Without a doubt, this chapter is very personal to me as it describes one of the biggest, strangest and soul destroying moments of my life. Throughout this chapter you will see why I decided I needed to help myself.
What you will read next details a situation my OCD put me through. I have written it as if I am there now, but also as I see it now. Now, I’ll say this with up-most certainty: it’s OK to laugh, please do. In fact I laugh regularly about it. But, at the time, it messed me up royally, was confusing and somewhat detrimental to my life.
To put you in the “scene”, I was up in London working on a contract with one of the biggest sports organisations in the UK. I loved working there, I got on with everyone and of course; I was doing what I do best, programming. While the times I detail below are not 100% accurate, they are pretty close, as I wrote them down on the train home.
Let the doom and gloom begin
In the summer of 2010, after finishing up a module I was working on, I decided it was time for a cigarette break, so I headed outside to enjoy my reward for such an accomplishment.
With one hand clutching a can of Diet Red Bull and the other holding a Mayfair smooth, toking away, enjoying the cigarette and pleasure of my accomplishment I realised I needed the loo. So, I put my cig out and headed to the toilets.
The toilets at this organisation are pretty big. There are 5 cubicles and some urinals. First things first, I washed my hands as I always do before touching my bits after having a cig. You see, I may have touched my lips, if I had anything on my lips, there is a possibility that I will pass it on downstairs. This is a no, no to me. On top of that, all door handles and items I had touched before going to the toilet may also have been contaminated.
I turned the tap on, wet my hands and lathered them up with soap. I grabbed the first three paper towels out of the dispenser so that I didn’t touch a piece that someone else who hadn’t washed their hands correctly may have touched. I threw them into the bin, washed my hands again, including the handle of the tap, another wash round my hands with the soap, rinsed them off with water, turned the tap off, dried my hands and finally headed to the toilet.
This is one of my rituals associated with my OCD, my hands have to be perfectly washed to prevent spreading of germs and harmful bacteria.
Getting into the toilet was a simple task, I nudged the door with my foot until it opened, got in and closed it with my foot. I didn’t need a dump, so I didn’t bother locking it, it’s far too much effort and I would have been prone to mistakes, which is something I didn’t want to go through as my cig break was almost over and I needed to head back into the office.
Usually, if I need to lock the door I would have taken three pieces of toilet paper from the dispenser and flushed them down the toilet right after I removed the paper towels at the sink during my usual ritual. Come to think of it, to observe this would be, well, interesting to say the least.
After releasing the fluids inside me I put everything away and escaped the cubical. At which point, someone came in and headed to the urinals, unzipped and let the fluid flow. I headed straight for the taps, a little self conscious that the guy may see my ritual, which is not a nice thing.
Anyway, tap on, hands lathered up and washed, three paper towels binned. Crap! Hurry up! The guy that was taking a leak has finished and is heading this way. OK, wash my hands, and the tap, then my hands again then stop the tap. At this point the guy that had his junk in his hands had gone over to the tap next to me, rinsed his hands with just water, turned the tap off and grabbed some towels, dried his hands and walked out of the toilet.
You have got to be bloody kidding me! This was absolute crisis, the guy washed his hands with just water, therefore not actually cleaning them and in my mind contaminating the first three paper towels he touched. On top of that he contaminated the door on his way out.
This is where the situation started to get worse, as inorder for me to get able to get out of the toilet I needed to wash my hands, ditch the first three paper towels, wash my hands again, wash the door handle, dry the door handle, finish washing my hands and dry them before someone else walked in.
At this point I had been in the toilet for around 15 minutes. I really needed to get back to my desk and my anxiety was rising and it wouldn’t go away. OK, so let’s do what needs to be done as soon as possible and hope that no one enters the toilet and screws me up again.
Son of a… Someone else came into the toilet, which is actually understandable being that it is infact a toilet and if people need to go, well, they need to go. But, for me, it become a race against time.
As the fella who came into the toilet headed to a cubical, I started my ritual again. As I was about to start, I realised the guy was actually going for a dump. This required me to move faster as I didn’t want to go through all of what I had just gone through, again. In turn, my anxiety had tripled as I was taking too long in the loo and someone was taking what seemed like a massive dump.
I wash my hands, leave the tap running, bin 3 paper towels, grab another one and cover it in water and soap, lathering it up. I head to the door, wash the handle (it’s a big one), dump the towel in the bin once finished, wash my hands again leaving the tap still running, grab another paper towel and dry the door handle. OK, half way there. Let’s do this. At this moment in time I was encouraging myself, I was telling myself I am almost there. That was, of course, until the guy finished his dump and headed for the taps when I was washing my hands for what I thought would be the final time.
Props to this guy though, because I don’t think I have ever taken a dump that quickly.
As I finished washing my hands the guy was washing his, I noticed that he hadn’t yet cleaned the tap. By concentrating on him, as I turned the tap off I hit the basin with the underside of my hand. CRAP! The basin will be covered in germs, now I have to wash my hands again! As I was washing my hands the guy finished, shock his hands off, grabbed a paper towel and exited the toilet.
Sorry, what? You just took a dump, washed your hands by turning on the tap with possibly the hand that you wiped your dirty backside with, turned the tap off which would re-contaminate you, then contaminated the paper towels and, if that wasn’t enough you decided you wanted to me with me some more by man handling the door. Cheers, you’re an absolute idiot.
Let me take a moment out for a second. You’ll notice I’ve been a little harsh with my words towards someone that, well, doesn’t know me and I do not know him. I’ve called him names (in my head), which has made my stress levels, anxiety and therefore my OCD rise significantly. Why would I be thinking such negative, awful things towards someone that could in fact be a nice guy?
My OCD is why, but that’s not his problem. I’m also pretty damn certain that he isn’t the only person in the world that does this, in fact, I know for a fact as I’ve been in a similar (while far from as devastating) situation many, many times before.
15 minutes in the toilet to just urinate turned into 25 minutes, and this time it was too much. I had so much to do, I needed to wash my hands, ditch some paper towels, wash my hands again, clean the door handle and this time most of the door because for some stupid bloody reason he decided he needed to man handle it, wash my hands again, dry the door, wash my hands again, dry them and finally get the hell out. This was, without a doubt way too much for me. So I broke down.
That’s the end of part 1, part 2 of “Doom and Gloom” is available here.