anymore, because I didn't want to be up against his clothes.  Him touching things around the house really started to bother me.  That is about the same time that I discovered he used one of my eyeshadow makeup compacts for something in the garage once.  I saw him throw a dirty garage towel--chamoix--however you spell that--in the dryer and he said he needed it dry, but it was so filthy, and then all I could imagine was our clean clothes being thrown in the dryer following that.  His clothes were so stained with paint and brown filth and grease, that I didn't even want them in the washing machine!  He was also doing some farming and spraying fertilizers and other things then.  Often he would come home late at night and not take a shower and go to bed.  The bed is contaminated.  I was worried what he was toucdhing in the house.  Didn't want those hands on my skin, clothes, personal items.  I started putting food in different areas of the kitchen that he wouldn't look, especially things that had been opened like candy bags, cereal or cookies.  I didn't want his fingers touching anything.  I moved out of the bathroom at that point.  Started using different towels and keeping them in a separate place.  Started having more problems around chemicals at that point.  Seeing him clean the carpet and working carpet cleaner into the carpet with his fingernails, and then me having to tell him to wash his hands.  Seeing him out in the garage and putting dirty flashlights in his mouth.  Seeing his toothbrush on the bathroom counter with a dirty hat sitting right on top of it.  Too many things to even get into.  I just started to feel  he was very dirty.  I certainly didn't want him touching me in an intimate manner.  So we also started to have intimacy problems at that point.  His hands were contaminated and therefore everything he touched became contaminated, including his private parts.  This is really embarssing to talk about, however it is part of the story.  The only way I could be intimate with him is if I took a shower with him, I would actually wash off his genitals, so that I knew that he hadn't touched them.  My hands hadn't been in contact with paint/chemicals, so I felt if I washed his genitals they would be clean and we could be intimate.  Then I didn't want him touching anything on the way back to the bed to "contaminate" his hands, or I wouldn't let him touch me intimately.  Eventually it go to the point where he would take his own shower and I would pop my head in at the end and "wash him up".  I would visually inspect his hands and fingernails before I would let him touch me.  One time I even grabbed a wet wipe and cleaned off his stuff in the bed.  How akward is that?  Talk about killing the mood.  It was awful.  So OCD had robbed us of a sexual relationship too.  After we would be intimate I can remember a few times going in the bathroom and cleaning myself off with a soapy wet cloth, just to remove anything that might be there after we were done.  One thing I wish my husband would have understood at that time is that it wasn't HIM that I didn't want to be with.  I didn't like the feeling of contamination, I didn't like the feeling of what was ON him, and I didn't want it on me or IN me, and I really wish we could have talked more about this then.  I really miss being intimate with my husband.  Sex and kissing.  I really hope to be able to get back to that someday, but I don't think he understands that it will take his help.  It will be a long road, but it can be done.  We were also going through infertility at this time.  Tried for years to conceive.  Got pregnant once throughout that time and had a miscarriage.  Those years were very stressful too.  When I think about what it was about him being contaminated and how it affected our intimacy, I think I was scared that somehow those chemicals and stuff were on his genitals that he used, they would get into my body.  I was scared and I couldn't take the risk.  Eventually just decided we werent going to be intimate.  We weren't communicating about it well either.  Honestly I have become really angry at him for how these contamination issues have affected me over the years.. I would guess  about 50-75% of my OCD currently is related to him somehow and it makes me so mad!!!  Its not that he gave me OCD.  I know that.  Its that these things I've seen him do have gotten stuck in my mind to where I don't trust him.  I don't think he has ever considered how what he does affects me and in turn our relationsip.  I think because we were so emotionally disconnected, that the OCD became an even greater wedge.  The hardest part is I have never felt any understanding, empathy or support from him in regard to the OCD.  The only emotions that I have seen come our from him are anger, frustration, annoyance and impatience.  The sad thing is that this all makes the OCD worse.  The stress in our marriage, your lack of involvement and not being in tune with me at all.  I started doing a lot of reading on OCD at this time and really educating myself when the contamination issues started up.  Learning about the disorder, and treatment options.  Reading personal stories of those who have it.  Reading books on self treatment and biographies on those with the disorder.  When you have OCD your mind is kind of like a sponge....I really believe that you can develop behaviors just by reading about others.  The power or suggestion is pretty strong.  I would start reading about other peoples struggles and think to myself..."You know that is gross.  I can't believe I never thought of that before".  And then boom...I had more and more things that would bother me.  That was about the time I started having trouble eating at restaurants, because I read about a model who had OCD so severely that she would not eat off of restaurant silverware because of all the mouths that had touched them.  Also I heard of several others that would use disposable silverware or take their own dishes to restaurants when they ate out.   And I got that stuck in my mind, and I still cannot stand eating out at restaurants.  That is why I get burgers or sandwiches when we have to go to a restaurant.  One time we went to a family members wedding out of town and I brought 2 forks for K and I and swapped out our silverware at the wedding (even had permission from my therapist at that time to do that) and no one ever knew the difference.  I have found ways to cope with it.  Not great ways,  but its all I can do at this point.  Its so out of control. I don't want to eat out anymore because I don't know if I trust others to handle food properly.  I won't eat at family gatherings because I have seen  many things that disturb me. One time someone tested the temp of some corn from the microwave, put the spoon in their mouth, then put it back in to stir the corn.  And that same spoon was used to servce the food.  Also people in general don't always have good hygiene.  I've seen people change diapers and go directly to the food table.  People lick their fingers as they are serving food.  It's just too much for me.  