1st COVID vaccination done

After avoiding visiting doctor’s surgeries for years, it wasn’t possible to avoid the need for this, part one of two, vaccinations. For days I’d resisted the temptation to postpone the appointment and anxiety was massive, especially after badges declaring ‘I have OCD’ didn’t arrive to display prominently for the nurse administering the jab to see, and hopefully understand.

I was surprised to receive a text as early as I did, inviting me to book an appointment via my phone, and once done I decided not to think about it too much until the day before, but that was so much easier said than done. I rehearsed in my head how it would play out, what was best to wear, and what needed to be decontaminated when I got home.

On arrival there were two (security?) stops with people checking identity followed by a squirt of hand sanitizer with a leaflet handed to me, that I didn’t want to take as it complicated how to hold that whilst imagining how to expose my arm but not let my clothes touch anything. I entering the room (which was clearly ordinarily a doctors consulting room) to which I said to the nurse “Hello, I’m sorry but I’m highly anxious as I have severe contamination OCD and haven’t been in this kind of environment for many years”. She had a facemask on but her meager response and eyes told me she didn’t know what to do with that statement (my confession).

She said “Well shut the door and sit down” and seemed as nervous as me when I shut the door, not using the handle, but the edge of the door with my little finger and said “Is it possible to stand please?” She said “Eer yes” unconvincingly and continued to ask the mandatory questions. I felt awkward, and know from my past Emotional Intelligence training that standing over someone sitting is very bad body language on my part (but clearly not intentional).

So I tried to ingratiate myself by saying “I’ve been so tempted to postpone this appointment but managed to resist it” but she merely responded factually “well it would need to be done eventually” – not wrong, but not warm or friendly. After questions were finished she stood to do the jab so I said “Is it possible for you to wear fresh gloves and show me the needle is in a sealed blister pack please … oh I see you are taking it out of a packet, but could you put on clean gloves please” to which she answered “No these were clean” – presumably she put them on before I entered the room but I rehearsed in my head that they should be put on at the point they start the treatment not for the pc/desk administration.

I was so flustered, and embarrassed, by now that I can’t remember her adding the vaccine to the syringe, and worried about it later that night at home, but have to trust that she did her job as trained perfectly, and that I hadn’t distracted her to the point of making an error. Fortunately she didn’t touch my skin as she administered the pin prick and mopped up a small amount of blood (that dreaded word) on a clean cotton wool ball.

The hand on the arm wasn’t used during my vaccination, which was a bonus

I quickly dropped my sleeve and rearranged my clothing, noting that I’d been successful in not letting my long coat touch the surgery floor, or anything else for that matter. She passed me a small card with the name of the vaccine, said I’d be notified for my second vaccine, and to move to the waiting room for 15 minutes to ensure I didn’t have a reaction.

With difficultly I opened the door, which was slightly ajar, with my little finger and said “Thank you, I’m sorry for being painful.” I can’t remember how she responded, it wasn’t memorable, probably, “that’s ok” or even “don’t worry” and I headed to the next and final stage of this horrible experience, the embarrassment of standing in a waiting room of ten seated people, with surplus soft/cushion seats available. On TV I’ve seen seats being sanitized as each person moves forward, but these chairs could not be cleaned – my nightmare – spongy cloth seats at a doctors surgery – it shouldn’t be allowed, surely plastic or leather to allow cleaning should be made mandatory in the 21st century, where people have infectious illnesses, body fluid leakage, and now COVID-19 virus.

So many chairs are available that can be cleaned

The people sitting on them appeared totally relaxed, but I of all people know that appearances can be deceptive when I’m conducting my swan portrayal – appearing calm on the surface whilst flapping crazily below the surface. They all gave me a discreet glance, wondering why I was standing when there were seats available, but luckily no one said the obvious. Why I stood there looking like a fish out of water for the full 15 minutes baffles me now, but I suppose I wanted to conform and follow instructions, but it would have been more comfortable and less embarrassing to wait in the car just feet away outside for those 15 minutes.

