I had 16 psychology sessions on the NHS and was getting better but they finished months ago and although I'm not as bad as I used to be I'm still struggling a lot with the cleanliness OCD thoughts.
When my mum visits my flat I'm paranoid about her spilling wee on the floor in the bathroom when she uses it, or getting some on her hands and then touching other things, or not washing her hands properly and touching other things.
So when she leaves I'll often disinfect with Dettol the toilet seat, the floor near the toilet, any handles she's touched, bits of chairs she's sat in.
It's hard to relax and it upsets her too me asking her not to touch things much because of my paranoia.
I wish I know how to stop believing I'm going to get really ill if I don't do all this.
I do understand this as I've had really bad contamination OCD after the birth of my two youngest daughters (As well as checking OCD numerous times), exceptionally bad after the birth of my youngest, I had to go on meds for 6 months to get it under control. With me, the fear is of germs, with my youngest it was specifically cold sore germs which is vaguely understandable as newborns can die if they catch a cold sore but where it got really silly was that I'd worry that someone with a cold sore might have touched something in the supermarket that I'd picked up which might then transfer onto my youngest when I got home and cause her to become ill. There are many other ridiculously over anxious examples that I could give you of my OCD thinking over that period of time but I'd take up the whole page! In a nutshell my OCD had absolutely gone through the roof. All this resulted in my spending hours a days cleaning down everything in my house like door handles; taps, toilets, doors, basically any hard surface; doing ridiculous amounts of laundry and washing my hands far far too much, they were so cracked and sore and split it was untrue. So yeah, I get it, it's frustrating when OCD happens! If my contamination OCD was playing up then I'd be doing the same. I totally understand your line of thinking and why you're doing what you're doing but I also know how 'at the mercy of OCD' we can get when it flares up like this and it's not a nice feeling is it?
Do you still have the paperwork that you were given during the NHS psychology sessions? Would it help to read through the information again and how to challenge your OCD thinking patterns? Or has it gone beyond that point? Do you think that medication might be the answer?
Thanks so much for the reply, it's helpful to have support from someone who knows what OCD is like.
I didn't get too much paperwork during the psychology, I think I got rid of what I had though I do remember a lot of it. Maybe I'm just being mentally lazy. Since the psychology ended I read a few news articles about dirt and germs and gradually these things build in my mind and change my perception of things again.
I don't think medication would be the right approach for me, I've had bad side effects from different meds so am cautious about taking them. I'm trying to make little steps of progress. My mum wiped her hands on a towel in the bathroom after washing her hands. In the past I've tended to then put that towel in the dirty laundry basket, this time I've not done that so I count that as one act of defiance against my OCD.
I'm also a little anxious that while at my mum's house I rested my head on her armchair's headrest which a visitor may have sat on who doesn't have the best hygiene habits (doesn't wash as often as I'd like). Well I think I'm going to manage to go to bed without having a shower of my hair so if I can do that that's another small victory I suppose!
I've had the dry, cracked hands at times too.
My mum told me my sister's son who would often pull food out of their bin and eat it and who also played on the floor a lot and was often visibly not particularly clean, was the first patient that was operated on by a surgeon in a long time, who didn't get an infection, the surgeon told his mum. This my mum thinks is because he was exposed to more bacteria and dirt so had grown a more resilient immune system. Things like that can sometimes sway my thinking and make the OCD less invasive.
That sounds like it was really hard after your youngest was born, I hope you're managing a lot better now.
That's ok. OCD can be a pain in the brain!
That's a shame that you don't have much paperwork from the psychology. I have a good self CBT for OCD book which I use when mine is mild/moderate, it doesn't work if it's beyond that though! I don't know about your area but I know here, that if you ask your GP to refer you for help with OCD then there's the option to get telephone support prior to the psychology appointment coming through. I didn't find out about this until I saw the psychotherapist a year after my OCD flare up had started and well after it had ended!! I'm just wondering if your local Mental Health centre might be able to offer a bit of support, might be worth asking your GP? Maybe don't read about germs for a while either?
That's good that you're making little steps of progress. Your mum's hands would have been clean by the time she wiped them on the towel as she had just washed them. I also doubt that you would catch germs from a headrest that someone else's head has been touching. Sometimes it's about challenging your own thought processes and doing little 'behaviour tests' which you seem to be doing. Well done and I hope that you are able to keep it up :-)
Aveeno cream is good for dry cracked hands!
They do say that exposure to dirt etc helps to build the body's immune system. I have heard that most children today are not exposed to enough dirt!
Thanks. I'm OCD free at the moment. I won't hold my breath though as it usually strikes at the most inconvenient times!
Your mention of the local mental health centre reminded me of something. The recovery college here do OCD courses, I need to sign up for one of them.
Yeah you're right I need to avoid reading about germs.
You're doing well at the moment managing the OCD anyway, perhaps in a funny way having young children may help, being forced to be confronted with many situations that can't be controlled!
That's good that you remembered about the OCD courses! Hopefully they have one soon?
Thank you. I'm not really managing it, I just don't have it, at the moment. If it starts up again at some point and I'm sure it will do, then I'll have to start managing it.
I'm not sure about having young children helping my OCD. I'm completely emetophobic so as soon as one of them has a sickness bug then I'm in full PEP. I have surgical gloves and surgical masks at home for such occasions and a good stash of anti-emetics just in case that doesn't work!
I find mine gets worse the more anxious I am. I'm not as bad as I used to be.