I realize that just because these things happen doesn't mean that someone will get sick, but it is just to much for my mind to handle.  These have been a lot of the main things that have led me to where my OCD is today.  What I wish my husband could understand is that I have worked on my OCD through the years.  It is just the things he can't see, because he doesn't even know I struggle with them to begin.  I've really tried to work on my checking behaviors, and magical thinking.  With those things I KNOW its logic vs. emotion.  I know that that the way I type or read certainly can't affect something completely related, but my anxiety is so high if I don't do these things.  It takes a lot of work.  Even just workose things, I'm mentally exhausted at the end of the day.  I also deal with some scruppolosity issues too.  I am really concerned about offending God.  There used to be an author that I read and I found out she is Jewish.   Now I don't know a lot about the Jewish religion, but from what I understand, most Jews do believe that Jesus lived, but don't believe he is the Messiah.  I am a Christian and believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and I feel like I will offend God if I read a book by someone that does not accept Jesus as Lord.  I also will not watch anything with bad language or taking God's name in vain or using Jesus's name inappropriately.  I don't want to offend God.  Right now I rented the movie the Aviator, which is the story of Howard Hughes who of course suffered severely from contamination OCD.  I wanted to see this movie for this reason, to see how his OCD was portrayed.  I am having a really hard time getting through the movie to the language they use.  There are also some other authors I used to read that use poor choices in language and I have stopped reading them too.  There are only two authors that I read right now, and one of themn is solely a Christian fiction author and she is wonderful.  I am so thankful to have been introduced to her books.  I won't watch R rated movies, and have a hard time with some PG-13 ones even too.  Thankfully Christian music, books and movies are getting to be so much more easy to find now....and this is a good thing that has come out of this.  It has really helped me   I feel happy to be reading and watching and listening to these messages, not just because of the OCD, but because I have developed a closer relationship with Jesus over the years and I want to seek out these movies, and books. They make me happy and have excellent messages.  I want to be focused in on these things.  I also deal with, in the scrupolosity subtype, moral issues.  So many times I will go to the store and they will undercharge me for things.  That really bothers me.  I have taken receipts back and paid the "right price" because oterwise it fels like I'm ripping the store off, even though they were the ones that didn't charge me correctly.  One time I bought some stuff from a store that had a spend $100, get $50 off coupon.  I had only spent $99 and some odd cents and they applied the coupon.  That bothered me, so I took everything back the next day and purchased something else small, so that I knew I had reached the $100 limit.  The clerk looked at me a little oddly, but they were very nice about it.  I just couldn't feel right about the situation until I fixed it, which meant going back and paying that extra dollar.  Then the weird thing is it happened again and when I went back in and used another coupon another time, the clerk remembered me and said not to stress about it, she remembered me from last time, and I was close enough to the $100 mark it was okay.  Well, of courseit wasn't okay.  It was the same situation that stressed me out the last time;Well I wasn't about to return stuff the next day again, so on the way out of the store I stopped and bought something else so that I knew I had been over that dollar mark again.  I've been having a lot of problems with things just touching me lately.  If my body brushes up against something I will need to go wipe that part of my body off right away.  If my dog licks me on my knee, I'll go wash it off.  I don't like sticky or wet substances on me (part of the contamination OCD, not sure what it is and that bothers me).  My dog used to get on the counters and lick dishes and I've had all sorts of issues with that issues with that.  Taking a shower is hard for me because if my knee or elbow brushes up against the shower stall or the shower curtain, I have to wash that off.  Ever since the "gasoline incident" about a month ago, I continue to comb shampoo through my hair and not touch my body/hair directly when I am showering.  So now I am worried if my comb hits the shower stall, I've had to stop and clean it off .  Also I get worried that my hair might touch the shower curtain, which is not clean to me.  The other day I was in Wal-Mart getting groceries and I had a package of new underwear in my shopping cart.  Someone walked past me in the aisle with a giant container of Roundup (weed killer) in their cart.  All of a sudden I had this tremendous anxiety and I was worried the Roundup would somehow contaminate the package of underwear.  So I went and got a different package of underwear.  I know logically it doesn't make any sense.  After all I didn't feel that the clothes I was wearing were contaminated, so how could a new package of underwear be?  Well, here's why.  Because the Roundup, the chemical, was a trigger for me.  I saw the Roundup, I didn't like it, and my next thought was seeing the package of underwear there, and having to do something about it.  I knew there was no way I could take that underwear home, wash it and wear it.  Shortly after this I started thinking about how many times chemicals are actually in the shopping cart in the shopping carts of other people, and how do I know that the shopping cart my food is in hasn't hadRoundup or some other type of fertilizer or chemical in it at some point?  Normally I do most of my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, because it is less expensive.  Last week I couldn't do it.  I figured I had a "safer " chance of something like chemicals not being in the cart previously if I went to Hy-Vee grocery store, as opposed to if I went to Wal-Mart where people may be more apt to buy other non-food items.  I am mindful whose line I go through at the store too.  If someone ahead of me has chemicals and I can see them on the conveyor belt, I won't go through that line.  I feel like once the checker touches that stuff and then checks out my itme, it will contaminate my groceries/items.  If someone ahead of me has raw meat, I won't go behind them, because I am concerned that the checker will then get the raw meat juices all over my groceries/items.  Now I know that I have no idea what they touch before I get up there, and the chances are probably pretty high that they have touched chemicals or raw meat from other customers at many points during their shift, but "out of sight out of mind", I just deal with it.  If I can actually SEE it, then it bothers me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Laundry Problems.....

