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Friday, March 28, 2014

Husband Is Contaminated/Living Together Is Hard

Another really big issue I struggle with is feeling like my husband is contaminated.  I have felt this way for a long time and it very much affects our marriage.  We really don't have much of a relationship anymore, but to be honest a lot of that started dwindling even before the OCD even fully set in.  If you go back to my previous post on how all of this got started it seems very clear to me that marriage stress was sort of a trigger for my OCD really kicking into high gear.  Once my husband started some hobbies of working with tractors/farming, I started to move more toward contamination issues, rather than "germaphobia".  I really go into a lot of detail in that post as to how he began to feel contaminated to me, so please refer back to that post for all of those details to get up to speed on that situation.  I can't remember the last time I kissed my husband.  We have not been intimate for over 1.5 years.  We have slept in separate bedrooms for basically most of our marriage.  I do not want to hold hands with him.  I do not want his arm around me.  I do not want him to touch me.  If a part of him does touch me, I will throw that clothing away.  I will not sit on the same couch as him.  If he has to sit in my drivers seat in my car, I will wipe it down thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water.  I wash the washing machine out several times after I do his laundry.  I wash his dishes separately, then run an empty dishwasher cycle before I do the rest of the dishes.  (The reason for this one is because he is looking at his cell phone when he eats and his cell phone is contaminated in my mind because he is always on it  So I feel he contaminates the dishes and I don't want the dishes he uses to be in the dishwasher at the same time as K and I's).  In fact I keep a stack of plates, bowls and cups in a separate cupboard that my daughter and I use.  His dishes are in another cupboard and they don't ever get mixed.  My daughter and I have a separate bathroom from him.  When sitting next to him at church I leave plenty of space between him and I so he does not accidentally brush up against me.  I don't like when he walks through the kitchen when I am making food.  If I even get any inkling that he has come near food sitting on the counter, I won't eat it.  His hands bother me.  His hands look like typical "working man" hands, they don't look clean and I don't want them touching me or anything.  Basically everything that he touches bothers me.  I can't even touch the back door to let the dog out without washing my hands.  A lot of times I will use paper towels or plastic bags to open doors, unless they are doorknobs that he doesn't use.  Now granted I've always felt our garage door (from the garage into the house) is contaminated just because everyone touches it when they come in from being outside.  I tend to be better about certain doorknobs that he doesn't use though.  I will still use my wrist usually to turn on faucets and doorknobs, but I find myself actually having to wash my hands if I use a more common door in the house that he also uses.  I'm pretty sure that he flushes the toilet without washing his hands.  I wil see him stick his fingers in the dog's mouth or play with her toys and then not wash his hands.  His truck is absolutely contaminated to me, and I would not want to ride in it.  Like I said the passenger seat in my car is where he rides and I wouldn't want to sit in there either.  When we take car rides out of town or ride together in my car as a family, I will always drive.  Currently my daughter rides in the backseat due to her age.  I don't want her to have to sit in the passenger front seat either, so I don't know what I will do when it is time for her to ride up front.  Probably talk my husband into a different care.  Although that still poses a problem because when we ride as a family he will ride up front if we are all together.  My mind just spins in different directions all the time.  He has told me before that I treat him like he has leprosy, and to be honest, I really do.  if he even comes close to me, I get panic and probably look like a deer caught in the headlights.  I get frustrated though because I feel like I've tried to be open and honest about my condition and he should understand by now how his hobbies affect me and the OCD.  He has made it very clear that he shouldn't have to change anything, and I guess that is why I really struggle living in the same house with him anymore.  I don't like to use the kitchen faucet to wash my hands anymore because he uses the soap pump there and I feel it is now contaminated.  We moved into a brand new house a year ago and I will not use the same shower as him.  I plan on using the tub/shower in the main bathroom always.  I don't want him touching absolutely anything of mine.  I keep my clothes in the spare bedroom closet or my daughter's closet.  I don't want him touching food in our house.  I leave all food in our pantry and he knows not to get in there or it will bother me.  I have accidentally left dishes out on the table and was scared he might have touched them, so I threw them away.  I will not use the dryer anymore at our house because his clothes have contaminated it.  Also I washed it out so much with soap and water when I was using it, that I believe that small amounts of mold began to grow in the crevices.  I line dry everything of K and I's now.  We all have our own seats at the kitchen table.  I would not be able to sit in his chair.  I have to put K and I's shoes in the spare bedroom because I can't leave them in the entryway because one time he laid his dirty work clothes on top of our shoes.  I have to use a papertowel when I'm touching the TV remote or wash my hands after using it.  I will not sit on any furniture downstairs anymore because he has sat in every seat down there.  If I ever did need to sit on it I would thoroughly wash it with antibacterial soap and water, but I would probably feel very uncomfortable sitting in it, and I'm not actually sure that I would be able to.  He has tickled my daughters toes before and I have thrown her socks out.  He touched her shoe once and I threw it out and got her a new pair.  If he touches anything of mine or hers, it gets thrown out.  I have a system in our house to know if he has gotten into anything.  Our house is split with the kitchen/living room in the center of the house.  The master bedroom/bath are on one side, and then 2 bedrooms and a bath are on the other side.  I don't want him in the other side of the house or the kitchen pantry so I will stick little pieces of paper in the doorways that he wouldn't notice.  Then if he were to get in a room the paper would fall down, and when I go into the room next if the paper is not there, then I will know he was in there.  Usually this is not the case because I am so worried about him getting into something that I rarely leave the house.  Only if I'm sure that he is gone or if my daughter can stay home to watch, will I leave the house to go somewhere.  Going into work makes me very uncomfortable because I am always afraid that he will come home and I won't know.  So I started a system for locking the deadbolt on our garage door.  He never locks the door on his way out so if the door is unlocked when I get home I'll know he was home.  Also if he did remember to lock it, it would be the main lock, not the deadbolt, so I feel a little bit better about that.  I always know exactly how I left things too.  I will usually tear the paper towels at the sink a certain way, that way when I get home I will know if he did wash his hands or not if he came home.  I have a pretty good system in place that I feel like I would know if anything was off when I came home.  It makes me so anxious when he is home by himself, so I have stopped taking my daughter to activities if it means I need to take her or pick her up when he will be left home alone.  It is really getting to be quite bothersome and I am becoming very resentful towards him.  I don't trust him.  I've seen him too many unsanitary things in the past, that my mind is really just left to wander all the time.  People with OCD have pretty good imaginations and can really let things run pretty wild sometimes.  So if I've seen him do some very questionable things right in front of me, likely my mind is going to go to some pretty crazy places in response when I can't see what he is doing.  