Long story short: the beginning of the year was not awesome for me.

Long story long (aka the situation) 

I had recently starting getting help for my OCD, but I was still in the early days of treatment and was just getting in the swing of things. We had decided to move, and we were getting our finances and paperwork sorted to close on our new house while also trying to get out of our current lease. My psychologist wanted me to just “not get worse” before moving. He hesitated to start with cognitive behavioral therapy at a time when a lot of change was happening in my life.

I did start counting my hand washing, though, more as a baseline than to actively try and cut back. It wasn’t good. Like, being in the thirties or forties for the day was “acceptable”–at least I wasn’t over fifty.

And, during all of this drama arrived the pretty much immediate need to start packing up our belongings.

The Problem

This was about a month or two after we had the great family Strep infection of December 2015. As a result, pretty much everything in the house was or could be “contaminated” with strep. This is a huge part of what drove the hand washing: I would touch a kid’s marker and think, “Oh, I better wash my hands just in case.” A book, a toy, clothes, anything was fair game. I was washing my hands to prevent spreading strep again–because we were moving soon and getting strep would not be okay.

In an effort to cut back on hand washing without compromising “safety” and hygiene, I kept a box of disposable gloves in the house. I would put on a pair of gloves and pack. Let me tell you, my hands got sweaty really fast, it was hard to tape boxes up with plastic gloves on, and, as a result of both of those facts, I went through quite a few pairs of gloves while packing up our house.

Clothes or shoes that were worn during the strep infection got special treatment with disinfectant spray, were packed in plastic bags, or both.

Unpacking was also a rough process though I don’t remember if I was as intense about using the gloves. Wearing certain “strep” clothes and shoes again came as a challenge from my new doctor and took a lot of will power.

WWBD (What Would Bob DO)?

Now I feel (mostly) comfortable touching the things that came from the “old” house or that I considered to be infected or contaminated. It’s been awhile, so logically I can convince myself that the germs have died. But it was so real at the time, the threat looming with almost every item I touched. Most people probably wouldn’t have even thought about it or would simply have washed or cleaned whatever they know was touched or used during the illness.

But OCD wants certainty. It wants the chances eliminated. It wants safety. But that’s not what life is like, is it?

Have you ever done anything like that before? How do you try and overcome the need for certainty?

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