Jump to content
Amd80

Asbestos fear please help

Recommended Posts

Hello

i am terrified I have exposed my young sons to asbestos.

over the past few weeks I have been getting parts of my house tested for asbestos, just to be sure. It's got so bad I've been having a test a week. All results have come back negative.

But by my act of having all the samples, I am scared beyond belief that my house has been contaminated. About 3 weeks ago I had samples taken of the plaster in my youngest's room. Yesterday I was cleaning and found the top 'zip' piece of a plastic wallet on the floor in his room, with clear scissor marks at the bottom - the wallet had obviously been cut off.

i immediately panicked as I recognised the top of the bag as being a sample bag used by the asbestos company those few weeks previously. I contacted them and the manager apologised and said that what I had found had been dropped by the asbestos  inspector when he had needed to access new sample bags. He said the scissors wouldn't have been used for samples, just to access the bags.

i am now in turmoil, to the point where I can't function or interact with my children. I am so frightened that the scissors used to access the bags might have contained asbestos debris which would have transferred to this piece of plastic on my son's floor. I am now convinced my sons have been exposed to asbestos for the past three weeks and have a death sentence hanging over them.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated

amanda 

Share this post


Link to post

I can only repeat what I said on the other forum (to another person with the same problem?).  Takes a long exposure to asbetos to be contaminated to the point of actually suffering from it.  If you are in anguish and panic, take your sons to hospital where they should give them oxygen and do tests. Then you will have the absolute certainty that there is nothing wrong.

MES

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Amanda. Welcome to the forum. :welcome:

You clearly suffer from obsessive fears around asbestos and have been doing compulsions which keep those imagined fears active and intense. 

Everybody who's been on our forums a while will confirm reassurance doesn't work. It may seem to help in the short term, but instead it feeds your OCD thinking. Soon the doubts creep in again and you need more reassurance, like an addictive drug. So other than countering MES's reply by reassuring you there is absolutely NO need to take your sons to hospital over this, let's set the reassurance-giving aside and instead look at some facts.

Having your house tested for asbestos is a once-in-a-lifetime task where there is known to be possible asbestos used in the fabric of the building. It's unnecessary in recently built homes in the UK; not even once, let alone doing weekly tests.

This repeated testing is boosting the test company's profits without any benefit to you or your family. Worse that that the testing fuels your belief that there is imminent and real danger present which requires you to take action in order to protect your children. This belief is false.

It's the disordered thinking of OCD which has convinced you there is a genuine problem and has you believing the scissors or plastic test bag carry a significant risk in themselves.

This same disordered thinking has convinced you the solution to your fear is to carry out compulsive behaviours such as repeated testing and avoiding normal interaction with your children.

The problem here isn't a risk to health from asbestos. :no: 

The problem is you're having obsessive thoughts about asbestos and your interpretation of those thoughts has created a skewed perception of risk. 

The compulsions you're doing are aimed at preventing perceived risk, not actual risk.

So the problem is the disordered thinking of OCD, not the asbestos. And the solution is to get your thinking back on track, not to test the house, or to take your sons to hospital for tests. 

Getting your thinking back on track is done with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Have you had any CBT previously or are you currently seeing a therapist for your OCD?

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, MES said:

I can only repeat what I said on the other forum (to another person with the same problem?).  Takes a long exposure to asbetos to be contaminated to the point of actually suffering from it.  If you are in anguish and panic, take your sons to hospital where they should give them oxygen and do tests. Then you will have the absolute certainty that there is nothing wrong.

MES

Hi MES and welcome to the forum. 

I can see you mean well :) but there is a problem with your reply.  :unsure: 

First it attempts to offer reassurance (that the health risk from asbestos comes from long term exposure not short contact.) While that is correct, it's not in the recipient's best interest to be given this kind of 'factual' reassurance. The problem in someone suffering OCD generally isn't a lack of factual knowledge, but disordered, obsessive thinking about whatever topic or theme happens to make them personally anxious. 

Unfortunately your second piece of advice is completely off-base. :dry:  Rushing to hospital when OCD tells you to panic simply feeds the belief there is a genuine risk and strengthens the grip OCD has rather than diminishing it. OCD cannot be treated by pandering to the fears it creates as if they were justified concerns.