His bedroom looks like a teenager lives in it.  Clothes everywhere, many of them visibly soiled with paint/dirt.  He has a pillow that he used for the longest time that was so filthy it was literally brown, and he actually slept on it without a pillowcase.  He throws his dirty clothes on the bed.  I can't remember the last time I washed his sheets, because he doesn't seem to care if they are washed or not.  He will do manual labor all weekend sometimes at the farm and then not shower the entire weekend.  His shower curtain downstairs is covered with black mold about 3/4 of of the way up (this happens often and I have to encourage him over and over to change it out).  One time I developed full body hives after cleaning his bathroom and I have to wonder if that was related, considering I had a positive skin test to mold for an allergy.  I've seen him put his dirty hat over his toothbrush and then continue to use it.  One time he stirred his coffee with a spoon and then set the spoon on a dirty plate on the counter (one that had food stuck to it and had been there for weeks) and then reused the spoon to re-stir the coffee a little bit later.  He puts flashlights in his mouth when he is working outside.  When we were fixing up our previous house to sell, he took a sponge and cleaned out the inside of the toilet with it, then rinsed it out (with water only) and used it on a wall to touch up a painting job he did there.  He uses the same towels to shower with for weeks on end, even though there are clean ones in the laundry basket.  Currently there are 2 bath towels in his bathroom, they are either flung on the floor or on the toilet seat after his shower.  I would assume that he is using those same towels over and over for weeks on end.  They are damp and sitting on the toilet and floor and then get reused the next day, and the next, and so on.  I don't get it.  I could go on and on with examples, but the point is I've lost trust in him.  I feel like he goes to the complete opposite extreme that I do with cleanliness, and I'm not sure if that is somehow to "prove a point to me", so that he will show me that my OCD won't affect how he does things, or if he truly believes these things aren't a problem.  I'm not sure.  I can't figure it out.  What I do know is that I feel uncomfortable in my house.  I feel like a prisoner in my house.  He doesn't realize I do a lot of the things I listed above....I'm not sure he realizes he has his own separate dishes or that I do his dishes separately.  I'm sure he doesn't know that I have an exhausting ritual of cleaning the washer out after washing his clothes, or that I turn off the water supply every morning to his toilet so that I can start my wash for the day.  We've had many talks about his bedroom and the moldy shower curtain and nothing seems to make a difference.  He seems very misunderstood on my OCD.  This one I can't figure out has to be because he doesn't get OCD or he doesn't care, I just can't figure out which one.  In my mind I have to believe that its because he doesn't care, because I've talked in pretty good detail about my OCD to the point where he should at least understand my struggles/triggers by now.  I don't feel like I can talk about it with him a lot because he gets very angry and inpatient with me.  In turn, this makes the OCD worse.  It also makes me continue to hide the OCD, and so I feel like I have to do things different ways just in order to be able to live in the same house with him.  I feel like I live most of my days trying to figure out how to not be contaminated by him, and that is sad.  This makes me really sad as I read through this and write this, but this is how I feel.  Some might wonder if I have a case of emotional or relationship OCD, and to be honest I don't know much about that.  Maybe in part.  I do acknowledge that he is my biggest trigger, but also be honest I would have trouble with a lot of the above situations if they were anyone else.  I don't like to hug people in general (other than my daughter).  I wouldn't want other people to use our bathroom or our dishes or sit on the couch that my daughter and I use.  So I don't really think it can be relationship OCD.  I think the contamination would bother me no matter who it was.  What I do think, is that his hobbies probably triggered me and I have gotten to such a severe point of OCD with contamination issues that I think I feel a lot of resentment toward him because of that.  I know it it's not his fault that I have OCD, I realize he did not give me OCD.  That is not what I am trying to imply.  I realize that OCD is partly biological.  I had a genetic predisposition to the disorder (as I've read there has to be a biological predisposition), but there were also things that triggered my OCD and have made it worse through the years.  Most of those things, I believe, involve marriage stress and his hobbies.  I have honestly gotten to the point where I don't care about a lot of things anymore.  If he wants to get angry with me, then I don't know what I'm supposed to do that anymore.  Unfortunately it's a very toxic environment for me.  If he could at least understand a little and we could try to talk and find out a way to live comfortably together, I think that would be good.  If he could show some support or understanding, I might even feel more motivation to improve in certain areas.  But as for now if we never have sex again, so be it.  If we don't sleep in the same bedroom, I'm really not that concerned about it.  If he is just going to be angry and inpatient me, its really not helping the OCD...its hurting it and making things worse.  I will do what I need to do to feel comfortable living with him. That means if I need to replace things that he touches I will.  If I have to stay home because I'm too nervous to have him here by himself, then I will.  If I need to ask rfor reassurance, such as "Where you in the closet?", "Where you in my car for some reason?", then I will do it because I really need to know.  Not knowing makes me crazy.  I usually go to bed after he does every night.  One night he stayed up late (real late for him) and I was so frustrated because I wanted to go to bed.  He flat out said to me that he knew I was staying up because he knew it drove me crazy when he was out there by himself and I was staying up to make sure he didn't touch anything.  Well, that is true.  Again its all about the attitude he projects to me.  When he acts so angry and rude, it just makes me more stressed out and feeds the OCD cycle.  I wish that he would understand that he can help out by being supportive.  Even if he doesn't understand the OCD and gets irritated by it, I really  need him to understand that when I get up in the morning I don't sit there and choose to have these obsessions and compulsions every day.  I think I can speak for everyone with OCD probably that we don't want to be difficult.  Its anxiety and worry that causes us to be this way.  Its the anxiety that if we don't ask for that reassurance, or don't do that ritual, or don't do that compulsion, that we won't be able to function or get on with the day.  I will be honest when I saw that living apart from my husband would be easier.  When I think of all the stuff I wouldn't have to do anymore because I wasn't triggered by him, then I think about how much more free time I would have and how much more freedom I would feel.  I could go to the store or take my daughter to a movie or the park or the zoo without fear that he would come home and get into stuff.  I could take my dog for a walk and not worry that he would be home.  If he is not home for church, we don't go either, and that really bothers me too that this is keeping me home from church because I'm so afraid.  I wouldn't worry about toilets running/flushing because he wouldn't be there.  I could do my laundry whenever I wanted/needed to without fear that he would come.  I wouldn't have to do these laundry rituals at all, which are basically what consumes my time right now.  I honestly can tell you that my heart starts racing when I see a white truck drive by, or if our neighbor's garage door goes up and I think it might be ours, and I worry that he is coming home in the middle of a load of laundry and I will have to throw it out.  I go into an absolute panic where I start breathing hard and my heart is racing.  Then when I realize its not him I literally breathe a sigh of relief.  I can not keep going on like that.  It is not good for my mental, emotional OR physical health.  I don't really feel like he cares about me or what I go through so I feel really angry a lot, like I'm putting myself through this stress and my OCD keeps getting worse all the time because I am with him and he doesn't even care.  It's a very destructive environment, and I'm not sure how this is ever going to help me get better.  Ii don't want to divorce my husband, but I would be lying if I said it wouldn't be easier if we lived apart from each other.  This is where all the resentment adds up.  I hate to admit the emotions I feel toward my husband.  I am ashamed to even write them in this post...anger, bitterness, frustration, disappointment, resentment, rage, and to be honest pure hatred sometimes.  I feel bad saying that because I do love my  husband.  I hate how he reacts to my OCD and I hate how I feel so frustrated sometimes because I can't just leave the house and go somewhere fun with my daughter.  I can't even relax when I am home with her, because usually I have laundry going and I'm so afraid he is going to get home, that is all I can think about.  Of all the people involved in this, I feel the most badly for my daughter.  That will be a separate post though, how all of this has affected her.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