So I'm really having a tough time with laundry this summer.  If you've looked through previous posts, I have written about how I started line drying clothing.  This all started close to a couple of months ago.  For a long time I have "cleaned" the dryer out between drying my husbands clothes and me and my daughters clothes.  Stay tuned, because very soon I'm going to discuss why I feel my husband is contaminated.  But that is too much to get into right now, so just get the idea that I feel like my husband is contaminated, hence his clothing is too.  Actually its the reverse now that I think about it..his clothing is contaminated, because of his hobbies.  But contaminated clothing basically contaminates him too. make a long story short, I decided that his clothes couldn't get clean enough.  I would even wash his clothes 3 times sometimes before putting them in the dryer.  Then they still seemed dirty to me, so to help with my discomfort I started cleaning out the dryer.  I wash his clothes, followed by his towels, then I would clean out the dryer and do my clothing and my daughters clothing the rest of the week.  So cleaning out the dryer only happened once or twice a week.  Basically to clean it out I would just take a very soapy wet cloth and just act like I was drying a large dish.  I washed down the whole inside of the dryer to every part I could reach, then wiped it with just a wet cloth to get rid of the soapy residue, then I would start the dryer on a "sanitary cycle" heat dry which would make me feel like I was doing my best to sanitize it.  Well about a couple of months ago when I washing it out I noticed some black stuff stuck in the crevices of the dryer shelves (for lack of a better word).  At first I thought it was lint build up stuck in there, so I grabbed a Q-tip and was trying to clean it out, but then some orangey/red liquid was coming from underneath it.  I actually think its mold, for real.  Not an OCD thought, this is for real. In hindsight now I think water probably got stuck down in those crevices and mold probably started to grow.  You wouldn't notice it unless you looked real close, but to me mold is a problem.  I am allergic to mold and I will not use that dryer at all.  When it first happened I wasn't sure what to do.  I started line drying all of my daughters and my own clothing.  At first it was very time consuming, but now I've got it down to a science.  I wasn't sure how bath towels would line dry, so luckily I found some polyester bath towels that are comfortable to use and will dry in 4 hours with a box fan pointed at them.  I literally have line dried everything of ours since then, about 7 weeks now--sheets, towels, clothes, socks and underwear.
The other part of the laundry issue though is that I have become obsessed with toilet water/sink drainage water somehow contaminating the washing machine.  I won't flush toilets when the washer is going.  Also I am finding that I am running an empty cycle between all my loads of laundry.  So I have become more time constrained with when I can do laundry.  Its easy for me not to flush the toilet or tell my daughter not to, but how do I explain that to a husband who doesn't understand OCD?  Basically I can't do laundry when he is home now because of that.  Also I don't know if detergent is caked in the clothes or if something is wrong with the washer, but it takes 5-6 rinse cycles for clear water to actually be rinsing, so now I am worried that detergent isn't being rinsed out so I keep rerinsing and rerinsing.  A regular load of laundry could take 2 hours.  If I feel like its dirty or hasn't been washed good enough it could take another cycle of 2 hours.  New clothes or garments always get 2 washes automatically, sometimes 3.  For some reason 3 is a number I feel comfortable with.  I don't have a number/counting issue typically with my OCD, however I do have this "3 thing" going on.  Also I have started to separate clothing into piles.  If  I wore something one day and went somewhere particularly dirty to me I will make sure to wash those items separately from the rest of the normal clothes.  For example, my family went to a state park a few weeksk ago and we rode some paddleboats.  It really bothered me to sit in the boats that thousands of people sit in day in and day out and we had to wear there provided lifejackets over our clothing.  That bothered me too.  Wearing something else that never gets washed that different people wear over and over again.  I put my daughters and my own clothing from that day in a separate pile somewhere.  I still haven't gotten to it, because I just keep up with the laundry anymore.  I planned to wash it in a sanitary setting apart from everthing else.  We saw my niece the other day at my grandpas birthday party and my niece was hanging on my pants, kind of holding herself up behind me.  After 2 washes through the washing cycle, my husband came home and washed his hands at the sink after he had been out at the farm, and that was one of the 2 loads of clothes I ended up throwing away.  After my niece touching them and my concerns about contamination through the water, I just threw them away.  I threw away a nursing scrub top today.  Something very bothersome happpened to me today.  After I bought a new scrub outfit (after I threw out another pair after the gasoline contamination last week) I had washed them up for the first time yesterday and wore them to work today.  One of the other nurses came back to my computer area and I saw her sneeze next to me, which at least she covered it with her hand.  But about 2 minutes later, she walked up to me and was telling me about how she still needed to return some books to me that she borrowed a long time ago, and she put her hand on my shoulder for about 20 seconds--the one she had JUST sneezed in.  I seriously thought I was going to have a panic attack right then and there.  Aren't nurses supposed to have good hygiene?  This is what bothers me, and why I don't like being touched.  I don't know what is on other peoples hands, but when I DO know...when I've just seen you sneeze and you touch my clothes, it puts me literally over the edge.  At that point I still had 1 1/2 hours left of work.  I went in the bathroom and scrubbed my shoulder with soap and water, and folded up some paper towels and put them between my skin and the scrub top, just so I felt like I had some kind of barrier.  Then I changed out of them right when I got home and spread rubbing alcohol all over my shoulder.  I thought to myself I would fix the situation by running the scrub top through a sanitary cycle, you got it, 3 times.....but the reality is I still won't feel comfortable wearing it even after that.  So what am I going to do?  Throw it out.  I am so angry right now.  I spent $27 on that top, wore it for a 4 hour work shift and now I'll have to go replace it at the store, b/c somebody else had to sneeze and not use good hygiene and touch me.  Sometimes I wonder if I have OCDP (OCD Personality Disorder).  There is a BIG difference between OCDP and OCD.  But I know that I have OCD.  I think in this particular situation, it was unhygienic though and my OCD got the best of me and can't get past it.  Want to know something really disturbing?  Something that embarasses me greatly, but I have done it several times over the last few weeks.  Sometimes if I need to use the restroom (either type) I have taken a cup into the bathroom and done either one of the jobs in the cup and thrown it away and taken it outside to the trash, just so I don't have to use the toilet and flush.  This goes back to the laundry issue, sorry I'm kind of switching gears here going from one topic to another These are the times when I feel very ashamed of the OCD in particular.  I know its not normal behavior, but I have to do it.  The thought of flushing the toilet while the washing machine is going, just grosses me out.  I know that rationally it doesn't make any sense, but I just feel so uncertain...what if water somehow backs up and gets in the washing machine?  I have thrown laundry away a couple of times because I've had something in the washer at the same time that my husband came home and washed his hands in the kitchen sink, and I'm afraid that somehow the water that drained down the sink after he washed his hands will work its way into the laundry and contaminate the clothing.  Again, I have an issue with my husband.  I'm going to stop this post now and start working on a new one about my husband and the issues I have surrounding.  So many of my concerns these days center around him.  I really think I need to get this out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Followup to last post....gasoline it is affecting me

