I signed up for Twitter at the same time as starting this blog, but I still need to “get into doing it”. Today I made an effort to increase the number I follow and although it is easy to find organisation, it is harder to find individuals.
I typed ‘OCD’ into the search facility, but too often find I’m reading Tweets that skirt the main daily issues we go through. Below are some examples:
I found one Tweet about a person doing a charity run, with the distances involved, in aid of raising awareness of OCD (great work, but running distances without a toilet is unimaginable to me).
Another Tweet was trivialising the subject by worrying about the perfection of her decorated fingernails (going to a nail parlour and having someone else messing with my hands is out-of-bounds in case the instruments/nail polish was used on another person).
However, I did find one Tweet that was on my wave-length and made me smile to know someone else thinks in the same way as me, it said “When I say please remove your shoes, I don’t mean your socks as well”.
I would really appreciate being sent a Tweet that really gets down to the daily nitty-gritty woes of having OCD. Please send yours to Twitter @OCDexposed and I’ll follow you – you could then encourage me to get into the habit!
Hooray, this is a great day for those of us with OCD!
I wonder how many people know that today 5th May 2015 is World Clean Hands Day? More importantly I wonder how many people will take notice and wash their hands more thoroughly and more frequently today?
I am imagining all the coughs, colds, and viruses that will be prevented today if this event is taken seriously – great news for all concerned.
I was using a hotel rest room one evening during our works Christmas ‘Do’ and whilst washing my hands a lady asked
“Excuse me but are you a nurse”?
“No” I responded puzzled, thinking it is the least likely occupation with my OCD condition, and why would she say that when I was dressed up in my very best evening frock looking as glamorous as I could?
“It’s just that I noticed how thoroughly you are washing your hands, so I assumed you have a job in medicine”.
I found that a huge compliment – at least I was doing something correctly but little did she know I’ve been taking this activity to its extreme conclusion for way too long.
I think too much time on your hands can be unhelpful when trying to keep OCD thoughts at bay, here is an example of this. Italic text shows my peck-peck OCD thoughts.
Feeling cold whilst sitting on my sofa, I pulled on a cardigan from my wardrobe and returned to the sofa. Simple you would think, but no, far from it. As I sat there feeling the benefit of the extra warmth from the cardigan I started to doubt whether it was freshly washed when added to my wardrobe (I’ll do a separate post about the complications of my wardrobe rituals). I smelt the arms, which smelt of washing powder, but that wasn’t enough because the peck-peck of my contamination OCD thoughts were not through with me. I tried hard to ignore the thoughts, and distract myself knowing that the warmth was improving and I mustn’t let the OCD win.
I tried but failed to beat it, so I took the cardigan off to see if there was any creases that would indicate it had been worn previously – no, the opposite. There was signs that it was washed and put away without being ironed, as this cardigan was for casual wear around the house, so no creases on the inside of the elbow, or creases on the back to indicate I’d sat in it.
So I put the cardigan back on and tried hard to relax and ignore the next peck-peck of OCD thoughts. This time they played hard-ball. When was the last time I wore it? Could it have been in a public place where germs were transferred to the back or the arms? Did I wear it on a public chair where someone else’s waistband had touched the chair, and that person had been to a dirty toilet and passed germs from the toilet to the public chair that I sat on? I was now rubbing the germs I’d picked up off the chair onto the cushion behind my back, the leather of the sofa I was sitting on, and the throw on my lap? I pictured the scenario of later resting my head on the contaminated cushion, dirtying my hair, that would then contaminate my pillow on my bed. That is an ‘Ultimate No-No’.
Stop thinking like this I kept telling myself, relax. I tried thinking about something more interesting and pleasant, but the peck-peck of germs being on my cardigan and transferring to my “safe” environment would not go away.
I know from the CBT workbooks that I’ve read, that I need to ride out this storm and last as long as possible before caving in to the OCD thoughts. Remind myself the cardigan smells and looks perfectly clean from the section of the wardrobe that I add ONLY clean clothes to. Try to relax.
After five minutes more, the cardigan came off and was put into the washing machine. The leather sofa was sprayed with Dettox and rubbed clean (a frequent activity that does no harm). Then the cushion I was leaning on was sprayed with Dettox, rubbed furiously with kitchen roll, and moved to dry out – I managed not to put that into the washing machine because it was “out of site and out of mind” to dry. Luckily the throw had not been contaminated because I took the cardigan off in time, but I headed into the wardrobe and pulled out enough clothes to make up a load for the washing machine. I feel sure the clothes were already clean, but I didn’t want to re-enact the above situation in the future. My rationale is get rid of any doubt and reassure myself, but I was weak.
So in conclusion, because I wasn’t busy and was trying to relax, I ended up being busy, and OCD won (this time)!
I was working on a Word document today and looking through the ClipArt facility, when I came across the attached quote. It gave me encouragement to continue with this OCD Exposure venture I am about to begin, on a day when my confidence is low and doubt is over whelming that there is any point to my book or blog.