I was so relieved to walk out of the building, cover my hands in sanitizer, and head straight home to strip off all my clothes/facemask into the washing machine and wash my arm thoroughly with hot water and soap, before a bath to wash away any possible microbe of contamination. All done, mission ‘vaccine 1’ successful until the second vaccine. The only evidence being a tiny mark at the top of my arm and tenderness in the surrounding area of the arm for about 30 hours.

Family and friends knew that I was going to find this vaccination process incredibly stressful so texts started arriving asking how it went, to which I responded briefly with “Good news; it is done and wasn’t as bad as I thought it could have been so won’t need to worry so much for the second jab, but the bad news is I don’t think the nurse I was allocated knew what to do with the statement “I am extremely anxious with severe contamination OCD.”

I should point out that I am grateful to be given the vaccine when there are people desperate, and more worthy, to receive it. That said, I hope the above account might help someone else with similar anxieties cope with the unknown, but not really optional, medical process. I hoped that being honest and confessing my disability to the nurse, she would have taken just seconds of her day to say something reassuring, or to acknowledge the stress I was clearly displaying with a wobbly voice – facemasks only inhibit reading mouth expressions, not eyes and voice.

So the above experience continues to motivate me to improve awareness of how difficult everyday activities can be when living with my type of, contamination, OCD. Unfortunately it hasn’t allayed my fears so I continue to worry that the older I’m getting I’ll need to be hospitalised and have to encounter a mixture of understanding/lack of understanding 24 hours a day rather than this ten minute procedure.

Ding ding – “Round 2” in 10-12 weeks time but at least I’ll know what to expect, will be able to make a clear unambiguous statement by wearing my ‘I have OCD’ badges, and keep my fingers crossed that it won’t need to be an annual visit to top-up efficiency or difference in COVID strains.

I have OCD badge for vaccination

A big step made yesterday – I ordered two ‘I have OCD’ badges to pin to my coat when I leave the house at the end of this week. I have been called for the COVID vaccination, which is positive and necessary, but as I’ve not visited the doctors for many years, it is very daunting and scary.

The thought of entering a building and sitting on a chair waiting for a needle to be administered is frightening for me with contamination OCD. On the rare occasion it has been necessary to visit a doctor I’ve stood up in the waiting room, reading the posters pretending to be interested, to avoid sitting down, and perching precariously on the edge of the patients chair with at least five layers of clothing, when speaking to the doctor.

Will I be allowed to stand up waiting in line for the vaccination? Will I be able to have the jab whilst standing, because I can’t wear my usual five layers of clothing as my arm has to be accessible?

The staff there are busy doing a fantastic job, so they won’t want me to hold up the process by saying “would you mind wearing a new pair of gloves please” and “could I see the needle be taken out of a sterile sealed blister pack please” – will they? Or would they understand?

I’m hoping that wearing a badge saying ‘I have OCD’ on both the left and the right side of my clothes will forewarn the person with the needle that I am extremely anxious not obnoxious.

I am so tempted to avoid this embarrassment and forego the vaccination, but I have a duty to my family, friends, and the greater good of reducing infections, so I must attend and then do it again in 12 weeks, followed by annually it’s looking increasingly like – oh blimey.

Over the 30 years plus of having OCD I’ve been so fortunate to be able to avoid many medical preventative procedures and interventions, but on this occasion I’m all out of avoidance tactics or practical work-arounds, and no excuses can be valid when this virus causes such devastating outcomes.

Apart from the anxieties above, I will be admitting, in public for everyone to see, ‘I have OCD‘ – that is a huge step for me!! Will I be confident enough to wear these badges when I eventually feel confident enough to go shopping? Perhaps best to take the first step in this direction by gauging responses (looks and comments) whilst being vaccinated as it’s non-negotiable and it is a medical environment so people will hopefully be understanding. One thing is for sure, a large glass of wine will be waiting for me when I return to the safety of my home.

