Most women enjoy buying shoes but not me, with extremely severe OCD, they are a necessary annoyance. Trying shoes on, that stranger’s feet might have been in, is definitely not fun for me – dirty feet, blistered or bleeding feet, verrucas, nail infections to name just a few of the conditions shoved into new shoes and often not bought but left ready for the next (unsuspecting) foot to be inserted.
So there is quite a performance involved when it’s the necessary time to purchase replacement shoes. I enjoy ordering them online, as going to shops is too stressful since the pandemic in 2020, but when they’re delivered they sit there for days in their boxes reminding me it’s a complicated procedure to see if they fit. This process requires me to have a bowl (specifically kept for this new-shoe-trying-on purpose only by the way) of soapy water with antibacterial spray added to the water and reams of kitchen paper at hand.
I put the new shoe on and walk a few steps to assess the fit, then spray my foot with additional antibacterial spray before it goes in the bowl of soapy water with added kitchen roll to act as a foot flannel that can be disposed of. After a few minutes swooshing the water/kitchen roll (which sometimes has started to disintegrate, depending on the quality of paper) my foot is allowed back into my plastic house-slipper because if my foot touches the floor it needs spraying and washing very thoroughly – I never go bare-footed in the house except on a bedside rug and a bathroom rug. I then have to be extremely careful whilst walking with a wet foot in a slippery slipper (coincidence but a perfect name for my footwear at this point).
As I cautiously and precariously balance on the foot that has been cleaned but is perilous in my wet slipper, I repeat the whole exercise with the second foot but now I have two wet feet to try to walk in slippery slippers! It’s so annoying to go through this palaver but fifty percent of the time the new shoe tried on is the wrong fit, and will have to be returned, and a second choice of order means going through this whole process again. Too often I’ve kept ill-fitting shoes in the hope that they’ll miraculously be more comfortable on another day!
If the new shoes do fit, and I’m not sending them back for a refund, I then need to clean the insides of them with an abundance of antibacterial spray and kitchen roll. To prevent damage, this entails me spraying liberally and then placing my foot into an envelope of kitchen paper before putting the shoes on, wriggling around, removing the foot and then peeling the wet kitchen roll off (which is inevitably in shreds by now) before putting my plastic slippers back on – this stage of the process tends to leave a trail of wet tissue behind me for the rest of the day.
Add to the above the fact that as I age, and have a tendency to fall over an unseen leaf on the pavement, the attractiveness and height of my heels has gone from wow to woah – bending down to do buckles or laces is hard now too – maybe large simple wellington boots is the answer, but not such a good look with an evening dress.
So as you’ll see from the images below shoes are now practical unfortunately and not the sort to be displayed on shelves in walk-in wardrobes, but hidden under a table. Being female and liking to buy shoes has shifted to the simpler method of buying handbags instead. They still need to be cleaned before use, but I don’t have the faff of trying them on.
I went for my second Covid-19 jab after 10.5 weeks from the first (difficult) experience and thankfully it all went much smoother. This could be because my anxiety wasn’t as high with me knowing what to expect and thankfully the nurse was very understanding – she also presumably noticed my prominent ‘I have OCD’ badge on my coat as I walked in. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to strip off all my clothes into the washing machine and have a shower as soon as I returned home, but it was futile – the full de-coke (as I call it, and maybe nobody else?) just had to be done.
Talking of de-coking … it is well known in my family what I mean when I say that. I’ve just looked it up on Google and the definition is to ‘Remove carbon or carbonaceous material from (an internal combustion engine).’ The only word relevant is ‘remove’ but in the context I use the word, I want to remove bacteria, germs, dirt, and therefore contamination. My partner dreads the words “You’ll need a full de-coke when you get in the house” because it means all items of clothing in the washing machine and then straight into the shower.
Talking of washing machines … I’m planning to have my own personal washing machine on my landing (near my bedroom and bathroom) because sharing a machine in the kitchen causes so much palaver. I either have to thoroughly clean with anti-bacteria spray the machine door, rubber opening, and surrounding carcass of the washing machine before adding my dirty washing, or alternatively, if any of my clean washing touches one of those areas as it’s being pulled out it has to be returned and re-washed.
I have my own personal laundry basket for dirty clothes, and my own personal plastic (washable) basket to empty the clean washing from the machine. To empty the washing machine I have to scrub my hands after opening the door (as that is difficult to clean to my satisfaction), empty the clothes into the basket without touching anything, and then hold the basket on a long walk from the kitchen, up a huge flight of stairs, as a dead weight in front of me – in the style of a power lifter! Without OCD I would hug the basket to my body to reduce the dead weight effect, but that is impossible. Add to this difficulty the fact that I have to change slippers from downstairs slippers to my ‘only worn on the stairs, my landing, my bedroom and my bathroom slippers’ and attempt to hold up my dress from touching the stairs – unfortunately I only have two hands but need three to hold the dress. So I have to go one or two steps on the stairs, stop, balance the laundry basket on the step and take a breather whilst hiking up my dress, and then do another one or two steps and repeat. There are seventeen steps – I have experience of counting them off before expiring breathlessly.
My blood pressure, pulse and body temperature is off the scale by the end of this exercise. I then need to wash my hands two or three times after touching the handles of the (clean) laundry basket before hanging my clothes on my own personal clothes airer. Mission accomplished phew, but then … my OCD bully kicks in! He says “but did you remember to add the washing tablet?” and then starts the doubts. I smell the washing – yes I’m sure it smells fresh and I did remember the tablet. But did I? I leave the room and try to distract myself but the bully is back “imagine if you didn’t put the washing tablet in, and you’ve cross-contaminated all the clothes in that wash into a germ-ridden soup” and guess what? I decide I can’t take the risk and can’t stop worrying about this niggling doubt the OCD set off in my head so, you’ve guessed right, I take it all off the clothes airer and start the process all over again to give me peace of mind. Damn you OCD gggrrr.
I watch television, or my family, and see how uncomplicated this task should be, and was for me until OCD started 30+ years ago. To think back to when I was in my early twenties, I had a twin-tub washing machine where you put the whole family’s whites in first, then the dark colours and no constantly refreshing water – the water was a disgusting grey colour as it was emptying. The jumble of clothes/underwear/bedding/overalls were then thrown over a washing line in the garden, where birds and insects merrily sat on your clean washing, and invariably the wind blew it onto bushes or wooden fences, sometimes the pegs came loose and it draped on the grass, but as long as it wasn’t muddy I’d swoop it up – job done. Definitely no time or option to rewash because a nuisance in my head was bullying me – oh happy days and happy memories before OCD ruled me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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”?
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!!