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Old 07-28-2010  
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Default Germaphobe

I feel like my life is getting out of control. I am terrified of germs for some reason and my constant hand washings and avoiding to touch things are driving me insane. I don't know what to do. I'm not scared of getting sick or anything, but I still wash my hands way more than necessary and avoid touching things.

I seem to have two worlds, my clean world and my unclean one. In my clean one, which is basically my bedroom, I can touch anything and don't feel the need to wash. This is because no one else really touches anything in my room. My other world consists of basically everything else and the two cannot mix. Whenever I take my shower at night, I can't really touch anything that the rest of my family might touch without washing my hands. I back away if someone comes near me because I'm scared that they might "contaminate" me. I can't hug anyone or lean back in furniture that isn't in my bedroom.

I'm heading off to college soon and want to leave this behind. I basically ruined high school by being the kid whose always using hand sanitizer and avoids a lot of things. I tell myself that I will just have one world when I get there, but I honestly don't know. I feel like if I have the option to clean, I'm going to.

Some people tell me to just stop, but they don't understand. I get so exhausted from all of this. Even when I watch tv, I see something a character does and think "ew how can they do that and not wash". I think when people use the bathroom, they get their hands dirty, wash them, and use their clean hands to turn off the dirty sink that they touched with their dirty hands. Then they touch everything else. No matter what I do, these thoughts are constantly in my mind and I don't know how to stop them. I get so tired of this and ask myself how long can I keep doing this. I'm scared that if I can't stop, I'll end up killing myself. I don't think I ever would, but I can't live like this forever. If anyone has had the same symptoms and is better, I'ld really appreciate some advice.
mr.germs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2010  
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Default Re: Germaphobe

I suffer from the same thing. I went and got help, and with years of therapy I can honestly tell you exposure therapy works. I wouldn't drive on the same street as a hospital fearing something might fly through my window.

christinecanada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2010  
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Default Re: Germaphobe

Aw, I completely understand where you're coming from! I've suffered from germaphobia/emetophobia and it's one of the most terrible things ever. Especially in the winter months, I'm really horrified of touching anything in our house besides the stuff in my bedroom. It was at its worst 2 years ago, but I still can't touch doorknobs without feeling dirty and disgusting and, as lame as it sounds, crying hysterically.

At one point I was using massive amounts of hand sanitizer and bleach on my hands to get rid of the "germs," but of course that caused my hands to become dry and cracked which was super painful. I know this isn't a solution, but they make sanitizing hand lotion you might be interested in if the overuse of sand sanitizer/just plain old cleaning is becoming an issue.

As for recovery in the long term, though....I'm going to have to agree with what the person above said about exposure therapy. It's really difficult to ward away the evil thoughts that things are dirty and could make you sick, but it's totally worth it. I would suggest making your first step not washing your hands before putting a stick of gum in your mouth, preferably in public. Then move it up to placing a small piece of food on a counter top that people touch often and eating it. When you see that there's no ill effects from doing this, you'll become more confident in yourself and you'll be able to become less and less tied down by your fear of germs.
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Old 07-31-2010  
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The weird thing is I'm not scared of getting sick and I know some of the stuff is ridiculous. I know a lot of the things are just as clean as the stuff I think of as clean to touch without washing. I really have no problems with eating anything "dirty" or anything like that. It's just after not washing my hands, etc. I get anxious and feel physically sick and the only way it goes away is if I wash my hands or whatever. It's been easier to just wash my hands than feel sick to my stomach over the years, but it's just gotten too crazy. Since I'm going off to college, I want to start new and not let people know how I am.

I can go a whole day "normally" with no problems as long as I shower before going into my room and using all the things I think are clean. Like I play baseball. I get all dirty and all that stuff, but am fine. I only get crazy when I get home. It all comes down to my two worlds. I don't know why I get so sick to my stomach when my "dirty" world and "clean" world mix.
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