Visuals depicting OCD

‘A picture paints a thousand words’ as the saying goes, therefore today I’ve been exploring which visual best suits my life with OCD. Is it a bully whispering in my ear, if so what does this bully look like? Do I have a bird sitting on my shoulder chirping nuisance OCD thoughts in my ear to prevent normal behaviour? I entered keywords into Word ClipArt for inspiration without much joy, so moved onto 123rf.com for images to buy.

Entering ‘OCD’ in the search box resulted in 2,174 images – I duly went through half of them (clearly obsessive) but still struggled to bond with any photographs/illustrations. So I entered ‘Mental Disorder’ in the search box – this resulted in 36,344 images! I was on a determined mission, but even I couldn’t look through more than a few hundred, but again nothing really resonated with me.

My partner, who is an illustrator, came up with the image above to represent me living in COVID times, but I’m afraid I wasn’t too impressed that it reflected the reoccurring nuisance thoughts. To be honest, at first glance I thought the dangerous red virus droplets were poppies falling on the umbrella!

So I’ve given him a more specific brief of: brain synapses/neuro transmitters, ping-pong thoughts going back and forward in perpetual motion like a Newton’s cradle, and thought bubbles with scary words in them like contamination, blood, germs, dirt, poo. These things are how I think of my OCD.

I look forward to his next illustration that I’ll add in my next post.

Recycled tubes for OCD solution

For me, an OCD problem of decades has been using supermarket trolleys because the handle will have been used by thousands of people and never cleaned – UNTIL Covid-19 came along that is!  It was amazing to finally have supermarkets notice that germs are smothering the trolley (and basket) handles – a source of contamination, especially for babies sitting in the front of trolleys and teething/sucking on the handle in front of them YUK.

Up until March 2020 I used to only touch the metal on the trolley, rather than the handle, to get to the flowers section (usually at the entrance) so that I could legitimately have a protective plastic sleeve to put the flowers in, however instead I placed the empty plastic sleeve over the handles of the trolley whilst shopping, so that I didn’t need to come into contact with the germ-ridden handle – prior to Coronavirus, taking anti-bacterial wipes to clean down the handle looked so obvious and slightly over-the-top, making it noticeable that I suffer with OCD.

Then in March 2020 most supermarkets started to sanitize the trolley handles (be it a little inefficiently) but I’ve noticed that after a few months this became too much effort.  So since summer 2020, due to cleanliness being very acceptable, I’ve been able to wear pretty cotton gloves whilst shopping, rather than rubber gloves that look a bit too clinical, without unwanted critical attention.

Now I have a second solution to this problem that is eco-friendly and may be appropriate for men that suffer OCD …

Wrapping paper tubes
Inner cardboard tubes from wrapping papers

I use the tubes inside Christmas/birthday wrapping paper to cover the handles.  Just cut along the length of the tube and then cut it down to manageable size for two hands, and slip it over the handle bar.  It isn’t too obnoxious or noticeable.  You can then either remove the tube after you finish shopping and reuse next shopping trip, dispose it in your home recycling waste, or leave it there for another customer, because as I also used gloves, the handle wasn’t left too contaminated or dirty.

OCD solution
Recycle wrapping paper tubes for OCD solution to dirty shopping trolley handles

What a ‘win win’ scenario – I can cross one anxiety off my “going shopping list of anxieties” and wrapping paper inner tubes are put to good OCD use before heading for recycling.  I hope this solution helps someone else too.

Please leave a comment of your OCD daily solutions.

Covid precautions, OCD and taps

It’s been such a long time since I last posted on here – I should have made more New Year Resolutions, with allocation of time to this blog being an important one.  In my defense, time just flies by with huge ‘To Do’ lists every day leading up to Christmas, and then a chaotic New Year with family illnesses (that is my excuse over).

In all seriousness, living in a world plaqued with Covid and all the necessary precautions, and my OCD behaviours of decades on top, maximum concentration and effort is needed to be vigilant with ‘hands, masks and space’, and that is just in my home!