So its been a week since I wrote about being contaminated with gasoline.  I literally could not think of anything else that day.  I was so mentally exhausted that I actually fell asleep when my daughter came home from school for about 10 minutes on the couch, which is very unusual for me.  We did end up getting take out (from one of the 3 places I feel comfortable eating at).  It was basically finger food, but I sat there with my fork and ate my sandwich and fries with a fork.  I did not want to touch the food with my hands.  Again logically I know that any gasoline has long been washed off my skin, but I just cannot get it out of my mind.  I do not feel safe touching food or washing off my hair/body with my  hands.  I have been able to get a little more relaxed, touching other things.  For instance I will put the laundry in the washer, take it out and put it away, I can touch "things" without fear of contaminating them, but for some reason I'm still afraid of contaminating myself further.  I'm afraid if there is gasoline trapped under my hand somehow that I will rub it all over my body when I shower, or into my scalp/brain when I wash my hair.  Well one thing about OCD is you learn how to be very clever and work your way around things.  You get creative in learning how to manage things.  I mentioned several weeks ago that I was thankful that I did not have a showering ritual.  Now I do.  I am afraid that I am going to have this ritual forever now and it absolutely scares me.  I feel like the OCD has been there for a long time, noticeable for 8 years and getting worse.  For some reason this summer it has really escalated and I have a lot of issues right now with food and laundry, besides my normal checking, re-reading, mental compulsiong, checklists, magical thinking, etc.  Now I am adding a showering "ritual" to that list.  The first couple of times were difficult to figure out how to shower because I shower every night.  I decided to use a washcloth and just cleanse my skin with the washcloth/body wash, then I rinse it off.  I used to just lather up with my hands, but I can't do that now.  Washing my hair is the bigger issue, I decided the best way to handle this was to squirt the shampoo all over my head, tilt my head under the shower faucet to get my hair wet, then comb the shampoo through my hair.  I can tell it is cleaning it, my hair definitely smells clean.  I usually do it twice just to make sure.  So right now, here is what I do:
1.  Get in the shower and wash my hands
2.  Step out of the shower and grab a washcloth
3.  Step back in the shower and wet the washcloth, squirt body wash on and clean my body and rinse it off.
4.  Step out of the shower and grab a few Kleenexes, then I get back in the shower and squirt my face wash on the Kleenex, wipe the soapy Kleenex all over my face, rinse off, and throw the Kleenex toward the trash can.
5.  Step out of the shower again, grab a few new Kleenexes, get back in the shower and squirt antibacterial soap on them and wash my face again.  Throw Kleenex toward the trash can.
6.  Squirt shampoo on top of my  head and get hair wet.  Get out of the shower again and grab my comb, step back in the shower and comb shampoo through my hair.  Repeat again.
7.  Get back out of the shower, grab a few more Kleenexes and get back in the shower to wash my feet.
Then I'm done.  Whew.  It takes me about twice as long to take a shower, because I keep having to get in and out of the shower, that is the most frustating part to me.  It still only takes about 10-15 minutes though, which still isn't too long.  The reason that I don't keep all of my supplies in the shower is because I don't want them touching anything.  I don't want them sitting directly on the shower shelfs, because that is dirty to me.  I set a towel on the countertop and put all of my clean clothes for after my shower on that.  So that is where I keep my comb and my washcloth until I'm ready to use them.  That is my clean area.  I have done that for a long time though, before I started adding the comb/washcloth to it last week.  I bought a shower caddy at the store yesterday and I need to wash it out and put it in the shower.  Yes, I will wash it out to "decontaminate it" from the store.  Just soap and water.  Nothing big.  Then I plan on putting a clean plastic cup in the caddy each night and placing the comb in there.  I'm still not sure how to manage the Kleenexes.  I only use the washcloth to wash my body, then I don't want to use it to wash my face.  I still need to think of a better way to handle that.
Needless to say, I kind of start dreading my shower, because I think to myself  "Here we go again".  It's a relief to get out the shower, I feel like I literally do take a sigh and a big breath of relief when I am done.  It seems to silly to me to go through all of this.  I bet I have had gasoline on myself before and never even thought twice about it.  I think the biggest issue for me is that it got my hand.  And with your hands, you touch everything.  I really think that is the kicker there.  I think about people that are mechanics and touch gasoline and stuff all the time and they don't seem seem to be harmed.  But of course you never know.  Gasoline certainly is not intended to be on your skin.  By the way, I did throw out all the clothing I was wearing that day, undergarments and all.  I didn't smell gas on any of them and I honestly don't think it got my clothing, but I just couldn't deal with it.  One day soon I am going to get into the issues I have with my husband because he kind of fits into that category of working on cars/things.  I am planning on writing a series of letters to people in my blog soon.  I don't know if all of them will ever see them, but they are things I wish I could tell people about my OCD.  Maybe someday I will want to share.  In that I do plan on including a letter to my husband.  I am really frustrated with him for not helping me last week.  This is where the resentment toward my husband comes in.  We already have a lot of marriage problems outside the OCD.  Throw the OCD in, and it gets even worse.  I am really ticked that he didn't come help me last week.  I find it so hard to believe that I was literally outside of his work and he did not come out to help me (until it was too late and I had already spilled the gasoline on my hand).  In his defense he did offer to go home and get our gas can from home and bring it back and put some in my tank.  But I really didn't have time for that.  What I wanted was for him to come with me to the gas station, 1 block away, help get a gas can, then put it in my tank--would have taken probably 10 minutes.  If he was willing to go home and get a gas can and fill it up for me, why couldn't he walk there with me and put it in my car?  This is when I honestly don't think he understands my OCD or what bothers me.  If he had any clue, he would have understood that I didn't know how use a gas can or put it in my car.  And even if I didn't have OCD, why couldn't he come help me?  I can't get over that.  He has locked his car keys in his car 3-4 times in the last 6 months and each time I have just taken them to him.  You see I have obsessive thoughts too.  I am still stewing about that a week later.  It really upsets me.  It makes me mad at him, quite honestly, that now I'm always going to be afraid to use my hands because of what happened last week.  Infuriates me actually.  I have a lot of anger toward my husband for not understanding the OCD.  The letter coming up is going to very therapeutic I think to write for me.

