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Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

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Old 10-13-2007, 03:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: a hopeful place
Posts: 8
Meroko HB User
Unhappy Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Hello, I'm 17, and I'm really scared that I'll never be able to recover from my awful out of control fears. I just joined this site after searching for "cures" to my weird ocd issues. I can't pinpoint what my problem is exactly because i'm not sure if it's just compulsive hand washing, or a fear of germs, or both or something completely different that I can't for the life of me even begin to explain.

Well, I've pretty much driven myself mad by washing my hands compulsively every time I touch anything I deem to be unclean (which is everything in my home at this point). I think it all started one day when I was in a public restroom washing my hands one time like a normal human being, and while I was washing I read the "how to wash properly" sign out of sheer boredom. That was the beginning of my nightmare because the one part of the sign that caught my eye was "Count 20 seconds before rinsing for thorough cleaning of hands" or something like that. Well, I guess my OCD locked it into my memory and the next time I went to wash my hands I was counting: "one- one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand" until I got to twenty-one thousand. Then I stopped and felt satisfied as though it were the first time I'd ever washed my hands CORRECTLY. o.O

Not long after that a family member came over to visit and caused our toilet to over flow and our bathroom has carpet in it and I felt disgusted and I refused to walk in the bathroom unless my mom put a shower curtain on the ground or anything I could walk over because I thought that the floor was infested with nasty toilet germs and bacteria. I've never been afraid of actually getting SICK from germs it's just that the thought of any germs on my person is gross (very strange to think that way but at this point it's out of control and I don't know how to stop it). I think the toilet incident traumatized me somehow because even after the carpet dried and my mom tried to reassure me that it was safe to walk in the bathroom, I started thinking about OTHER parts of the bathroom that never bothered me before.

My first "realization" was that when someone uses the toilet they touch the knobs on the sink to turn the water on, then they clean their hands, but then they take their clean hands and RE-TOUCH the knobs on the sink that they had JUST touched with germy toilet hands! After that "realization" I started using a paper towel to turn the knobs on and off everytime I had to use the bathroom or wash my hands. Then I started "realizing" that since my family wasn't thinking the irrational thoughts that I was thinking, they were continuing to touch the knobs, causing them (in my mind) to have TOILET germs all over them!

I began to isolate myself in my room and have a hard time hugging my family or holding their hands because I feel like their hands are infested with bacteria and awful germs. Now, I go through an entire bottle of liquid anti-bacterial soap every single day, and I use a whole roll of paper towels if I need to touch ANYTHING. For a while I was even using PLASTIC GLOVES, but I had to force myself to stop because it was so embarrassing and my family poked fun at me for it. I accidently kicked the remote control with my bare feet once and after that I never touched it again because I've walked on the carpet where the toilet over flowed and I feel like now the remote has those same germs on it, and my family still uses that remote then they touch my things, then I can't touch my things, it's a VICIOUS cycle! I'm losing my mind here! They still tease me and sometimes get angry and frustrated with me because they can't understand what's going on in my messed up head. There are soooo many other little ocd ticks that I've developed as well, all of this awfulness and to think it all stems back to a sign and an over flowing toilet...

Please, if anyone takes time to read this, I'm desperate to get my life back to normal. If you have any way of helping me I'd be happy to hear from you. I just want to live my life without having to be afraid of germs, and without having to wash my hands for 30 minutes every time I feel the need to, I don't want to live like this any longer...T_T

Last edited by Meroko; 10-13-2007 at 04:35 PM.

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Old 10-13-2007, 04:55 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: a hopeful place
Posts: 8
Meroko HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Someone please respond...I'm scared and I really want and need help, I want someone to tell me that I'm not crazy and that I can overcome this strange road block in my life.

Last edited by Meroko; 10-13-2007 at 05:11 PM.

Old 10-14-2007, 06:00 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: US
Posts: 107
my2babies HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Oh hunny you are so not alone! I cant believe nobody has responeded to this. You poor thing. It is strange that your family is making fun of you! Can you talk to your parents about what you have been going through? If not I would make an appointment with your doctor and get in there and they will help you out! Keep me updated on how your doing hun. (((HUGS)))
Thank god for other people like me or otherwise I would have lost it by now.

Old 10-14-2007, 01:40 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: a hopeful place
Posts: 8
Meroko HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

I feel so much better just hearing from you. I've tried very hard to explain what's going on with me to my family but I always feel ashamed and embarrassed because I know they want me to just stop instantly, they're scared for me, and I've tried so many times to be normal again but then something bad happens in my life and the urge to wash my hands gets way worse. I really want some kind of therapy, but that makes me feel like I belong in a ward for the mentally ill.