When Are Clothes Really Clean Enough?......My Exhausting Laundry Routines!

One of my most time consuming and biggest issues right now is making sure the laundry is very clean.  I am having such a huge problem with it right now that I literally have gone into a rage at times I get so angry.  It is so frustrating to me.  I am really worrried that this could potentially be the obsession that drives me toward a homebound state.  Right now I still function fairly normal to the outside world.  I am a wife, and a mother.  I work part time, many of those hours from home.  I am able to go out and about in public as long as I can control where I sit in public (for example at church I need to sit in the very back row on the end).  If I go shopping I am just mindful of who I am around at the store and whose line I go through....those types of things.  I have thrown away so many loads of laundry and individual pieces of clothing over the last 6 months, it is getting crazy.  If something happens to an item of clothing I will definitely throw it out.  Especially if I feel it would be cheaper to just replace the garment than to go through a rigourous routine of washing several cycles, and then at the end not really feeling like it still clean.
         I would guess that most non-OCD sufferers sort their clothes by color and throw them in the wash for a single cycle...and boom, that load is done.  Not so much how it works around here.  Since I did not have OCD as a child, I never worried or obsessed about the cleanliness of my clothing.  My mom washed my clothes, then I learned how as I got older.  We just threw it in the wash, and never gave it a second thought that they were not clean when they came out.  I lived in an apartment after I graduated from nursing school, and they had a community washer at the end of the hall.  I remember using that often, although sometimes I would still take my laundry to my parents house and do it there.  I was also working in a hospital nursery at this time and we were required to wear scrubs there.  Each shift we would change into the hospital scrubs, then wear our regular clothes home.  After I got married, then my husband's laundry came into the picture too.  I never thought of his clothes as "dirty" back then, even though he hunted.  A lot of times his dirty clothes would be sitting in a big pile in our closet, and mine would get mixed in with them.  I never worried about it.  Then our daughter came along and I don't remember having issues then either.....but my OCD really had not started yet.  I have become mindful through the years, but I would say in the last 9 months or so my day really revolves around doing laundry.  I can't figure out what set this off for sure, but I do remember that I started to not like people touching me...and if they touched my clothes then the clothes would be contaminated.  Little kids really tend to be a trigger for anymore, and I remember a couple of instances last summer when a child had touched either my daughter or my clothes.  I bought my daughter a new red T-shirt for The 4th of July, and some of our neighbors with kids walked over and the little boys were playing with her and their hands touched her shirt and that really bothered me.  I knew I did not want that shirt tumbling around with the rest of the clothing in the washer and contaminating all of it, so I just tossed it aside in the closet and finally a few weeks ago threw it out completely.  In another post I mentioned one of my coworkers sneezed (a huge, wet sneeze) into her hand then came over and put her hand on me to tell me something, and touched my brand new scrub top flat out with the palm of her hand that she just sneezed into  Gross--that got thrown out.  A couple of days later that same nurse touched my fleece jacket at a meeting, and of course I lost trust in her after the first time so I threw the jacket out too.  We were at a birthday party over the summer and my niece was clinging onto my clothes and I threw that outfit out too because all I could imagine were all the germs all over her hands (because she is sick frequently at her age) and I knew I would never be able to wear those again.  We were at church last week and I was in a fairly new pair of jeans (had only worn them a couple of times) and my  husbands coat brushed up against my jeans when he was taking it off.  Jeans--thrown out.  My husband is contaminated to me and I knew I couldn't "restore" those jeans back to a place I felt comfortable wearing them again.  I was in his room the other day getting his clothes ready to put in the washer, and I was wearing gloves...because I will not handle his dirty clothes with my bare hands.  A pair of long underwear that he wears out to hunt in sometimes fell off the bed and onto my shoe and I'm not sure if it grazed the bottom of my pajama pants leg, but I couldn't deal with the what-ifs.  I took the PJ pants off and threw them out.  Then ended up going directly to the store to buy a replacement pair (thankfully they still had a similar pair there), and wouldn't you know my car battery dies in the Target parking lot.  I called my dad who lives 5 minutes away from Target and he came to my daughter and I's rescue and came and jump started my car and followed us home.  When we got back to our house he came in to see our new puppy (which is another area I'm really having problems in related to the OCD) and he was commenting on how someone he knows has a big labrador  who came and basically put their paws on his shoulders and knocked him over.  He was demonstrating what this dog did to him, so he came over and took the palms of his hands and pushed them hard into my shoulders.  I was wearing my winter coat...which will now be thrown away.  My dad was working with rusty jumper cables and was touching the engines of my car and his car and then touched my coat.  I will not wear that coat again.  Oddly enough I had to replace my winter coat about three months ago because we were at a concert at school for my daughter and something happened to both of our coats that day so I had to replace them both.  First of all she was taking her coat off to go get ready for the concert and I don't know what I was doing but didn't notice or she might have been trying to get my attention and I was busy talking to someone next to me, but my husband took her coat from her and handed it to me.  If he touches something, it gets thrown out.  Then my father in law came over and was patting me on the arm with my coat on, so my coat got thrown out too.  My father in law does the same hobbies as my husband...a lot of farm work, tractor restoration, painting, working with things in a shed, and both of their hands completely bother me.  I would not wear any of that stuff again.  Today my dog threw up in her bed twice and then came and licked my pants.  I can not take the chance that there is dog vomit on my pants, and even if I washed those things in a sanitary wash cycle over and over again, I do not think I would feel comfortable wearing them.  These are just some examples of how my clothing gets "contaminated" and has to be thrown out.  So I don't really go out and buy net outfits or anything, I just try to buy basic, inexpensive clothes because things happen to them often.
