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Monday, May 26, 2014

Eating contamination/My Food Related Hierarchy

Regardless of whether or not I choose to get treatment professionally, I know that at this very moment I need to very much start working on self-treatment at a bare minimum.  I have decided to come up with a list of hierarchies for all of my subtypes of OCD.  As I make the lists and start going through some of the lower exposures, I will document my progress on this blog.  Contamination OCD is by far the worst for me.  Contamination comes in many different forms....clothes, laundry, going out in public, pets, my husband, food, etc.  Laundry/clothes/husband is probably not what I will tackle first (because it is the worst of everything).  My plan is to make a hierarchy for every problem first...sometimes it helps me to take a step back and look at this and realize how bad things really are with my OCD right now.  I probably won't remember everything at this time, but this will be a good starting point.  I am going to include what bothers me, and a  SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress) score for each other words on a rating of 0 (no anxiety) to 100 (the most extreme anxiety), where does my anxiety fall for each item if I were to do it??  I am planning on starting to work on food/eating contamination first.  I have about 3 places right now where I feel safe getting take out from, 2 of those places are drive thrus.  I won't eat at restaurants and I would typically feel very uncomfortable veering outside of my 3 safe places.  I have seen things happen at other restaurants or drive thrus that make me uncomfortable, and then I just won't go back.  I would not want to use restaurant silverware or cups.  I do have a hard time with the plates too.  I used to just get finger food in the rare instance we would go out to eat with extended family, but then after the "gasoline contamination" (see post from last summer) I am not able to use my hands to eat.....and since I can't use the silverware, that pretty much puts eating out, out of the quesion.  If we go to family gatherings, I won't eat, so I just avoid those anymore.  I stopped eating bakery items from the grocery store several months ago bcause I saw their baking pans looked rusted.  I stopped buying deli lunchmeat at the grocery store awhile backbecause I would see things like the worker wiping down the meatcutter with a cloth/cleaning solution and then use those same gloves to get my meat.  I stopped going to one grocery store close by my house about a year ago because there was a man I saw in a black trenchcat and sunglasses and he was was walking around the store watching people.  This happened right after the Boston marathon bombing and I was scared that this person might be doing something harmful to all the food in store, so I hadn't been back there since.  I tend to take my grocery items from a few back on the shelf.  I won't take first box of cereal, for instance, because I think what if someone had it in their cart and didn't want it and put it back.  It just feels safer if farther back.  I won't buy the item if there are none behind the first row.  I am very aware of espe cially bags of food.  If I have a large bag of M&M's, I will push on it to make sure there is air in the bag, if that makes sense.  To make sure there isn't a hole or leak in the  bag somewhere.  If I buy a box of waffles and notice there is a hole or tear in the bag inside I won't eat them, I'll throw them out.  There are a lot more examples, but hopefully this gives some background on the food OCD.  So with that, here is my partial food hierarchy.  There are a lot of other little things, but I feel this gives a pretty good idea of where I'm at and where I need to start.

Using restaurant silverware    100
Eating out a restaurant that I normally don't go to 80
Eating out at restaurant/drive thru by myself (no one else is eating with me)    90
Eating at a social gathering 100
Drinking a fountain pop through a drive thru 100
Eating foods from the bakery 90
Taking the first item off the grocery shelf (instead of getting one a few back)   100
Not "Checking" bags of food to make sure there isn't holes in them   100
Making food at home and touching food with my hands (instead of gloves)  100
Wearing gloves when I handwash pots/pans   100
Using a baking pan without lining with foil    100
Going back to HyVee grocery store (store I stopped going to) and purchasing and eating food from there 90
Eating at a buffet 100
Eating meat from deli counter 90
Eating with my hands 100

Wow, I have a lot of 100's in this category.  Since this post has been in progress, I have tackled a few things.  I ate a pizza from a restaurant that I go to for other things, but stopped eating pizza there when I saw their dirty looking/possibly rusted pizza pans.  We ordered pizza on Thursday night (as it was the last day of 5th grade for my daughter!), and I ate it for dinner and lunch the next day.  I bought several things from the bakery..croissants and donut holes and cinnamon rolls, and ate them.  I went to my off limits grocery store for the first time in a year.....bought more bakery items (and  ate those too).  Small setback here though.  I also tried to buy deli meat and the woman was eating with bare hands, then came and put on one glove to get my meat.  I saw her touch the wrapper with her bare hand, and I couldn't go through with it anymore at that point.  But...I did go to another store and bought deli meat over the weekend, and we ate that.  So a small setback, but I was able to do a few things I haven't done in a long time.  And I did all of this in just a few days.  May not sound like much, but baby steps right?  You have to start somewhere.  So I do feel good about that.  Granted, all of them were the 80's or 90's SUDS.  Right now I am not sure how I will do the 100's.  Most of them, I don't want to do.  I think I will just have to look at the list and ask myself "if I were forced to do one of these things next, which would I do"?  That is what is recommended in Jonathan Graysons book "Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder".  Even after doing these smaller exposures, they really weren't that bad, once I just did them.  I tried to remind myself that people eat from the bakery, eat at restaurants, and go to that particular grocery store everyday.  And that once upon a time, so did I.  And my OCD took that away from me, and now I am working to get it back.

