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Confessions of a Germaphobe

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My two young sons and I are using a bathroom at a pizza place. A woman walks in as we are washing our hands. My 3-year-old is up to his elbows in soapy bubbles and he is chanting, “Kill the germs! Kill the germs!” My 5-year-old dries his hands and is careful to only touch things in the bathroom with the paper towel. He turns to open the door for us, using only his elbow to do it. The woman stares at me, her eyes filled with confusion. My eyes meet hers and I give her a weak smile and shrug. I have taught my kids well. I am a germaphobe.

As it turns out, I am not an actual germaphobe. True germaphobes have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Germaphobes is the term to describe people who become obsessed with germs and dirt and feel compelled to act out rituals of washing and cleaning (found on MedicineNet.com). I do not have the ritual of cleaning and washing but that doesn’t keep me from visualizing germs everywhere. Shopping carts, hotel rooms (the carpet, phone and TV remote are the worst) and especially shoes are just some of the nastiest things.

My baby is one and not yet walking. Since he crawls and then puts his hands in his mouth, I am obsessed with what could be on my floors. I am one of those annoying people that will ask you to remove your shoes when you come into my house. The truth is, with every pair of shoes that enter my house, I cannot stop thinking about the numerous places those shoes may have walked. I actually visualize your shoes in a dirty restaurant bathroom or stepping on the sidewalk where someone just spit. These are the shoes that are now walking on my carpet that my baby crawls on with his chubby little hands that he shoves into his mouth to sooth his teething pain. The very thought of it disgusts me.

I make a mental note of every toy that someone accidently stepped on or gently kicked out of their path. Chances are, I will wash all his toys just in case I missed one that may have touched someone’s shoe.

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EmpowHER Guest

I found this site by searching for some "help", I typed "how to not be a germaphobe". So that should tell you I feel like I have a problem. I am so tied of feeling like my family and I are going to get sick... but I can't stop obessing about keeping them clean. My main problem is public places i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, don't get me started on the DR. office. It is starting to rule my life. I wasn't always like this. I'm not really concerned with a cold or stomache bug. My fear is the big bad stuff like meningitis, or MRSA, or many others and other things I don't even know about. So if anyone has any idea how to stop worry about it please let me know. I am serious.

August 29, 2009 - 5:47pm

I am very different from the author...my philosophy is probably best described by an expression used by my ex-husband's uncle...who died of natural causes in his sleep in his mid-8os..."you have to eat a pound of dirt before you die." I have quoted him more times than I can count when, for example, I would pick up a fork I had dropped on my dining room floor and re-use it (after visually inspecting it). I honestly feel that the more we prohibit ourselves and our children from living with the normal range of germs that are in daily life, the sicker we get!! The body never has a chance to build its natural immunity to such germs by low-level contact with them, so when we are exposed to virulent germs, we get REALLY sick!

My sister-in-law had a philosophy similar to the author...I remember having a Halloween party for the kids, and having a "bobbing for apples" game. She was horrified, and wouldn't let her kids play. When she chastised me for even HAVING the game at the party, I told her..."I played that game MANY times as a kid...do I look sick?" In fact, I am one of the healthiest people you will meet at age 60...she is in her mid 50s and is nearly bedridden with Chronic Fatigue and other conditions. It is really very sad. And, her family seemed to ALWAYS be sick...and my kids were rarely sick...and I think it was because we had healthy immune systems and didn't avoid every possible source of germs.

I am very opposed to the anti-bacterial sprays and liquids...they kill both the good and bad "germs"...again, never letting the body have a chance to fight germs at a "normal" level and strenthen itself. I believe we would all be much healthier if we just let our beautifully designed body do its job! I support my immune system with Black Cumin oil, as well as many other pure essential oils, as they ALL support our own healing abilities. Black Cumin is well known for its high efficacy in supporting the immune system, so that is the primary one I use for that purpose. Synthetic "anti-bacterial" substances will never take the place of natural remedies, in my book.

August 6, 2009 - 5:24pm
(reply to AudreGutierrez)

I agree with you, Audre, that we've managed to inhibit our natural defenses by overuse of anti-bacterial products. Our immune systems don't develop immunities, and the bacteria mutate to stronger strains.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of germaphobic, constantly wiping surfaces and my office equipment with cleaning wipes. But, I don't think I go to extremes about it.

However, I do toss the dropped utensil into the wash and get a new one. :0)

August 6, 2009 - 6:16pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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