  Next comes my regular laundry.   When I sort my laundry, it is sorted by the following loads:
1.  Sleep pants for my daughter and I, along with my T-shirts.
2.  My daughters T-shirts
3.  My daughter and my  jeans, and my work scrub pants.
4.  My sweatshirts
4.  My underwear
5.  My daughters underwear
6.  My daughter and my socks
7.  Bath towels
8.  Sheets
9.  Bathmats
10.  Any new clothes
11.  Very dirty clothes that we have worn out and about
12.  My husbands regular clothes
13.  My husbands jeans and sweatshirts
14.  My husbands bath towels

Here is my explanation for why I do loads this way, based on the #'s above.  I don't mind washing most of my daughter and my stuff together with the exception of shirts and underwear, and I will explain why below.
1.  Sleep pants are pretty clean.  After all we take our showers at night so the only time we really wear these is on the couch or around the house or to go to bed.  I feel they are pretty clean anyway.  Only wear them once though and they go in the hamper.  My T-shirts go in with this pile for now, although that will probably change this summer.  Right now during the winter if I go out and about my shirts are protected by my coat, so I feel my shirts are pretty clean, so feel okay putting them in with this load.
2.  My daughters T-shirts, sweaters that she wears to school get a load by themself.  Partly because of all the germs that there are in an elementary school and sitting on chairs all day and lunch benches.  Plus if she sneezes or coughs into her sleeve, then they all just get washed together.
3.  Jeans and scrub pants are definitely outside leave the house clothes.  I feel that everything is dirty between going out in public, sitting in chairs, being at school, or sitting in my desk at work.  So all of these kind of share a load together.
4 and 5.  Both of our underwear are washed separately for reasons that I don't feel are necessary to explain.  Self explanatory.
6.  Socks are all washed together because socks touch the floor and I don't want them in with other laundry/clothes.
7.  Bath towels gets a sanitary wash cycle.  I have one bath towel every day for my daughter and I.  14 towels/week.  That basically fills up the washer anyway.
8.  Sheets--they get a sanitary cycle too, but I don't want to wash them with bath towels because you think if what if mites or something happen to be in the bed sheets?  I just prefer to wash everything separately.
9.  Bathmats--these get washed separately too, because basically they sit on the floor all the time and wet feet walk all over them.  Don't need to be mixed with anything else.
10.  New clothes get washed separately from everything else, for obvious reasons.  Think of all the people that try them on at the store and how much they get handled from the manufacturing process until the time they get in your door at home.
11.  An example of this would be if we went to someone else's house and were sitting on their couch.  I've had an increasingly hard time with this, when sitting somewhere not in my own home.  I would probably take these loads and possibly do a sanitary cycle, or at least a few regular washes before I felt they were clean.  I would not want to mix them together with other clothing.  I have even considered having one outfit that is worn out and about, but I have not gotten to that point.
12-14.  I do my husbands laundry completely separately from ours.  More about this later.  I also run 7 wash empty wash cycles between his laundry and ours.  More on this later.

Now when I wash clothing I don't just wash it once.  For the last few months I have gotten worse and was washing many loads 3 times before I would consider them clean enough to come out.  I've really been trying to work at this and get it down to 2 washes for most things.  For loads 1-4 above I will generally do a "quickwash cycle" which runs about 20 minutes, followed by a "normal deep clean cycle" which runs about 1 hour.  Both of these are with hot water.  Then I have to rinse them a few times extra because sometimes so much detergent is in the clothes that it takes awhile to get it out.  So a standard load of laundry takes about 2 hours, maybe a little more.
For loads 4-8, all of these involve a sanitary cycle.  So I will do a "quickwash cycle", followed by a "sanitary cycle".  The sanitary cycle takes anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours depending on how many items are in there. Plus once again I have to rinse several times until the water runs very clear and I can't see any soap suds.  Bath towels take so long to rinse because they are so absorbent.  It usually takes about 1.5-2 hours for the bath towels to rinse, so bath towels take about 5-5.5 hours total, which is a really long time.  For load # 9 these are washed on delicate which unfortunately the hottest that cycle gets is warm water, but they are rugs with rubber like backing, so they would melt if put any hotter.  I usually run these through 2-3 times once/week  For load # 10, anything new that comes home automatically gets washed through 3 cycles.  2 "normal deep clean" cycles and a "quickwash".  Since they are new clothes, detergent hasn't had a chance to get caked into the clothing yet, so they generally may only require 1-2 extra rinses at the end.
