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Help. Contamination OCD.

(19 Posts)
Waffle25 Sun 03-May-20 22:57:53

I have a 4year old and a 1 year old since my youngest was born I’ve been suffering with post natal depression and contamination ocd. I’ve been to the doctors and he’s prescribed me sertraline and counselling but can’t start that until the doctors surgery is back open.
Every day is a struggle, obviously covid 19 is not helping my situation but has anyone else experienced this? I can’t bare feeling like this any longer
What do people do to ease the urge of compulsions? My arms and hands are cracked, sore I’ve even got a sore and a blister. I hate it.
I can’t see me ever overcoming this as my main fear is contaminating my children, so how am I going to get better? I’ve heard exposure therapy is the best treatment but how am I ment to do this as I feel I’m risking making my children sick? I feel like there is no way out

OP’s posts: |
savehalloween Sun 03-May-20 23:19:23

CBT might help, along with the talking therapy you've been referred for. So try and break it down into smaller pieces. You need to get through this period, to get the full help on offer to tackle things.

How long have you been on the sertraline? Is it working for you so far?

It takes a few weeks to kick in and you may need to tweak to dosage after that, so stay in touch as best you can with your GP about that. For what it's worth it really helped me once I got the dosage right.

This is such a worrying time without OCD in the picture, so just remember how well you're doing by getting through this.

How are you managing with lockdown? Do you take the kids out ever? Shop etc? Do you have support with those?

savehalloween Sun 03-May-20 23:20:28

* support with shopping

DatingDickheads Sun 03-May-20 23:48:03


Just wanted to let you know you are not the only one feeling like this.

You have sought help which is great, I can’t comment on the meds as I’ve only ever been prescribed fluoxetine.

Exposure therapy is the best treatment in my opinion. It’s worked for me in the past.

I’m 42 and I’ve had OCD since i was 5. I was in control until coronavirus. Now I’m struggling.

I too suffer with contamination fears and this mostly surrounds my children. It’s an awful, awful thing!

Its bloody hard but you have to try and get off the OCD wheel. Even just a tiny little bit. Baby steps. One little win against OCD is momentous!

I talk to myself. In my mind and out loud - out loud only at home! I tell myself to stop what I’m doing and tell myself why to stop - I.e. my hands are clean enough, it’s my OCD telling me to do it, no one else does this. It’s hard and the anxiety this causes is horrible but it does help.

Can you try an online CBT course? There are lots of good resources out there for OCD sufferers.

I really feel for you. It’s such a hard time now when all we are hearing and seeing is the message to wash your hands! My OCD smiled when this happened! I had stopped the compulsive hand washing for about 3 years then bang! It’s back!

There is a way out. And you will get out of this nightmare! It’s hard but it’s worth it. Be kind to yourself.

If you need to talk, I’m here. Xxx

planningaheadtoday Mon 04-May-20 00:00:01

This was me after my second baby was born. I knew I was 'wonky', my logical brain would argue with my illogical thoughts. But i struggled to overcome the intense urge to sterilise everything and my hand were cracked and bleeding from washing them every few minutes.

Fast forward 20 years and I do have good control of my fear of contamination, it rears itself if I'm very tired and anxious but I can squash it usually.
My fears seem to be the new normal with Covid!

I was put on fluoxetine for a year which helped 20 years ago.

Exposure has helped since.

Find a place you know is safe.
Say for instance your lounge.

Go through in your head the possible risks this room could pose to your child with regards to your need to sanitise.

Then take one example and think through this risk.

When this particular thing happens, do not rush to rectify it. Take some deep breaths and count to say 10.

Then reevaluate how you feel about the threat.

If you can, count to 10 again.


The idea is not to rush to sanitise. This only reinforces your need to do it as afterwards the relief you feel is the reinforcement to continue with this behaviour. You are trying to break this pattern.

It's uncomfortable. The key is to think through the things that make you feel uncomfortable. Then you can distinguish between what really needs cleaning and what is satisfying your need to sanitise.

Some things will need sanitising, for example hand washing after using the toilet or before eating. But logically, not much else inside your home.

Can you make an appointment to speak to your GP. You might need something to help your anxiety to get things moving in the right direction.

planningaheadtoday Mon 04-May-20 00:03:29

Sorry, I've just re-read and realised you are already on medication.