Due to work and sick family members my partner is “exposed” to life outside of my protective bubble, namely home, so he has to wear a mask around me as much as possible and wherever possible keep a distance if he isn’t wearing a mask (i.e. whilst eating and drinking), and as for washing his hands?!

Social distancing and masks for Coronavirus

Life was unbearable for him living with me ‘on the hand-washing front’ prior to Covid contamination, but now everything he touches that enters the house with a shiny surface in the last three days means it potentially has the virus lurking, ready to be digested by him or me, and we have all seen the awful consequences on the 24×7 news bulletins.

I used to wash my hands far too often prior to 2020, but now the thoroughness, duration and frequency has become an occupation.  They say you need to spend a minimum of 20 seconds (singing Happy Birthday twice) but that never feels sufficient for me – three times 20 seconds and then after drying it might not “feel right” so start the process all over again.  As anxiety is extremely high, tap checking for no drips takes much longer than usual, it goes like this:

  1. After turning off both hot and cold taps, stare to check for no drips – off, they are definitely turned off.
  2. With my hand under the turned off hot tap count to random number, say 4, meaning a countdown of 4 seconds – yes there are no drips, the hot tap is off.
  3. Then do the same with the cold tap – pick a number, perhaps 2 for the cold tap, meaning 2 seconds – yes there are no drips, the cold tap is off.
  4. Maybe I’ll just check that hot tap again (if would cost more if it was dripping), another number, maybe 6 (I prefer even rather than odd numbers and it can’t be 13), meaning 6 seconds of checking passes by.
  5. Right I’ll dry me hands now. Oh, but one more check of both taps before leaving the bathroom.  Yes both taps are off.
  6. I’m leaving the bathroom now and start to descend the stairs, when that horrible OCD bully creeps into my head and whispers menacingly “But what if the tap isn’t turned off and the plug is in the sink and it overflows, and water damages the important technology devices on the table downstairs, directly positioned under the bathroom, what if that happens and you destroy all the files with years of work in them, imagine hours of dripping taps, how much water would that be and what destruction and damage would that cause, how much would that cost to put right?”  I try to ignore these worrying thoughts, with worse-case-scenarios, but no, the bully wins again.
  7. I need to go back into the bathroom and do a couple more checks with my hand under both taps.
  8. Yes both taps are off and are not dripping, so I exit the bathroom, but then … I smell my hands to ensure they smell clean with a residue of highly perfumed soap but oh dear, I can’t smell soap, and up pops OCD bully “But what if your hands are not sufficiently clean, and you touch something that could contaminate a loved one, imagine if you made them sick, best you go and wash your hands again?”  If time is tight, this worry has to be ignored but occasionally the bully wins.

Dripping tap
Drips are transparent

This process is for one hand wash, so you can work out how much of my day, and night, is wasted when I visit the bathroom.  No wonder I feel like I’m always busy, but have very little productivity to show for my waking hours.

It is so annoying that as most people are now washing their hands so frequently to prevent Covid contamination, that some thoughtless people say “I’m so OCD”.  No, OCD is more than a quick rinse of soap and water.  OCD plagues your thought processes.  OCD doesn’t trust what your eyes can see – my eyes can see there are no drips and the tap is off, but oh no, the OCD bully won’t let me trust the sense of sight, it wants the sense of touch involved too, not just once but many times over.

The OCD bully
My OCD bully

 

OCD worry is exhausting
ocd exposed worry

World Mental Health Day 2020

The year of 2020 has tested the mental health of millions of people all over the world, not only for the usual reasons but with the added horrors and complications of living with Coronavirus Covid-19.

World Mental Health Day is surely very significant to so many more people this year that I want to do my little bit to promote it and it’s value.

