Exploring Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

MSc Psychology of Mental Health, Foundation in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Looking to get a better understanding of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Severe OCD (diagnosed 2014) with contamination obsessions.
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Joshua Summers
12:55, 27 Jun 20
Hi Sallyface, thank you for Taaalking with me.
So before we get into the details of what it's like to have OCD, would you mind telling me a bit about your mental health journey so far? (For example, did you always have OCD, or did it develop/evolve over time, etc.)
sallyface
20:13, 27 Jun 20
Hello.
I think I always experienced tiny Obsessions on some level, but it wasn't until my mid-teen years that they blew up and Compulsions emerged.
During that time, I was good at hiding my (undiagnosed but clinical) depression, but I couldn't hide my OCD at all since it manifested externally, in the form of obsessive environmental scrutiny.
My family's house had always been filled with animals of various kinds -- I grew up around animals and I adored them. Well, most of them... I never cared much for dogs, and their mere presence began to provoke a horrible, raw anxiety that I had never felt before.
It sounds silly, I know. But imagine five large dogs in one small household... it was incredibly unhygienic. My dog-avoidance Obsession rapidly escalated. Then, it expanded to include all of the people in the house -- my family.
At that point, with my triggers being dogs and my own family members, I spiraled fast and hard. I lost basic freedoms. I threw out most of my furniture, stopped walking on my carpet, stopped washing my laundry, and more, all to avoid contact with that which my brain deemed a threat.
In my experience, my OCD onset was insidious and all-consuming. It sprang from nothing, and then it became everything.
Joshua Summers
13:38, 28 Jun 20
Right, I understand. It sounds like an extremely intense and overwhelming experience.
And is your current situation similar to the on you described when discussing your journey so far? For example, are your current obsessions the same, or have they changed?
sallyface
14:08, 28 Jun 20
Yes, my Obsessions have remained the same for the past six years - avoiding contact with dogs, my family, and whatever they have touched, as well as anything I cannot personally confirm they haven't touched.
I'm marooned in a single room with very little non-contaminated space, but I manage to function on a simplistic level by utilizing gloves and ziplocks.
When I leave the house, I double each article of clothing and keep my hood up at all times. When I return, I undress ritualistically (boy, that sounds funny) and scrub my hands and arms clean.
Regardless of where I am, nearly every move I make warrants a ritual.
My rituals have varied a little over the years - they've become more efficient, but their content does not change. (i.e. Avoiding contact with anything that I haven't personally confirmed to be "safe" from contamination.)
Joshua Summers
14:20, 28 Jun 20 (edit: 21:15, 29 Jun 20)
This question might be a bit insensitive, as maybe it is something which is it is not possible to know - I am unsure as I have only had the mildest experiences of OCD-like thinking. But in the moment, when you are having these thoughts, why are you having them? As in what is the full story line of one thought? Does the consequence of ignoring the internal pressure to perform a ritual drive you to do it, and if so what is that consequence? Or is it less about the consequence and do you feel you are driven by something else in the moment?
sallyface
15:40, 28 Jun 20
No worries, nothing you can ask me would be insensitive. Even uncomfortable questions are welcome. OCD is a very ugly disorder, and I do not wish to be selective in how I describe the reality of it.
I do not know the origins of these thoughts. They feel entirely natural. To my understanding, an Obsessive-Compulsive brain has a broken threat detection system. Dog filth always bothered me, OCD began to interpret it as a threat, and now my entire life is built around avoiding it like the plague just to silence the (metaphorical) deafening alarm. Even though I do realize my methods of avoiding that contamination are, well, insane.
Indeed, the consequence drives me to perform the avoidance Compulsions. I can only describe the consequence of "disobeying" as the deepest dread imaginable. It's unbearable. It feels similar to grieving.
I also experience intense suicidal ideation following any ritualistic mishaps (i.e. whenever I become contaminated). If I don't rectify it in a timely manner, I start to feel as if I lose my sense of self. I can even become hysterical. It's the closest I've ever felt to pure insanity.
