Anyone struggling with OCD (constantly wa... - My OCD Community

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Anyone struggling with OCD (constantly washing hands)?

Izibella profile image

Has anyone managed to cope with OCD (constantly washing hands and everything you or someone else touches) without using medication or talking to a therapist, and if yes, how? OCD contamination is a debilitating condition and it's been preventing me from living a normal life. I am not afraid of germs, but I constantly feel like every object around me is dirty because someone whose hands were dirty touched it. And I am so stuck in these compulsion rituals that I end up washing my hands and cleaning things literally three hours a day every day.

10 Replies

Hi Izabella, My name is Kaylee, and I struggle with OCD hand washing every single day of my life. I don’t know how similar our compulsions are, but mine are worse at night before I go to bed. My rituals start when I’m having a bad thought and for some reason washing my hands washes away the bad thoughts. I’m not sure why, but also I can barely cook because I’m constantly washing my hands or utensils thinking everything is dirty. It agree that it is a very debilitating disorder. I’ve been on Paxil for years for it, and it has helped some but not much. It mostly helps my panic attacks and anxiety. I’ve never gone to therapy but I’ve thought about it.

Izibella profile image
Izibella in reply to Kbs03

Thanks a lot for your answer. I've started reading about exposure response prevention therapy and I hope it'll help. Hope you, too, are going to find a way to combat this issue.

I have made progress with medication (Prozac/fluoxetine) and a therapist, plus lots of self-help materials (books, videos, podcasts--anything that helps me understand OCD and ways to overcome it). I recommend medication and a therapist if they are possible for you. If not, you can still help yourself a great deal with a self-help program.

Contamination obsessions are fairly straightforward to treat with Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP). Look for materials that use this method and that you can relate well to.

Here's a start:

Izibella profile image
Izibella in reply to MothFir

Thank you for replying. I've started reading about exposure response prevention therapy and I believe the content in the link you sent above will help me too.

So sorry this is happening. I got to this point before I went into a partial hospitalization program and I have to say the ERP for it definitely made me functional again. However, I found it extremely traumatic because I think they pushed me too far and too fast but it worked. I still have the thought of doing the compulsions which sometimes upsets me itself but for the most part I dont perform them. Realizing everything is dirty and no matter what you do you can't get anything clean enough helped as well. Learning CBT helped too. Medication is also key and will set you up for success

Izibella profile image
Izibella in reply to OrchidKoi15

Wow, I'm so glad you've managed to overcome this and reduce the compulsions. When it comes to the ERP treatment, I just can't understand how you can stop yourself from washing your hands when you've just touched something you think is dirty, let's say a door knob or someone's phone, and you feel this strong compulsion to run to the bathroom immediately and rub your hands and everything you touched. Is just strong motivation enough to do this?

OrchidKoi15 profile image
OrchidKoi15 in reply to Izibella

Possibly! It's super super hard but It just takes 1 time to resist the compulsion start start progressing. Starting off with baby steps such as making yourself wait 5min after touching to wash, if that's to hard just thinking about not washing after touching it and sitting with that. Soon enough you'll be able to expand to 10min, then an hour, then not at all. However they pushed me to wait to wash then I wasn't allowed to wash at all ALL DAY! I lived in panic for a few days but then I realized that nothing bad was happening and it got better. I hope this makes sense

Izibella profile image
Izibella in reply to OrchidKoi15

Yes, it makes sense. I'm going to try to do the same although I know it'll be very hard to resist the compulsion. But I have to put an end to this. Thanks a lot for your advice

MothFir profile image
MothFir in reply to Izibella

I will just add that it has helped me to think rationally about what constitutes normal behavior before I am triggered. Have a plan for how you will act. You should decide you will limit handwashing to 20 seconds, or eliminate it completely after some activities, or whatever--but come up with a doable protocol. Expect that you will be very uncomfortable when OCD shows up during a trigger and says it's not enough. Attribute that feeling only to anxiety and realize that it has nothing to do with cleanliness--you're just battling a mental compulsion that has no purpose. That's easier than thinking you're battling a real threat from dirt or whatever, and it's easier than trying to figure out how you will behave after you are triggered (when the default is usually to do whatever OCD says, because you can't reason clearly during a trigger).

Izibella profile image
Izibella in reply to MothFir

That's great advice. I'm going to do my best to think more rationally and attribute all triggers and compulsions to anxiety and my learned rituals. I hope it'll help me take control over my OCD.

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