Since secondary school I have always hated getting my hands wet and touching certain materials, I would later learn I have OCD. My mum used to think I was just trying to get out of doing household chores but I truly hated it. I thought it was just me, or that I was just strange.
Years later I coped my own ways with doing everyday things. After a shower I had to put a hand lotion on and sit until it has all soaked in, all through the day if I touched something that had felt funny I had to instantly put my hand cream on. Gloves to make the bed, hand cream after a can of coke you name it I had a way to avoid it.
Two winters ago, I wore my usual winter gloves then the weather got warmer again and I didn’t need them. This is when I realised I had a problem, something wasn’t right, it was so much more worse and I couldn’t bear to take them off.
I went to the GP, he couldn’t make sense out of what I was saying – must have seemed so strange to someone on the outside not in my shoes, but he did refer me to have cognitive behavioural therapy.
At my first appointment I was so nervous; I thought that they wouldn’t ‘get’ what I’m saying. I sat down and explained my everyday life. The lady sat and listened, asked questions and she said to me that I have OCD, a phobia and anxiety. I didn’t quite believe her at first, phobia? How could my hands feeling funny be a phobia? I mean people are scared of spiders and heights not touching things, right?
The more she explained to me that I do anything to avoid a situation thus resulting in OCD behaviour it made sense. I came out of my first appointment confused, yet relieved that someone understood me and the help was there if I wanted it. The lady said it would be hard but something I had to do if I wanted to change.
So that’s that then, I had to do this. I couldn’t carry on as I was, I had to change for my children.
I got set little tasks I had to do at home, eg do the dusting without gloves, read a magazine without using hand cream, and making the bed without gloves. All the little things that everyone else does without a 2nd thought I spent so long trying to accomplish them. I had to totally re-train the way my brain was thinking – which is not easy.
I realised how far I had gone to avoid these situations and it wasn’t a nice feeling. I hadn’t realised that on some days I put on my hand cream up to 20 times a day, which was explained an anxiety circle, I was working myself up constantly.
Slowly but surely I was able to practice doing the small things which in time got easier.
It was then time to move on to the big things. I had to try and take a shower without putting cream on afterwards, put wet washing out on the line, wash my hands. Only having 6 weeks this was something I had been left to do at home, I knew what I had to do I just had to do it and get used to it.
18 months down the line I have managed to maintain the little things, when the colder weather comes I struggle more, but as long as I can maintain it and not go back then I am happy. I don’t feel overly confident about trying the bigger things right now, it’s too much when some days I still struggle with the smaller things.
Now I rarely put hand cream on, which is a big improvement from 20 times a day. I have OCD and have had so for 12 years now and know it’s not something that’s going to disappear overnight but I will one day beat this. I don’t know whether it will be 2 years down the line, 5 or maybe another 12. But I’m determined to not let my hands and head rule my life.
This inspirational post was written anonymously by a mum who is a member of my Facebook mums group. I have full permission to share her story. If you can relate to this post and would like to share your own anonymous post please contact me.
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