On a thoughts-related note: Some thoughts, called "intrusive thoughts", do not feel natural at all. Their mere presence provokes terrible dysphoria. Their content often comes in the form of spontaneous, vivid mental imagery. Without fail, they are always horrifying, unwanted, and unexpected.
It's as if my brain crafts these images specifically to torment me. Everyone with OCD or intrusive thoughts "see" different things. Personally, I most often see my loved ones harmed in some way. Evisceration, enucleation, decapitation, immolation... Sometimes by their hand, sometimes by mine, and I'm not sure which one is worse. I've also seen a lot of brutal self-harm and freak accidents that are even freakier than Final Destination. (The story-driven video game "Neverending Nightmares", which is made by an Obsessive-Compulsive, perfects captures the self-harm "visions" I see.)
And sometimes intrusive thoughts come in the form of literal thoughts, such as, "What if I (blank)? What if I jam this knife in my neck? What if I pour drain cleaner in my coffee? What if I threw a lit match on this propane tank?" I'd best describe this brand of intrusive thoughts as being similar to the phenomenon named "the call of the void", except instead of feeling the urge to do it, I obsessively ask myself if I feel the urge to do it. I never do. OCD basically interrogates me, haha. This can go on for hours.
Joshua Summers
21:23, 29 Jun 20
You use this word:
"disobeying"
Is this the word that you feel fits best? If so could you tell me a bit more about that experience, perhaps the kind of internal discussions that take place around the idea of disobeying (if they occur).
And even though it might sound silly, does what/who you are disobeying feel like it's part of you? Or is it somehow external?
sallyface
00:48, 30 Jun 20
I think "disobeying" fits quite well, at least, for describing what it feels like.
Personally, OCD doesn't feel like it's me; it definitely feels separate somehow. I don't write "the rules", I just know them. I inherently know what is "right" and what is "wrong", without any clear influence on my part.
In that way, I suppose OCD could be considered a separate, internal entity that demands obedience. Factually, though, it's just several parts of my brain that malfunction continuously, compelling me to do what feels "right". (e.g. Compulsions will keep me "safe" from the threat known as "contamination".)
Joshua Summers
09:34, 30 Jun 20
Is
"contamination"
Also the right word? As in is that a word that your mind uses to describe the threat? Or is the threat non-verbal and contamination is the best way you have to describe it?
sallyface
10:47, 30 Jun 20
Yes, that is the best word for it. I don't remember thinking of or describing this "threat" in any other manner.
Contamination is both a "threat" and a feeling. Whenever my bare skin becomes contaminated, I begin feeling strange, as if my mind's trying to separate it from the rest of me (this happens alongside the aforementioned dread & suicidality).
Think of when a limb falls asleep -- it's similar to that, except it's not happening in your limb, but instead in your mind. (Kind of tough to explain, but hopefully that makes some semblance of sense.)
This even happens in nightmares, and I will wake up panicking with this... pseudo-sensation. (Unlike real contamination, though, dream contamination fades once I realize it didn't truly happen.)
Joshua Summers
12:00, 02 Jul 20
So I know from our discussions before this Taaalk that you are receiving some form of treatment. Not necessarily in regards to the treatment you are having now, or even treatment at all, but when people and/or therapists/clinicians have talked to you about having OCD, do they ever say things that frustrate you? Where you know they don't understand what's going on?
sallyface
14:50, 05 Jul 20
From people - as in, the general public - I hear too much callous ignorance to cover it all. Daily. It's exhausting and incredibly alienating. I understand that it's all due to the lack of proper education, and inaccurate representations in media, but honestly, it does make me feel bitter.
The idea that OCD is anything other than a debilitating mental disorder is deeply harmful.
I've been told outright by one psychologist that "Everyone has OCD, it doesn't really require treatment." The same psych also ranted about how OCD shouldn't be diagnosable...  This psych was heralded as a prodigy and was well-respected by all. How, I will never know.
Goes to show that the public's bias also affects "professional" minds, to startling degrees. I missed out on early treatment due to this brand of ignorance. I often wonder if things could've been different.
