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Hi it’s Phil I am back again. I have had some issues lately with my ocd again. My mother put a dirty washing in the machine and visited my house and touched the coffee table since then I am afraid to touch it I have used different clothes to clean it too. 

And worse so this week she touched her wheelie bin and then came over and visited my house she touched my front door handle now I have the urge to replace the handle or door. People told me use exposure therapy and touch the door handle I did this and touched my phOne it has made things worse and I fear spreading the germs now and want to replace the phone and door. My hands feel tingly I wash them and they still feel dirty?

I have a stag night and wedding soon and I now feel like my life is doomed and I can’t look forward to it anymore. Someone told me there phone fell down the toilet and they still use it this horrifies me but I some how see blocked toilets germs as worse than normal toilet water. Like I won’t buy anything from my work as I block toilets in the shop so I worry the cleaner may use the mop and the germs may reach the items. 

But my biggest issue is the door handle I feel it’s dirty I have been using elbows to open and close the door I know this behaviour can’t go on? Can anyone help?

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Hi Phil :)

Have you had CBT or are you currently having it? I really think that you need some structure to help you deal with your problem. I have contamination issues myself and therapy has helped immensely. Washing your hands doesn't work, in the short term you might feel clean but it ends up where you need to wash more and more and more. The type of exposure therapy you describe is not exposure. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is used as part of CBT, you expose yourself to your fear and then don't do any compulsions at all. So in this instance you would touch your door handle and then refrain from washing your hands and use them completely normally. Your solution was closer to torturing yourself, which was to touch things but then not continue as if everything was fine and use everything as normal. This is an easy mistake to make and I've done it loads of times, you're not alone there :)

If you can't access therapy at the moment then self-help is a must, Break free from OCD is the place to start. 

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52 minutes ago, Gemma7 said:

Hi Phil :)

Have you had CBT or are you currently having it? I really think that you need some structure to help you deal with your problem. I have contamination issues myself and therapy has helped immensely. Washing your hands doesn't work, in the short term you might feel clean but it ends up where you need to wash more and more and more. The type of exposure therapy you describe is not exposure. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is used as part of CBT, you expose yourself to your fear and then don't do any compulsions at all. So in this instance you would touch your door handle and then refrain from washing your hands and use them completely normally. Your solution was closer to torturing yourself, which was to touch things but then not continue as if everything was fine and use everything as normal. This is an easy mistake to make and I've done it loads of times, you're not alone there :)

If you can't access therapy at the moment then self-help is a must, Break free from OCD is the place to start. 

I had 8 sessions of Cbt between summer last year and February this year things got better towards the end I was more positive about not responding to the ocd but over all the Cbt never helped that much. I say that because I am back to square one feeling bad. I have a wedding soon so can’t afford more Cbt until after that and the doctors wont give me Cbt.

The issue isn’t the door as such I am honest to say I would happily clean the door 100 times if it meant I felt some relief, time consuming yes but it would better than me sitting working out how I afford a new door or using elbows to open it. I mean I bleached the door I understand that’s a compulsion but I got advice elsewhere that I could do that.

My problem is I have this issue where I feel something is “forever contaminated” or tainted ruined or whatever you want to call it. Like for example the radiator I won’t touch that due to an ocd issue. The list goes on. I have used text books work sheets books but this is an issue I really struggle with. Some suggested it’s perfectionism but basically I just feel the item needs replacing. I found replacing never helped in the end as I would worry about the new item within hours. When I see the door I see myself transferring blocked toilet tissue germs into stuff I touch and it means they are also ruined. It’s a hard cycle to break isn’t it?

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Yes it's a very hard cycle to break but it's possible :)

So you wash things but they still feel dirty, is that what you are saying? Do you act like they are dirty? By avoiding them, thinking about replacing them etc. If yes then the reason the feeling stays is because you maintain it with other behaviours. It's not perfectionism, it's just that OCD tends to demand more and more until cleaning doesn't feel enough and replacing feels better. It's just all compulsions and all feed OCD. 

Why won't your doctor refer you for CBT? Are you in England, if you are, you can self-refer to your local IAPT. It might be that the CBT you had wasn't of a good standard or the therapist wasn't right for you, so trying again is important. Like I said, getting a good understanding of what is causing your problems is key to getting rid of OCD. 

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How do you know what your mother touched before she got to your house? Are you questioning her? 