Waffle25 Mon 04-May-20 07:31:47

Thanks for all your reply’s.
I’ve been given a CBT login and to do things online but with two little ones I’ve found it abit hard to find the time to sit down and do it properly. However I’ll try again.

As for the lockdown I’ve been nowhere my partner is still working so I’ve been sending him for shopping and staying in with the kids I’ve been out with my little girl to take her on her bike a couple of times but that’s about it
Which is probably not the best thing by staying in but when I think about going out I think right I’ll have to wipe door handles, the pram, get a shower and wash my hands before I leave so in the end I leave it..

The main thing which is affecting me is the bathroom, I feel like there is poo everywhere obviously there isn’t but I mean what I can’t see, I dread when my little girl needs the toilet but obviously try and fight my thoughts so she doesn’t become scared of going the bathroom, I feel like the taps are contaminated the soap pump is dirty I feel like even walking in the bathroom I’m going to walk through the rest of the house and contaminate it
I’ve started going to the toilet washing my hands and washing them again downstairs so I feel clean, I’ve been getting several showers a day which is ridiculous but I hate the feeling of being dirty and the only way I feel fully clean is to get a full shower But sometimes I still feel my finger nails are dirty. Even putting washing in the washing machine I’ve been getting a shower after, it’s as if I’ve just got it in my head that dirty things go in there so it’s dirty. It’s horrendous

As for medication I’ve been on it for just over a month I had a few weeks on 50mg and then I got told to take 100mg, I can’t say I feel any better? Should I? I read it can take up to 12 weeks to work?

OP’s posts: |
Waffle25 Mon 04-May-20 09:04:33

I’m scared that it’s gone on so long now that I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not
I’ve got up this morning and my partners been doing household things to help me and he cleaned the toilet last night obviously washed his hands but then started hanging my clean washing on the line and now I feel like I need to re wash it and start again

OP’s posts: |
DatingDickheads Mon 04-May-20 10:13:20

Hey, firstly the washing is fine. It doesn’t need rewashed. Let your husband help and do things. It’s really important you don’t take over from him.

I could honestly have written your post. I used to be terrified of poo! I was convinced it was everywhere in the bathroom and it was contaminating everything and everyone. But it wasn’t and it didn’t. I am here to prove that. I lost too many years worrying about poo!!! The thing is.. if it’s not the poo to worry about it will be something else. So the only way to tackle this is to treat it.

OCD is a bully and we have to stand up to it. You will get better... I have and I’ve had it for a long, long time.

I have to be honest and say my OCD did have an impact on my kids. Horrible to admit but it did. And I’ve had to turn that around too. Please don’t think that it will be the same for you - I was debilitated with OCD - but it’s worthwhile remembering so you can try and get hold of this before it really affects others around you.

I think staying in is best. There is no need to put extra strain on yourself if it’s not necessary.

Can you try little steps? Little triumphs? The more you don’t give in to the compulsions and the more you see it’s actually ok and nothing bad happens the easier it will all become. I know how hard it is when you feel dirty and you just want to be clean but it’s worth it in the end.

I’m sorry I don’t know about medication. Can you call your GP?

Waffle25 Mon 04-May-20 12:04:04

Hiya, thanks for messaging me back I feel a little better hearing that I’m not the only one
It’s nice to chat to someone.

I feel so pathetic I never in a million years thought this would happen

I think the main trigger was when my youngest was 4 months old and my friend came to see us and give us a stomach bug (even mentioning this makes my skin crawl) but we all had it someone different each day and it has honestly scarred me

Did you just push yourself not to wash your hands and shower when not needed?
I’m gona start by not rewashing the washing and just having a shower in the evening like I use too
And try not to wash my hands unless I’ve been to the toilet or making food or they are visibly dirty.

Also did you not take any medication?

Rachel xx

OP’s posts: |
DatingDickheads Mon 04-May-20 14:12:52


Chatting about it is good. I really think it helps. Don’t feel pathetic... more people have it than you imagine. I was a master at hiding it, people are shocked if I tell them I have it.

I’ve been prescribed fluoxetine on and off over the years for OCD I’m not sure looking back if it ever really helped me. It maybe took the edge off I really don’t know.

Yes, I just stop myself from repeating compulsions. When my mind is telling me to wash my hands more or again I stop myself. It’s bloody hard and you have to cope with the anxiety but it passes and it’s a win! The more you do it the easier it becomes and the anxiety lessens.