I want to share another video today from another Christian music group, Kutless.  This is an amazing song.  I don't know why I have OCD, but I have to believe there is a purpose for it.  And if the healing from OCD never comes, I know that God has a purpose for the OCD.  As hard as it is to think about, I do believe that.  There are days when I struggle to keep my head above water.  When I am literally just trying to get through the day, and survive the OCD each day.  And then going to bed and repeating it the next day.  There are days lately when I feel like the OCD is dictating everything I do, and I find myself standing in front of the washing machine for an hour, when my daughter is waiting for me in the next room to watch a TV program.  Times when I'm washing or rewashing the laundry for the 3rd or 4th time in a row.  So many things I've thrown away recently...dishes, clothing, beause I feel like they are contaminated.  My OCD is very severe right now.  This song gives me hope.  I hope it does the same for you.  Will say a prayer for everyone struggling with this disorder tonight.  


When you are paralyzed with fear...

Today something happened that has the potential to completely kick my OCD up another notch...a major notch.  Right now I am paraylzed with fear.  For those that have OCD, you can probably attest to the fact that there are usually certain situations that happen that raise the OCD up another notch.  I have had a few over the years.  Today I ran out of gas in my car for the first time ever.  I am 36 years old and have never ran out of gas.  I happened to be honestly right outside of my husbands work when it happened, on the way to the gas station and it ran out 1 block before I got to the gas station.  I called my husband from my car.  What I wanted was for him to come outside and help me.  That did not happen at first.  I ended up going to the gas station by myself, ran in and got a gas container and filled it up outside.  I carried it back to my car and was trying to get the gas in my car, when a bunch came pouring out onto my right hand (my dominant hand) and possibly some on my clothing.  I'm not talking a few drops, I am talking about 1/2 gallon probably.  It was literally on my skin and I could smell the horrible smell and it was making my skin tingle with a burning feeling.  My mind just went into immediate panic.  For someone with contamination issues with chemicals, this is a nightmare.  I ran up to my husbands work to see if I could use the bathroom and the doors were locked.  So I ran up to the gas station again, but probably 5-10 minutes had passed from the time I spilled it to the time I got to the bathroom sink.  During that time, I saw my husband come out and I was literally running away trying to get to the gas station bathroom.  When I came back he wasn't outside anymore.  I washed my hands constantly for 5 minutes.  I honestly would have stood there and washed for longer, but I knew I needed to get home b/c something was going to need to be done about my clothing and I didn't know what I needed to do, but I knew I needed to get home.  Here is how OCD works:  my day stopped at the point where I spilled gas on my hand.  I couldn't think of anything else.  I knew I wanted to get this all documented and before that I took a shower a very special way, and now all I want to do is get off the computer and go wash my hands again...for a LONG time.  I know logically that anything on the surface of my skin has been washed off, but I can not get it off my mind.  All I can think about is how gas could be trapped in my hands or somehow getting into my body.  I don't want to touch anything because I'm afraid I will contaminate everything with my hands.  I was scared to take a shower because I didn't want to use my hand to soap off the rest of my body.  I knew that the gas could not have gotten up in my hair  so I didn't wash my hair.  I didn't even know how I would have, if I had to.  I took a couple of soapy cloths, stepped in the shower and soaped my body off and rinsed, so I never had to directly touch my skin with my hands.  I am scared to touch my clothing or anything in my house for fear of contaminating so I put some plastic gloves on and am now typing as I'm wearing the gloves.  I need to go put laundry in and I guess I will just wear my gloves to handle the clothes, so I don't ruin anything.  Right now the clothes I wore when the gas spilled on me are sitting in a pile on the floor.  I don't know what to do with them.  I want to throw them away.  My OCD mind is telling me to throw everything away that I was wearing....undergarments, clothes, socks.  I know that gas didn't get on everything, but I'm afraid if it did, then it could go into the washer and contaminate everything else that it gets washed with or just contaminate the washer itself, and then I would be afraid to wash anything after that.  I honestly think I will just throw them out to give into the OCD.  It's easier that way.  I don't know how to deal with it otherwise.  I don't know how I'm going to prepare food tonight.  I don't want to touch anything with my hands.  I guess we'll have to go out to eat...which I don't like to do with my OCD.  I don't know how I'll wash my hair tonight when I take my normal shower tonight.  My head is spinning right now.  My husband just says oh its not a big deal.  I called Poison Control, they said to wash it off ONCE.....ha!  I probably have washed my hands 20 times already after this and I'm not even close to being done.  The issue is I can't do anything more about it right now.  That is the part that is driving me crazy.  It's already happened and I've done everything I can to get it off my skin, but I can't stop thinking about.  That is OCD.  My brain cannot get past that.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why I Don't Eat at Restaurants

Oh boy, where to even start with this one!  I used to like to eat out, but now all I think about is all the "what-ifs"--what could be a problem when I eat out??  For starters, I don't like to think of people making me food. When I make my own food at home, at least I know I've washed my hands, and I have clean dishes/utensils.  If I have to wash my hands 5 times throughout the course of preparing a meal, you can probably see why I would have a hard time trusting someone else to prepare my meal.  Now to be honest, we know that people that handle food are "supposed" to wash their hands when they start a shift.  But, do they?  I don't know.  That's where the uncertainty comes in.  I don't imagine people washing their hands as often as I would, so it makes me leary to eat the food.  I basically only eat at 3 take out places, otherwise I make my own food.  There are a couple of fast food restaurants that we have eaten at for years and a pizza place that I will go to right now.  I truly don't like the eating out experience.  My birthday was this past week and both my parents and my in-laws wanted to take our family out to dinner.  I declined both invitations.  I don't know how to decline without seeming rude, but eating out is very stressful to me and I don't want to go through it.  So I avoid.  Here are some examples of things that I have seen at restaurants or eating out that have bothered me or added to my "eating out phobia":
1.  The waiter is basically the busboy too.  It is probably a fair assumption that most waiters are not washing their hands after they take back the dirty dishes of the other tables they are waiting on, before they bring out the clean plates of food to your table.  Also they are literally breathing right on the trays that they carry on their shoulders.  I have seen the food hanging off the plate when its a big portion size and maybe brushing up against the waiters clothing.  Not to mention them carrying it through the restaurant and what if someone they are walking by coughs or sneezes right on it??!!??!!
2.  I can't stand the thought of eating off plates/silverware that other people I don't even know have eaten off of.  The plates are manageable for me if we HAVE to go out to eat, (and when I say HAVE to go out to eat it is usually because we are going out for a holiday/birthday celebration/something on my husbands side of the family) but I will not use the silverware or drink from the glasses.  I do not want my lips on things that other peoples mouths have been on.  I will always get a burger or sandwich when we go out to eat and go wash my hands before dinner.  Nothing that requires silverware.  (One time we went to a family wedding and I brought my own silverware for my daughter and I and swapped it out).
3.  I am pretty sure that once when I went through a drive thru the same person took my money as made my food.  That is gross to me to think of handling money/credit cards from many people and then going back and assembling my food.
4.  When the waiter puts the straw in your glass, how do you know they have washed their hands?  You DON'T!!!
5.  How do you know the person making your food has actually washed their hands?  What if they just took the trash out?  Or took a call on their cell phone?  Or went to the bathroom?  Or wiped some mess up of the floor and then went back to cooking?  How do you know they are washing up after touching raw meat before putting together your food?
6.  How do you know the dishes are actually being sanitized, OR what if there is a pile of dishes that were rinsed off that the dishwashers thought were clean, but they actually weren't and they went out for use by other people without actually being washed?
7.  I ordered a pizza one night and the man that rang up my order had a cut on his finger.  How do you know that blood/bodily fluids aren't getting into your food when someone handles it?
8.  I have had food "thrown in a bag" literally before, where it almost looks like someone unwrapped the food and then realized it wasn't their order and brought it back in the restaurant and it got to me.  Now I know my mind is really going there, but it could happen!  When food isn't neatly wrapped, that concerns me.
9.  I have a wart on my finger currently..probably honestly from washing my hands all the time and destroying my skin.  I wear a glove often when I have to use that hand to handle food.  What if the person preparing my food has warts on their hands?
10.  I would not eat at a buffet.  I have seen too many disturbing things there, to even start on that one...
11.  I stopped buying deli meat recently, because of too many disturbing things I saw there.  Behind the deli counter they wear gloves to get your meat.  There have been SO many times where the person behind the counter was washing down the meat cutter with a washcloth/solution, and they come directly over to get meat out of the counter without even changing their gloves!  One time someone was sweeping with a broo mand dustpan cleaning up the floor, then came over to get meat out too.  Now usually I go ahead and just ask for the meat, then go dump it in a refrigerated section somewhere, because I'm not going to eat it, so I'm not going to buy it!
These are just a few examples.  I could go on and on and on to provide more, but you get the idea...Basically OCD just puts me on imagination overload and my mind starts spinning and going in 100 different directions of what could happen.  I've seen enough things to where I completely trust in others.  To the point where I just don't want to eat out anymore.  I also am lately having a problem with packaged food at the grocery store...just all your regular items, I will post about this soon too.  Eating is really getting to be a problem for me.  I have thrown out entire meals I made myself and even meals I've ordered out.  I was really frustrated the other night because I ordered a pizza...the only pizza place I feel comfortable anymore, and there was a problem.  The pizza is supposed to be cut in 16 pieces.  When I got home, 1/4 of the pizza was separated from the rest and it almost looked like someone had pulled 4 of the pieces off.  Of course my mind got spinning and I was worried...what if someone else took our pizza and started taking pieces off, then put them back?  What if the pizza fell on the floor somehow and they had to "put it back together".  I know it sounds crazy, but hence OCD.  I just couldn't eat it at that point.  I threw the entire pizza outside in the trash....$18 wasted.  OCD is a big money waster too.  A time waster.  More subjects for me to write about soon.