My husband gets all of his laundry done separately.
It may seem like I do a lot of laundry, enough to keep the washer busy all day, every day and that is certainly true.  But the hardest parts about my laundry routine are the 2 following things:  I have an obsession with indoor plumbing, which you can read about in a previous post.  Toilets can not flush while the washer is going.  We also have 2 out of 3 toilets in our house that will start running when the washer drains, so I turn off the water supply to those 2 toilets before I start my laundry for the day.  My husband does not know that I do this every time.  He knows that we leave the basement toilet off, but he does not realize that I turn off his toilet in the master bathroom every single day.  A few days ago I told him that sometimes I turn it off, and he said not to do this because it is not meant to be turned more than once ever (when initially turned on) and he was afraid we would get water all over our bathroom sometime when the crank broke.  Well, there is no way I can do my laundry with the toilet flushing each time the washer goes into the drain part of the cycle.  All I can imagine is toilet water flowing into the washing machine getting all over the clothes.  So because I hide this from him I basically have to do all of my laundry during the week when he is at work.  I do his laundry on the weekend, that way in case he is home it's easier because I don't have to turn off the toilets when I do his laundry.  During the week though  this gets tricky at times, because if he comes home unexpectedly and I have a load of wash going, I will just stop the washer, run into the bathroom to turn his toilet on (so he doesn't know it was ever turned off), then my load is considered "ruined" at that time, because I am afraid once I turn the water supply on to the toilet and it starts flushing, my laundry is contaminated.  So I have to be real careful.  This is also part of the reason I am trying to go from 3 to 2 washes per load because I get loads done faster and there is less of a chance of him coming home during a load if I can get them done faster.  I also have to wash out the washer each day before I use it with a "quickwash" hot water cycle, which takes 10 minutes if I do the very quickest setting.  Basically it just tosses detergent around, rinses a couple of times, then I feel the machine is clean enough to start my laundry for the day.  So basically most days during the week, this is my routine:  As soon as my husband leaves for work I go downstairs to make sure the toilet is still turned off like it is supposed to be, if not I will turn it off.  Go upstairs and turn off the toilet in his bathroom.  Wipe the inside door of the washer with antibacterial soap and wipe off with paper towel.  Run a quick cycle with hot water, then start my laundry for the day.  I can usually get about 2 loads done per day, maybe 3 during the time he is at work.  I try to have my morning stuff done by 12:00 just in case he comes home for lunch for some reason, but if he is not home by 12:25 I will go ahead and start the next load.  This is stressful for me on towel day because I start the load at 8:30 and it often isn't done until 1:30 or 2:00.  I have found that he rarely comes home for lunch, so on the off chance that he does, I find a way of dealing with it, probably would just throw out the load.  Now between cycles I sometimes have to run a quick wash too.  Like if I have washed my daughters school stuff then I have a regular cleaner load that needs to go in, I will run a quick cycle between to wash anything out.  Usually I try to go from cleanest to dirtiest during the day, but it doesn't always work out that way.  My closet is very limited anywhere to what I can wear.  Currently I have no dry PJ pants to wear tonight.  I just pulled out my PJ pants from the washer around 4pm, and have box fans on them to hopefully get them dry by 9-10pm tonight...I guess I will have to take my shower later than usual tonight for that reason.  Now I try to get my daughter and my laundry done all week while he is at work.  He comes home around 4:40 every day, and so I start to get frantic around 4:30 as usually I am scrambling to finish up laundry before he gets home.  I get real worried during the day that he might come home early or leave work for some reason, so I really don't like to leave the house while laundry is going.  Since my laundry basically takes all day, this means I can't leave the house.  If I do leave for a short trip I slide the pocket door closed in our laundry room (because he would have to open it to get in the house) and lock the dead bolt in the door out to the garage.  Then when I come home if the door is unlocked or the sliding door is open I will know he came home.  I try to keep trips very short for this reason.  I have had a hard time getting to the grocery store lately, usually I have to go in the evening when my daughter is home and she can sit out and watch TV and make sure that he is not getting into anything.  Him being home alone is another major issue right now and I will explain this further in another post.   I have called in sick to work twice recently because I didn't know how I would get laundry done if I had to go into work for 4 hours.  I knew I wouldn't be caught up.  Keep in mind that I am often working from home as I am doing the laundry, so I'm trying to make medical calls as I'm running up and down the stairs "watching" the washing machine to make sure that things are getting properly sudsed and then rinsed.
I also feel like a lot of clothing is "contaminated" and unwearable after certain things.  I used to just throw things in the wash and consider them clean.  However now I am finding that after certain things happen I don't even want to wear the article of clothing ever anymore and I just throw it away.  I have a huge pile of clothing in my house that is constantly growing of things that I can not wear anymore, that I will either throw away or take to a donation box.  I feel bad taking them to a donation box because I don't want someone else to be harmed by the clothing either.  If something happened to them, then it would be may fault I put it in there.  So I just keep it in a pile because I do not know what to do with it.  Some examples of things I would just throw away without even washing would be a lot of the things I described above.  The coat that my dad touched after being in my car engine and touching jumper cables.  The shirts that people at my work touched.  The shirt that a little boy touched. The outfit that my niece touched.  The pair of pants that something of my husband's fell on.  My husband possibly brushed up against a T-shirt of mine, so that went in the pile too.  We had a meeting at work the other day and they chose to meet in the patient waiting room.  So my whole outfit got put in that pile.  My  mind simply can not handle wearing clothing from a pediatric doctors office waiting room.  My daughter took a field trip last week and rode on a school bus, and her whole outfit is in that pile now also.  I have thrown out countless pairs of slippers since we got our puppy 2 months ago.  Once a slipper ends up in her mouth, I don't want to wear it anymore.  I have been wearing slippers (and having my daughter wear them also) because there have been urine accidents and stains which have been cleaned up on our carpet since we got our puppy, and I don't want to step on the carpet in socks.  So the slippers are kind of functioning as an indoor shoe for us, so I feel more comfortable walking around in our house.  Another example is my husbands coat brushed up against a pair of jeans at church and I threw those in the discard pile also.  So many things getting thrown out.  That is why it is easier just to stay home.  I don't know why I am so fixated on this lately.  I never even gave it a second thought before, but of course when I didn't have OCD what reason would I have to question those types of things.  Now I just question everything.
