What is a day in the life of a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like? I suppose it depends on what form the OCD takes. I once read an account of a man who was obsessed with battery acid. If he thought that he heard a car backfire in front of his house in the middle of the night, he had to go out and scrub the street. I am glad I don’t have that phobia!
What I do have is the form that people probably think of first when they hear the term OCD – microphobia, also known as germophobia. Yes, I am afraid of germs. Unlike some sufferers of this disorder, I am not housebound, in fact, I hold down a full-time job. How do I do it? Throughout many years, I have developed different coping mechanisms to deal with everyday encounters and ordeals. Here’s a sample of my day at work.
7:57am – Spritz hands with alcohol after touching doorknob. I keep a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol. It is my quick, economical, and easy-to-use hand sanitizer. It dries quickly and doesn’t leave a film.
8:05am – Remove plastic wrap from keyboard. I cover it with plastic every night when I leave so that I won’t have to clean the keyboard every morning.
8:10am – Wipe down desk with napkins soaked in alcohol.
8:20am – Wipe down phone with alcohol.
8:25am – Touched paperwork and spritzed fingers with alcohol.
8:26am – Spritzed fingers with alcohol.
8:28am – Spritzed fingers with alcohol.
8:38am – A rare thing happened – I resisted the urge to spritz. I decided that I really didn’t brush the side of the tissue box with my fingers.
8:39am – Sprayed the arm of my chair with alcohol.
8:40am – Tossed the first tissue I pulled from the box today. The tissue might have been touched by the janitor. That is why I have to do a lot of my cleaning and spritzing – the janitor comes into my cubicle at night and I never know for sure what he may have bumped or brushed against. No offence to the janitor, but he probably just came from cleaning toilets and who knows what he brushed against in there.
9:09am – Spritzed arm of chair
9:12am – Grabbed papers from printer; spritzed hands
9:26am – I was handed paperwork by a “non-washer” – a person I know to leave the restroom without washing. Gross! I had to spritz my fingers. I would love to actually wash my hands, but to survive and keep my job, I settle for spritzing.
9:46am – I rubbed alcohol on a couple of keys on my keyboard.
9:53am – Poured alcohol over my hands after handling paperwork. I don’t always have to use alcohol after touching paperwork. I don’t if it’s fresh off the printer – sometimes. Since I now share my printer with a non-washer, I often do spritz.
It is exhausting just documenting this. And this isn’t even close to a full day, it’s only a couple of hours. So, knowing that I will skip events from time to time, here are some other episodes from the same day.
10:17am – Panicked when I unintentionally touched one finger to the keyboard tray. I can keep the keyboard clean but not the tray. I used towelettes and alcohol on a napkin to wipe my fingertip eight times.
11:18am – I finally had to use the dreaded bathroom. The sink area is far too contaminated to use, so I wear gloves in the restroom so that I won’t have to wash afterwards. Still, when I get back to my desk, I pour alcohol over my hands for insurance and to remove the residue from the vinyl gloves. Then I wipe it off with a napkin. I also use napkins to open and close the doors in the bathroom. I don’t use the paper towels in the bathroom – they are handled by the janitor. I tuck any napkins that I can’t roll up in my hands into my shirt.
So my arsenal for getting through the day mainly consists of rubbing alcohol, vinyl gloves, moist towelettes, napkins, and plastic wrap. Another crucial tool is the sandwich bag For quick and hopefully easy tasks, I use little plastic sandwich bags as miniature gloves.