Other than that, you took a break but you're right back here with your diary. We get that you are anxious about alleged contamination. Boy, do we know. The question is, when are you going to change your behavior? Because it's not working for you.

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7 minutes ago, Gemma7 said:

Yes it's a very hard cycle to break but it's possible :)

So you wash things but they still feel dirty, is that what you are saying? Do you act like they are dirty? By avoiding them, thinking about replacing them etc. If yes then the reason the feeling stays is because you maintain it with other behaviours. It's not perfectionism, it's just that OCD tends to demand more and more until cleaning doesn't feel enough and replacing feels better. It's just all compulsions and all feed OCD. 

Why won't your doctor refer you for CBT? Are you in England, if you are, you can self-refer to your local IAPT. It might be that the CBT you had wasn't of a good standard or the therapist wasn't right for you, so trying again is important. Like I said, getting a good understanding of what is causing your problems is key to getting rid of OCD. 

Im in Scotland so I can’t do referrals. 

Well yeah cleaning my hands usually makes me feel better but since this front door issue I feel my hands are always dirty. I tried to touch the door handle and I touched my phone never washed my hands but it made me feel worse because I then worried my phone was ruined. Basically toilet water/ blocked toilets or dirty laundry germs make me believe I need to replace stuff. Or if i don’t do that now I worry it’s ruined and I won’t touch the item .

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3 minutes ago, PolarBear said:

How do you know what your mother touched before she got to your house? Are you questioning her? 

Other than that, you took a break but you're right back here with your diary. We get that you are anxious about alleged contamination. Boy, do we know. The question is, when are you going to change your behavior? Because it's not working for you.

Good question well I was visiting her house and she came over here with the food but I was so focused on the food contaminating my worktops that I never gave thought to the door. I never worried about the door for an hour and then the worry came. I have learned that much of the ocd is an after thought. But no this one wasn’t a false thought like the letter box I seen it happen so I worry it’s dirty. And yes another good question well I don’t know I struggle to change my behaviour. I mentioned about the door a few times I believe she touched dog poo and tried my door but I never knew for a 100% fact but it’s possible she has been touching bins in the past and these germs have been around already. But the issue seems to be if I witness something happen that increases my ocd. 

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Take a look at this section on accessing therapy in Scotland on the OCD-UK website. 

https://www.ocduk.org/overcoming-ocd/accessing-ocd-treatment/accessing-ocd-treatment-through-the-nhs/scotland/

You're very wrapped up in all this OCD thinking. Cleaning and replacing doesn't work you've shown yourself that many times so you're going to have to change your behaviour using CBT. 

1 hour ago, Phil19 said:

But the issue seems to be if I witness something happen that increases my ocd. 

This is typical inflated responsibility in OCD, if you see something then you feel responsible to do something about it. You really need to start tackling these OCD problems because they will only get worse. 

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1 hour ago, Gemma7 said:

Take a look at this section on accessing therapy in Scotland on the OCD-UK website. 

https://www.ocduk.org/overcoming-ocd/accessing-ocd-treatment/accessing-ocd-treatment-through-the-nhs/scotland/

You're very wrapped up in all this OCD thinking. Cleaning and replacing doesn't work you've shown yourself that many times so you're going to have to change your behaviour using CBT. 

This is typical inflated responsibility in OCD, if you see something then you feel responsible to do something about it. You really need to start tackling these OCD problems because they will only get worse. 

Yes I am not too stressed about the back door. The inside handle I worry less about as I can’t be sure she touched the inside. The outside handle I just feel is ruined and needs replacing. How can I get to a point where I atleast accept cleaning it is good enough? How can I rid myself of the urge to replace?

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You need to get to a point where not cleaning it at all is good enough.

You reach that point by adhering to sound CBT principles. Most importantly you slow down then abstain from compulsions.

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1 minute ago, PolarBear said:

You need to get to a point where not cleaning it at all is good enough.

You reach that point by adhering to sound CBT principles. Most importantly you slow down then abstain from compulsions.

Yeah I mean I’ve not replaced anything lately but all I do is avoid touching the items. It’s not very practical but my ocd days “if I touch that door handle” everything I touch in say the supermarket will become blocked toilet germs?

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From experience when these situations occur I never forget it’s contaminated and I avoid it for months and think about it constantly. It’s going to be really hard isn’t it there has been the odd thing I forget about but sometimes I have situations where I don’t forget?

