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Sat Apr 17, 2021, 10:49 PM

After COVID-19, a fear of touching things

Due to COVID, I have developed a strong, irrational fear of touching stuff.

Background: Mild depression (easy to handle) and undiagnosed fear of being around people. I live alone and am retired (I retired from teaching because of COVID). Outside of aspirin and wine, I don't take any medicine. I am, however, fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.

When COVID became a thing last year, I followed the advice I read and saw and disinfected everything delivered. I never went to stores. Except for perishables, all delivered items went into a closed off porch room for a week. When I went somewhere, I would wipe down my car, leave my shoes on the mat, disinfect everything in my pockets, throw my clothes in the washing machine, throw my mask in a designated sink, and take a hot, very soapy shower. I would disinfect my hands between each of those steps, and remember what I touched from door to shower so I could disinfect later.

I know from my reading that scientists have found that all that crap isn't necessary. I also know I'm fully vaccinated. But I still can't stop my annoying deep cleansing and fear of touching stuff. Even after I go take the garbage out, I do the shoes, clothes, shower, disinfect thing. If I don't, I feel creepy.

I know it's a bullshit thing. But it's hard to stop. I don't want to pay for counseling if I can help it. I'm sure a counselor would direct me to engage in small steps to break the habit, something like exposure and response prevention for OCD. And I'm trying. Today, I opened and ate some just delivered food without cleaning it or microwaving...something I would never do previously. I was very uncomfortable, but baby steps.

Has this happened with anybody else, or is it just me? And I am open to any advice you all may have.

Thanks!

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Reply After COVID-19, a fear of touching things (Original post)
teach1st Apr 2021 OP
FalloutShelter Apr 2021 #1
teach1st Apr 2021 #3
Buckeye_Democrat Apr 2021 #2
teach1st Apr 2021 #6
Buckeye_Democrat Apr 2021 #10
oregonjen Apr 2021 #4
teach1st Apr 2021 #7
SheltieLover Apr 2021 #5
teach1st Apr 2021 #8
SheltieLover Apr 2021 #9
PoindexterOglethorpe Apr 2021 #11
teach1st Apr 2021 #12
PoindexterOglethorpe Apr 2021 #16
Rorey Apr 2021 #13
teach1st Apr 2021 #14
Rorey Apr 2021 #15
mahina Apr 2021 #17

Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:00 PM

1. I was following much the same precautions, but have been weaning myself off.

I am still not comfortable with being in stores...etc. My friend Tom, who's partner has a late stage cancer cannot bring himself to stop all of the washing and disinfection. You are definitely not alone.

I too, am fully vaccinated as is my friend, and both of our spouses. I guess it is just going to take time.

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Response to FalloutShelter (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:03 PM

3. I have never been comfortable in stores

I was using Instacart long before it was cool.

It's good to know I'm not alone. Best of luck to you and your spouse and friends.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:01 PM

2. I'm not a mental health expert, but...

... I think your "baby steps" approach is probably best.

Just keep reminding yourself of the latest scientific evidence and that you're vaccinated in the meantime.

It's not a horrible policy in regard to other contagions out there, but could be simplified to washing your hands after touching various objects in regard to most of the other microbes as well.

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Response to Buckeye_Democrat (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:05 PM

6. Thanks!

Since I stopped teaching and went into the mask and clean thing, I haven't had one cold even. So yeah, increased handwashing.

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Response to teach1st (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:14 PM

10. I'm still washing my hands more frequently...

... than I did in the past, but try not to overdo it. I'll wait until all of the new objects are put away, avoiding getting my hands near my face in the interim, then wash my hands thoroughly after it's done.

No cold or flu over the last year for me as well!

And remind yourself that many contagions don't remain viable for very long outside of a host.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:04 PM

4. It's not just you, I'm reacting the same way

We are just two days in from our second dose. We still disinfect everything that comes through our door. I walk daily, with a mask on and am dodging others as much as possible. Itís going to be hard to break all of those habits. Right there with you, teach1st.