Even if Amanda was unfortunate enough to listen to this advice and sought the reassurance of hospital tests, I can guarantee it wouldn't give her the absolute certainty she craves. No amount of reassurance will ever satisfy OCD doubts. :no:   The obsessive thoughts recur and because they weren't challenged last time, the cycle of fear, doubt and uncertainty starts up all over again. 

Don't worry about 'getting it wrong'. It's allowed in newbies. :) People who hang out on the OCD-UK forum for a while soon learn what OCD is, how it works, and how we can overcome it using CBT. Maybe you'd like to start your own thread and introduce yourself? Perhaps the forum users can help you with your own OCD.

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Snowbear

Thank you for your very helpful and kind response.

My main guilt now stems from the fear that I was advised not to have all the asbestos tests done, yet my fear and inability to cope with uncertainty, meant I gave in to my obsessions. Without exaggerating, I must have spent about £1000 on tests as they aren't cheap! I have felt temporary relief but even as the guy doing the test was leaving my anxiety started again, and I would often find myself calling back to request another test that very day!

My overwhelming desire has always been to protect my family but I now feel that in my quest, I have actually put them at risk by allowing tools that have actually sampled asbestos into my home. I think I have put my boys at more risk than they would have been otherwise. I have never seen any of the asbestos guys decontaminate their equipment whilst in my house, which makes me wonder whether they have been spreading asbestos into my house.

With regards to the plastic cover, I feel my world has come tumbling down. Who knows the cleanliness of the scissors used to cut the plastic bag. How much asbestos fibres would have been transferred from some unclean scissors? And I feel guilty that I have only found the plastic after the weeks, thereby increasing my son's risk as he obviously sleeps in this room.

i genuinely don't know whether my thinking is skewed or not.

amanda 

Share this post


Link to post

We've ALL given in to compulsions. Every one of us. Don't beat yourself up over it. Simply draw a line under everything that's gone before and start again from now with a guilt-free, clean slate. :) 

The first step is recognising when your behaviour is a compulsion, driven by OCD thinking and OCD fears. Then you work on resisting those compulsive urges in future. 

38 minutes ago, Amd80 said:

I now feel that in my quest, I have actually put them at risk by allowing tools that have actually sampled asbestos into my home. I think I have put my boys at more risk than they would have been otherwise. I have never seen any of the asbestos guys decontaminate their equipment whilst in my house, which makes me wonder whether they have been spreading asbestos into my house.

This is evidence of skewed OCD thinking; imagining contamination from tools and believing in the possibility of contamination being spread from item to item and from house to house.

41 minutes ago, Amd80 said:

Who knows the cleanliness of the scissors used to cut the plastic bag. How much asbestos fibres would have been transferred from some unclean scissors? And I feel guilty that I have only found the plastic after the weeks, thereby increasing my son's risk as he obviously sleeps in this room.

The feeling your world is tumbling down comes from ruminating; endlessly wondering about the scissors, the bag, the delay, the risk... trying to reassure yourself you've taken adequate precautions etc. 

Common to all contamination OCD thinking is believing you're worrying about something physical (in this case asbestos fibres being transferred from one surface to another), but what's actually going on in your head is an idea. The idea that risk can be spread from one item to another. Which is nonsense. 

Accept that fear (risk) can't be spread by contact with a physical item and hopefully your brain will start to realise that all these thoughts around the scissors, bag, not touching your children etc are all about containing the uncomfortable feelings of fear, not about preventing the spread of real asbestos fibres. But fear is an emotion and therefore can't be contained physically. It can't be sealed in a bag or washed away. 

Fear (and guilt) are dealt with by thinking about the problem in a different way, which brings us back to CBT. 

Have you considered reading a self-help book that explains OCD and gives advice on how to stop giving in to compulsions? 

Share this post


Link to post

Hello again Snowbear

I have been suffering with OCD for about 20 years and have had CBT on and off throughout that time, with varying degrees of success. Problem is, I moved areas and that meant moving away from my excellent psychologist - subsequent ones have been a waste of time unfortunately.

My issue at the moment is that I can't see the whole plastic packet/scissors issue as an OCD issue.. the more I think about it, the more I think there has been a genuine exposure and that just makes me feel sick to my stomach as I love my children so much and couldn't bear to have harmed them in any way.