On an unrelated note, I had a pretty bad contamination situation Saturday night.  My daughter vomited in the middle of the night.  She woke me up and didn't make it into the bathroom.  She threw up on her bedroom carpet, in the hallway, and on her clothing and some of mine, and our slippers.  The weird thing is cleaning up the vomit doesn't gross me out.  Its just that wherever the vomit was, is now contaminated.  My husband came and used a wet vac to clean the hallway.  I didn't tell him about the vomit in her bedroom.  I didn't want him in her that is a "safe place" in my house.  And to have him, who I feel is contaminated, in her room is a score of about 500!!!!!  I went and cleaned it up myself, but now I am scared to walk on those spots.  I have paper towels over the spots for now so we remember not to walk on them, but it still feels gross to me, like I won't feel comfortable walking around her room.  I threw away all of our clothes, we both took a shower, and I drove to WalMart to buy us new slippers.  This spanned from 2:45-6am.  Then I realized she had vomited right next to the rack where I had our underwear drying. (Why do I line dry clothes?  See previous posts!!). So I was worried some vomit may have spewed on the underwear, so I threw out all the underwear and hangers.  Then I noticed a couple very small dots of vomit on her comforter and sheet, right at the very bottom where it almost touches the floor.  Comforter tossed.  Wasn't sure how we would sleep until I got new bedding and sheets, so we slept on the couch for the remainder of that night.  Then I bought new sheets, but I couldn't wash them because my husband was home all day.  I am unable to do laundry when he is home (because I turn off 2 toilets in the house in order to do my laundry and he doesn't know about this yet.....actually I think he might be starting to catch on though).  So to compensate for this I took a scissors and cut off a piece of the sheet at the bottom.  That way there was no vomit on the sheet and I felt we could sleep there.  I still didn't like it, but there wasn't really any other choice.  We could not sleep on the couch again.  SO........I was able to make some gains in the food contamination department this weekend.  I'm not sure if you could call everything that resulted from the vomiting a setback, as this is pretty par for the course for me.  Throwing things out.  Wasting things.  I hate it.  It feels so wasteful and I really do hate it.  It is the ultimate problem I have right now.  I guess I just need to feel happy with myself for starting to work on this, and realize that the clothing contamination issue will have to be dealt with, but right now it is my highest highest anxiety situation and I just can't go there.....


  1. I actually think it's pretty amazing that you were able to do all those exposures on your own, with no guidance from a therapist. You are absolutely stronger than your OCD. I hope you realize this and keep fighting it! I'll keep reading.

    1. Thanks! I am amazed too that they weren't nearly as bad as I thought. I tried to pick things that were newer obsessions, and not deeply ingrained yet. Makes me realize I don't have to give in to the OCD everytime. I like how you word that and I will use that to remind myself everytime I am doing an exposure...I am stronger than my OCD!!! Thanks for your encouragement!!!

  2. I have been reading your blog and it is very inspirational. You are very brave and seem like a very sweet, sensitive person. I am so impressed you are conquering so many of your fears. Even though you still have more obsessions to conquer that you rate as "100", I think you've come a long way. It's likely that it will get easier and easier as you find yourself having more success every day. I wish you the best and may God bless you.

  3. Looking at how you reacted to your daughter's vomit incident I do not think it seems like a setback for me, it sounds like you experienced something that even "normal" people would be grossed out by, and didn't really even react more than you might to more usual triggers, and being able to use sheets that may possibly have had a tiny bit of vomit on them--that is a HUGE accomplishment. I am so impressed! ...I slept over with a friend in February and she got a stomach bug and threw up, and it was a couple months later before I could even THINK about ever even so much as walk past her room...

  4. I know this blog posting is more than a year old but are you still on here? How are you doing? I have horrible shopping contamination fears and would like to hear if you've had success!

  5. Yes! I am still on here and posting more recent updates. I still have a lot of food related issues, but more involving restaurants/other people making my food, and things I notice when I go out to eat. I believe there is success for any person with OCD, I have made a lot of progress on my own in a lot of different areas of my OCD. What specific problems are you having? I would love to hear more about your situation, what you are trying, and I can certainly let you know if I have any helpful ideas or tips!

  6. I can relate to this. Almost everything on that list of aversions is on mine. Also having my food leave my sight at any point, the food being out for more than a few minutes, any food in the fridge that’s been open for more than a day, all fast food, really... Food. I love to cook, but have great trouble eating. I mean, I accidentally broke a cup in the kitchen weeks ago and I’m still afraid of glass getting in the food.

  7. Hi! I am writing because i have a serious ocd in general but it gets really bad when i have to buy things (food and cleaning items) at the grocery store. The worst part is when i am going out of the store( if i am finally able to pay for the items without feeling that they are contaminated by blood/dirty people); when i go out of the store and walk in the street my items cant touch people ( mainly people tha look dirty or homeless). I ve thrown away food and expensive things because of this i am really frustrated.
    I have also fear of doing laundry because i feel i am contaminating the clean clothes; i ve washed the same clothes 3 times or more.
    Please advice me;
    Congratulations on your improvements!