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.
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.
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?