Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Day at the Science Museum

Yesterday I went with my sister and her kids to the science museum. While it's not officially a children's museum, the vast majority of people there had kids with them. It was packed, just full of germy children. I had one of those ironic, "washing leads to more germs" moments OCD seems to cause so frequently. I did okay touching displays- it's a very hands on museum- but after about an hour, I washed my hands with the sanitizer they had in some of the rooms. And oops, I washed off the hand stamp that let us move from exhibit to exhibit. Had to stop and get a new one from the the very nice older gentleman who had the gnarliest fingernails I've ever seen- fungus. I have some, um, issues, with nail fungus. Of course he very kindly pulled up my sleeve so as to stamp my hand high enough to not wash it off again. So there I was, "contaminated." I did sort of okay at the time. Kept going, but was very very aware of my arm. I did wash my hands again before leaving the museum. But I did not later change the shirt that he had touched, and when I washed, I probably didn't wash as high as he had touched on my arm. It's the next day, I still haven't showered and my arm is now causing me no problems at all.

Another good experience there: we were in a room with about a zillion little rubber balls that you could shoot around via air tubes (hard to explain, but fun...) Anyway, at one point, about 20 of these balls that had been touched by who knows how many people, bounced off the top of my head. It gave me some pause, but my sister and I were so involved with helping my nieces with our own project, that I barely thought about it. Again, still haven't washed my hair, and it's not causing me any anxiety. It was interesting to see how thoroughly keeping myself occupied could ward off OCD fears.


  1. Busy-ness helps me with OCD too. Sometimes I'm just too busy for it. :)
    Glad you did well and had some fun.

  2. That sounds great! I can relate to so many of the details you describe here and the sort of obsessions and desire to perform compulsions they triggered. I would be thinking about and trying to resist the exact same things, and I find it very encouraging that you were able to keep going without giving in.

    Somehow going to places with lots of children always puts my OCD on alert. Logically, I know that children are really probably no dirtier than anything else in the world, but their tendency to pick their noses, wash their hands infrequently, and stick any number of things in there mouths (my things...) is some, um, great exposure. I work with kids a lot now so all these things that I am overly aware of are gradually becoming easier to just accept and move on!

  3. It sounds like you did great! I love how you describe how icky each exposure is, but then how if you don't do your compulsions, the anxiety recedes.

  4. Way to go! It must feel awesome to do all of that.