My ‘relaxation days’ were now spent packing, or rather cleaning and then packing the items I’d cleaned. We wanted to have the bathtub redone but before the men could come I had to spend a night getting the real mold off the ceiling above the tub. But that was not enough. In case the mold spores had migrated because I touched them, I also had to clean the entire bathroom, ceiling and all. Then I probably threw out the clothes I was wearing.
My closet became contaminated (I can’t remember why now) and I tried to decontaminate some of the stuff like jewellery by washing it before packing it. Unfortunately that didn’t work because my mind remembered they had been contaminated (unlike a shirt or pants that was just thrown in the wash and I forgot which one had been contaminated by the time they came out of the machine.) So the jewellery ended up being thrown out. Now before you get worried, I’m not talking expensive stuff, thank goodness! I did throw out my wedding dress, tho, that was hanging in that closet and also a dressy winter coat.
The basement storage room had real mold in it that I didn’t notice until we emptied the shelves to pack them. So everything that was in there had to be wiped clean (all my food cans and the outside of packed bins that were put there while I swept out the larger room) or thrown out. (I’d already cleaned out the basement twice due to real mold back when we’d first bought the house. I had to scrub the concrete walls with bleach and hose them down. Not a fun job. I was shocked that room had already started to grow mold again. Because I didn’t want to wash the metal shelves that were in there, to decontaminate them, they, along with a lot of stuff from the garage were given away. Or did I make Bruce clean them off outside before we gave them away? So no storage shelving. The art supplies bin that was in that room that I carefully wiped down would return to haunt me later on because I remembered it was in a mold-contaminated room years before. Even though my mind knew I had wiped down the container (whether it even needed wiping in the first place those of you without ocd would know) I still had a hard time taking things out of it and using them. Some items like glitter glue pens and patterned scissors eventually got used. Other items got thrown out even at that later date.
I came to North bay with very few clothes. The last day we were at our house we tidied it and I threw out my dirty clothes and I think I made Bruce do the same thing, so I wouldn’t have to take them with me and dirty up the car. I packed most of our things even though we had a packing team coming to help us the day before we left. I was also hurrying to get all our laundry washed before I packed it so it would be ‘clean’ at the other end and could be put directly into the drawers. I did it all except for 2 bins of clothes/ dishtowels that we eventually threw out because I was too afraid to open them at the new house till it was too late and the clothes were ruined. It never occurred to us to run to a laundry mat and clean them before we left
Welland. In fact, these were probably the only clothes that actually needed to be washed as they were worn or used. I saved them for last and ran out of time. This would not be the only time things got thrown out due to OCD.
While Bruce was living up north he was house hunting also and when we finally got one, his job was to clean it in the evenings after work. He got everything done except the kitchen. So to me the kitchen was ‘contaminated’. I wouldn’t cook, or clean or do dishes. I left any garbage from opening foods on the table because I was too afraid of using the garbage cans. Using a garbage can meant I had to wash my hands afterwards and that could take up to a half hour if I didn’t do it just ‘right’. So I tried to stay away from the sink as much as possible. Even after we spent the time cleaning the kitchen, I was not too eager to use it, although I did. Not for cooking tho. Bruce did the cooking when he came home from work.
Laundry was an issue too. This house had a 2nd floor laundry that was as big as a closet. And in order to do a load I still had to wipe down not just the machines, but the walls, the door, the window ledge. Then I had to take a shower. Showers lasted a very long time. Many times I finished with a cold shower. Often afterwards, I would be crying because I couldn’t stand it that I couldn’t shower like quickly like I used to. I was also afraid to touch the walls, shower curtain or faucet.
All the paper towels from cleaning the laundry room each time I wanted to do a load of laundry had to go somewhere. For a long while they ended up beside the toilet in the upstairs bathroom. When the pile got big enuf, they got put into a garbage bag and taken outside on garbage night. That meant that I had to wash not only the path from the garbage can in the kitchen to the door which was ceramic tile and hardwood flooring, but also from the bathroom upstairs down the carpeted stairs to the front door. (because you never knew what germy things were leaching out thru the pores of the garbage bag and landing on the floor!!) Then I’d organize the garbage, wash the front door and foyer area and finally have a shower. Washing the carpet with a cloth was no fun, esp. if it hadn’t been vacuumed in a bit. All sorts of sock fuzz along with regular dirt had to be manually wiped down the stairs.