After that, I saw a handful of other psychologists and psychiatrists that spoke of OCD as if it were a personality trait; something to be desired or utilized. One said that it would please employers. Another kept suggesting I try a specific brand of scented sanitizer (I do not use sanitizer). Another kept referring to my contaminant as "germs", despite my persistent correction.
Collectively, they never addressed it as a disorder. In fact, they normalized it at every turn.
Being misunderstood on a fundamental level is deeply frustrating - especially coming from the one class of people that should've been competent. Stereotyping seemed to fuel most of it, and yet, communication did not mitigate the issue, because their minds were apparently made - OCD is normal! Disregard the "D", I guess.
Of course, that's all blatant misunderstanding. It can be more subtle than that, in which case, communication typically serves. Though no matter what, I still get the underlying feeling that there exists a barrier between me and everyone else. Or like the assortment of words I am using is, in actuality, total nonsense, and that they're just nodding in agreement to make me feel better. I guess that's the feeling of spouting insanity.
That isn't to say that it's a useless endeavor. I think it's entirely possible to understand another person's OCD, given some time and the right questions.
Joshua Summers
17:54, 05 Jul 20 (edit: 08:00, 09 Jul 20)
Right, it sounds like a very frustrating situation on the whole!
Has anyone used words or ideas that have resonated with you? By that I mean have there been any professionals or people that you've met who you feel have really understood what you are experiencing? If so, what kind of words were they using, or what made the difference?
sallyface
17:37, 11 Jul 20
Huh. I hadn't realized prior to being asked this question. No, I haven't yet felt that anybody "gets it". Therapy has been especially alienating (probably due to my personal expectation that the attending professional(s) will be unlike the general public).
I'm sure that other Obsessive-Compulsives would. But their understanding isn't the kind I need. (By that, I mean, their understanding doesn't relieve much, since I have to seek it out, and in places far removed from my immediate life.)
Joshua Summers
18:03, 11 Jul 20 (edit: 18:27, 11 Jul 20)
What you write here is very interesting:
But their understanding isn't the kind I need. (By that, I mean, their understanding doesn't relieve much, since I have to seek it out, and in places far removed from my immediate life.)
Can you describe an understanding (or its context*) that you would need or that would relieve you in some way?
*By context I'm referring to when you say "since I have to seek it out, and in places far removed from my immediate life" - as in that seems to be less about the understanding itself, but more about how/where it happens. 
sallyface
19:34, 11 Jul 20
Sure. In theory, surrounding myself with other sufferers should give me a sense of relief, since we're speaking the same language. And it does - briefly. But I find that, in turn, it makes me feel more isolated in my day-to-day life. I've struggled for years to explain my OCD to the people around me, but they still don't understand even the basics. Their lack of comprehension impacts my life the most, and on a daily basis, and therefore, it'd bring the greatest relief if they were the ones who understood what I was going through.
Also... Something that I experience on online forums is a... fear(?) that I am the other posters. That I... I don't know, blacked out, and created other accounts to converse with. Of course, this is ridiculous! I wouldn't do such a thing, but OCD makes me question if I did. "Maybe it happened. I can't prove it hasn't." I'm sure this impacts how I feel about other people online, which likely affects how "real" and "meaningful" interactions with them are.
I get a lot of these little pseudo-delusions (thought distortions? not sure if there's a clinical term). I had an awfully vivid one recently, where the phone in my hotel room only worked one way (they could hear me, but I couldn't hear them). This lead me to question if, perhaps, I had died and didn't yet know it. (I had sleep paralysis the night before, with a figure beside me telling me "You're going to die," which didn't help, haha.)
Joshua Summers
08:21, 12 Jul 20
When you say:
Their lack of comprehension impacts my life the most, and on a daily basis, and therefore, it'd bring the greatest relief if they were the ones who understood what I was going through.