Also, OCD can really bring out the creativity in a person and you tend to learn how to work around things.  Because I get so behind on my laundry and can only do the laundry when my husband is not home, I feel I need access to the washer 7 days a week in order to keep up with the laundry.  Since I have a 4-5 hour process of washing out the washer after I do his laundry for the week, that basically puts the washing mashine out of commission for me for 2 days.  1 day to do 2 his 2 loads and then another day to do the cleanout.  I have to do the clean out when he is gone, because I shut off water supply to all of the toilets.  He doesn't have much laundry to do so it seems like if I could find a different method of doing his laundry that would help me out, so that I don't have to go through the cleanout of the washer process, and then it would give me access to the washer again 7 days/week.  I checked on Amazon and found a few small washing machines that don't hook up to indoor plumbing.  That you either just crank or push a button and it does the laundry.  But I don't want to spend $50-$100 on a little machine for him, and also that seems like a lot of work to do.  I think what I decided I'm going to try for a couple of weeks is handwashing his clothes.  Of course I don't want to touch them, so I have a plan.  This is how crazy OCD gets.....
I am going to the store to buy a couple of large buckets, some Woolite handwashing detergent and some giant gloves which fit up to the elbow.  I am going to try handwashing his laundry one day this week, just so I don't have to go through the process of a cleanout for the washer, and I can catch up on my laundry.  Really it will just be underwear, socks and his khaki pants he wears to work, so that won't be too bad.  At least I'll give it a try and see how it works this week.  Once I am able to catch back up on laundry I can hopefully put his stuff back in the washing machine again eventually.
So I took an OCD severity inventory last night.  I first told my husband about my OCD a little over 2 years ago.  At that point it was probably moderate in severity.  A lot of things bothered me, however I was much better able to function normally at that point.  I continue to have all of the same things that bother me, however have really gotten pretty strong into this laundry ritual now for about 9 months to the point where I feel my symptoms have become much more time consuming.  I'm spending much of my day doing rituals and compulsions.  The inventory revealed severe OCD, 2 points away from extreme OCD.  That is scary.  I have known that is where I am for a long time, but to see those words pop up and know I am that close to extreme OCD is very frightening.  It has really consumed me recently.  I don't know what to do anymore.  There are many days I am feeling like this is what I wake up doing and this is what I do all day.  I don't relax anymore.  I don't find myself sitting down and doing fun things anymore.  Even when I do sit down and try to relax, I am easily distracted.  There is so much more that plays into this, the OCD and the marriage issues are just really depressing me.  The fact that my husband doesn't understand OCD and has never supported me in this, is just really taking a mental and emotional toll on me.  I think that is what my next post will be about.  That will probably even be longer that this post!!  A lot of anger and resentment in that situation which in turn escalates the OCD too, I think.
***Also just a side note.  My husband normally works 8-12 on Mondays, which isi today.  This morning he woke up and had to return a piece of equipment somewhere so he wasn't going to go into work.  This threw my whole laundry plan off for the week because I got the impression it would take him maybe 1-2 hours to return this, and then he told me his plan was to come home and sleep for awhile.  Well I knew I wouldn't have time to complete laundry before he got home, so I am off a whole day now on laundry.  It is now 11:15 almost as I'm writing this and he is still not home, so I probably could have gotten the load done after all.  It seems like I am working my rituals around whether or not he is home.  This all ties into the issues with him and I will better be able to describe this all next post.  Also found out we have a meeting at work tomorrow at noon which I am supposed to attend.  I work from home tomorrow and plan to have laundry going over the lunch hour so I don't plan on going in for the meeting.  I am sure I will get an email from my boss about how I wasn't there and I hope I don't get written up, but I don't know what to do.  With not getting laundry done today, I have to keep on my plan for tomorrow, and that means I need to be home all day with the wash going.  So I guess if I get written up, then so be it.  That is where I am at right now.
****Another side note--my OCD has been terrible in the past week.  Just so you have an idea of how OCD thoughts get out of hand, get a load of this situation!  I went to Kohl's (a department store) to buy some shirts about a week ago.  Everything went well at the store, and I put the bag on my backseat and was headed home.  I stopped through a Walgreens drive-thru to pick up a Rx on the way home and the lady put my credit card on top of the Rx bag and I layed them on top of the clothes in the backseat.  Well, after I thought about it, I remembered I had just picked the credit card up of the garage floor, which is filthy.  Also it was touching my  husbands work shoes in the garage, so the thought that somehow the credit card contaminated the clothes bothered me, and I returned the whole bag of clothes the next day.  I had also even used a Wet-wipe to wipe off the credit card before all of this, but in my mind it was still contaminated and I couldn't imagine wearing the clothes, even after they had been washed.  I took them back to Kohl's the next day and tried to repurchase again.  I can't even remember the order in which all of this happened, but basically I made I think 4 attempts to buy the clothes and each time something happened and I ended up taking them back and trying again.  One time the lady licked her finger to open up the bag to put the clothes in, and then of course I didn't like that because all I could imagine was her spit on my clothes.  I immediately took them back to the return counter, and went and got the same clothes again off the shelf (different ones obviously) and took them to the other side of the store, to where this clerk itched his nose and sounded like he had a stuffy nose.  So then that bothered me.  So then I took those clothes back to the other Kohl's on the other side of town and everything went well when checking out.  No problems with how the clerk handled the clothes, I went to sit the bag in the car and I accidentally put them on the front passenger seat.  That is where my husband sits in the car, so it was contamined in my mind, and back those clothes went too.  I was so angry by this point, as I had wasted so much time running around town trying to get these clothes purchased.  I went back to Kohl's a few days later next time and got my stuff up to the counter and everything seemed to be going well, until the clerk **possibly** brushed up one of the pairs of pants I was buying up against something hanging on a rack.  It didn't seem like a new piece of clothing, it was a very tattered pair of overalls and I wasn't even sure where it came from.  So I froze right there, told her I left my credit card in my car, and I left the store.  I went online after that and bought the clothing online to be shipped to my house.
