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Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas with OCD

      I haven't posted for awhile here, so just wanted to give a little update how I've been doing.  First of all, I am over 50,000 views on my blog now!  It doesn't sound like a lot, but I am reaching people out there somewhere in my little corner of this OCD world.  That is what it feels like, right?  But it's so far from the truth.  I have heard from countless people on this blog, things such as "I never thought I would find someone else who struggled with similar problems", "I never knew other people did things like I did".  What I have learned is that there are so many people like us.  We are not alone.  And we must keep sharing our stories and supporting each other and connecting.  So that we do not feel so alone, and also so we can reach others out there with this disorder. 
     The holidays are usually pretty tough for me.  I was a big avoider for awhile, because I simply didn't want to deal the aftermath of feeling contaminated.  I didn't want to hug people.  I didn't want to sit on their furniture.  I didn't want to possibly be exposed to other people there who "might" be sick.  There was no way of knowing.  I didn't want to deal with the clothing I was wearing when I got home...was it salvageable, would it need to be thrown out?  I didn't want to clean my car out because that was the mediator between the public world and my safety zone at home.  I have learned to face many of these things over the last few years.  But I still struggle in some ways.  It is definitely not easy for me to go to these events, but I force myself to.  I knew this year was particularly going to be tough.  We had sick family members on both sides of the family, so potential for exposures to illnesses the entire day.  At one point it was determined we wouldn't be getting together, but then things changed.  And then a whole new set of concerns entered my wasn't only contaminating myself with "normal stuff" that people do everyday--sitting on others furniture, hugging, etc.  But rather actual exposure to people ill with colds.  This is super high anxiety provoking for me.  I spend so much of my time avoiding germs and avoiding contamination, and now I'm supposed to purposely expose myself?  And to up the ante even further, I knew I would have to deal with this--or the flip side of the coin would mean dealing with my husband's anger/irritation because we didn't get to our family Christmas because of my concerns.  My husband will never understand what I forced myself to do (pushing myself into a level 100 anxiety situation) but I did it.  I went to 2 family Christmases, where 2 of the children had pretty significant coughs.  Children are even more of a trigger for me, because they typically lack cough hygiene, and I know the "cough germs" are going to be airborne everywhere.  I will admit that I kept my distance to the best of my ability, but I did it.  I went, and it is done.  To be honest, a lot of things happened there that bothered me.  Although I was able to keep my distance fairly well from one of the children, the other one was more difficult.  It was in a smaller house (and mostly we stayed in one room).  My nephew coughed all over the place, mouth wide open--a loose junky wet sounding cough.  His nose kept running, and he was drooling most of the time--spit hanging down onto his clothes.  At one point his mother wiped his nose and then just stuffed the snotty Kleenex in her pocket.  He coughed all over the food as he sat at the table (thankfully we didn't eat there, I have to draw the line somewhere).  Then as they left the gathering (they left before we did, so he could get home to go to bed), they told him to go around and high five everyone.  This is with sticky snotty fingers.  He seemed hesitant at the end and was getting tired, so thankfully I was able to decline and just politely say that I will pass on the high five.  Ugh.  I can't imagine all the germs everyone else collected on their hands from doing that.  Also at one point someone was holding him and he coughed directly in her face!  So many concerns, so many thoughts and worries.  I was so happy when it was over.  I went, but I'm not going to lie.  It was a relief when it was done.  
     I have a lot of concerns moving forward, because my nephew is only a year old.  He is in daycare, always getting exposed to stuff,and I have a fear that he is going to be ill often at family get togethers.  It makes me nervous just thinking about it now, and all of the gatherings we will have in the future and how I will deal with those, but I guess I'm just going to take it one gathering at a time.  That's all I can do. 
    As far as the rest of my OCD, I am doing fairly well overall other than dealing with contamination issues with my husband still.  It continues to be my #1 OCD problem.  Just so many things that I see him do on a daily basis that causes me to lose trust in him.  It makes me more mindful when I'm around him, and I really don't trust his judgment.  Some random examples of things that would bother me that I see him do are:  goes to the bathroom and flushes the toilet without washing his hands, he reuses a cup several times and digs it into the ice bin each time (even though it hasn't been washed for days on end), he handles our dogs rawhide bone and toys and then eats food without washing his hands, he picks up clothes off his floor that haven't been washed for months and months and wears them.  I have actually seen him do the "sniff test" when picking up clothes to wear to work.  He was sick with a cold and wore the same shirt for 5 days in a row, coughing into it constantly.  He lets our dog lick his face, ears, hair and clothing all over.  He lets our dog sit and put her butt directly on his pillow.  He goes several days without showering usually over the weekends.  I could go on and on, but you get the point.  I just feel he is dirty and I just don't want to come into contact with that.  And once the bridge between him and I is crossed, there is no way to protect my spaces anymore.  So I am very protective of my safe spaces, and my clothes with him.  Our worlds just can not collide.
    But back to the beginning of this post, I am so thankful for those of you I have been able to connect with on this blog.  I have already heard pieces of many of your stories, and I feel your pain. Please continue to share your stories, so we can continue to get this out there, reduce the stigma associated with this disorder, and find others to connect with.  There are so many of us out there.  You are not alone.