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Lundi_Hvalursson

OCD with handwashing and soap

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I have had this issue since I was a child in that I kept getting all sorts of viral infections, especially colds, flus and viral gastroenteritis. I built up a big fear from the probably over 100 viral infections that I got by the time I was in my early 20s. One week after my 23th birthday when I was studying in the UK, I caught viral gastroenteritis which destroyed me for about two weeks. Since then, I have always washed my hands vigourously with soap for long periods of time. Often much more than just ten seconds, sometimes one minute or even five minutes. Almost always with warm or hot water. I get very anxious when I am in a place with no soap in the toilets, such as public toilets or toilets in certain restaurants.

However, since I washed my hands obsessively like this I have caught much less viral infections of any type. However, my hands are often semi-scalded, sometimes with cuts due to the basic solution of the soap. So basically it is one bad traded for another bad. Does anyone have this type of OCD due to past painful experiences? I want to continue my streak of having avoided viral infections much more than before, but I want to stop scalding my hands in the process. As well as paying very high water bills.

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I used to have this issue.  I worked in the drive thru of a fast food restaurant and I was the one handling money.  I would wash my hands every time right after touching the money.  My hands would be cracked open and bleeding in the winter so sometimes I would hand back change with bloody hands so the customers got fed up with me.  My OCD isn't nearly as bad now.  I stopped doing this by standing up to my mind and refusing to do it and sometimes I would purposefully go around the whole day with very dirty hands.  To stop these rituals we have to at some point say enough is enough and refuse to do them.  It's the only way because otherwise our mind sees what we're doing as something helpful but it's not really helpful.  If we let it take full control of us we will get so bad we can't even leave the house.

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I can certainly empathize with what you wrote,  Lundi based on my own life experiences. 

Right now, my OCD is controlled by medication. 

I had it really bad about ten years ago.  The memories of it are still vivid.

I hope you will be able to find what helps you be in the place you want to be.  

Wish I had some great wisdom to share with you, but sadly I am at a loss.

- epictetus

 

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Exercise was what really helped me with my OCD especially cardiovascular exercise.  That's something that actually works.  It is a big help for anxiety which is what fuels this nightmare.  Our mind thinks the rituals help but in reality it just keeps stringing us along.  The rituals never end and never really calm our minds.

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