I also had another bad OCD day yesterday while making food.  I was trying to make cookies and I wear a glove over my right hand when I cook/bake, because I have warts on  my right hand (probably because of the OCD).  As I was stirring the cookies I noticed that the glove was wet on the outside, and it may have just been wet from washing my  hands or from perspiration on my hand from heavy mixing, but everytime my glove gets wet like that I start obsessing thats its somehow fluids from the wart and then I can't think about anything else.  So I took the cookie dough which was half done at that point and tossed it in the trash.  Later that day I was getting dinner ready to put in my  Crock-pot slow cooker.  I had put the chicken in along with some canned items, and then as I was pouring chicken broth into the slow cooker, the outside of the can brushed against the top of the Crock-pot.  All I could think about was how germy the outside of the can could be.  How many people had touched it, it sat in a grocery cart and on a shelf at the store.  I thought about it contaminating our dinner and I dumped everything in the trash.  It has been awhile since I have ruined a dinner like that with OCD, but this last week or so all of this with the clothes happened and then with the food.  Just an example of how bad OCD can get.  I document these situations time to time just to track my progress.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Update on Progress

Sorry I haven't posted for awhile.  I would like to say it is because my OCD got a lot better since last September, but in reality the opposite is true.  I have continued to spiral further and further into the world of OCD and many of the issues I started having last summer have really started consuming large periods of time and make it quite difficult to leave the house.  All of the issues are kind of interconnected, and I want to talk about all of these issues in detail over the course of several posts.  I hope to start posting very frequently again as I did in the beginning of this blog, as I actually find this a good "outlet" and a place where I can be very honest and open with what is going on.  I still continue to struggle with all of the same things I was previously, however my major issues right now are:

1.  Clean clothes/laundry rituals
2.  Not wanting to be away from the house if I think my husband will be here by himself (because I don't trust what he is doing in the house when I can't see him).
3.  Eating/Preparing food
4.  Severe handwashing

I think I will start with one of the easier problems to explain.  If you go back to previous posts, I had an incident last August where gasoline spilled all over my right hand.  It has affected the way I shower, eat, and prepare food as I am unable to use my hands to touch my body or put food in my mouth.  I know that logically gasoline can not possibly be on my skin still after 6 months, but I can not help myself.  I will not eat with my hands anymore.  I use a fork for everything.  I can not touch food that I prepare, so I buy food preparation gloves at the store and if I have to touch anything I use the food prep gloves over my hands.  Sometimes I will take plastic sandwich bags and just turn those inside out and use those kind of like a glove, if I just need to pull a piece of bread out of a wrapper.  If I am eating a snack like candy or cereal, I'll just put in a cup and kind of tilt the cup into the mouth to get the food in there.  I will eat sandwiches, chips, whatever you name it....with silverware.  I will not use my  hands.  One time we did go out to eat and of course if you also look back at previous posts you will find that I will not use restaurant silverware.  I ordered a pizza and just ate down to the crust so that nothing that touched my hands or fingers would be eaten.  Well as you can imagine it gets expensive to buy food prep gloves all of the time, plus I don't want my husband to see me using them or he will start asking me about that....and I try to just hide stuff from  him, because he doesn't get it at all.  I am also so mentally exhausted from this OCD that quite honestly I just don't have the energy to cook anymore.  I do not like eating out at all.  For awhile we were alternating between my 3 "safe places" to eat, and I found that we were eating out a lot, and that makes me uncomfortable too.  I would rather make my own food, but I am truly so exhausted at the end of the day that sometimes I just can't do it.  There were some really bad times over the last few months that my daughter and I might just eat frozen waffles for dinner.  I used to really enjoy baking/cooking.  Now I just find it too difficult.  I also throw a lot of food away because I feel it is contaminated.  For example if the jar of salsa I'm using doesn't open quite right and I don't hear that definite "click" of the button popping, then I toss it out.  If in doubt, toss it out.  That is kind of my motto with a lot of things.  If I use a bag of shredded cheese for a meal and have some leftover, I usually put in back in the refrigerator, but I know I won't use it again.  I end up with several packages of 1/2 used cheese and then toss them all out.  I am too scared that my husband might have opened it up and used it for something....even though I know he didn't.  He never cooks, and I don't want him to.  I don't want him touching food and he knows that.  Plus either my daughter or I are always in the living room watching him so we would know if he took something out and used it.  My mind just can't handle it though...the what if's.  I do the same thing with milk.  I started laying our milk down sidewas on a shelf and putting things in front of it, to hide it in a sense.  I didn't like leaving it in the milk holder on the side of the fridge because then every time he opened the fridge his arm would brush up against it and I wouldn't want to drink it.  I have to devise clever ways to keep him from touching things, but I do what I need to do.  And that is where I am right now.  Also when I make food I often leave it on the oven but put a big piece of foil over it so he can't touch it or brush up against it when he walks by.  But a lot of times I will end up throwing the leftovers away because I'm afraid that somehow he got it, even though I know he didn't, because I was watching the whole time.  Then I get upset because I don't have lunch the next day, and I am resentful of him, but can't tell him why, because he doesn't understand the OCD.  The other way that the gasoline contamination has really affected me is that I can not touch my body in the shower, which makes showering quite a challenge.  I wrote a post about this last fall, and am pleased to say that about a week ago I did make some progress in this area!  I would get to the point of dreading my shower so much that I would literally sit on the couch and not even want to go into the bathroom.  But I couldn't just not take a shower because that would make me feel dirty.  But I knew as soon as I got in there it would take me awhile.  For awhile I was coming shampoo through my hair instead of actually lathering it up with my hands.  The thought is so gross to me, because I know my hair really wasn't getting clean, and I did this for 6 months straight.  I also used antibacterial liquid soap on my face which must have gotten caked into my hairline, and one day about 1 1/2 weeks ago I noticed orange crusty stuff stuck to my scalp, which is probably soap residue from my scalp never getting cleaned or rinsed properly over the course of 6 months.  So I felt strength that day and with God's help I was able to shampoo my hair and lather it up for the first time in 6 months.  