This Germ’s On You- Is it germaphobia or O.C.D.?

During a recent altercation with a YMCA shower, I looked down at the pristinely tiled floor and thought, “Thank god for immune systems, bleach, and shower sandals!”.

Being a germaphobe is hard but necessary work. I’m not one of those faux phobes who squirt little bits of hand sanitizer around and make themselves believe they are permanently defended from a Mars-like superbug. I take precautions like quarantining a section of the house when someone is ill, which also requires wearing a construction mask. I also will not touch soiled dishes in the sink unless they belong to yours truly. When I was little, I did not played in dirt or sand at the beach. My mother spoiled me and made life much easier for herself by toting around a playpen. A 5 by 5 contraption that was fenced in with just enough air to breathe and let in just enough light to keep me aware of my surroundings. I honestly do not think I had a fully successful childhood until I touched the ground when I was enrolled in Vernon public schools at the age of 9.

I think it’s safe to say I never really left the womb. I always had some kind of bubble encapsulating my physical being or thoughts. It is until this day I encounter this innate habit. Really, if it was not for public school, I would probably be a flying nun somewhere in the middle of “The Sound Of Music” Alps.

Despite living with such oscillating pet peeves, I have managed to downgrade my condition from germaphobe to temperamental precautionary. I have my wonderful boyfriend to thank for part of that. He was able to poke through that bubble and slowly coax me into hyperbaric chamber of normal life. (Just goes to show that not everything is cured with a pill!)

I know the things mentioned above sound pretty detrimental to living a normal life any way, but honestly it was much, much worse. I now share food and drinks without a second thought. I wash my hands regularly, but not to the point of experiencing chapped skin. I touch animals with bare hands instead of gloves. I also do not incessantly clean my car steering wheel with Clorox.

I will be honest it is a daily struggle, just like with any ill-formed habit or addiction. I encounter criticisms from family members and stunning “pats on the backs” from outsiders when mentioning this. I used to see defending myself as a positive until it became life consuming. Now, I know how to achieve balance and Feng Shui my every day life. So is it really O.C.D.? To my knowledge, O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) entails repeating a certain action or actions over and over again. (slamming the door 8 times, brushing your hair 107 strokes, or beeping your horn for 3 minutes at a time)

I’m pretty sure I can blame 90% of my persona on my mother and creating a synthetic womb in the real world for me. The other 10% involves failure to adapt to outside stimuli due to society’s scare tactics. (I have noticed a serious pattern with 1st born children and their umbilical cords still being attached to parents. I attribute that to their fear of not being able to raise a child successfully.)

At this point in my life, I have graduated from play pen but am not quite at bare feet in the dirt. Fact is, if someone came up to me tomorrow and rubbed dirt all over my body, I would probably shower with bleach. (So please, DO NOT get any ideas…)

I know there are other adults out there who live with variations of germaphobia. Some mild, some severe. Then you have the scums of the earth, like Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen who I’m sure have writhed at the thought of washing the scent of their many seductresses off.

I’d say the time to seek expert advice is when your daily life is compromised. Also, if many people begin to notice your unusual habits, you may want to take the serious pill. Denial is easy when looking in the mirror. Problematic realizations are best served in the form of a serious conversation with someone trusted and end with a glass of “oh wow. something really is wrong.” I am referencing O.C.D. (obsessive compulsive disorder), and if you are not careful enough, that shot of denial that you take every day when looking in the mirror will turn into a soul-consuming prison.

Some references to consult:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

http://www.ocfoundation.org/

http://www.nobledrugstore.com/blog/diseases-condition/tackle-germaphobia-symptoms

http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Germaphobic-You-15564042

Peace, love, and cleanliness within reason!

~C.C.D.

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