Thanks again for your responses, they do help.

Amanda 

Share this post


Link to post

Amd, I strongly advise you to reread snowbear's excellent responses again. You're stuck on something ridiculous because you keep ruminating about it over and over.

OCD latches onto something insignificant and sounds the panic alarm, fairly screaming at you that there is a huge problem. But OCD lies, all the time. It's never a huge problem. It's always made up. There's nothing real about it. Unfortunately, sufferers react to that panic alarm by doing compulsions, which never help the situation. Compulsions make things worse, reinforcing the faulty belief in your mind that there is something very wrong.

Take a step back. Try to relax a bit and try to start to realize that you are chasing a ghost. The risk doesn't exist.

Share this post


Link to post
12 hours ago, Amd80 said:

the more I think about it, the more I think there has been a genuine exposure and that just makes me feel sick to my stomach as I love my children so much and couldn't bear to have harmed them in any way.

There's the problem in a nutshell. :dry: 

First - all that thinking about it is ruminating. A compulsion.

The more ruminating you do the more you strengthen the feeling there is something genuine to worry about, and the more worried you feel the more convinced you become that you were right to worry. It's a viscous circle, with thoughts, the way you interpret those thoughts, and the feelings that result all feeding off each other. Sometimes it's referred to as the 'viscous flower' which makes sense when you see the diagram!

image.png.8f0ea1f932a2f217c65afcbb87d304d0.png

The way you jump from thoughts of asbestos to the idea this means you might have harmed your children is a good example of what's meant by negative interpretations.By interpreting even the faintest trace of exposure as 'harming your children' you're setting yourself up to HAVE to do compulsive checks - or else you'd consider yourself a neglectful parent. Notice I said consider yourself, not that you'd actually be neglectful. Huge difference. 

Interpreting your thoughts in this way pins the welfare of your children to your anxiety. In other words you've told yourself the only way to be an adequate parent is to be constantly feeling this awful anxiety. The result is inevitable - you stay hypervigilant and refuse to trust any evidence that says there is no risk and it's ok to relax. How can you relax if relaxing equates (in your mind) to 'bad parent'? 

Nobody who's thinking straight would define not harming your children as needing to be permanently stressed and anxious! But that's exactly what the disordered thinking of OCD has led you to conclude. (The D stands for disorder.) Even though you wouldn't define it like that in your conscious mind, that's how these ruminative thoughts, interpretations and feelings all spinning round your head make you react  - as if the thought that needing to be anxious to prevent harm was true. 

When you change the interpretation, the outcome changes. 

Challenge the disordered (OCD) thinking, which made a false link between harming your children, asbestos, anxiety and vigilance, and replace it with a true interpretation of what it means to be a good parent. 

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you both for your considered responses, especially Snow bear for your patience - I know it can be irritating talking to someone who keeps going back to the same worry, it's just the need for 100% certainty I suppose.

Can I ask your advise on one other thing that has upset me today - fairly, I found a small spanner in my dining room and, guess what, a sample was also taken from that room at the same time as my son's bedroom! Of course I am now worrying that the spanner was used by the asbestos company to take the sample and that they left it behind. I asked my husband and he says he recognises it as one of his own spanners, but I don't know if I can sit with this uncertainty. It might be one of his, but just what if it's not? I really don't know why my husband would have left a spanner in the dining room, it doesn't make sense. Should I email the asbestos company to see if it's one of their spanners?

Amanda 

Share this post


Link to post

Think about this: all the compulsions you've done, the multiple tests, the hours of ruminating... do you feel better today because of them? Of course not. You want the compulsions to take away the anxiety you feel but it never works. So stop the compulsions and switch your focus onto the fact that OCD has been lying to you this whole time.

Share this post


Link to post

No I feel pretty awful. I think it's because it plays on everything I hold dear, my family, and if I think their health has been put at risk it really increases the upset to almost unbearable levels.

I haven't emailed the company but I feel very worried about the spanner i have found. It most sound ludicrous to someone without this worry!

amanda

Share this post


Link to post

Polar/Snow bear and others -

Sorry to post again but I'm feeling really bad this morning.