Today I saw that a card company, https://www.thortful.com/ has a range of cards depicting messages that help to lift spirits – the card designer that initially caught my attention in a promo email, Jessica Rachel Sharp, apparently took the “helpful words” she received during therapy and designed what appears to be ten cards that can be sent expressing that help.  I have absolutely no affiliation to the card designer or the card company by the way.

I was really glad I’d taken the time to read the messages on the above range of cards, because in addition to the ten mentioned above, there was a much bigger range/category of motivational messages that inspired me to do this post.  It only took minutes to scan the text on several cards ‘sorry your brain chemicals aren’t doing their thing’ or ‘I’m not close enough to hold your hand but I’m here for you’ or ‘through clouds you are my sunshine’ – not exact quotes from the cards (my memory isn’t that accurate or retentive) but you get the sentiment behind them.

Help needed for OCD

So … my suggestion is that if you are struggling with your mental health (let’s face it, there’s not many who don’t give it consideration in 2020) why not scan read uplifting quotes or messages in bulk on any appropriate site, such as the ‘thinking of you’ section on any greeting card websites.  It’s free, you don’t have to book in to see a therapist, you can have a cup of tea (or glass of wine) whilst doing it in the comfort of your own home, and importantly it will remind you that you are doing the best job you can to keep yourself happy and motivated to face the next challenge the World throws your way.

Additionally, you could select a card to send to a family member, friend or colleague that is finding life tough right now.  A small thoughtful gesture can make a big difference to the recipient.

Recently I was having a really awful, sad, down, frustrated day – the very black and intrusive OCD clouds were literally clouding my ability to cope with the ‘new normal’ day-to-day living with Covid-19 – when I received an email from someone I miss in the family (due to a marriage breakup) that completely unexpectedly brightened my day with a ray of sunshine.  I felt like someone cared and took the time, other than the usual people around me.  We should all take the time to brighten someone’s day if we can.

Giving away a little secret about me …  The photograph below has been my screensaver for many years as it depicts to me the beauty and serenity of a gliding swan, appearing to be in full control, that is having to peddle like crazy under the surface to keep moving but no one can see this, whilst it’s wings are pulled and puffed up to be protective of it’s head – it even has a little mark on it’s head, like I have OCD in mine.  It so resonates with my way of living.

Swan in protective pose

 

 

 

 

 

Should shielding end today officially?

NO it should not end.  Officially it has, I suspect for Government cost purposes, but there are still a huge number of people contracting Covid-19 and 2,000,000 people in the UK are still highly vulnerable – the vulnerability of sick people is increasing not decreasing – operations and treatments have been placed on hold in hospitals.  Admittedly the chances of coming into contact with a person carrying Covid-19 has reduced per 100,000, and masks are being worn in most public places (thankfully at last) but the worry doesn’t end abruptly on a date dictated by the UK Government.  With this in mind, how do I cope with my OCD?

Well I’m still shielding all these months on, for my elderly/sick mother’s sake, and my health might not cope with the aggressive and varied ways the virus attacks the body.  I’ve not been out of the house, not even for shopping or prescriptions, except to walk to visit my mother who hasn’t left her house since the first week of March 2020 and has no plans to leave in the foreseeable future.  However as my family around me are now experiencing a more normal life, it is adding pressure on me to manage or let go of the rigid, and thoroughly clean, behaviours I’ve added to my original OCD demands.

Help needed for OCD

It is such hard work, I’m starting to buckle, and entertaining the thought of it not being possible to have other people near me whilst trying to apply shielding constraints – these close/few people to me have the right to live as normal as is possible.  It is now dawning on me that you either live totally on your own, have shopping dropped at your doorstep, you wash it thoroughly with soap and water, and have no one visit unless they are 2 metres from you and don’t touch anything, and don’t use your toilet, or …. you aren’t shielding and you are then purely trying to minimise risks.  As the Government says “Stay Alert” and “Control the virus” – five little words, but blimey it is so hard to put into practice in busy daily living!

