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  1. #1

    Over-Handwashing

    For a long time now, in the more recent years of my 25 year old life, I've been told that i have OCD, and in 2013, it seemed to come out in the form of germophobia. Now, i feel the need to wash my hands excessively and to clean any part of my body that gets "contaminated" while going to bathroom (or just change my clothes if it's that simple). As a result, i now hate going to the bathroom because of the "procedure" it puts me through.

    For a while, it seemed like no one was really bothered by any of this, though when California went through its water withdrawal or whatever, i knew that some sort of problem was going to wrought by this issue of mine. Then, about a year or two ago, it all got started when my mother told me that over use of hand sanitizer was causing my skin to peel off. While that was true, i still felt the need to use the hand sanitizer, as it was a quick means to get my hands clean for certain scenarios. I've tried to use lotion as a means to keep my hands moisturized, but that only went so far, so my mother suggested that i use regular soap and water for a while, which i did. Near as i could tell, we didn't have much trouble with the issue afterwards (i don't think so at least), but, during this year, things really started to get ugly between my mother and i, and i don't think that they'll ever get better again.

    August had a few issues of its own, but, last month, my mother got upset because i was using a napkin to open a drawer and cabinet (in recent days, those areas have become uncomfortable for me to touch, so, in an effort to avoid having to wash my hands right afterwards, i started using napkins. I was trying to curb my handwashing need) and didn't use the other side afterwards like she suggested. From where i stood, she was asking me to use the side i was touching with my hand to hold things and to put my hands on the end that had the germs on it. When i made it clear i wasn't going to do that, she got angry and called me dangerous to live with, wasteful and stupid. Needless to say, that was beyond hurtful and i spent the next day trying to think of the best way to express how hurt i was through e-mail (it really does feel like i can't speak to her face to face anymore). Her responses kept implying that she showed no remorse for the hurtful words she said and no matter how you try to justify her actions, that just makes me hate her even more.

    Then, when we had to go to the supermarket to do some shopping, i took a little longer than i would have wanted with washing my hands after fixing my hair and face, and she just lost it. She said that she didn't care if i was angry with her, she said that I made her that way. She also said that she was done talking to me and that while i said that the things that she said could never be taken back, what i've done; stressing her out, was unforgivable. She was trying to make herself seem like the victim and that made me want to send her another e-mail to help get how i feel across. This was right before Labor Day and on the day itself, i sent the e-mail, twice. But during that time, i overheard her yelling to herself about me and that just made me feel both angry and uncertain about what comes next.

    She finally came to my room and started to (somewhat angrily) explain that she was only concerned with the way my hands are looking (admittedly, my hand skin is peeling off because of my over-washing) and that she does appreciate that i bought gloves to help me get through this. However, while it felt like we were gonna get through this afterwards, a few days later, a new issue arose. Due to accidents that occurred one day, i had to take a shower twice in one day. The second time was bad because my mother started to lose it with how i was going about it. To the point where she came to the bathroom door, banged on it and told me that she didn't care if she scared me and hurt me and told me to get out. Then, when i did come out and started to recompose myself as it were, my mother came to my bedroom door and told me that i needed to seek a doctor's help because something was wrong with me.

    To be honest, i can see that i have a problem, but i just can't bear to see a doctor about it because, in addition to how much that would cost, it's just... embarrassing. The following day, my mother sat me down and talked to me about the situation we were in, she even told me that i was selfish in a subtle tone and once again pointed out that my reasoning behind my habits (washing my hands repetitively to make sure that they were clean) was flawed. When it was all over, she told me that i had three choices:

    1. Wash with hot water as a means to curb my hand-washing

    2. Seek professional help

    or

    3. Move a non-drought stricken state

    I think we somehow got through that at one point but then another issue came up and another, and the last one was on the second to last day of the month, the day i had a plan for. On that day, i had to take a shower again after an accident and while it didn't seem like that was going to be an issue this time, the problem came when i had to remove my dry clothes from the dryer. My mother asked me if i was going to wash my hands after touching those clothes and i honestly didn't see a reason for needing to do that. However, when i had to deal with an issue with my sheets and put my dog outside, i had to wash my hands then, but when it seemed like i was going too long with it again, my mother lost it again. She said that i should be ashamed of myself, that i lied about my earlier comment and that she is going to laughing when the water finally gets cut off and I'm left without it and food. She then told me to finish up and i wanted to finish up before things got worse, but finally, after even threatening to turn the water off, she just angrily turned off the lights and said that she'll get mad when i do stupid stuff. I then overheard her saying to herself that she doesn't care if i wash my hands off anymore and that she doesn't want to hear any of my "complaining" afterwards.

    I was hoping to avoid her for the rest of the day to avoid things getting worse, but i could only go for so long without voicing my opinion. I sent her it through an e-mail, but her response to that was another rant about my issue and how my logic is flawed and how from now on, i won't have her support in this matter anymore.

    To be honest, i can see that i have a problem, I'm not an idiot, and i want to move passed it. But i just don't seem to be making a lot of progress, and i don't think my mother yelling at me and insulting me is really doing a lot of good. Nor is her threatening to turn off the water or simply giving up on me. I've spoken to a few people on the internet about this, but a lot of them keep saying that the problem is me and not my mother, and i just can't accept that. All of that is why September of this year was terrible

    This month is starting to have the exact same problem and that's bad because October has always been an important month for me; it's the month of my Birthday and the month of Halloween. But how can i enjoy either of those things with the lingering memory of what happened last month still around? My Birthday already felt rushed during the party, and now, who knows how I'll be feeling on Halloween. But any way, that's not my concern at the moment, what is is the fact that when i had to wash my hands after putting my dog outside, my mother subtly lost it during the process and when i finally got out (mostly because i didn't trust her not to turn off the water) i heard her subtly mocking me by quoting my previous attempts to explain myself. Which is another thing actually, whenever i try to explain myself these days, my mother now dismisses it as an alibi and excuse and that just hurts. She's basically saying that she won't hear me out anymore, yet she still expects me to hear her out when she lectures me. I was not trying to make excuses, i was trying to legitimately explain myself as best i could (something i really can't do verbally with her, since she tends to cut me off mid-sentence and not let me finish what i was trying to say). However, like i said, she keeps trying to make herself seem like the victim in all of this, and numerous people online keep saying that she isn't the problem. I don't care if she does do the occasional nice thing, that does not make it okay to say the things she's said and not have any remorse for it. I am not an idiot, i am not dangerous, I am not!!!

    The thing of it is, i really am trying to beat this issue, but my progress is minimal. When I'm washing my hands, i want to make sure that i do it right, in a nice steady motion where there is no issue; such as having the motion be interrupted by my fingers getting in the way. Also, i fear that if my hands bump into something while i'm lathering, they get contaminated again and require another lather to be washed again. This is why i typically take so long in the bathroom and the latter issue also plays a role when i'm showering (that and the fact that i want to make sure that my hands are clean before i try and wash another part of me) and using hand sanitizer (i need to be certain that i never touched anything while i'm lathering or i'll feel like i've been contaminated again). I'm told that showering and hand-washing shouldn't take so long, but, the estimated time required for some reason doesn't strike me as enough. Now I don't think that i know more than professionals, i just can't make that work.

    Let me know if i wasn't being clear on something

  2. #2

    Re: Over-Handwashing

    OCD is not an uncommon problem, fauxname. Any health professional you talk to would know that and nothing you are doing is anything they haven't seen probably many times before.

    The OCD-like behaviors you describe seem to be at the root of the problems with your mother and I think you know she is right. What she is doing is not helping you but she is right about you needing help.

    Go and talk to your doctor as a starting point. There are several medications and cognitive behavioral techniques that are quite effective in treating the problems you describe, but I can tell you that trying to do it all on your own is not likely to be successful.

  3. Re: Over-Handwashing

    I think you deserve to be helped by a professional who can give you the tools you need to control the OCD not the other way around You should not try to fight it all on your own ok it is too hard.
    Words always stay inside ones soul

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