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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.