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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tackling some exposures this summer

     So, I want to apologize first for my last post.  I was kind of being a Debby Downer.  The truth is I was just having a really bad day that day and I think I just kind of needed to process it.  Although July 3rd didn't fare the best for me, I was able to get out and enjoy the day on the 4th and had a pretty great time.  I was able to get out and sit on our driveway (all three of us) and do some fireworks.  My daughter and I both lit some, but my husband did the majority.  We even went over to our neighbors  (where there were tons of children, which are a huge trigger for me) for a bit to chat.  There was a ton of smoke outside as the wind was blowing things down our direction.  I was actually pretty engulfed in some good clouds of smoke several times.  I did shower right when I came in, but I was able to wash the smoky clothes the following day (separately of course) and do not feel they are dirty anymore.  This is a huge improvement for me over where I was 1-2 years ago, when I would not have been able to ever wear those clothes again.  The only problem that I encountered that night was that my husband at one point reached over and touched my shoe--on purpose--which really frustrated me.  I think he was just trying to be nice, but of course the OCD deems those shoes contaminated, something that I should think he would partially understand by now.  Anything my husband touches of mine at this point becomes contaminated, and as I stated a couple of posts ago I am simply just not ready to handle the contamination he brings into the picture, although I am definitely working on a lot of other things.  He had also just been touching fireworks and throwing stuff away in the outdoor trash so his hands were "dirty" beyond their normal contamination.  I don't think he understands that it's not okay to just make an exception with the OCD one night and that I'll be able to "be okay with it".  I, of course, didn't tell him this as it would just spark an argument, but I did go out and replace my shoes the very next day.  The very same style even thankfully, which was still available.  But overall, I had a really great time.  It was nice to be able to enjoy the holiday and be able to be outside and with everyone else.
     I thought I would take the opportunity with this post to talk about all of the things I HAVE been able to do this summer, so far.  First and foremost, I have been trying to get a lot of rest and relaxation, which has really helped me out a lot.  I have been sleeping in at least half of the mornings in the week, so I'm averaging anywhere from 8-10 hours every single night.  And sleeping pretty good and soundly at that.  I've been trying to get out as much as I can,  doing activities and being in public with my daughter, doing many things that I never imagined I would be able to do again.  I've been trying to get outside in the sun every single day and also walking my dog.  Here is a list of some of the things that I have done this summer, things that have been somewhat of an exposure for me and/or things that I was able to do again that I had previously avoided for awhile due to fears of contamination.  Also, believe it or not--some of these things I simply wasn't able to do the last couple of years because my laundry rituals took up so much of my day that I just did not have time to go out and do fun things, so they got pushed aside while I sat there and did the many many loads of laundry that consumed my life during that period.

--went to the zoo
--went to a paint your own pottery place (previously avoided due to crowds, contamination/paint on clothes and the chairs there)
--went to a fossil/animal museum
--planted flowers in my front yard (fertilizer concerns)
--started wearing contacts again (was previously unable to do this due to warts on my hands and fear of spreading those to my eye, but thankfully my hands are pretty healed up now so I decided to go for it again). 
--went to my nephews birthday party (very young children there, sitting on other people's furniture)
--had an orthodontic consult to start Invisalign (involved all sorts of dental tools going in my mouth, I also have a serious issue with dentists office/contamination/spit/chemicals used to wipe down the seats) and and this will require me to go in every 4-6 weeks over a 15 month period of time.  My daughter is also getting braces during this time. 
--Joined the pool and have been there twice so far (this was something that was an absolute no-no for me the last 2 years and something my daughter very much wanted to do this year.  I promised myself I would do this for her.  Lots of people, lots of kids swimming in the water, requires wearing sunscreen which I don't like wearing due to chemicals, the chlorine in the pool bothers me, children blowing bubbles and spitting in the pool, the fear that a kiddo might have urinated in the pool, sitting on the pool deck with my bare skin against the cement that people my have walked over and gotten their feet germs all over, all sorts of things here).  Got in the water, laid on the lounge chairs there (with our own towels of course).
--went to church a couple of times and even took communion again.  This was from a big plate of bread that other people may have touched as it was passed around church.
--went out to eat as a family (just the three of us) for the first time in about 5 years.  We have gone out for meals with extended family, but that is only because I have to in those situations.  This was something that just the three of us did, which I initiated.
--went to a meeting for work and did not sit in the very back row for once (concerns for others being behind me, coughing,etc.)

