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Friday, April 22, 2016

My Summer Plan/Goals to tackle outdoor clothing contamination

     Haven't posted for awhile, so just wanted to share my summer goals.  I've been working on some laundry stuff still throughout the spring.  What I want to share today though is my plan is to work on my OCD this summer, mostly involving laundry, clothing contamination and several exposures out in public.  This is the exact plan (copied and pasted) that I have formulated and spent a lot of time thinking about.  I am hoping that someone might find some help with it in devising a plan against one of their OCD behaviors this summer.  I've just tried to lay out the goals, my priorities, what I want to see eliminated by summer's end, a "pep talk" for myself at the end, and reminders as I'm doing the exposures.  I still have about a month before I put this into action.  I'm finishing up some other small exposures first, and then I am ready to start working on this toward the end of May.  Here goes!!!

     I am working less than normal hours this summer to help facilitate this and also help myself feel better.  It is important that I stand by this commitment, as this is a great opportunity to help remove massive amounts of my OCD and get life back on track for myself and my family.  These are commitments that I am making this summer to try my hardest at.  I may not always succeed, but the important thing is that I try.  And that I intend to do this summer.

Some of my priorities this summer will be resting (sleeping in), eating healthy (3 good meals/day, healthier foods, healthier snacks, lots of water, try to cut back on sugar), exercising, getting out in the sunshine, and just trying to do relaxing activities with my daughter.  Doing neck massages occasionally.  I also want to cut back on screen time as much as possible.(not OCD related, but still important for me to do.  I want to cut down on the "busyness" and the need to feel caught up on everything.  Such as only checking emails once per day, browsing through Facebook once per day.  Decreasing time spent on games).  Doing interactive activities with my daughter--playing outside.  Reading the Bible, listening to Christian music.  Create a positive mindset.  I have no excuse to not prioritize my health this summer.  Working less hours will enable me to take better care of my health.  When I am able to feel better physically and mentally and reduce some of these OCD behaviors, I will be doing so much better and this will greatly affect not only my future, but that of my family.  I look forward to a time when my life is not ruled by OCD, and this is a wonderful opportunity to help move in that direction.  

     This summer I want to work on outdoor contamination and hopefully eliminate this by the end of August.  I am not working on indoor contamination yet, nor that involving my husband, so if I am able to do some exposures  with these this summer, that will be excellent, but I am not developing a plan to tackle these specifically quite yet.  That part comes later, possibly in the fall.  I will not be upset with myself if I am not improving in these two higher up situations areas this summer.  Again, my plan is to be in the outside world and learn to not feel contaminated in it.  This means I can still change clothes before I sit on my couch and my safe zones can still be maintained this summer indoors.   Anything that I feel my husband “contaminates” can still be handled separately.  Also, any “highest contamination” situations, such as obvious germs, work clothes (scrubs) can still be dealt with separately.  However for most situations outside the house, for example sitting at church or at a restaurant, etc. a “normal everyday” occurrence for people, I need to follow these rules.

**Side note--If you have not followed my blog previously, I just want to make a quick comment, and explanation about my "outdoor clothing".  These are clothes that I wear outside my house.  Just because I go out in public, does not render me contaminated.  I have no problem going to places, grocery shopping, errands, as long as I don't have to sit in a public seat.  Once that occurs, or if someone touches me/hugs me, then I feel that clothing is contaminated.  So when I refer to washing "contaminated outdoor clothing", I am referring to those times when I might sit in a restaurant chair.  For example, currently if I go to a restaurant I would come home and wash my car seat off, before getting in my car again with a fresh new set of clothes.  Then those clothes I wore to the restaurant that are "contaminated" would have to be washed separately by themselves.  My OCD senses germs/contamination on them that I don't want mixed with my other regular clothes.  Instead of handling those clothes separately moving forward, I would like to just be able to incorporate those into my regular laundry and not wash my car seat off.  You know, like a non-OCD sufferer.

Things to work on this throughout this summer:
*wash “contaminated clothes” in normal cycle only, NOT sanitary    
*eat at restaurants, with finger foods
*eat at restaurants, using their silverware
*go to church, sit in seat, body leaned back into chair. not just "sitting on the edge" of the seat
*take communion at church (hand sanitizer allowed before at this time)
*combine “contaminated clothes” (worn out in public) with regular outdoor clothes in same wash cycle
*combine contaminated clothes” (that people have hugged me in) with regular outdoor clothes in same wash cycle
*do not wash car seat off after sitting in public seat
*leave the house with when my daughter when husband is here.  TRY TO GET OUT MORE!!!!!
*take a walk/go outside  with my daughter when my husband is in the house
*do not wash off couch after vacuuming living room floor
*do not wash off kitchen chairs.  Sit in kitchen chairs more often instead of eating on the couch.