Big Time Handwasher

I've talked a little so far about my rituals that center around ADL's (activities of daily living).  I think a lot of people with OCD have rituals that center around these activities, because these are exactly the types of things that people do everyday.  It would be hard to develop a ritual around something you don't do very often.  I am a big time hand I mentioned yesterday I probably wash my hands over 100 times a day, actually probably much more.  I have an issue with hands being dirty...mine and other peoples.  I will get into mine today, others in another post.  Basically everyone in our family of 3 washes their hands first thing when they come in the door at our house, that is my rule.  And to be honest, I don't think thats a big problem.  Basically if hands are clean when they come through the door, they cannot transmit germs all over the house.  I saw a Lysol commercial one time where a little girl comes in the house and they show the germs lit up in green on her hand, and show her touching all kinds of surfaces through the house.  Well, this of course gets my mind spinning and I can imagine germs spreading all over the place when other people touch those surfaces and then carry them even other places.  I am a pediatric nurse, so I am well aware of germs.  I also know logically that if you are in contact with someone with a cold you are obviously at risk of catching that cold through airborne contamination (through them coughing or sneezing in close proximity without covering their cough/sneeze).  If I go outside to get the mail and come in though, I still feel like I could have come into contact with something.  What if someone else had a cold and then touched the mailbox that I just touched?  Also I have to come through the front door then, which is always "dirty" to me, as I feel like all the germs everyone has picked up that day are swarming all over that front doorknob.  I do Lysol off the doorknob occasionally to help with this.  I wash my hands every time I take laundry out of the washer, because I don't want to contaminate it in case I've touched something else.  When I meal prep at home, I wash hands before I start and several during preparation--anytime I touch anything other than the food, I wash.  For example if helps for me to put out everything I need for the meal and have it ready to go, otherwise if I need cheese or something from the fridge--I will go get that, open the package, then wash my hands to put the cheese on the dish (because I just touched the fridge handle and the cheese package which could be dirty).  Cleaning the house can be difficult for me.  Of course I wear gloves when I clean dirty things like toilets, sinks, or tubs.  That just adds to the dryness on my hands.  My hands look horrible.  I kid you not when I say that if you just looked at my hands without the rest of my body, they look about 60 years older than the rest of me....I am 36.
Looking back there were times when my germaphobia part of my OCD was worse than everything else.  I can remember when my daughter started school and would bring home books from the library.  I Lysoled off the covers of the books and probably even some of the pages.  If she opened up an envelope from the mail...for instance if someone sent her a card/gift, I would make her wash her hands afterward.  I guess, I still do that.  I have stopped Lysoling books.  Now that she has been in school for several years, I know that she is touching things all day long at school and it drives me crazy.  BUT I am afraid I have taught her OCD too or at least she knows to avoid touching her face/eyes/nose/mouth and she washes her hands well and uses hand sanitizer at school whenever she can, so that helps.  Yes, hands are a problem for me.  I just don't even know how to get into it all in one post, it covers so many things.  One example is we went to my husbands grandpas funeral last week and they had a luncheon afterward.  On the table they had set out trays of different varieties of sandwiches and desserts and bowls of chips.  Everyone was sitting at tables, and I saw more than one person walk up to a sandwich, pick up the top piece of bread to see what the filling was, and then set down the piece of bread and walk away without taking the sandwich!  All I could imagine was how dirty these peoples hands probably were, and how someone else was going to come along and eat that.  Also people digging in bowls of chips.  One woman was eating off her fork, then took that same fork and took a piece of bread off the dessert tray.  No, food at gatherings is not something that I feel comfortable with.  I was trying to explain on the way home to my husband why I didn't eat there, and his response, was "I bet everyone survived though".....typically, he doesn't get it.  Now I've talked with my counselor in the past (when I was seeing one) about how there are times when I have concerns that really are true.  For instance he would probably tell me that many other people would find that alarming.  The problem is not that I think that is unhygienic, the problem is that with my OCD I can't get past it.  Even on the way home after the luncheon was long over, I was still ruminating in my head about that and couldn't get over it.  The funeral was a hard time for me as far as the OCD goes too.  I have a problem in crowds and with people touching me.  So there were lots of hugs that day and I noticed my showers those 2 days I go thome were extra long and I was covered in antibacterial soap when showering (normally I don't use antibacterial soap every day, only if I feel I have been in contact with something that worries me that day).  Also we sat in the middle of the church which I had a hard time with.  From my previous posts, I have mentioned I like to sit in the back.  These changes in routine are hard for me, when I have to get myself through a situation.  Anyways, as I have heard a celebrity once describe his germaphobia and "hand problem" as feeling like everyones hand is a petri dish, and that sums it pretty well for me too!  When you think about all of the surfaces that people touch everyday and most people don't wash their hands real is hard for me when people touch me or even to think about others making food or touching my personal items.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Showering Ritual

