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OCD, it keeps happening

Will I ever beat my OCD? I have a peculiar type of OCD which is related to contamination. Largely based around inhalation of chemicals such as Asbestos and/or other fibres. I think something happened in my past (knowing people affected) and also working in the science medicine area which also gives me to tools to research and some might say obsess.

My fear or obsession I think is largely around proving that I will be safe and won't succumb to one of the really nasty terminal diseases that afflicts people often in the industrial space.

Generally I have become very sensitive to chemicals due to allergies that I have and obviously my knowledge (no ego here, rivals some experts), because the obsession drives me to expand my knowledge. So anyhow, what do my behaviours look like. Typically it goes something like this:

1. Some Trigger Event, maybe being in a building with contaminants. (Obsession)
2. Need for re-assurance that I have not been exposed or the levels are tolerable. (You might call this the ritual)
3. Shut down until I can get 2, if I can get it.

Some basically it could be anything. The more unknown or known the worst. Hell it doesn't seem to matter what it is, unless "I know" for sure its harmless. For example Table salt or such like, but the problem is my mind gets stuck in 2. Endlessly trying to prove that I or those around me have not been harmed.

Now I know some conditions, toxicology really well. Of course, there are billions of chemicals and always something new and challenging. But I'm finding this is now getting worse as I have a newborn and recently married and no matter what I do to keep the family safe always something is there, whether it is the smoking neighbours or use of chemicals.

More example of OCD triggers

Most recently found that some cigarette smoke was coming in from a neighbour so I sealed up the house with silicone. I took some precautions, its relatively harmless (rational according to the instructions), but of course was stinky for a while and kept people out of he way, but of course, for me this is not enough because whilst they were largely not around, they were still in the same house. So now, I go back to step 2 (from above) and replay every single angle, work out the toxicity, harm, issues, exposure levels etc. Of course, I CANNOT prove that baby is safe and thus experience intense feelings of anxiety, guilt, shame, stupidity etc. Maybe we don't know these chemicals are dangerous, just not enough testing, perhaps not all chemicals were tested.

Basically anything airborne causes extreme anxiety. Any new smells or un-familiar exposures or familiar but known such as smoking creates extreme stress and can kick off a phase if i cannot get to 3. above by proving that I will or they'll be okay.

I'm not risk avoidant

I did get this diagnosed as OCD, i didn't believe it at first, I thought I should be washing my hands 1500 times a day as the stereo-type goes. But I have come to accept that something in me triggered or was already there, the OCD. I'm pretty outgoing and do some risky things, I'm not shy, but I do pull my hair (not out). but I tend to play with it. As do I pick at my cuticles. I just put it down to boredom, like I need some additional stimulation.

What I've tried

It was a CBT person that recommended that I go down that route for OCD, I then moved away from that area, he was good, but I didn't believe him it was OCD that much. I thought it was rational to do what I was doing, I'd been doing it for 20 years. I then tried the Brain Lock book which was good. My problem is am relapsing, I'm finding it hard to deal with the frequency of events, recently its been smoking (public and near the home), wood dust, and silicon above just yesterday. I'm exhausted, have a new baby and my wife is extremely tired and does not need me in this state.


What to do?


Re: OCD, it keeps happening

Hello @ocder

I cannot offer a solution ... text ...but I found your post very interesting and reflective of the LIMITS of our modern sense of responsibility/control and limits in what can be achieved by knowledge and effort.

I share some of your traits but am also quite different.

Once we are responsible for a baby the reality is hygeine and air quality does make a difference.  The fine line between healthy thinking and obssessive pathology is not so clear cut.


I also hear the diligence involved.  You are right your wife and child need you to function at your best so they can also thrive. Excess control may be counterproductive and rob baby of opportunity to develop a good immune system (enabled by exposure to pathogens).

Could you map out some of the issues and develop mental and physical boundaries ,,,, that reflect your families needs.

Could schema therapy be of help ?? ... building solid schemas may reduce the level of anxiety or agitation.  

You are not the only person I have heard who has used silicon like that ...

It is also core stuff of life.

I dont need to tell you to take care.

Hope it helped to share.

Smiley Happy

Re: OCD, it keeps happening

Thanks for your kind reply. Yes, its kind of hard to be me, I often say Ignorance is bliss because not knowing can be a great deal easier to live with. So thats one of the downsides to having knowledge. 


OCD is worse now I have a family.


I did not anticipate that the OCD would get worse with the baby, because now there is a new threshold of safety and things I could tolerate, that she (the baby) cannot. So I've been hyper about things. But the cruel aspect of this OCD is that it can seem like the Universe is against you and set out for punishment. Damned if you do and damned if you do not. So if I do nothing, I worry, stress, if I do something, I have a new worry and a stress. The self punishment is incredible and it seems best laid plans fail. I'm thinking now that I have to have a "Zero tolerance" for  DIY or such like. It's better to move, pay someone else then deal with the stress, Crazy, but just the feeling, I've done some this before, hiring people, but then I think "Oh I can do this", and then I screw up, not because its a bad job, but because I cannot be "clean" about the way that I approach it, which means zero risk. 


The bizzare thing is, is that having this OCD is like having a time machine. Over 20+ years of this, my mind picks out issues in any process and says "that wasn't done correctly" and thus, now I'm more at risk then I orignally thought. I'm always the 1% guy, pushing the unlikely scenario and I can do this for days, weeks, months and even years to prove that I am safe. 


Breaking and Entering for OCD...


I once illegally entered a property I used to rent to sample a bit of the wall for absestos because I could not stop obsessing over it, I did try legal means, and politely asking, but having OCD means face value is NO value. So I broke in, masked up and took a sample. It was negative, but I needed to know, because I could not cope with the past years of anxiety. Weird I know, but to me, many years ago, I had no idea this was OCD, I just needed that sample.


Time wasted


Of course, researching, re-assuring, which I now understand to be the compulsive part takes a vast amount of time. Really vast. People think I'm weird, nuts because my personality changes and I cannot help it. I just need that level of re-assurance.


Cannot trust oneself


I cannot be trusted to do anything. Already I stopped doing professionally anything lab based because I could not be sure of my safety, Wont often even walk into a lab unless I know what's in there. Because in the past I've obsessed over what I may have been exposed to! Crazy huh!


As for a map, I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but obviously my intention is based around keeping family as safe as possible. So if that goes amiss, I feel very very bad. It even happens in the medical situation (knowledge can be great), but it also comes with a price that I'm not happy with people's token answers I need often more then the OP knows. I don't get my kicks from being correct. I want to be re-assured that often I am wrong, but I'm trained on evidence, so there is the problem. 



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