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  1. In truth, there's no particular hand hygiene needed after feeding the cat.....unless you're feeding it my hand. As you're finding already, this obsession is already creeping to more items that could be sticky and is likely to do more and more so. There isn't a problem with any of these things, only with the belief you have associated with them. As Bismah has asked, are you getting any help with addressing the OCD?
  2. In the past few days, my symptoms of OCD seem to have aggravated, since I used to feel safe after something has been disinfected, but now I would be sensitive to the tiny pieces of dust (like the tiny fabric threads from cleaning cloths) left behind after wiping, because I would consider those as potential hiding spots of the virus that I have failed to cover. I would then have to repeat the disinfection process until there is no such thing in sight. I have searched on the Internet, and most of the information points out that the coronavirus can only live on surfaces for up to a few days. One of the publicised articles on the US CDC website, SARS-CoV-2 and Surface (Fomite) Transmission for Indoor Community Environments, states that "data from surface survival studies indicate that a 99% reduction in infectious SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses can be expected under typical indoor environmental conditions within 3 days (72 hours) on common non-porous surfaces like stainless steel, plastic, and glass", and suggests that this 72-hour estimate is likely to be greater than the figure in reality, because that estimate is derived from experimental settings where conditions were sort of optimised for the survival of the virus. Therefore, there is actually no need to worry about the contamination of objects after a few days have elasped, since the viruses would have all died out automatically by then, if they were even there in the first place. I have been trying to get a bit closer to normality. I put some of the things that I have taken away back where they used to be, so that I could give myself a feeling that things have at least largely returned to how they were. I have been searching online for places where I may visit during the weekend, and I also plan to join a friend in travelling somewhere, so that I can overturn the situation of always being stuck in the flat and shift my focus to more interesting and meaningful things in life. I have tried to get back to practising what I study to sustain a relatively normal life as well as to distract my attention from the obsessions. And above all, I have contacted the mental wellbeing service of my university and a talking therapy provider to see what kind of support I may receive from them. I think things will get better over time. Although it may be difficult for the symptoms to be eradicated, it is possible to live with some of them at manageable levels.
  3. I think I have had similar thoughts in the past at certain points, but eventually, I chose not to dig too deep into it. Understanding why you were the "lucky" one doesn't make any meaningful sense to your life. Fundamentally speaking, even causation itself is nothing more than the summary of the coincidences in this whole wide world. The explanation itself is actually an outcome of the results that are already there and cannot be altered. This is just the principle of nature and nothing more complicated than that. Just focus on who you are right now and enjoy your life for what it is.
  4. Yesterday I recevied a notice by my housing agent that an engineer was to be sent to my flat today to inspect all electrical appliances for their safety (the PAT testing). They said this is a legal requirement and cannot be avoided. I specially asked the housing agent to let the engineer inspect my flat first, because I wanted to supervise the process while I would still be in. Today the engineer came at around noon. She was wearing a mask by herself when she dropped by, and I gave her some hand sanitiser upon entry. I was also wearing a surgical mask myself the entire time and kept the windows open. However, I still failed to conquer my fear for this virus, especially after I noticed that the engineer was sniffing a little bit. So after she left, I put away 3 electrical appliances that I felt hard to cope with onto the top of the fridge freezer, and spent the whole afternoon disinfecting all the other relevant surfaces in my flat. I even mopped the floor with bleach too, as I was worried that there might still be a minor residue of droplets on the ground. I feel really bad because I spent too much time on this and do not have time to study and practise, which causes a vicious cycle.
  5. Hi Gemma, Thanks a lot for the information you provided. Currently I have made a self-referral to one of the mental health services in my city, and I am planning to have an appointment with my GP over the next weeks so that they may refer me to other sources which may provide help. As for medication, I have been taking fluvoxamine meleate, also commonly known by the brand name Luvox, under the prescription of the psychiatrists back in China.