Why would it bring relief? 
sallyface
14:52, 13 Jul 20
Because they give me a hard time about the way I am, and treat me as if I am fabricating my disorder. As if I have conscious influence over my obsessions, and that if I wanted, I could "just stop" having OCD.
Better yet: I can outsmart OCD if I "just think about it", and ultimately cure myself. All with the power of thinking! Wowie.
They are also fond of the belief that my OCD is the result of my inherently illogical nature -- but I'm honestly a very logical person, who acknowledges that everything I do is excessive and ridiculous... rendering their perception flat-out wrong. Not that they'll listen. They've got it in their heads that it's all my doing, my fault, my fatal flaw. Doctors and science be damned, I guess.
All of this is draining... Each incidence creates more stress on top of my resting level of anxiety (which is regrettably high).
At the end of the day (spent around these attitudes), my mood is incredibly low. Honestly, I think it's sensible that this contributes to my suicidal ideation. (Hell, I'd be gone already if I didn't have a pet to take care of.) That's why it'd be such a boon to be surrounded by educated people.
Joshua Summers
22:59, 14 Jul 20
And if you were surrounded by educated people, or perhaps people that really understood what you were experiencing and put in place reasonable accommodations for it, how would they act towards you/how would they generally behave?
As in, if you had the understanding that you know is missing, how would it manifest in your day to day life?
sallyface
22:05, 16 Jul 20
Good question, because there's a fine line between support and enablement -- perhaps more-so with OCD than with other mental illnesses.
The way I define the difference is as follows:
--- Support:
- Accepting that the sufferer's experiences are real to them. Nobody should berate or shame an OCD sufferer for the content of their Obsessions -- no matter how ridiculous, impossible, scary, or disgusting they sound.
- Recognizing that people can't be forced into recovery, and that unwilling/forced exposure (i.e., to a contaminant) is not conducive to recovery. If a sufferer is not ready and willing for exposure therapy, they should not be tormented by others "for their own good".
- Acknowledging that A) Nobody intentionally develops or fabricates OCD, and therefore shouldn't be blamed for having it (it's an illness, not a character flaw); B) Nobody is defined by the content of their intrusive thoughts and/or Obsession themes (e.g., racist, pedophilic, homicidal, unfaithful); and C) In general, no amount of therapy and/or medication can render somebody permanently asymptomatic. (Barring some rare cases.)
- Ignoring reassurance-seeking.
--- Enablement:
- Agreeing to perform a ritual (i.e., a chain of compulsions) on behalf of the sufferer. (Note: Doing something simple, like opening a door, does not count. Refusal to do a simple act like opening a door can play into forced exposure, as mentioned above.)
- Making extensive/exhaustive accommodations so that the sufferer may continue to live within the confines of their disorder (e.g., renovating their house per their specifications, buying new stuff to replace "contaminated" stuff, getting rid of family pets).
- Giving reassurance. It only grants temporary relief while reinforcing the OC cycle.
Note that these are my personal definitions, and may not align with others'.
Joshua Summers
12:24, 21 Jul 20 (edit: 12:36, 21 Jul 20)
That is an extremely interesting answer. What I find most interesting about it is how everything you define in the Support section could neatly map onto a healthy childhood environment.
There was an excellent child psychotherapist called Dr. Winnicott, who came up with a term called "holding". It is not to do with physically holding the child, but to do with the environment that the child is in. Does the environment "hold" them, in which case the child spends it's time "being" (this is that lovely feeling of not paying attention to outside worries, and getting lost in whatever activity is in front of you); or does the environment fail to "hold" the child, in which case the child experiences "annihilation" (which is the disruption from that beautiful feeling of being safe and allowing yourself to be lost in whatever you're doing; when the child is annihilated it needs to "wake up" from being to manage the environment as the environment isn't a safe one to be in).
These words, "being" and "annihilation", are remarkably heavy. And that is because the mind of an infant is that fragile. For the infant's mind to form with calm defaults in place it does need a lot of "being" time, and the infant's mind will both crave and feed from a good holding environment as if it were a form of nutrition. Whilst if the infant is forced to wake up from being to take control of what is going on it is terribly disruptive and lays the seed for mental health problems later in life.