I am one of the many people who are too scared to start to integrate into the outside world.  So many people are feeling nervous and anxious of any contact or exposure, whilst trying to function as they did in January/February of this year.  It is only human to worry about the risk of contracting the virus, especially as it is in every news bulletin, but I have to add on the complication of my 30 years ingrained OCD rationales of contamination.

Coronavirus cleaning rituals
Coronavirus Covid-19 cleaning

I do feel vindicated that the sense I apply behind my contamination OCD worries are now being encountered by the general public all over the world.  It is now recognised that hugging, toilets, unclean hands, touching your face, handles, salt and pepper, menus, hairdressers towels, and the close proximity of strangers etc (the list is huge) carries the risk of being contaminated – admittedly, ordinarily with diseases less fatal than Covid-19 though.  I have had friends and family say that they understand my OCD weirdness a little better now, but it is no consolation.

Whilst it will take millions, no billions, of people a long time to find a “new normal” living with Coronavirus Covid-19, it is going to take me a hell of a long time longer – if at all.  It feels like I am climbing Mount Everest when I used to climb Scarfell Pike.

I try to inject some humour into these posts, but today it is really hard to find a happy note to end on, except to say at least in the UK the number of deaths (from Covid-19 only but not other diseases) is currently reducing for now, but boy oh boy what a horrid few months it has been since February!

Germs OCD frustration
Always be alert for Coronavirus Covid-19

 

 

 

 

Isolation and shielding is tough

Being stuck in my own home should be easy for me – I have OCD so people and places raises challenges for me – but knowing you can’t interact, in even a limited way, is more challenging than I imagined it would be.  Shopping, or not being able to shop, is my biggest headache.

I feel embarrased that I was one of those “panic buyers” for toilet rolls and handwash in early March, so I’m grateful I have those essentials covered.  It took several trips to several supermarkets but mission accomplished and I breathed a sign of relief at my bounty and won’t be buying any more for several weeks (or even months) knowing that if IBS flares up or a stomach bug I won’t have to resort to kitchen roll that might block up the sewer pipes.  As I write this the shortage in toilet rolls seems to be over but anti-bacterial soap is still not available in abundance (I hear).

Panic buying soap

 

Toilet roll shortage

Because of my OCD I like to pick out all my shopping products carefully – I have a certain way of adding them to the trolley and putting stuff on the conveyor belt – no bread, pastries or cakes must touch either, it needs to balance on a sturdy item and not touch the bottom of my carrier bag.  Whilst stocking up on toilet rolls and handwash I took the liberty of ensuring I had the cleaning products I’d need for emergencies – anti-bacterial washing-up liquid, anti-bacterial spray, bleach, kitchen rolls and tinned staple foods.  The last shopping bill I had, which was over eight weeks ago, was over £100 but had no real meals to eat – the trolley looked similar to the drawing below and goodness knows what the check-out operator must have thought “she’s a fairly big woman so what does she eat as there’s nothing on this conveyor belt”?

OCD trolley full of shopping

 

I’ve never been able to do ‘on-line shopping’ because of my trolley/conveyor belt/carrier bag OCD dos and don’ts, as I imagine items being dropped on the floor or the person doing the picking/packing/delivering has not washed their hands after the toilet or just picked their nose etc.  The kind people doing my shopping now would not do either of the latter nasties, but there is no way they would think the way I do about how the items go in the trolley, on the conveyor belt or into the carrier bag (thankfully they think normally).

For the last eight weeks of isolation/sheilding (to protect my loved ones) has meant relying on lists for someone else to do my shopping and it reminds me that I buy and eat too much – I write one list and then edit out as much as possible – think of the rationing in the war years I tell myself, make do and be creative with existing food stuffs you have in the pantry.  I feel embarrassed when compiling a shopping list that someone else gets to see what I consume living on my own (especially chocolate treats and alcohol) and then has to put every item into the trolley, on a conveyor belt, into bags, into a boot and then onto my doorstep – effort that I enjoy doing ordinarily.  In fact shopping used to be the highlight of my week and could take several hours of mooching the isles looking for new products to try.