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Let's remind ourselves that, in OCD, the "contamination" is in the mind of the sufferer - others don't see that risk, don't feel that fear. 

Why is that? Are they reckless, careless, can't they see there is a threat? 

Well no they don't see a threat, or if they do they see it as something minor, something that OCD is exaggerating out of kilter with the real level of threat. 

And they don't obsessionally focus on it, or carry out compulsions because of it, nor do they feel fear and anxiety (disorder). 

It follows that the aim for sufferers is, through CBT, to learn to see the situation the same way non-sufferers do. 

And they can get to achieve that. They need to:

Believe what the therapist or learned helper is saying, not what the OCD is saying. 

Correctly work through exposure and response prevention. 

Gradually wean themselves off the carrying out of compulsions. 

Accept that recovery will take the time that it takes - trying to set timescales is putting on unnecessary pressure and can inhibit progress. 

Edited by taurean

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1 hour ago, Phil19 said:

Yeah I mean I’ve not replaced anything lately but all I do is avoid touching the items. It’s not very practical but my ocd days “if I touch that door handle” everything I touch in say the supermarket will become blocked toilet germs?

So what if your mind tells you that. Touch it anyway. Touch it a lot. Touch it and then your clothes and everything else.

It's good you no longer replace things but avoidance is a compulsion too, Phil. You have to stop that and start taking risks.

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4 minutes ago, PolarBear said:

So what if your mind tells you that. Touch it anyway. Touch it a lot. Touch it and then your clothes and everything else.

It's good you no longer replace things but avoidance is a compulsion too, Phil. You have to stop that and start taking risks.

What do you think is stopping me? I just don’t like the idea of touching dirty washing or blocked toilets germs. I have this belief that I need to avoid anything that’s come into contact with either. Why did I decide blocked toilets would cause me anxiety? I mean it must be a common issue but I guess other people don’t worry like I do?

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Well, the blocked toilet thing is sort of a separate issue. It's happened to me maybe 3 times in my life. If it's happened more than that to you then you are probably using way too much paper. Then the question becomes why you are using so much paper.

As for why you fixate on those things, who knows. Each sufferer fixates on something, but nearly every person fixates on something unique. Why, we just don't have a good answer. But we know how to fix it!

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We don't need to try and find out why. It's a pointless, possibly fruitless, exercise. 

As PB says, we know how to fix it. 

14 minutes ago, Phil19 said:

What do you think is stopping me? I just don’t like the idea of touching dirty washing or blocked toilets germs. I have this belief that I need to avoid anything that’s come into contact with either.

That's what is stopping you. You (thanks to your OCD) don't like to touch these things. So you are carrying out the compulsion of avoidance. 

We overcome OCD by breaking its rules (I have this fear), doing the things it says we shouldn't. 

And until we are prepared to face, and overcome, that fear by deliberately doing that feared thing, and realising that nothing bad actually happens, then we will stay stuck, living in that fear. 

Edited by taurean

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5 minutes ago, taurean said:

We don't need to try and find out why. It's a pointless, possibly fruitless, exercise. 

As PB says, we know how to fix it. 

That's what is stopping you. You (thanks to your OCD) don't like to touch these things. So you are carrying out the compulsion of avoidance. 

We overcome OCD by breaking its rules (I have this fear), doing the things it says we shouldn't. 

And until we are prepared to face, and overcome, that fear by deliberately doing that feared thing, and realising that nothing bad actually happens, then we will stay stuck, living in that fear. 

Yes offcourse and you are right believe it or not I don’t think anything bad will happen. Infact I could touch it all day long and not fear anything bad. Will the germs harm me? Offcourse not. I touched the handle nothing bad happened.

So that goes back to what’s stopping me I do believe it’s just a dislike of those germs. My ocd decided it was a red zone I had to avoid. The ocd says I can’t tolerate the anxiety I suffer. I don’t fear any harm from germs I fear the anxiety. It makes me regret what happened I play over it in my mind. It’s avoidance and rumination. I read a lot about that but 99% of the time contamination fears in textbooks talk about the fear of harm from germs I don’t have that? It’s a pure dislike for example I hate cheesy pop music, nothing will make me like cheesy pop music. So how do I cure a dislike of blocking toilet germs? This issue goes beyond the door. I won’t buy from the shop I work in as I block toilets there and I worry the cleaner has used the same mop in the bathroom on the shop floor. So my issue isn’t the door it’s this dislike of blocking toilet germs. 