When I go through your Support section, the key themes would make for a healthy holding environment: 
--- Support:
- Accepting that the sufferer's experiences are real to them. Nobody should berate or shame an OCD sufferer for the content of their Obsessions -- no matter how ridiculous, impossible, scary, or disgusting they sound.
Do not shame the child, respect them.
- Recognizing that people can't be forced into recovery, and that unwilling/forced exposure (i.e., to a contaminant) is not conducive to recovery. If a sufferer is not ready and willing for exposure therapy, they should not be tormented by others "for their own good".
Do not rush the child, be patient with them.
- Acknowledging that A) Nobody intentionally develops or fabricates OCD, and therefore shouldn't be blamed for having it (it's an illness, not a character flaw); B)Nobody is defined by the content of their intrusive thoughts and/or Obsession themes (e.g., racist, pedophilic, homicidal, unfaithful); and C) In general, no amount of therapy and/or medication can render somebody permanently asymptomatic. (Barring some rare cases.)
Do not judge the child for its imagination, allow it to get lost in play.
- Ignoring reassurance-seeking.
Do not overreact to the child, calmly be there with them as they go through their stress. Do not make the stress more real than it is.
If you imagine an environment where, no matter how wild and outlandish the child's thoughts, feelings or behaviours (and children do have wild and outlandish ideas - getting extremely upset/scared about things an adult knows are not important), the child was respected, responded to calmly and uncritically, and allowed to get lost in worlds of its own, without being ripped out of them; this would constitute a good holding environment.
Whereas what you mention in your Enablement section would constitute some "false positive"* aspects of an environment that was not a holding one; mainly overreaction ("Agreeing to perform a ritual", "Making extensive/exhaustive accommodation") and not knowing how to really express care ("Giving reassurance. It only grants temporary relief while reinforcing the OC cycle."), instead of "holding" you through your stressful experiences.
* I use the words "false positive" here as a caregiver might feel that over reacting or being reassuring in an unsatisfactory way are what the child needs, however it is very rarely the case. More often than not behaviours like these reflect anxieties present in the caregiver's mind.
You do not mention the overtly negative parts (e.g. a judgemental/shaming environment), but we were discussing good and bad forms of support.
I don't want to push you to a place which is uncomfortable, so only do the following if you would like to. I wonder what you find when you reflect on your own childhood and the holding environments you had. Do you feel that you were held adequately, so that you were generally lost in being, or does it feel like a space where the caregivers disrupted you, so you had to stop being in order to "manage" them, meaning some annihilation took place?
sallyface
17:12, 26 Jul 20
Reaching that far back in my memory, I lead myself to question what I could recall. (Did it really happen that way? Was I simply misunderstanding? Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I'm the problem. etc.) It may be due to the "negativity bias" of the brain that I have few positive childhood memories. Regardless, my memories are what they are.
I learned from an early age to tread lightly, lest I set my mother off, into a fit or a tirade. I neglected my own emotional needs to fulfill hers. In order to be a peacekeeper, I had to give up my identity; I had to agree to everything. I could never say no. Boundaries were unheard of.
I don't think I was given patience or respect, either. Every idea I ever had was stupid, everything I ever did was "wrong". Every mistake was perceived as a slight. Any emotion I ever showed was shameful and needed to be shut down immediately.
I'd say some annihilation took place.
Joshua Summers
11:52, 27 Jul 20
I'm sorry. Annihilation is not fun (I've had some myself).
Sorry if for the next while I am jumping around a lot, your answer gave me a lot of thoughts and I feel like I almost need to go back to the start and developer a better understanding of your experience of OCD.
Would it be possible to walk me through, in as granular detail as possible, a singular OCD experience? From "calm state" to "OCD state" and ending up however you want (e.g. back to calm, or maybe it doesn't end that way?)? 
sallyface
15:43, 30 Jul 20
That's fine, these things are not linear.