In the night I was worrying that the bit of plastic was the top of an old sample bag which the inspector had cut off to access the contents of the bag in the lab. I then worry he hadn't disposed of it in the lab and it had found its way into our house in his toolkit or pocket, dropping out and exposing us to asbestos fibres.

i feel so terrible, there did seem to be some sort of debris and dust on the plastic when I picked it off the floor.

Really need some help, I genuinely can't cope with this and every time I look at my son I feel guilty. 

I gave into my compulsion yesterday (not about the spanner though) and asked whether they decontaminated their tools. I've received no response and this has made me worry further.

Amanda

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

This is all OCD at work.

You've got to stop contacting the company asking questions. It's a compulsion and is only causing you more distress. It's not solving anything.

As for the bit of plastic, let it go. 

Overall you've got to get a handle on your compulsions. Getting tests done and emailing the company are obvious compulsions but I'm betting your biggest compulsion is ruminating. Thats going over the thoughts of contamination in your head again and again. I imagine you think about asbestos all the time. Thats a compulsion and it needs to stop.

These compulsions are feeding the OCD monster, allowing it to grow and cause more problems.

CBT is the way out for your situation but you really have to hunker down and do work for it to be successful. You have to change your thinking and your behaviors.

Share this post


Link to post

Whenever I try to move on I suddenly remember about the plastic and the fact it was there for 3 weeks and I become unable to think straight, I just feel sick to my stomach.

Please tell me, to someone not involved in this worry, would you be concerned about it or does it sound irrational to you?

Amanda

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, Amd80 said:

to someone not involved in this worry, would you be concerned about it or does it sound irrational to you?

It sounds completely irrational from the point of asbestos risk. 

As a fellow OCD-sufferer, your concern is understandable to me when viewed as OCD.  But it's still not rational. 

Just as you'd have clear insight that my personal OCD hangups were completely irrational,  we can see with ease that your worries over this are completely irrational. 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you Snow Bear

The company told me that their tools are all cleaned after use to avoid cross contamination and they have offered me an air sample test for reassurance. Why would they offer this if there was no risk.

i feel like I am trapped in a nightmare and have subjected my son to a death sentence which he wouldn't have had if I had never had the surveys done.

Amanda

Share this post


Link to post

Don't do the test. It would be yet another compulsion and would only prolong your agony. It wont help. Youll soon distrust the results, youll think they didn't test properly, and the nightmare will continue.

OCD is lying to you when it says there is a huge risk of asbestos in your home. There isn't. OCD lies, all the time. This is all made up but it's being perpetuated by your irrational fear and your compulsions.

You need to shift your focus away from asbestos and onto the real problem here, OCD.

Share this post


Link to post
6 hours ago, Amd80 said:

they have offered me an air sample test for reassurance. Why would they offer this if there was no risk.

Because the test company aren't trained psychologists. :no: 

They are taking your OCD at face value, trying desperately to think how they can reassure this obviously anxious client. :unsure: They won't be aware that offering to test the air could fuel your worry instead of ending it - and how can you blame them for assuming reassurance would be a good thing when you yourself  thought doing tests would reassure you? And you know about OCD and how it works!

An air sample test won't reassure you any more than any of the other tests have done. 

Remember, what's going on here is nothing to do with asbestos risk. This is all about how the way you are thinking about the world makes you feel, nothing whatsoever to do with the actual world, reality or risk. Keep reminding yourself of that fact when you feel the temptation to do more tests.

When you're well and thinking normally again you'll look back on this episode and wonder how you could ever have interpreted things the way you're doing now. However real it feels, keep in mind that you're dealing with feelings, not reality. You can't prove or disprove a feeling. You can't turn a feeling into certainty or fact. 

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you to you both, your replies have really helped me to cope with my high level of fear over the past few days.

Amanda 

Share this post


Link to post

Hello

Sorry to post again on the same topic, please bear with me. 

I can't believe it, I was hoovering up tonight and what do I find but yet another plastic wallet under an armchair in the living room. This time it was a full wallet, not cut into. The only sample I have had taken was a few weeks ago by a different asbestos company.

I am now in turmoil, how can two different companies leave plastic wallets, where could the wallet have come from?! It feels like the risk has now doubled. The wallet just seems to be empty but I am scared it is an old asbestos-containing sample bag.

please please help me

amanda

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×