     I've got a lot of other things planned for these last few weeks of summer.  We are hoping to get to the pool a couple of times a week over the course of the next month, amongst lots of other day trips.  One thing that I have found through all of this, is that I don't necessarily feel as dirty/contaminated as I think I am going to in these situations, but for some reason I still feel I need to make everything clean afterward.  For instance I don't feel disgusting/yucky/gross after I go to the pool.  I feel pretty normal being there and find that I don't have much problems while I'm there.  It's the aftermath of the situation that I find most troubling.  I feel I just go into autopilot and make sure I want to restore everything back to how it was before, as far as cleanliness.  Such as I come home, throw our swimsuits and towels aside to be washed.  Then I go outside and wash the carseats off (which I have down to a science now and only takes about 10-15 minutes total for both of our seats).  Then we both shower and then when we are restored and have the pool contamination off of us, we can sit back down on our couch and I don't feel like we are contaminating that.  So my mind is still deeply ingrained in OCD and this whole spread of contamination stuff, but the good news is that at least I am able to go out and do stuff again and for that I am thankful.  I think when I was at my worst I avoided everything and I became so depressed and I wasn't really living.  So today I am so thankful that we are being able to experience these fun things this summer.  I'm not doing so great with trying to stop washing my car seat off (I hoped to be doing better at that by now), but I have combined some more stuff (contaminated stuff in the washer) so am doing better with that part.  I've even started wearing my nicer stuff to certain places.  So overall I am happy with my trajectory this summer.  Most of my days are pretty good, other than slip ups that happen, but I am continuing to make my way forward, and hope that for my next update I can show you even more progress!


  1. Hi there, Thank you so much for your update. The work you're doing on your OCD is so inspiring as I am on the same self-directed journey to recovery from my OCD. You're doing brilliantly, and keep up the good work!

  2. Hi there, Thank you so much for your update. The work you're doing on your OCD is so inspiring as I am on the same self-directed journey to recovery from my OCD. You're doing brilliantly, and keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Gemma! I truly feel I have made some progress this summer, taking the time out to work on this. I look forward to catching up your post/progress soon as well!

  3. Hi there
    I regularly visit your blog because I feel I am reading a part of me in it.
    Just do not give up and keep on fighting.

    1. Hi Saad! Thanks for reading and the comment! Sorry to hear that you struggle with this disorder as well. I will not give up. As long as I keep fighting this, I do see things getting better. Do you also deal with contamination issues? Can you tell me a little more about your OCD?

    2. unfortunately yes. But I have realized this disorder only recently (as in few years back). But when I recall my childhood I can relate it back then as well. I have serious issues with contamination as well but it's not germ related, its more related to purity and cleanliness. Had problems with rituals as well (touching things a certain no. of times). Still has it in few things such as checking locks, iron, gas etc. Then there is this car seat cleaning issue as well and sitting in public chairs and an absolute no no to public toilets. That's what surprises me that things can be so common in this disoder

    3. Hi Saad. Yes it is interesting how people can have similar issues. I haven't met a lot of people that have the car seat issues like I do, so I can relate to you in that sense. I had some checking issues in the past, but contamination seems to be main issue right now. I hate sitting in public chairs. Have to wash my carseat off every time I sit in one, and then wash those clothes separately from everything else. I normally can not use public toilets, but in the times I have too, I won't flush the toilet. I know its gross, but I leave the urine there, because I absolutely will not touch the toilet flusher or put my foot on it, as I don't want those things contaminating my shoes or hands. I am really nervous as my husband wants to get me a new car. He doesn't understand my OCD at all, and it is difficult to discuss things/issues with him as he takes them all personally. Right now my car feels comfortable to me because I've had it so long and I have a system for decontaminating it if I need too, and he doesn't spend a lot of time in the car. If we get a new car I am afraid he will contaminate it. I feel like I will get worse if I am hiding the cleaning from him all the time. I wish I could talk about it with him and he could just try to understand that this is where I am for now. I think I will avoid having him ride in my new car because I'm afraid once he sits in it, then the seat will become contaminated forever and I might get into deeper laundry and cleaning rituals and that terrifies me. I am thinking about telling him he may just have to sit in the backseat whenever we go somewhere, but he will likely get mad at that as well. Sometimes this is so frustrating, this disorder. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    4. it was good to read your reply, though I really felt bad how ocd is preventing you to look forward to such a nice thing as going for a new car. I know how it feels to take care of one's 'safe zone' and this is exactly how I feel with my own car as well. In my case I have purchased car mats (more like portable seat covers made of cane wood, there must be other variants as well). When my car is at office, I keep them on so that the seat cover is "safe" when any outsider sits my car. When I reach home, I generally remove them. I know this itself is a compulsion but it might help you to atleast be comfortable with your husband's decision to go for a new car. Maybe you can get it installed with some material that can easily be wiped over with cloth or washed easily.

    5. Hi Saad. Sorry to hear that you deal with the safe zone stuff too. Your idea about car mats or seat covers is great and something I've thought about before too. Currently I do wipe down the seat after I feel it is contaminated, just using a liquid soap and water and then I rinse it off with plain water and dry it. Thankfully I have leather seats so it works well. My main issue is the seatbelt, I have no idea how to clean that or cover that and I don't feel comfortable wearing it after my husband has had it against his clothes. I know it sounds super ridiculous and I don't want to try explaining that to him, but I actually just updated my blog and have a short bit about this problem at the end of that post in a little more detail. Thanks for your comment again though! Was nice to hear from you. I hope you'll keep reading, and also fighting against your own OCD. :)