Okay, so you'd like me to describe, specifically, a ritual that goes wrong, how and why it goes wrong, and what my exact actions are to rectify the contamination that occurs? With every bit of available context included?
I've never done that before, but I could certainly try. I wonder if a brief video would aid best in illustrating my current environment. It's a bit, hm, inhumane? how I'm forcing myself to live.
Joshua Summers
17:25, 30 Jul 20 (edit: 17:27, 30 Jul 20)
I'm actually more interested in a successful ritual to start with rather than a failed one, as I imagine the successful ones are also a part of the OCD experience too? When I talked about the "OCD state" I guess I was referring to the need to perform the ritual, but I guess there must be a lot more complicated "OCD states" beyond that - if it goes wrong for example.
A video (if you want to do one for a successful ritual) would be very interesting (but obviously share within your comfort zone). If you do decide to go down the video route Taaalk can't host videos I'm afraid so you'd have to share a YouTube/some-other-video-platform link, which I hope is ok.
sallyface
10:37, 10 Aug 20
Ah, okay. Unfortunately, I don't have any safe method of hooking up my contaminated camera to my uncontaminated laptop. Well, that's an idea for the future.
Honestly, at this point, my rituals have naturally integrated themselves into my life. In-home rituals especially; there's no build-up, and very little stress, as I always feel I am in control and am capable of avoiding mistakes.
Public rituals are a different story. My most involved ritual is performed at the public laundromat... Although, it could be argued that the ritual actually begins when I wake up that morning.
There's a lot of details to cover, and all are relevant to the ritual and/or my OC mind process. I'll try to make it easy to follow, but this... will be long, and probably boring!
Ritual end-goals:
Part 1- Make it to the laundromat with at least mostly un-contaminated hands.
Part 2- Complete my laundry.
Supplies I must have (all un-opened): Antibacterial soap (for laundry and hands), garbage bags, box of gloves.
Okay, start! I wake up (of course) and get cleaned up. At this stage, there is no bodily contamination.
I get dressed, making sure my hair is tied back securely and my headband is folded right and fitted (not likely to slip). This is important, since my hair must never come loose and dangle out, lest it become contaminated. My hoodie ties must also be kept inside for the same reason.
For each hand, I grasp my hoodie's sleeve and push it deep into a glove, then double the glove. If the glove cuffs are not long/tight enough to hold my sleeve, I tie or tape them. (If I tie them, I have to take scissors with me to the laundromat.) Choice of tie/tape depends on what supplies I have available at the time.
Last garment on is my shoes, which are very contaminated. Once I reach this point, 3 things are important: I have officially crossed into the contaminated zone; I have utterly contaminated my gloves (since they touched my shoes); and I can no longer cross back/touch anything that is un-contaminated.
Also, note that while I am outfitted properly to traverse contaminated environments, I still must not allow too much contamination of my clothing - most of all, my hood (which comes into contact with my face and hair). Movement is stiff and calculated.
With my laundry & supplies in tow, I lock up and leave.
Once I arrive to the laundromat and take everything inside, these are my steps:
1. Set up my "area". I always use the same spot to place my supplies. It's basically my "Hub" for the duration of my stay: Folding tables, a little shelf, and a chair.
2. Start putting laundry into machines - MUST be done one article at a time. (Note: They are front-facing washing machines, meaning I must crouch.) I ball up the articles and pass them through the machine's opening cleanly, without allowing either the article or my arms to touch the opening. The opening is already contaminated by proxy of being in public; however, I do not wish to contaminate it further, in case of accidental contact. The less contaminated it is, the less I'd have to wash if I accidentally touched it.
3. Go retrieve change from the coin machine. I cup one hand down low, against my stomach, to carry the coins back to my Hub, and place them in a bag, which I flatten. This is important since I don't want the bag to touch me when I reach in later.
4. Soap & coins go into the washing machines - nothing special here. Start the machines.
5. Ready my supplies - I open my gloves and garbage bags carefully, pulling the box flaps open but never touching the contents. I set them down for later use.