Possible Exposures:
*movie theater
*paddle boating
*sit on driveway
*bike rides
*swimming pool
*wear sunscreen when outdoors
*eat outside
*play horseshoes or darts in the grass
*continue to eat more/different types of foods
*allow daughter to hang out at friends houses
*walk dog through wooded areas
*be outside as much as possible

You can do this!  You’ve come a long way in your fight against OCD already.  Think of all the things you’ve been successfully able to stop doing because of hard work and persistence against this disorder.  You’ve stopped handwashing hubby's clothes, you’ve gone from 13 loads of laundry (double or triple washed) per week, to 7 loads of laundry (single washed) per week.  You've started eating with your hands again, you've stopped ritualizing in the shower, you are cleaning your house again (normally), you've stopped throwing most things away (sometimes I still slip), you've been washing contaminated clothes and rewearing them, even incorporating them back into your regular wardrobe so they are not "forever contaminated clothes", you have successfully started combining some clothes in the wash again, stopped turning off water supply to your toilets when you did the wash (remember the indoor plumbing issue, that SUCKED!!).  Your hands look night/day different and healed up.  Your warts on your hands are healed up.  You've stopped avoiding family functions.  You started getting your hair done again, wearing makeup/hairspray and taking better care of yourself.  The list goes on and on, these are just a few examples to remind yourself of how your life has been reclaimed bit by bit from this disorder.  You’ve spent a lot of money on this disorder and you’ve wasted a lot of time.  It’s taken things away from you, things that you really want to be doing.  It's made a lot of decisions for you.  Look at all the ways it has affected you and your family.  Your daughter has also become a slave to this disease.  Her school activities are not attended, she has missed school because of the OCD, she does not hang out with her friends because of the OCD.  Se has not been allowed to experience her childhood as she should have because of the OCD.  She has missed out on fun activities such as birthday parties, and time spent with family/friends.  She has not been allowed to experience playing with her dog.  Family vacations are not taken.  Minimal time spent together doing fun activities outside of the house. She does not spend time with her dad.  She has never spent the night at a friends house.  She does not spend time with her grandparents.  She is ruled and dictated by this disorder so much.  She things hugs are awkward now, because there is no displays of affection in the household.  She has never ran through the grass with the sprinklers on.  She can’t play in her backyard.  She had to stop Girl Scouts.  She doesn’t get to church as she should.  She doesn't participate in Youth Group.  Don't bog yourself down with these hard feelings though.  You are trying to improve your health.  You have come such a long ways and the OCD doesn't affect her nearly as much as it once did.  But, it still does.  And the work you do this summer will be difficult, but it will be SO worth it.  

Reminders to myself through this process:

You NEVER had to give your clothes special treatment before this disease started.  Most people don’t wash their car seat off.  They go out in public, they do things, and they live life.  They experience life.  Then they just get in their car and go home.  Most people do not wash certain clothes separately.  They fill their washer up with everything that is “used laundry”, NOT dirty, and then when it comes out it is clean.  They do not separate their inside and outside worlds.  If this was dangerous, the population would be dropping like flies.  It is NOT dangerous, it is NOT harmful.  The world is not dirty.  The OCD has just convinced you that you have to do things in a different way.  It’s time to NOT listen to the OCD and just trust yourself.  You are not getting dirty or spreading contamination because you do not wash your car seat.  Germs are all over in public anyway.  Germs live everywhere, you can’t see them.  No amount of cleaning you do will get rid of all the germs.  They will not hurt you.  Some germs are good for you.  There are dust mites and bugs living on all of our bodies.  Washing something off with soap won’t make everything entirely clean.  You are making life so much harder by trying to keep things clean.  The OCD is sucking the life out of everything.  Even if I leave germs behind on something, and transfer them somewhere else, so what?  Isn’t living and experiencing life and maybe coming into contact with a germ, MAYBE getting dirty--isn’t that better than avoiding everything around you and isolating yourself and not experiencing/living life?  You can do this.  You were given life, God will take care of you.

I will try to update weekly on my progress throughout the summer.  I think it was important for me to share this, because if I've posted my plan on my blog, I feel more accountable to that.  People now know what I want to work on, its not just ideas in my head.  If you are experiencing OCD, please please help yourself and start some exposure therapy.  I can't tell you how much it has helped in my life already.  If you think what that where I'm at right now sounds crazy with my OCD, I can assure that you that I have been much worse places in the past couple of years.  Exposures are what have helped me thus far to this point.  If you don't think you can do it, YOU CAN!!!  Think of all that you have lost to the OCD.  It is time to get your life back from this.  Starting today.  




  1. Hopeful, I am SOOOOOO proud of you. You're doing wonderfully well and I look forward to reading about the progress you make with your exposures over the summer. I liked the bit you wrote about allowing yourself the time to do this work; something I really struggle with. I feel guilty if I'm not working / feeling as if I'm 'progressing' in my life in some way. My health is so important, though, and I should have prioritized my recovery from OCD way before now, and hopefully when I feel freer from it, I shall be more able to work and grow in other ways... Thank you. All the best, Gemma

    1. Hi Gemma! Thanks for your encouraging words. I'm glad you liked the part about taking time to work on this. That is something I feel very strongly about. I only wish I would have known sooner (hindsight is 20/20) how bad this would get and how much time it would take away. I would have started working on this much sooner than I did. I think that when my OCD was at it's worst, I was also struggling with major depression and that was what made it really hard to fight back at that point. think about people who do intensive outpatient therapy and they may even require taking weeks off work at a time. So, I felt this would be good and worth a shot. I will be stopping by your blog here soon to catch up on your progress too and will comment there too!

  2. As someone who has struggled with contamination OCD, I can relate to a lot of this and have an idea of how difficult pushing back against the OCD can be. You've come SO far and should feel great about that. Truly amazing. Keep pushing!

    1. Thanks so much for your encouraging words! I'm sorry to hear of your struggle as well. I hope that you are finding yourself out of this maze of OCD too. I intend to keep pushing, and I wish you the same!