I was fine until I lost a beloved family member from cancer only a few short years ago and it still seems fresh and unreal. I can't daignose myself of course but I think maybe the trauma of losing someone so very close to me must be one of the main factors in my current problem. I've also been traumatized by bullies in school. I do have the tendency to harbor and bottle up my sad feelings inside. The hand washing only started when we moved into our new home last year though so I can't pinpoint the exact trigger to my insane need to wash. That's what scares me the most, it's like I was normal one minute and next thing I know out of nowhere for seemingly no reason at all I was instantly insane with fears that are so ridiculous they're laughable. The fact that my logical self feuds with my illogical urges is one of the worst feelings I could ever have.

I'm sorry I keep typing really long posts, it just feels good to let it out, I haven't talk about my problem as openly as I am now since it began because of the shame that comes with it. I'll discuss it more openly with my family and see if they can help me talk to a doctor without being afraid and embarrassed.

Old 10-14-2007, 08:20 PM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: a hopeful place
Posts: 8
Meroko HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Good news, my2, I talked to my family about my OCD and how I hate it mostly because I feel like it bothers them. They didn't give me much input or advice on how to FIX the issue, of course. But they at least assured me that they aren't angry with me about it, just annoyed sometimes and sad that I can't stop because they "know i'm stronger than this". They made sure to let me know that they love me unconditionally and that made me feel tons better! I really wanted to talk more about it to them but I guess they don't really want to hear about it as much as I want to tell them about it so I gave up trying to explain the things that bother me after a while. They did, though, say that if I could wash my hands normally for a month (I've heard that it takes one month to break a habit) that they would reward me. So, when I got home I washed my hands under the sink only once then went on about my business as usual, and here I am touching the keyboard and I didn't have to wash my hands for forever just to feel like I was "clean enough" to touch anything. I hope I can really truly break this "habit" within 30 days, I care little about the reward, since my return to normality would be reward enough. I hope you reply soon, somehow talking to you makes my anxiety easier to handle and I thank you so much for that! ^.^

Last edited by Meroko; 10-14-2007 at 08:49 PM.

Old 10-15-2007, 01:19 PM   #6
Linda in MI
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 28
Linda in MI HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Hi Meroko,

My son's OCD sounds exactly like yours. He is 10-years-old and was diagnosed in 2005. His OCD symptoms started about six months after his grandfather was killed in a car accident. He did many of the same things as you, including not walking in the bathroom (luckily, we have more than one) and not sitting on most of our furniture for almost a year. Plus other things too numerous to list! Like you, he felt that the rest of the family had spread germs from the bathroom all around the house. He has been seeing a psychologist and is taking medication, and has improved a lot over the years.

I know lots of people feel uncomfortable talking about OCD. At least your family was willing to listen to you. It is great to have a supportive family, and, as a parent, I know how they must feel, too. I'll bet they are sad to see you struggling with this. If you can control your symptoms on your own, that is wonderful! But if you can't, don't be nervous about looking into therapy. It has worked wonders for my son.

I wish you continued success with your month-long hand-washing trial. At 17-years-old, you are better able to understand how irrational OCD is than my 10-year-old. Good Luck!


Old 10-15-2007, 09:53 PM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 71
Nicci57 HB User
Re: Please Help: Extreme Hand Washing/fear Of Germs/ocd

Hi Meroko,

I'm 21 and have had OCD for most of my life, but I only realized what it was when I was about 13 or 14. So I know where you're coming from with feeling abnormal and embarrassed and how frustrating it can be to try and explain what's going on with you to your parents. What your parents need to understand or be informed of is that you can't just "make" OCD go away. It has nothing to do with how strong of a person you are, and that is one of the worst myths there are about OCD. I'm not sure how close you are to your family, but maybe they would be more understanding if you gave them some stuff to read about OCD so that they might actually understand what is really going on. Unfortunately, it is often hard for people who don't have OCD to truly understand what it's like for you. OCD is genetic though, so maybe there is somebody in your family who has gone through something similar and just hasn't talked about it before.

Most importantly, you aren't crazy and if this does start to become overwhelming, there are lots of very successful treatments for OCD. If your parents don't really understand OCD, hopefully they will at least be supportive enough to help you to find a doctor or maybe a support group that you need. I still don't really discuss my OCD with my parents, so I realize how hard this will be for you, but being open about it with people who care does make living with these fears a lot easier.

Good Luck!!

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