6. Now, let's just say that earlier in the morning, I taped my glove cuffs (instead of tying them). So my hoodie is basically like an upper-body onesie right now, haha. I loosen each glove by gripping close to the cuff (but not past it) and wriggling. I alternate until they're both ready to slip off. I retract my right arm into the hoodie and pull the zipper down from there (tricky!). I retract my left arm and grip the hoodie with both hands from the inside of the shoulder regions... Is this making sense...? I push the hoodie off towards my back, careful not to drag my headband off.
7. Now I'm wearing my undershirt, tucked into my pants. Sleeves are not compatible with this ritual, so I needed to take my hoodie off.
8. I go to the sink and wash my hands and a portion of my arms, until it feels right. I must not touch the sink (if I do accidentally, I must re-wash). When I am done, I leave the sink running and skip over to my Hub to grab a glove from the box I opened earlier, careful not to touch the outside of the box. I glove a hand and use it to turn off the sink. Then I strip off the glove and take a seat to wait. While sitting, I cannot lean back, since that would cause my hair and neck to become contaminated. And my arms must be kept in this position: Elbows touching my stomach, hands straight out and up in front of me, where they cannot come into contact with my contaminated clothing. I call it the surgeon position, haha. (Right now, my pants are VERY contaminated, and my shirt is ambiguous. It was mostly protected by my hoodie, but not quite enough.)
9. Maintaining this position is strenuous and very uncomfortable! But I must. Once the washing machines stop, I glove a hand to open them, secure the door positions (wide open), open a dryer (also wide open), strip the glove, and begin transporting the clothes. Crouch -> shove arms together (I mustn't touch the opening) -> ball up one article - > remove carefully -> put the article in dryer. Repeat until empty.
10. I glove a hand to administer the quarters and strip off the glove. Now the dryers are running and I must begin prepping my bags, which my dry laundry will go into. One caveat: I have to double the bag, and all without letting the bags touch ANYTHING. I remove the roll of garbage bags without touching the outside of the box. With my arms extended far in front of me, I unroll one bag with my left hand, gripping the roll in my right hand, and I place the roll inside the now-open bag. I turn to face my Hub and place the bag-containing-bags down carefully, making an oval shape with the opening. I did this so that I could easily access my garbage bag roll.
11. If my arms/shoulders cramped during this, I take a minute to recover. I grab one bag, open it (without letting it come into contact with anything at all) and then ball it up in my right hand. Still holding the first bag, I then grab a second bag and open that one too. I place the balled-up bag inside the other, lining them up. Now the doubled-up bag is ready to be placed down in my Hub. I am again careful and make an oval-shaped opening, not letting the opening of the bag touch the table.
12. I repeat step 11 to make enough. By this point, the dryers are probably done. I glove a hand to open the doors and then strip off the glove. Noticing a pattern? Ha. One article at a time, I place my dried laundry into the bags I prepped. I lift the bag from the inside with each article added, to evenly distribute the weight and ensure the bag remains upright, and also to readjust the position of the opening. My clothes must not touch the outside of the bag. (Touching the immediate opening is okay, anything lower than that is not since it has made direct contact with the table.) The only article left out is a new, clean hoodie, which I will need to put on before leaving.
13. When all clothing is bagged, I tie the innermost bag tight, put on the new hoodie, and then tie the outer bag tight. I do it in that order because the outer bag is contaminated, and I don't want to contaminate my hands/arms before putting on the hoodie.
14. Final stretch!! I glove both hands and use any excess bags to fortify my laundry bags (3+ bags for each "sack" is ideal, in the case of snags or tears, to protect the innermost bag. Any puncture that reaches all the way will ruin the entire bag of laundry; it'd have to be re-washed.) I haphazardly grab my stuff - no real boundaries here, now, since my laundry and myself are protected - and the ritual is complete. Until the next one, anyway. I have many micro-rituals throughout the day, but few are as long-winded as laundry and showers.
Do you regret asking? Hahaha. And yes, my laundry IS wrinkly from being shoved into bags.
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