And to answer the previous question I use to block toilets once a week at my parents and I managed to sort it better. I admit it’s a bit of an ocd for me to wipe my backside it’s not uncommon for me to use a whole roll when I go to the toilet. I got rid of the plunger as it was causing me anxiety as you may remember last time. 

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Well we now know how the toilets got blocked. 

So, start a process of learning behaviourally that you DON'T need to use so much toilet paper, and reduce the amount. You do not. 

That will stop that problem. 

OCD loves to make up connections, things that aren't actually real, to further its beliefs. 

So go deliberately buy things from that store. 

There are three main elements to the core beliefs of OCD. Falsehoods, exaggerations of risk and threat, and revulsion. 

Sounds like revulsion is in your mix. 

The way to tackle revulsion is the same. Take it on, do it, keep doing it until the revulsion begins to fade away. 

Here is a simplified example. 

Years ago, affeared of the effect adding two spoonfuls of sugar to teas and coffee would eventually have on my health, my wife sponsored me (with the money going to the needy cause of my amateur operatic society) to manage to drink my next 20 teas or coffees without adding sugar. 

At first the taste without sugar was awful, truly revulsive. But gradually that revulsion eased off (and the wonderful flavour of the tea and coffee - previously masked by the sugar - came to the fore, an added bonus). 

At the end of the 20 cups, I would not have been able to stand the sugar being added - and I still can't. 

And my operatic society received her donation :)

 

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Well yeah I could stop blocking toilets problem solved? But at the moment I am avoiding hotels, work, the door handle due to it. But if there is no danger present why don’t I just keep blocking toilets anyway since well some people don’t care about it? I see toilet water germs and dirty laundry as red zones. I struggle to accept they can be cleaned. If some how bleaching it gave relief I would be half way there? But I’m not I’m not at a stage where I can’t clean. But cleaning doesn’t help I have been looking at new doors again.

Somewhere down the line I decided these germs were too much I mean I Duno why when I lived there I opened door handles touched stuff. There had been no blocked toilet bags on those bins for 4 years but my ocd meant I believed those bins were forever contaminated.

I honestly can’t explain how annoying it is to believe years later something is dirty? I really don’t know how I will break this cycle I mean touching it won’t be the hard bit. The hard hit will be controlling the anxiety and disturbing thoughts I have by touching it. The feeling it’s ruined it’s just awful it feels like my world has ended. I need help because it’s surely not normal to feel this bad due to a door handle or whatever else it is?

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Phil, all OCD sufferers avoid anxiety like the plague. You are not alone. You fear feeling anxious so you avoid things and places. Nothing unique about that. 

What you aren't getting is that your compulsions, including avoidance, are what got you into this mess. Every time you don't touch something or don't go somewhere, you are reinforcing in your mind the faulry belief that there is something wrong. You've been doing it for years and your situation has gotten worse. And it will likely get even worse if you kerp doing those compulsions. 

The only way out, to a morr normal life, is one where compulsions don't rule. You have to take risks and, yes, you have to face your anxiety.

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Sadly I have started to look at front door handles to replace it however I know already if the same person replaces it then it would cause me anxiety as he would touch the old one so may have to find someone to remove it and try and replace it myself not sure how hard that will be. I may delay fitting it to see if I can cope with the anxiety as I mean changing the handle might be complicated but I can’t bear the anxiety I think about it all day long by removing that handle I might be able to not use my elbows to open and close the door again. 

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Changing the door handle will change nothing. 

Changing your response to your intrusive thoughts, on a gradual upward curve, will change everything. 

Your anxiety response will, as PB says, reduce as you wean yourself off a compulsive response. 

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I did enjoy my stag night in the end and I managed to forget the door handle for the evening 

I heard the bar staff mention they wanted a plunger perhaps the toilets block in the pubs quite often too maybe there is blocked toilet germs even at the pub even if I don’t quite think about it happening?

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On 17/05/2019 at 12:58, Phil19 said:

Yes I am not too stressed about the back door. The inside handle I worry less about as I can’t be sure she touched the inside. The outside handle I just feel is ruined and needs replacing. How can I get to a point where I atleast accept cleaning it is good enough? How can I rid myself of the urge to replace?

Phil, the minutiae don't matter, try to understand, even if you struggle to put the tools into practice, that it's all nonsense. 

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