I only used my left hand (because that wasn't the hand to get gasoline right hand got that...but I figured both were "contaminated" after washing them and scrubbing them against each other after the incident and also my right hand has warts on it...probably due to the OCD and frequent handwashing)....but progress is progress and I have to celebrate that because that was really hard to do.  I literally cried as I was washing my hair because I was so filled with anxiety, then I rinsed and lathered again...did it 3 times and I felt so good about my progress after that.  Sounds like such a ridiculous thing, but this is something I've avoided for 6 months now and I have continued to wash my hair "normally" since then, and my hair actually feels clean again.  It has made my showering ritual somewhat less stressful, as the combing the shampoo through my hair (and even washing the comb off before I used it) took a lot of time because I would do it 3 times each  night.  I still have not been able to use my hands to wash my body off, so I put a box of Kleenex outside the shower and grab a handful of those, squirt the body wash onto the Kleenex and use it as a washcloth basically.  I told my daugher (now almost 11 years old) that I had some exciting news and was able to wash my hair normally, and she had the biggest smile on her face.  I could tell she was really proud of me.  I love her so much, she has been so incredibly supportive to me, and oftentimes I think about the crazy stuff she has to endure with my OCD and she loves me back so much.  She has had so much normalcy taken out of her life because of me, and she never holds it against me.  I am hoping that eventually I can get to the point where I can run body wash over my body with my  hands again and eat with my hands and prepare food with my hands...but I will take it one step at a time.  The hairwashing a good victory for me, and gave me hope that I can keep fighting this, albeit one step at a time.  That is what frustrates me so much about my husband.  Sometimes I don't know if he thinks I am just supposed to face it all and "get over OCD" in a short period of time or what.  I don't think he understands that I literally have hundreds of rituals and things I avoid so even though I am constantly working on stuff, he never sees it.  He just sees the big picture, that I still have OCD.  He does not realize the mental torment it causes me every day.  I know that OCD will be a part of my life, and I just have to keep fighting and make sure that I it is not winning all the time, which it has been for a LONG time.......  Ever notice how expensive OCD is too?  My goodness.  I will talk about this in a future post too.  I probably do not even want to know how much money I spend on OCD supplies (sounds ridiculous, but it's true) every month.  The food handling gloves for one, the boxes of Kleenex, tons of antibacterial soap and paper towels.  Also clothing and dishes and any other items I feel are "contaminated".  I will get into this a lot later.  My  laundry is probably THE biggest issue I have right now and pretty much ties me to the house.  I plan on posting about this next.  It is also very expensive as I have thrown out countless articles of clothing over the past few months to the point where I am purchasing new clothes constantly and throwing them out for various reasons, sometimes even entire loads of laundry.  I would guess I have spent close to $1000 dollars on clothing/underwear/socks, etc. over the past several months...and these are just basic clothes, nothing fancy or expensive.  More to come soon.

Sharing details of OCD with my husband

****This has been in draft since October of last year.  Posting today so I can start blogging again frequently.  I plan on updating very soon.

So several weeks ago I shared my last post with my husband.  We've had a lot of issues in our marriage and we are really struggling in our relationship right now.  We have been for years.  I think I've mentioned before that I told him I had OCD almost 2 years ago.  I asked him to come to a therapy appointment with me and we talked about it a bit at that time.  I shared with him some information that "scratched the surface" at that time, but I walked away from that experience not really feeling like he understood any better what OCD is and how it affects me.  Since my OCD has gotten so much worse I felt like I really need to share with him all the details of what I have, so we sat down one night and I tried to explain OCD--what it is, the different forms of it, how it affects me and some examples of things that bother me.  I really got into a lot of details about it, hoping that the more information/details he knew, then perhaps the better he could understand.  Especially when situations come up that involve my OCD, he could possibly take a step back and say "Oh, okay, I get this now".....maybe I was hoping for too much.  Maybe I laid out too MUCH information for him.  All I know is that I went through massive information with him, read him my last post of how this journey has progressed, and he really didn't have a whole lot to say.  I'm not sure what I was looking for.  Actually I do.....I was looking for some compassion, some empathy perhaps.  What I got was a few basic questions about things, like "You really can't tell the garage door is down even when you are looking at it?", he said he was interested by that.  It was discouraging, because after all I had released...and it was quite a lot...that was what stuck out in his mind??!!!  At the very end of the conversation he kind of asked me more about treatment and what I planned on doing about it.  That is really it.  It is really hard for me to open up to him anymore.  I just don't feel the support from him.  Sometimes I question if it was a good idea for me to open up that much....I kind of wish I hadn't said everything I did.  But in the end, I'm glad I did.  All I can do is be as honest as I can about the situation.  And I really was, except I didn't get into every issue--especially the laundry, food issues, and him home when I'm not home-- which are actually three of the four biggest issues I have right now.  Now that know that he knows all of this stuff, I guess it is not my responsibility how he reacts to it.
We had our first "test" though a few weeks ago, right after this conversation.  Our washing machine broke and he had to fix it.  Unfortunately I was not home when the fixing was going on, and I was at work.  This bothers me immensely because I have no idea what he is doing with the washer and about a hundred possibilities of what he could have done start to run through my head.  I didn't want any parts laying on the garage floor, I don't want tools in the washing machine tub, I don't want chemicals/products put anywhere on or in the washing machine, the thought of their dirty  hands taking every piece apart really bother me.  I really wanted to know step by step how he fixed this, so that I could "restore" the washing machine back to where I felt comfortable using it again.  Fortunately I knew this fixing was going to be coming up, so I did loads and loads of laundry trying to "stock up" so that I could run sanitary cycle after sanitary cycle for a day or two after he had fixed it.  I tried asking him the other day how he fixed it and we got into another huge argument. This is what gets so frustrating to me.  I don't like having to ask all of the questions, but that is what I need to do at this point in order get reassurance about what was done.  I need to know what all was done, that is part of the OCD.