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?!
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:
- After turning off both hot and cold taps, stare to check for no drips – off, they are definitely turned off.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Right I’ll dry me hands now. Oh, but one more check of both taps before leaving the bathroom. Yes both taps are off.
- 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.
- I need to go back into the bathroom and do a couple more checks with my hand under both taps.
- 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.
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.