Retail therapy is, or was, my guilty pleasure, and for the foreseeable future I expect this pleasure will be on hold for several more months but at least my shopping list doesn’t have to include any cleaning products!!

 

Coronavirus or COVID-19 overload

How strange I wrote a post last month entitled ‘Don’t hug me’ when the Coronavirus COVID-19 was not my main concern, as it was predominantly an issue in China, but I just hated being hugged or having close contact with people due to my OCD, but now it seems a great many people feel the same way without having OCD.

‘Social distancing’ is mentioned regularly on television, in newspapers, via social media and in our daily conversations – keep 2 metres apart suits me just fine.  To prevent the risks of contracting Coronavirus it is also recommended that we:

  • Wash our hands thoroughly with hot water and soap for 20 seconds – videos explaining the technique are circulating but I downloaded this diagram years ago for this blog

Hand washing technique

  • Do not touch your mouth, eyes or nose – studies have found that this can happen up to 20 times per hour and the virus can enter your body from your hands if they are not clean
  • Clean hard surfaces regularly as they can harbour the virus for up to 3 days, soft surfaces such as cardboard for 24+ hours

Clean hard surfaces to prevent spread of Coronavirus

  • Clean door handles, stair handles, phones, keyboards – anything that is regularly touched by more than one person – safeguard other people as well as yourself.

What is slightly comforting is that the I have been doing the above recommendations for many years due to my OCD – infuriating to live with, but now I don’t feel so different as I see that a vast majority of people are adhering to these hygienic behaviours.  The advice is that it’s easier to learn to do something rather than trying to remember not to do something, such as learn the habit of keeping your hands below your waist to ensure you don’t touch your face 20 times an hour is easier than remembering not to touch your face.  I have been doing this for years, so no problem for me.  I say no problem, but only in the context of this new Coronavirus, because it is hugely annoying to adhere to when you have an itchy eye or nose, or food between two teeth!

anti-bacterial gel for clean hands
Coronavirus essential

I’d hate you to think that the above (almost smugness) implies an easier ride for me in these hugely challenging and worrying times, because the down side of the Coronavirus is that I am now in total panic mode with all my ‘contamination’ issues fully in the spotlight and making daily functioning even more difficult.

Preventing contamination is heightened especially as I have an elderly mother with severe health issues (the high risk category continually spoken about in the press) that I see daily, and need to protect from being contaminated – both from other people and me.  Daily living with OCD means I interact in a bizarre manner with my mother, but now I am at the point of self-isolating away from her as I’d never live with the guilt of passing this virus to her, especially if she was hospitalised (or the unthinkable).

OCD worry is exhausting

In my opinion, that is why cautious (and anxious) people are panic buying provisions in readiness of self-isolation with little, to no, notice – we are told that if you have a raised temperature, a new cough, headaches or aching body we must immediately self-isolate.  My cautious mind is thinking if I can’t open the door or leave the house what do I need to survive for 7-14 days?  I can live without fresh food, milk, tins, dried food etc however I cannot live in isolation without the comfort of soap to wash my hands and toilet paper/wipes – there is no substitute for these two essential items.

In an attempt to try to see some kind of humour in this, I have heard several people say that “there never used to be toilet paper and in the old days, they used newspaper” well I hope they had a plumber on hand because soil pipes these days struggle to function with the products intended to be flushed!

OCD clean to avoid spread of Coronavirus

My thoughts are that OCD cleanliness, to avoid the worry of ‘contamination traits of OCD’, accommodates all the professional/medical advice currently being given to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.  Stay safe readers.

Don’t hug me I have OCD

Slowly I have become less sociable.  I used to try to go out socialising most Friday nights in our local pubs because the people are friendly and it was always a good laugh to touch base with villagers.  I realised that I was only visiting one pub out of the choice of four or five, because it “felt safe”.

