I have an extremely bad phobia of germs and it is taking over my life. I don’t know how it started or when it started, what I do know is that as years have went on, it has gotten worse. All I know about a rough start is that it happened when I was young.
As a kid, schools teach you about proper personal hygiene and how you MUST wash your hands after going to the toilet, prepping door and before eating food. I took this very seriously. When I was young, I always used to double check people washed their hands for the above listed purposes and my family always joked to say I was the germ police. In a way I was. If someone hadn’t then I would send them to do so, then anything they had touched would get cleaned to my satisfaction. Over the years it has also lost me some friends. But some accepted this was my way of living but even then I felt alone because they didn’t fully understand that it was a choice, it wasn’t a little bit here and there, it was all the time.
In my first and second year of high school, things were strange. But then again most of the time it is like that in high school. I drifted away from friends and made new ones and like everyone found the people who wouldn’t get on with me. I never grew out of checking people washed their hands and that is why I was the favorite of my Home Economics teacher.
Between my second and third year, I don’t know what happened but I changed over the summer. I came back to school as a third year and saw the school and an unclean place. I started carrying hand sanitizer in my blazer and only really used it when I had to touch doors because this was something that everyone touched and how was I to know if everyone who had touched this had washed their hand sanitizer or not? I couldn’t. When people noticed this is what I was doing, it was pointed out that if the doors were unclean then so was everything else e.g. banisters, chairs. These words got me thinking and I started to sanitize anytime I used these things, meaning I used more sanitizer, which meant I would go through it faster and needed more. I am now at the moment going through one bottle of sanitizer a week.
As time went on, I wouldn’t allow people to use anything that belonged to me. In my head, no one could touch anything that was mine. I went to buy my own copies of textbooks and reading materials because I didn’t know who had used the ones provided by the school before me and whether or not their hands were clean. If someone used something of mine, I would use wet wipes before allowing myself to touch it again. Everyone by then knew that I would get angry, paranoid and upset if someone used something of mine and it was often used against me.
By time I got to my fifth year, I refused to let others touch me. If someone touched me I felt the immediate need to clean it whether it had been skin to skin contact or they touched an item of clothing. From primary school, a boy had bullied me and pulled my hair during class. When he did this during maths, I didn’t hate him for pulling my hair, I hated him for putting germs into my hair. Luckily it was last period so I went straight home to shower, washing my hair vigorously, despite having done so that very morning. I still do that now.
I am in my sixth and final year of high school, things haven’t really gotten much better. I have been sanitizing myself every five minutes. I have had to give up putting my bottle of sanitizer in my pocket and have it on my desk. My mind has now convinced me that my desk has so many germs on it, if my arm touches it I have to sanitize and the same goes for my pen.
These are only a few of the things at school that trigger me. If I listed them all it would take too long. There have been times that I have suffered at home due to this.
I have had anxiety attacks over germs at home.
The first was one morning before school. My dad went to the toilet and came out without washing his hands because he was going in for a shower. (I strongly disagree. Even going in for a shower you should wash your hands before it because if not you put germs on the taps and then once you’re clean you touch it and put germs on your hands and then whatever you touch after that cause germs on other things.) When my dad came out he started touching things and this included some of my things and I told him to stop because he hadn’t washed his hands. He started a huge argument with me and I went to go out of the room to calm down and he grabbed hold of me which sent me into a bad state of anxiety. I washed myself before I became fully infected whilst having an anxiety attack. I went to my room and called my best friend who calmed me down because she has a lot of experience in doing so. The second was my dad made a joke about germs and it ended up the same, I went to my room and called my best friend to help me.
It is really hard to live with this phobia and I know that only a minority of people in the world will understand because they suffer from it too. I still get made fun of for it, I get told I will never come to anything, I’ll be one of those people who are too afraid to leave the house. I want a life for myself and I know what my ambitions are however the way I am headed then I may not get there.