Social distancing and extra hand washing

How the world is changing so fast and confirming so many of my long standing ‘contamination OCD’ worries and behaviours.  It seems weird that so many people are now having to think in the same way that I’ve been thinking for decades.

I find it reassuring that people now understand my mentality of continual hand washing to aid protection from virus and bacteria contamination – with this Coronavirus COVID-19 being potentially fatal it takes importance to a whole new level!

I also find it reassuring that people are now keeping two metres away – I used to want my personal space, and didn’t like it being invaded, but now it is imperative in most interactions, be it social, shopping, business or even relatives.

 

Social distancing for Coronavirus

I feel guilty, but glad, that two years ago I worried about having a cough so ordered a box of medical face masks to prevent me passing any germs to my family – these masks are in short supply now but was readily available on Amazon at the time I ordered them.  I do hope that now the world sees the importance of face masks, they will start to produce attractive, non-scary, ones – maybe with flowers for women and funky patterns for men?

The other thing I find strange is the recommendation to wear rubber gloves wherever possible, because although it is perfectly understandable for the medical and caring professions to use them on patients and their procedures, after contact with anything contaminated they are as dangerous as unwashed hands – they still enable contaminates to be passed around to other surfaces, your face, your mobile phone etc.  If a delivery man is wearing gloves whilst holding your parcel, the parcel might still have the Coronavirus on the packaging so you still need to wash your hands after handling it.  I hope the general public don’t see rubber gloves as added protection?

Various protective gloves

 

As you can see from my photograph, I have three levels of protective plastic/rubber gloves, depending on the severity and dirtiness of the job, and I attempt not to waste plastic so re-use my gloves wherever possible – you can also see how my bleaching has destroyed the paintwork of my table!

I use disposable/flimsy gloves to do extremely dirty jobs like emptying my household rubbish into the outside bin because by touching the bin handle I would need to scrub my (OCD) hands, but by taking the plastic glove off I can just wash ordinarily (well OCD ordinary).

Whilst on this subject though, my hand washing is off the scale!!  Having ‘Contamination OCD’ means that I wash my hands as many times as necessary for them to ‘feel right and clean’ in normal conditions this tends to more than once, but with Coronavirus living this can now mean I do them three or four times for 20 seconds each wash.

Having previously stocked up enough on hand washing liquid for my OCD living, it is now a big daily worry that I have sufficient, as it seems in scarce supply in the supermarkets right now – the experts say that it doesn’t have to be anti-bacterial liquid soap as this is a virus but merely the OCD in my mentality means “I’d rather be safe than sorry”.

Why isn’t more effort (and therefore probably expense) being put into making basics like liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer easily available in our ‘essential shops’?  The UK Government insists we all wash our hands for 20 seconds thoroughly at every opportunity, which is very sensible, but I can only imagine how much soap is needed for a large family confined to the house and not expected to travel too far or too frequently for their shopping – I already do this but today I read that everyone should wash their hands before and during preparing food, and then again before eating food.

Even before Coronavirus recommendations I would wash my hands three or four times whilst making a sandwich and I WILL HAVE TO travel as far as necessary to stock up on liquid soap I’m afraid.

Hand wash for 20 seconds

 

 

 

 

Spiralling thoughts

Don't worry be happy

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.

Grrr
Grrr

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)!

Keep clean and carry on