In my safe pub, I would choose a table that wasn’t in the mainstream of people walking past, I would have a meal and then feel able to stay at the table for drinks after.  The trouble with this new OCD approach to socialising is that not many of the people I used to speak to frequents this traditional pub, and the interactions I was having was becoming less and less.

My close friends who know I have OCD accommodates my liking for this one pub with a meal, meaning a safe table for the evening, but after doing this for well over a year I realised my friends wanted to circulate around the village pubs, but I was holding them back so ….

In an attempt to push my boundaries and not let my OCD win, last Friday I decided to be brave and to go to another pub that used to be my favourite as it’s lively, in fact too busy.  I’m not able to control the OCD method of seating and not being brushed past by other customers – I have to stand at the bar to be served a drink and then shuffle around the space at the bar with standing-room-only as lots of people brush past (not easy for me).

My anxiety raised as I entered but was pleased to see some familiar friendly faces that I haven’t spoken with for a very long time – they acknowledge me and headed over to chat.  The trouble is, these people don’t know (or haven’t registered or remembered) I have OCD, and therefore think it is acceptable to come over and hug me with a kiss on each cheek.  NO IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME.  Friendly and normal to most people, but horrendous to me with OCD.

Without offending or appearing miserably aloof, how can I reject the immediate, spontaneous, unwanted, hugs and kisses?  Men who have OCD usually need to deal with a hand shake, which I appreciate may be difficult for them, but women are usually greeted with a closer contact greeting.  It is such an invasion of my personal space I’m afraid.  People don’t even say “come here and give us a hug” or “it’s nice to see you, can I have a hug” which would give me the opportunity to explain – they just rush in for one at a speed that I can’t stop!

I try the usual tactics of trying to grab their hands as they go around my neck, but after a weird half-hand-shake they then go on again to hug – usually around my neck which means my face, hair, and coat are contaminated, along with my hand also being contaminated, meaning a discrete squeeze of anti-bacterial gel is needed from my handbag.

anti-bacterial gel for clean hands

 

This Friday three different people over the evening did this unwanted hugging – one man I hardly knew, but he took a shine to me and was trying to console me for (my last post) a recent shop-lifting experience in my shop!  Was the friendly chats and catch-up worth the massively raised anxiety, to the point of tears, for me?

The hug and cheek kiss mean absolutely nothing to them, and they don’t seem to understand how the hug is not recipricated – I freeze and a look of horror or panic comes over my face.  Is that internal, and maybe I am a better actress than I ever intend to be, and it’s not what they perceive?

I’m not sure if the alcohol consumed during this stressful evening out helped me or hindered me, but one thing that struck me was that there should be a clear way of demonstrating that hugging is not welcomed by me with my condition and I need to make that abundantly obvious to the other person before they lunge in for a hug and kiss.  Should I wear a badge?  Should I have a hair decoration/clip that says “Do not hug me”?

I went home and scrubbed my hair, my face, and my coat – anything that had come into contact with unwanted contact by people that are perfectly nice, but unknowingly inconsiderate to my illness.  After this I began to search the internet for solutions.  This is the best product I could find and ordered off Amazon.

I do not like hugs badge

 

It is a bit pathetic.  A bit basic and ugly.  An awful colour.  Not a very good explanation.  Should I add a second badge that says ‘I have OCD’- would that make me look like a badge fanatic?  I’m not convinced this is the best way forward, however it might stop the hugs and therefore better than not trying anything?  How can us sufferers of OCD make it acceptable to be able to say “Please don’t hug or kiss me as it spoils my social occasion and causes me a huge amount of extra anxiety, washing and cleaning, which I’m sure you aren’t intending to give me”.

Wouldn’t it be an ideal world if I could wear a pretty badge, of lets say a daisy with a petal out of place, that represents an ‘OCDaisy Don’t’ message.  A loud and clearly recognised symbol so that an embarrassing conversation doesn’t have to take place.

I would happily champion a worthy cause like this, but how do I begin to get energy behind it?