There’s no quick fix unfortunately.

I totally understand why the stomach bug. had triggered you. You want to keep your family safe and you are doing everything you can to not repeat what happened before. I’ve felt the same.

One thing that helped me was to look at the precious time I had lost to OCD. It’s horrible and sad but it made me determined to help myself. All my obsessing and compulsions had lost me precious time with my kids.. what was the point of all this ridiculous time spent keeping them safe if I was missing out on them because I was too busy stressing about showering and keeping us all clean.

You sound like you want to beat this, I’m sure you can. People with OCD are strong as we are in mental battles with ourself.

Be easy on yourself flowers

Sara xxx

Cla20 Fri 23-Oct-20 14:01:19

Hi! I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I just wondered how you’re getting on now?
I suffer with contamination ocd too and it’s horrendous, especially with Covid, and it’s really hard on my family too, I hate it! I always feel like it’s just me, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this xx

lentilsforlunch Fri 23-Oct-20 14:08:37

I am not the OP but as an intermediate step I put hand cream on every time I had an anxiety driven urge to wash my hands (as opposed to a sensible reason to wash them). Which was still a sort of compulsion but broke the cycle plus stopped my hands cracking. I kept a pump bottle of aveeno hand cream by all the sinks in the house. Plus when your hands are moisturised you don't get that prickly dry feeling which for me was a trigger.

Cla20 Fri 23-Oct-20 14:50:45

Thank you for responding, was it really hard for a while not to wash your hands? Did you feel like they were dirty or was it purely the habit? X

lentilsforlunch Fri 23-Oct-20 15:51:53

Hi at the time obvs I thought they needed it. But looking back I was waay too cautious (this is 11y ago btw).

But even at my worst there were always times where I kind of knew I probably didn't need to eg handwash but I did it anyway to make myself feel better and I sort of thought oh I'll just wash them this one more time and I'll sort out the anxiety later. (Same applied to other cleaning habits) But of course that kept me stuck in the loop in the long run. Eventually the penny dropped when I thought one day why am I worried about X and no-one else is? And I realised it was all the compulsions making me obsess about it more than the other way round. I can remember the exact moment the penny dropped actually.

I really feel for you dealing with this in the pandemic. I got better with private cbt and fluoxetine I was on fluoxetine for a few years but eventually came off it and so far am even coping with the pandemic ok.

Cla20 Sun 25-Oct-20 14:50:49

Yeah I keep trying to think like that, but then my brain goes “oh but what if...” and I freak out 🤦‍♀️

I’ve got a doctors appointment tomorrow about medication, I’m really hoping it can help in some way. I did CBT once, but it didn’t really help much! I think I need to try it again though...

Glad you’re doing okay in the pandemic, that gives me hope! X

Bunnymumy Sun 25-Oct-20 15:08:02

I had this in my teens and can only imagine how much harder it is when it is you are worried for.

I remember the compulsions, the fear, the cracked hands.

What helped me was thinking about this - people get sick sometimes, it's all part of life. Is it usually a big deal? No. We get sick and then we get better and our immune systems are all the stronger for it.

How many people, let alone children, do you know that have got so sick from some bacteria that they never recovered? Probably none.

Try to put things into perspective like that. I know ocd has a tendency to then find other things to worry about. But try. I found myself able to laugh at myself for being silly and in time my germ phobia did pass. And ultimately, my ocd in turn fully disappeared. You can do it too.

Another thing you can do is what I call the tictac effect. It wont work for the germ part of OCD but it helped me with the rest. Rather than all my usual conplusions day and night, I would take a tictac first thing and 'as long as I take the tictac, I dont have to do any other compulsions today at all'. Yes its silly, but it's far less time consuming kind of silly than having to turn on a light switch 6 times entering a room or some daft shite.

Try to find humor in things. I know it's hard but if you can laugh at're half way free.

Bunnymumy Sun 25-Oct-20 15:08:41

*when it is kids you are worried for

Bunnymumy Sun 25-Oct-20 15:11:36

Oh and 'I cannot do the other compulsions today because then the tictac (blanket protection) wont work'. After a few weeks of stopping yourself to should be easier. You might even be able to use it with the germ phobia hand washing too but I'm not sure. I suspect that compulsion might be too strong.

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