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Response to oregonjen (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:07 PM

7. Thanks, oregonjen!

Here's to baby steps and the mask will stay on for a long while. I do take it off when walking near the water on windy days if the walkway isn't too crowded.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:04 PM

5. Perhaps your rigorous diligence has kept you healthy?

Unless you are uncomfortable with your routine, then dob't change it.

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Response to SheltieLover (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:09 PM

8. I can't prove it hasn't

I was fine with the routine, but I feel I can skip some of it now that I'm vaccinated. It takes like forever!

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Response to teach1st (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:13 PM

9. I know exactly what you mean!

These precautions are deeply ingrained & heavy with the emption of fear.

Please be gentle with yourself.

Also, the variants are supposed to be much more contagious. Something to consider.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:18 PM

11. I'd say, just do what you can to get over it.

This virus is NOT spread by touching things. Sort of like your skin won't turn another color if you shake hands with someone with a different skin color.

There's a sanitizing theater going on that all too much like the security theater at airports. Both of them are almost completely unnecessary and don't accomplish anything at all. Doing all that wiping down was NEVER needed, and we knew that almost immediately. So, just stop. I mean it, just stop. Don't disinfect everything, don't shower after you take out the garbage. I mean, really? Resume living a normal life. You'll actually be a lot happier.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #11)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:23 PM

12. I read an article from July in The Atlantic about hygiene theater yesterday

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/scourge-hygiene-theater/614599/

It's what prompted me to take steps to stop. I'm not sure I can cold turkey, but I am determined to get out of the theater.

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Response to teach1st (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 18, 2021, 12:30 AM

16. I'm glad you've read that.

I hope it helps.

My usual grocery store got rid of the things to separate your groceries from the person in front or behind (I'm sure there's a word for that thing but I can't recall it) because of "sanitation". Which is not only bullshit, but makes keeping different people's stuff separate a huge pain.

Also, if you're outside, say walking in a park, you really, really don't need to be wearing a mask. Nor do you need it if driving by yourself in your car.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:45 PM

13. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this

I think you're on the right track with taking things a step at a time.

I've been mildly germaphobic for years, and I think I'm unlikely to change very much, but for me it's really mostly a food thing. Oh, and I also am a laundryholic, but I've made great strides in that area.

My kids and I joke about some of my OCD tendencies, and I've worked hard through the years to try to overcome them. I was doing pretty good until this pandemic hit, but I have noticed that I've been reverting back to some of the perfectionism that I worked so hard to overcome. Marie Kondo doesn't impress me much.

Good luck. I think you're over a major hurdle just because you recognize that you have a problem and want to change it.

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Response to Rorey (Reply #13)

Sat Apr 17, 2021, 11:55 PM

14. Thanks for the support, Rorey!

I've always been a cleany when it came to my classroom, but not really at home, not even when my daughters lived with me - that is, until COVID.

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Response to teach1st (Reply #14)

Sun Apr 18, 2021, 12:27 AM

15. I was just remembering

A lot of years ago, when my favorite husband was alive, I remember that he wanted to help me fold laundry. I was very picky about how laundry got folded. I remember him sitting there, asking me to show him how I folded something, and he proceeded to do it exactly as I wanted it until he got to the very end and then he'd mess it all up and just laugh his butt off. He kept doing that, and I had to accept that I was being ridiculous with my perfectionism. We had small children and I also worked, and I really couldn't do everything all by myself. Being a perfectionist is very time-consuming.

Anyway, I just started making myself ease up on things. Bit by bit, I realized that the world wouldn't end if everything wasn't uniformly folded, and if the cabinets weren't perfectly organized.

I sure do miss that guy. I hadn't even thought about that folding story in a very long time, so thanks for spurring that memory.

This COVID thing has messed with our minds more than a lot of us realize. There are scenarios that I hadn't even thought about that we're going to have to face, like having our humans visit us in our sanitized homes.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sun Apr 18, 2021, 02:43 PM

17. Our minds want something they can actually control in all of this mess,

Right? Be gentle on yourself, good luck.

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