It’s a first for me. How have I managed to get to this age and avoid having work done to the house that interrupts the sanctuary of my bathroom and bedroom?
The window installers are doing a great job, and being totally obliging, but they can’t possibly know how stressful it is for me. Like a serene swan, I am trying to give off the air of calmness without making ripples in the water (or making their work processes awkward), but underneath the surface I am getting as exhausted as the swan’s webbed feet, thrashing around to keep moving forward – in my case my leg is doing a nervous twitch/dance, my hand-washing is excessive (even for me), and I’m continually clock-watching to count down to their home time.
My bedroom and bathroom looks like a forensic crime scene – covered in plastic sheeting and bin liners in an attempt to hermitically seal my precious belongings from human (strangers) contact. I have a shocking amount of “floof” as I like to call it in my bedroom – all the knick-knacks from birthdays, Valentines, Mothering Sunday and Christmas presents. They make every surface look pretty and home for me whilst I relax in my bedroom, and stop the living areas from getting clogged up with girly dust-catchers. The trouble is I’ve had to collate them all into the smallest space I can make in my room, to give the workmen the maximum amount of room to walk and work in without getting anywhere near my stuff – I don’t know if it’s damage limitation for them, or me?
I did this “new plastic dust sheet wrapping” yesterday prior to them working on a window downstairs in a room that family and friends use, but was horrified to see that they had then attempted to be even more efficient by throwing over fabric dust sheets themselves. Now that might sound efficient, but consider the fact that these sheets are so incredibly manky, with mud (or dog poo), and stains of unknown substances, from goodness knows which other properties they’ve worked in. I’d actually prefer to take my chances on what might get walked in on their shoes than see my carpets/floors covered in these contaminated fabric sheets, but I don’t want to “be a pain” and have to explain myself to them. This is the unfortunate part of OCD – you have to put up and shut up as much as possible, or sound weird.
The same grotty dustsheets have been placed all the way through the hall and stairs leading to my bedroom and bathroom, and I entered my bedroom just in the nick of time to prevent them draping these horrors over my newly purchased plastic, colour-coded (50p extra cost to the clear white ones, but they look prettier), dust sheets. Obviously they think they are doing what is wanted, so they look quite offended when I politely said “Would you mind leaving my dust sheets as they are, and only use your sheets on the floor please”. That is bad enough, because I’ll have to bleach the original Victorian floorboards once they leave – the vacuum cleaner won’t be sufficient for this job.
They must be getting a clue that I have issues though. The sink and toilet has been embedded in black bin liners and secured in place with heavy duty white duck tape. I worry they might be tempted to use my facilities instead of the toilet/sink used for the rest of the household. Sealing my toilet and sink adds to my anxiety because asking for a quick toilet break whilst they are working in the bathroom isn’t really viable as I’ll still need to bleach-clean the area before being able to use it, and then I’ll have to envelop it all again in plastic before they’re able to resume work.
No toilet breaks from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. means no liquid intake, but just the right amount of food to absorb the fluid (urine) in my body, but not so much I will need a number two. I expect you think food won’t absorb urine but it’s a theory I use to comfort myself when my toilet isn’t freely available, e.g. when I have visitors or leave the house. Today I’m hoping the sponge part of Jaffa Cakes will absorb unwanted body fluid? Another precaution I’ve taken to wanting a ‘number two’ whilst my bathroom is out of bounds, is taking a double-dose of Imodium, but that may leave me with an issue in the morning as I prepare for an 8.00 start to day three of the window installation saga. I resisted the Imodium yesterday, but succumbed to it today, during a mini-panic.
I think I’ll be sleeping on the sofa tonight because the window installers are bound to want to finish off the windows tomorrow, and I dread the rigmarole of removing the numerous dust sheets in a way that they don’t touch the floor or anything other than the item I’m covering. How do you fold a 12x12ft plastic sheet on your own without it falling on the floor? If that happens, I’d have to go out to a DIY shop to buy more sheets to recover everything tomorrow morning before 8 a.m.
One thing that keeps freaking me out is seeing the house toilet being used by the workmen, hearing the flush, and then there’s not enough time elapsing for hands to be washed before the toilet door is being shut. Not-washing-your-hands-after-the-toilet syndrome is horrid enough in any other situation, but I know that those dirty hands are going on to touch my door handles and stair handrail on the way up to my bedroom and bathroom. I left them a kettle with tea and coffee making facilities (and biscuits) so that they can help themselves to a brew, but anything left will clearly not be going back into my kitchen!
I bought in two bottles of bleach in readiness for the big clean-up after the windows are installed and although my hands are already dry, cracked and sore (like numerous little paper-cuts), I think rubber gloves are going to be needed to prevent the cracks becoming crevices. Cracked skin on my hands puts a stop to food preparation for my family and opens up another “can of worms of worry”.
I’m sure having windows that actually close, and don’t let the wind and cold whistle in will be worth it, and I will not take my bathroom and bedroom for granted ever again, but right now I can’t wait for those longed for immortal words “Right love, that’s us finished, your windows are in, and we’re going to get off now”.