When I noticed mold inside the rubber part of the new front load washer, I got fed up and we bought another one, a newer one that had drain holes cut into the rubber to stop the molding. I wanted to get a top loader but OCD loved the front loader with a sanitizing button on it. Now I could really clean something if I had to! So we got that machine but in all the time since we’ve had it I’ve never ever used it. One, because I don’t want to wreck the clothes by washing them in such hot water and second, because I don’t want to start something by thinking that some clothes are so dirty they need to be sanitized. I was washing ‘contaminated’ clothes twice using the longest setting possible the second time thru which meant I was taking 2 showers that day or waiting til one cycle was over before resetting the washer and then cleaning the laundry room and showering.
We had left a lot of the boxes in what would become our living room and I would take them out one or 2 at a time and put the items away. Sometime before all the bins/ boxes were emptied the room became contaminated. This meant that one day I’d clean a few boxes off, take them out of the room and shower before opening them and putting the items away. With a 2 yr old to entertain this process took a long time and by Christmas Eve day it still wasn’t done. Bruce and I worked our tails off that evening, wiping down all the boxes and putting them in our dining room, finding and setting up the living room items and putting up a Christmas tree and decorations. Katrina went to bed that night seeing a boxed up living room and when she came downstairs the next day she had an astonished look on her face! Christmas had magically appeared at her house!!!
So then we had a living room which was clean and safe to use. As long as things didn’t get left on the floor for too long. Then they had to be cleaned again. Ditto for the family room in the basement. The first time I cleaned the family room I found some unrecognizable bugs in the room (ie, not ants, flies or spiders, which were normal for houses.) Because of my previous experience with maggots, I was completely freaked out that my house had somehow become bug infested by some horrid bug (not remembering all the times I’d left the house door open for at least a half hour if not longer while taking the garbage out and cleaning the foyer area!) . I spent hours cleaning everything that was on the floor, table etc. including books, toys and even the couch with vinegar. And many items would be cleaned and then re-cleaned to make sure they were clean. Once that was done, I didn’t want to clean the room again for a long time, except maybe to run a vacuum thru it. So instead of a weekly routine of a quick dust and windex and vacuum, I’d do these long marathon cleanings every couple of months. I felt that if I used a cleaner of any kind I had to take a shower. Even a duster.
We had joined the YMCA and found the
. The EYC was a sanity saver for me. The hub near my house was opened 3 days a week and we were there every time. Katrina had the chance to play with kids her own age and I could either sit and watch or join in. I told Lise, the facilitator, about my ocd so she wouldn’t wonder where I was if I left the room to wash my hands. I hated the feel of play-do on my hands so would wash after that. I didn’t wash as often as I could have as I didn’t feel stressed there, so ocd was often quieter. Early Years Center
Unfortunately for me, the neighbour kids had a shed of outdoor toys they used in the summer. In the winter it was left alone. So OCD concocted a story in my head that there were probably mice in that shed and so the toys were all contaminated. The school where the EYC hub was, happened to be the one these kids went to and thus it was contaminated- the drinking fountain, the gym the EYC also used, anything these kids might be touching. Now I had a problem. I couldn’t admit to Lise what I now believed because it sounded so bizarre. If that wasn’t enough for me to deal with, Lise would empty the garbage container from the classroom and put a new bag in it without washing her hands afterward. So now the EYC became a stressful place to go.
I had been seeing a counsellor thru my husband’s work plan but he wanted to spend the time discussing my past, not getting to the ocd part of my life so when the 5 weeks were up, I stopped seeing him. The last time I was there he gave me an article on why we need not keep our children’s environments sterile. It had a coffee stain right on the top. (Coffee stains were especially contaminating because I belonged to a religion that banned coffee drinking. I’m sure the counsellor didn’t know that though). So that told me that he didn’t get it- giving a person with germ- ocd a DIRTY page and giving me an article to read that I completely agreed with. I KNEW kids shouldn’t be left in a sterile environment. Problem was, OCD didn’t, so it didn’t’ matter that I did. OCD ruled my life, not me.