  6. Hi Angst, Thanks a lot for your reply. I have started to try taking things the easier way with ordinary precautions when I'm outside, though the steps I have been taking may still seem small at the moment. For example, I try not to stay excessively distanced from other pedestrians in the street with my mask on. I still avoid people who are talking or so and places that are crowded, but I seem to have gained some assurance that it is generally fine to come across people as normal. I have been double-jabbed before departure for the UK in China, with our domestic inactivated vaccine by Sinopharm, which has also been approved by the WHO. I think what I fear most is not really contracting the virus myself, because I know that wearing masks, maintaining social distance and practising hand hygiene are actually enough to prevent infection, and even if I were infected, I would most probably have mild symptoms and recover soon. What I am afraid of is the sense of loss of control and the guilty feeling of potentially spreading the virus in the environment. For example, if something related to me may have been potentially contaminated, like my clothes, my official documents or a facility in my flat, I grow very anxious because I would feel that I will be bringing the contamination onto other personal belongings, where the viruses will always remain and tag along with me in the future days, which is unbearable to me. I would also fear bringing such contamination out into the public, because I would feel that all the repurcussions that arise therefrom will be on my account, and it is uncertain who may come into contact with the viruses and what will happen. I just can't tolerate that feeling of risk and uncertainty, even though these may be minor. On one hand I would think, OK, there's no need to worry about that, but then on the other hand, I would think, oh man, how can you neglect such an apparent threat you may be accountable for? This may sound ridiculous and self-contradictory, but that's exactly the source of my tension.
  7. Hi, folks. This might be a familiar topic for many of you, but I suppose it is still quite different from what most other stories may sound like. I am an international student from China who has come to study in a postgraduate programme here in the UK. Back home, I was diagnosed with OCD as early as in senior high, although I can actually recall having similar symptoms in elementary or even way before that. One of my major fears, as it is with numerous fellows, is contamination, especially with regard to pathogens, which, not surprisingly, include coronavirus. Some of you may have heard about how stringent the preventive measures are in China, where we have had very few local cases after the very first stage of the outbreak. Therefore, the fear for this virus existed inside of me yet was far from everyday life, so there was no chance it could be activated. However, as I had no choice but to leave that comfort zone to further my studies abraod for my personal prospects, that fear started to grow real and distinct. I even suffered sleeping problems during the months before my departure, which were so serious that I had to take sleeping pills from time to time. What is quite peculiar about me is that while I may also become worried about being harmed by the germs myself, the majority of my fear is derived from the feeling that I may be spreading them consciously yet unvoluntarily, expanding the scope of contamination in the environment. I am very scared of that sense of uncertainty and loss of control. For example, if there were something in my possession that I feel may have been contaminated, I would feel that if I don't do something about it and simply continue to touch and use it as usual, I will be bringing the virus everywhere I touch thereafter, which would result in an overwhelmingly unbearable mess. I would feel that I shall be held accoutable for all these consequences, and other people would be potentially at risk of infection, which would all be my fault because I did not get rid of the contamination when it was only affecting me myself. That guilty conscience drives me to be extremely sensitive and cautious, or even paranoid. To give you a real example, a few weeks ago, I went to the university service centre to collect my BRP and student card. During the process, one of the staff members at the counter happened to give a sneeze, and she subconsciously covered her mouth and nose with her hand. She then rammaged among the letters in the drawer to get my BRP card for me. Although the staff member was wearing a cloth face covering when she sneezed, I still grew very tense and anxious, because I thought that if she had been infected, she could be passing the virus onto my personal documents with her hands. After I returned to my flat, I disinfected the BRP and student card with alcohol, and even sprayed the enclosed letter totally wet on the floor until it dried up. However, I was unable to do so to my passport because it is so important and this could damage it. Therefore, the passport has remained a source of contamination for me since then. I wrapped it up in plastic bags and placed it inside a carton box in one of the drawers. Although it has been around 3 weeks since then, I still do not dare to touch it. I keep searching online for how long the virus can survive on surfaces, but whatever answers do not seem sufficient to address my concerns. And unfortunately (a strange word for this, huh?) enough, I will have to use it next week for my police registration, which further adds to my existing anxiety. This is just one example of the countless things that I encounter throughout my daily life. Besides that, I always remain extraordinarily vigilant when I go out, because I am very scared that people may contaminate my clothes with droplets as they walk past me talking, coughing or sneezing – in fact, I do not usually go out unless really necessary. I spend a lot of time doing cleaning work in my flat, but there never seems to be end to it. I want to live like my peers, who are also concerned about the virus but lead generally normal lives with ordinary protective measures like wearing masks, but I just can't.
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