Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is the Way We Clean our House, Clean our Stuff, Clean up Things. Or Not.

You know how most people think that  people with contamination OCD must be clean freaks?  Well it's not true.  I like a clean house but it took me a very long time to get back to 'normal' cleaning.  You know, dusting and vaccuuming and getting the crumbs and stuff off computers and tv screens and other touched objects.  I'd go into these long (6 + hour) cleaning binge for just 1 room and wash things once, or twice or more.  About half way thru, or earlier, i'd feel contaminated by the cleaners and then i couldn't touch anything with my bod--y without recleaning it. Then to top it off, i'd put the clothes i wore into the laundry then finally have a shower.  This wasn't for mouse-clean up events.  This was my new 'normal' cleaning.  Problem was, i didn't want to do that again, so it wouldn't get cleaned again for awhile.  Maybe some spot cleaning for a spill etc.

After a while ( and a move to a 'less' contaminated house, because i hadn't lived in it yet :P)  i learned that if i dusted and windexed a room I didn't need to shower myself or change my clothes.  So that part is ok.

The problem is cleaning special items.  Like today i had to wipe off the walker and bath seat I've been using since my car accident and broken foot.  I thought about it A LOT while not cleaning them.  Finally I decided to get started, after re-telling myself that the walker was never dirty, except maybe under the feet, which i'd do last,  and the chair I used in the bathroom to slike across the floor from the sink to toilet and back was just dirty, nothing toxic and even tho the 'dirty' bath curtain was touching the back of the tub seat, even it wasn't toxicly dirty.  So all i needed was some rags, or paper towels and vinegar.  I didn't need to throw my clothes into the laundry or shower after i finished.  A hand-to-elbow wash was just good enough.

After this 'pep talk' i got my supplies and started.  Walker -simple, done.  Chair, took a little longer because it had more parts, but done.  Finally the seat.  New rag, some paper towels for the feet bottoms and i started from the underside to the top to the chair backing.  The bottle was getting empty, so i was getting a little stressed, hoping I'd be able to finish.  Did so.  Even cleaned bottle off and around the bathroom sink for good measure.  But i felt a bit damp.

It must be cause i'm 50, but doing  even tiny cleaning jobs makes me all hot. It feels like i have sprayed vinegar all over me, or touched the wet items with my clothes.  Or.... maybe it's just OCD magnifying normal human activity to feel like i have just run a marathon.   I really wanted to take my clothes off and have a shower but the sane part of me kept saying NO.  What i really need is to sit this through.  Don't take the easy way out.  (But i'm still in pj's anyway, so why not shower.  It's about time anyway). But can i touch my library books without showering/ changing?  Can the books touch my clothes or will they be contaminated too?  What will the people say who get the books after me, all contaminated?  Do the world and yourself a favour, Karin, and take a shower.  Oh,  that would have been so easy!

So sitting here waiting for the dread to leave and my mind to calm itself down, i am upset at all the cleaning jobs i don't do, that i should do, that i have done in the past as part of the stay-at-home- parent's job.  Things like wiping down and tidying up a linen closet.  Or wiping out the fridge. Or the cupboards and drawers.  I used to put a book tape on and make it a fun event.  Now I hope that Bruce will get tired of the mess and crumbs in the kitchen drawers and clean them one Saturday.  Then all i'd have to do is feel badly that he did it and not me.

Being mostly OCD free (80-90%) doesn't seem good enough for me anymore.  That last meltdown i had in my daughter's therapist's office has me worried / concerned that maybe this isn't good enough.  That i should do the work of ERP to bring myself back to how it used to be.

I've looked on line for an OCD- trained therapist in my city and while most say they deal with 'anxiety' in their long lists, only 2 made mention of dealing with OCD, / anxiety as their specialty.  One of those happens to be my daughter's therapist.  He said that would be a conflict of interest.  Figures.  That means i have to call the other one.  Now all my anxieties come out.  I don't want to phone her, I want her to get my ESP and phone me.  Ha, ha ha.  When my daughter needed help I had no hesitation of getting her some help.  I do want help with this, as well as my 2 OCD  theories of The Spreading Of Dirt.  I'd like to think that my daughter's therapist's experiment i posted about before, would stick in my head instead:  if you throw a bunch of papers (germs) in the air, only a few land in the jar.  Of these, only a few are 'bad' germs.  What i want is a way to make that stick in my head.  But is this something a therapist can do?

On the plus side, I've been to the March of Dimes for help with getting a job, and we've done my resume.  This might be actually real, soon.  Job interviews, etc.  Another not fun activity.  Sometimes I just don't want to 'feel the fear & do it anyway'.  I just want the fear/ dread to go away and stay away.

I am also back to 200mg of clomipramine.  I think it's helping.


  1. Glad to see you are posting again, Karin! Oh I totally understand about not cleaning things because of the difficulty in getting it cleaned just right. Ugh.

    I find it interesting that so many people list "anxiety" in their long list of illnesses they treat. Here's the thing. If they are capable of really treating anxiety, shouldn't they be capable of treating OCD? It IS an anxiety disorder. And if they're not using CBT/ERP to treat anxiety, then do they REALLY know how to treat anxiety? Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud. It just bothers me.

    I know how hard it is to seek help. And it's a pain in the neck, especially if you have trouble finding a properly trained therapist. Maybe you could look at it this way: You are doing this for your daughter. As you get well, you can help your daughter get well.

    Anyway, hang in there! I know you've worked really hard. It will pay off.

  2. Thanks, Sunny.I see a therapist Monday, after my daughter's appointment. So i'm all nervous/ anxious about that. I thought that my left-over ocd rituals, and occasional freak-outs were just the 'battle scars' of having ocd. I'm so much better than i was when my daughter was 2, that i figured i could just deal with the rest myself, or live with it. I don't know- can one be completely OCD free again? That's the big question.