You would think that someone with OCD would feel clean in the shower, and I do for the most part.  But I have a few things I do and a few things I am uncomfortable with.  The hardest part for me is when I first get in.  I have to bring in a bottle of antibacterial hand soap.  Actually, antibacterial hand soap is the only kind of soap I use on my hands.  I worry that just plain liquid soap (thats not labeled antibacterial) is somehow not going to get my hands clean enough.  When I first get in the shower I have to wash my hands really well, because I worry if they're not clean enough then I'm basically just washing my hair/body off with dirty hands.  Once I can get my hands clean enough, then I am generally okay for the rest of the shower.  I have a problem with "believing" that there is soap on my hands, even though I can see it right in front of me.  Sometimes I will become mindfully aware of what I am doing, lathering them up, even drawing letters in the soap lather to convince myself that there is actually soap on my hands.  I didn't always used to do this.  I believe that OCD minds are like sponges and you can actually take on new symptoms by reading about others symptoms.  I feel this way because this is something I started doing after reading about someone else doing it.  Anyway, I might wash them 4 or 5 times before I've actually convinced myself that I have washed them.  Its so odd that I can feel like there is not soap on my hands, even though they are completely covered in lather/soap.  Once I get past this part, I'm okay usually and I wash my hair.  Sometimes I find I wash it a few times though, other times if I force myself I do it just once.  I wash my body with regular scented body wash, but if I have been somewhere where I feel dirtier (for example swimming in a pool) then I will generally use the liquid antibacterial soap and go over my whole body again with that.  I use way too much soap.  I know this is not good.  It is not unusual for me to bring a brand new 7-8 oz bottle of soap in the shower, and when I am done, it is 1/4 of of the way gone.  I also use antibacterial soap to wash my feet off at the very end of my shower.  I always feel like my feet are dirty if I've gone barefoot, even just in our house, where I keep things clean.  About a month ago we went to the lake to jet ski and that was hard for me, because I felt very dirty from the water there splashing on us.  When I took my shower I had to use antibacterial soap over my whole body 3 times.  When I wash my face I use a regular gentle face cleanser, but if I have been around anything questionable that day--if I have been out and about, in the pool, or been around someone that I thought coughed or sneezed close by, I will also use antibacterial soap on my face.  I have heard stories of shower rituals that go on for hours for some OCD patients, and I am grateful that this is not the case for me.  I can easily see how it can get to that point for some people though, and it makes me sad.  I've heard that some people will wash and rewash, especially after something drips on them, and they literally just can't get out of the shower, because they can't stop going back and cleaning it.  I will rewash certain parts if my body parts touch something in the shower--for instance the shower curtain or the shower stall itself.  I am very mindful that I stay right in the middle of the stall so that my body doesn't touch anything, and if it does, I simply wash it off and move on.  As for my before mentioned repeated handwashing in the shower, I don't seem to have that problem aside from the shower.  I do wash my hands ALOT though.  One of these days I am going to make tallys on a paper and just see how many times out of curiousity.  I would guess over 100 times a day.  I do sometimes question though "Did I wash my hands?".  The sink is the first place that I go when I get home from anywhere.  Even if I touch one of my front doors, or go get the mail, or take my dog outside quick on her leash, I have to wash my hands.  Of course I'm in "autopilot mode" every time I do this so sometimes there will be an instance where I have to stop and think "Did I really wash?".  This becomes stressful to me in some situations.  For example if I take some garbage out and then come inside and wash my hands so I can put our leftovers from dinner away.  I am SURE that I washed my hands, but after I've put my leftovers away I am convinced I didn't wash my hands, and I have been known to throw food out in those circumstances simply because I can't be sure and I don't want to take the chance of eating the food if I did forgot to wash my hands (......even though I'm sure I didn't, there is that doubt constantly going off in my head).

I want to post a link to a video today.  I love to listen to Christian Music.  It is all I listen to and I get so much hope/encouragement from the words.  This is a great song.  I have my radio in my car set to 3 Christian radio stations and yesterday on the way home from running some errands, this song played on each station all within a 10 minute period.  I really felt like God was telling me something....You're an Overcomer.  You will fight this OCD and not let it overtake you.  There are some words in it that really rang out for me:  "You might be down for a moment, feeling like its hopeless, thats when he reminds you, that you're an overcomer!!"  There have been some days with OCD where I am literally at that point of a breakdown.  One day I was making a chicken casserole and I had used a plastic knife to cut the chicken up to put in the casserole.  I finished preparing it and baked it and everything.  We were getting ready to eat and I had an awful thought.  Just a few days prior my husband noticed a stain on the countertop and made a chemical concontion to try to get rid of it (involving acetone on our counter).  He had used some plastic silverware to mix it up together and I was absolutely convinced at that moment that somehow that knife I had used to cut up the chicken was contaminated.  I coudn't deal with it.  I remember carrying the casserole and taking it over to the trash to dump it as I absolutely didn't feel safe eating it.  It fell on the way to the trash and my dog came over and happily lapped up every last bite of it.  I remember sobbing and wailing at the trash can, so made at myself for throwing this away.  So mad at myself for the OCD.  That is an example of how I feel on the really bad OCD days.  But as the song says...I felt down and I felt hopeless with the OCD, but I was able to move past it and on.  I will be an overcomer!!!  So will you!!!  I hope you will take the time to listen to this song and also draw inspiration from it.  I will be posting videos very frequently of songs I find encouraging.   


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Toothbrushing Ritual

I'm going to finish out my ritual posts here over the next couple of days, so that I can move on to some other things I want to talk about soon:  how I believe this all got started and how this affects my family, work, etc.  Right now my daughter and I share a bathroom.  OK, we've shared a bathroom for a REALLY long time.  In fact, a lightbulb just kind of went off in my head and I realized that I moved my stuff out our "husband and wife bathroom"  shortly after I noticed that he had used my eyeshadow compact as a mirror when working on his truck in the garage, which I discussed in a previous post.  Really looking back and thinking about that now, I believe that is true.  You see, this is why its so good to get this all out piece by piece, I can really sort out in my head when things started and trace them back to why.  I didn't want him touching ANY of my stuff after that, and started to lose trust in him.  (I have seen him do a number of disturbing things over the years, so I really don't trust his judgment in general anymore.  It's really hard).  So I wanted to keep my stuff "safe", so that he couldn't get to it.  Pretty much ever since then I've wanted to keep things safe from him, starting with my personal items, and progressing to food (which is a very long post to come in the future) and now even my clothes are hung in a different room.  For awhile when my daughter was a toddler I would store my makeup bag and personal items in her room.  I would even leave our toothbrushes in a cup in her bedroom when she was younger, because my housband still used our main bathroom at that time periodically and I didn't want to take any chances at all that he would open up the medicine closet and touch or contaminate our toothbrushes somehow.  Now we have moved to a different house and our master bath/master bedroom are on one side of the house, and 2 other bedrooms and a bathroom are at the opposite end.  He lives in the master side and I live in my daughters room and share the other bathroom with her.  Where am I going with all of this, you wonder?  Well, I feel "safer" now because he doesn't ever use this bathroom.  I still don't keep my makeup there, just in case, but I do put our toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet there.  Because I don't want to accidentally use my daughters toothbrush AND I don't want her to accidentally use mine, I have a ritual involving "checking the toothbrushes" in the morning and night after we brush our teeth.  I haven't always had this ritual.  I put our toothbrushes on a shelf in the medicine cabinet and they are in each in their own separate cup/holder.  For some reason I am always nervous, "what if we used the wrong toothbrush?  Mine is always on the left, hers is always on the right, but again, I question myself.  I'm able to brush my teeth normally, I don't have any ritualizing involving that alone.'s what I do afterward.  After we brush our teeth I have to check each toothbrush for "water spots" or "water bubbles" on the brush itself--the handle or the toothbrush head, to make sure that it really has been used.  I check each one three times, alternating between mine and hers, sometimes I have to do it even more that if I'm feeling uncomfortable for some reason.  Sometimes I even count how many water bubbles are on each brush or do something to help me remember that what I am seeing is really true.  It's so frustrating because I know AS I'm using it that I'm using mine, and I know that I hand her her's when its time, so why do I have to go back and "check" them.  Because I have OCD and my brain feeds me false messages that something is wrong and maybe I didn't really see things right.  OCD is such a bully....
There are some times though that I worry what if my husband was in the bathroom?  What if he used our toothpaste?  I would not want to share toothpaste with anyone.  My daughter has her kids toothpaste and I have my regular toothpaste.  I don't want to share personal items with anyone.  Recently I started putting a piece of kleenex or toilet paper in the doorway and then shutting the door.  Then if he went in there I would see the piece of toilet paper fallen to the gorund and would know he was in there.  So when I get up in the morning and see that still in the doorway, I feel relieved.  This has become another ritual in itself.  I change toothbrushes very frequently in our house for my daughter and I....probably every 2 weeks, sometimes even more frequently.  Even after I've checked the toothbrushes twice a day I still get freaked out that they could have been used by the opposite person and it just makes me feel better to replace them.  

