OCD: Contamination: Clothing (Topic#046)

This topic came to mind over the weekend when “Joe” and I were going to sit on my bed to watch some old Star Trek TNG. And I had to first excuse myself to put on a different pair of pants because I won’t wear my “outdoor” jeans on my bed.

This all started in a very easy, straight-forward way: Allergies.

Equine Love

Equine Love

It started in about fifth or sixth grade when I had a pony. My dad was highly allergic to horses and it was the rules that I come home and immediately change, separate out any “horse” contaminated clothing for the laundry and jump in the shower.

As the years progressed, my own allergies to horses became terrible. It was very important for me to keep all “horse” items separate from anything else. I’d break out in a rash if I so much as touched a “contaminated” item.

By high school, my feelings toward “clean” versus “dirty” clothes were quite strong. Even for clothes that were not necessarily “horse” contaminated. Even the floor beneath the dirty clothes pile felt “contaminated”. If the clothes were dirty, they couldn’t so much as bump into “clean” clothes or said “clean” item would have to be washed as well. I remember panicking once because someone had pushed my dirty and clean piles together and the anxiety was too much. I rewashed everything.

At its peak, I would have to change out of my clothes as soon as I would come home from being in the “public”. If I had had to use a sleeve to open a doorknob or anything, I would remember and be careful with that area of clothing until I was able to go home and change. Ditto for my jeans — sitting on a public chair or brushing into a public doorway or anything like that meant being very careful not to touch those parts of my pants until I could go change. Obviously nothing could be re-worn.

I can’t say for sure when/how this relaxed. I know that at some point I had three piles: 1 for absolutely needs washing, 1 for an intermediate status (possibly I could wear something again, as I hadn’t worn it for very long or just around the house or whatever), and totally clean. These 3 piles couldn’t touch at all. Even if I’d only worn a sweater for a couple of hours inside of the house, there’s no WAY I could hang it up in the closet/ let it brush against “clean” clothes.

I’m so relaxed about all of this now-a-days! It’s amazing to consider. Get this:

  • I re-wear clothes now, sometimes even when they are definitely dirty
  • My “dirty” pile and “intermediate” pile are one-and-the-same, for the most part (okay, sometimes my chair becomes piled with “intermediate” clothes)
  • My “dirty” and “clean” clothes can bump and it’s totally fine, no anxiety
  • I do not change out of my clothes after returning home from the “public”
  • I no longer think much about parts of clothing that bumped into “public” things

But, to bed! Clean clothes / pajamas only. I do re-wear pajamas for up to 2 or 3 nights in a row, depending on if I sweat during the night or not (sometimes I wake up drenched in sweat and freezing cold; I don’t know why). Fresh socks only. When I’m re-using pajamas, the nights have to be in a row. If I wear them once, set them on the bed, forget they’re there, wear a different pair the next night, and later find the first pair, forget it. They’re “dirty”.


6 thoughts on “OCD: Contamination: Clothing (Topic#046)

  1. As someone with OCD I used to change clothes several times a day whenever I felt a certain article had been “contaminated”.

    What I found helpful was that if I held off on doing so for long enough, the urge got weaker and I could overcome it.

    I wish you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

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