** Side note--My husband and I had a horrible argument yesterday, just horrible.  Here is how it started.  I had my laundry going and had just started a cycle and he came  home for lunch.  He hardly ever comes home for lunch.  I heard him go into his bathroom and the toilet flush about 5 minutes later, so I was pretty sure he had a BM, and then my obsession about him flushing the toilet while my laundry was in the machine kicked into high gear.  CRAP......literally, crap!!!!
Of course then I have to come up with someway to fix the situation and make sure my laundry isn't contaminated.  So he could tell something was wrong with me, but of course we never go into specifics.  Basically I stopped the washing cycle, and rinsed the clothes out.  Then after he left, I removed the clothes from the machine, ran detergent through a cycle by itself to "clean out the washer".  Then I washed the load again twice.  Then I felt like it was as clean as it would get it.  I am starting to notice how I feel a lot of resentment towards my  husband for things that he probably doesn't understand.  My post this weekend is hopefully going to be about this, and it is going to be a LONG post, but one that I really need to write and analyze.  If anyone out there is reading my story, I would love to hear if you also have OCD, what kind you have, and a little bit of your story.  I know there are so many of us out there that struggle with this, it is really good to have the support of someone who knows what you're going through.    

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Incident Last Night/My Dishwasher Ritual

Before I start talking about my dishwasher ritual, I wanted to write about another incident last night.  These are the types of things that come up frequently with my husband and they are very frustrating to both of us.  The problem is I don't think he recognizes OCD.  One of these posts real soon I am going to write more detailed information about our marriage and OCD and how each affects the other....there is a lot to write about that though, and that will likely be one very long post!
I haven't been feeling a lot of energy this summer.  I mentioned this in previous post.  As I've reflected on this in the past few days, I feel that a lot of this is because my OCD is spiraling downward some.  I've developed some new obsessions this summer.  Our marriage is really troubling me.  I have lost the energy/motivation to do a lot of things I would normally enjoy.  I don't seem to have the energy to cook dinner a lot of nights, and when I do it is like every step takes so much work.  My daughter and I haven't been to the pool much this summer.  We tend to spend a lot of time indoors.  I think I'm getting depressed.  And its been really hard lately.  I also don't feel the support of my husband--there are issues we have related to the OCD and issues that are not related to the OCD, but our marriage is really tough for me too.  I'm really glad I decided to start this blog, because I think for me writing is really therapeutic.
Anyways, more on that later.  Last night I did have more energy and did cook a nice dinner for our family.  Lately when I make something and it turns out right on the first try, that is a good feeling.  And when I say "right"--I mean, I don't have any OCD moments during meal prep which make me start over or throw the whole meal away.  I really enjoy cooking and its a good thing I do, since I will try to avoid eating out whenevr possible.  I cooked some creamy chicken wraps and had them coated in a sour cream and salsa mixture.  Halfway through the meal my husband decided to scrape the mixture off the top of his wraps and he was taking his fork and sliding it quickly down the wrap trying to remove the mixture.  He was flicking it off in a sense and this triggered my OCD immediately.  I sit right across the table from him, and all I could imagine was his "germs" and particles being flung into my food and I started getting really irritated, asking him what he was doing.  He of course didn't understand that I had been triggered.  He never seems to be aware of that.  I said to him, "What are you doing?  You're flicking stuff into my food", to which he got angry and said he wasn't flicking anything into my food and it turned into a back and forth argument.  It was soon after this that he asked if we were all doing something for vacation next week or what.  I was so irritated at that point that I said I didn't want to go anywhere, and spending a week dealing with his attitude didn't sound like a vacation to me!  I know that sounds harsh now, but looking back I was upset about 2 things:  the fact that he didn't realize my OCD was triggered and see the situation for what it was.  Also I didn't want to deal with the OCD on vacation, but I also didn't want to deal with his lack of understanding about my OCD on vacation.  Hmmmmmm.....
I want to move on and discuss my dishwasher ritual, as this is what I have chosen to work on first in my "self-help" program.  I really need to get a hold of some things with my OCD, and I feel like if I can start working on some compulsions it will help move me in the right direction.  I'm starting with this one.  My dishwasher ritual is similar to the laundry ritual which I posted about a few days ago.  I just can't seem to believe that I put dishwashing detergent in the compartment and I just can't get away from the dishwasher.  I load the dishwasher up, put the detergent in, close it, push start.  Then here we go again.....about 2 minutes later I open up the dishwasher and the compartment to make sure there is detergent in the compartment.  Sometimes I can see a design in the detergent, like a big blurb in the middle , and sometimes I even start closing the dishwasher door so the detergent "leaks out" of the compartment a little, somehow it helps me to remember what the detergent looks like.  I know it sounds so odd.  But if I can close the door then, my mind can say "C'mon, you remember it was bright blue and there was that big blue oblong blob that curved and looked like a mans bicep so you know there is detergent in there".  My anxiety is TEMPORARILY relieved, but not 5 minutes later I am worried AGAIN that there is not detergent in there.  We also have a sanitary rinse cycle on our washing machine and I am always so worried that our water heater is somehow emptied and the water will not get hot enough to sanitize the dishes.  So sometimes after the pre-wash is done, I will go back and open it again when the main wash starts to make sure that there is steam and super hot water coming down and that I can "smell" the detergent at that point, since the compartment will be emptied out.  I usually run my dishwasher right before bed, so this process can sometimes add 10-15 minutes to my routine.  What I hope to do within another week or two, is to eventually get to the point where I can just put in the detergent, get one "good look" at it--I think thats okay, but not allow myself to reopen it or stop the dishwasher cycle.  This makes me really nervous, but I think I can do it.  I actually worked on this one about 1 1/2 years ago (yes, I've been doing it this long) and got better at it, so I think I can get there again.  OCD can be so exhausting....I wonder how much time I've spent over the years just "checking" the dishwasher and  the laundry, not even including all of my other rituals.  Too much.