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OCD update - bloody towels, bloody toilet, bloody everything
Oct 16, 2008

Dr. Bob,

Im one of the paranoid OCD people who seem to swarm to you. HIV is a common fear for OCD-ers with contamination issues. I dont know if youre at all curious about my progress; Id like to think so because you seem to care about people in general. I was doing well and then I had a couple of setbacks and now Im note very well at all.

I'm glad that you haven't answered my questions about whether or not I could have infected my family by getting someone's semen on the toilet seat. Even if the semen went freshly from him to the toilet seat without me in between, everything I've read suggests that this is unlikely. It really upsets me that the risk isn't 100% nonexistent, but there's not much I can do about it now.

My mother came over last week and got blood all over my toilet seat and dumped a used pad in the garbage. This has caused me no end of trouble. I had to clean the toilet the following morning and it splashed me. My shower towel touched the "bloody" garbage and I had to use it, then I had to put on lip balm, so now my lip balm is covered in bloody HIV germs and so am I and I have to use that towel again tonight and I feel utterly sick about it. She then proceeded to use the toilet again and I havent cleaned it this time, even if there might still be blood on it so thats also freaking me out, blood on the toilet.

Now, the thing about my OCD is that I don't want anything to be my fault. I can overcome fears about random blood on walls or whatever, that's not really a problem once I start the exposure. This, though -- if my mother is infected, it's because I had random sex and didn't clean up properly and got his semen in their bathroom, where it got into their bloodstream some way or somehow.

I'm sure my boyfriend would say "So what if you got semen all over their bathroom, HIV doesn't work that way." Well, I truly want to believe that but I've read that it's theoretically possible if there was semen on the toilet seat or the garbage can and if they had a cut or if a mucous membrane came into contact with it. So even though there's a really small chance (my therapist said 0.2%) its still a chance and Im just dying slowly inside.

If it were just me, it wouldnt matter. Obviously if my family was infected with HIV because of my random sexcapades, then I of course deserve it. But if my boyfriend gets HIV from the blood on the toilet or the garbage can or if I get it from the towel touching the garbage and getting blood on it and rubbing it on me, or if her blood got on my toothbrush while I was cleaning, or if the blood mixed with Lysol that got on the q-tips did get on the hand towel and did soak into cuts on my handswell, if I get it any of those ways and he contracts it from mebut I dont want to lose him. Im sure hed say Thats not possible but I cant reassurance-seek anymore, not from him especially because hes tired of it. I feel so guilty all the time; guilty for infecting my family, guilty for infecting my boyfriend. If it was just me, I would deal with it as the consequences of the foolish thing I did, but why should all of them suffer just because I was lonely and curious? Of course they shouldnt.

Anyway, like I said, I had to use that lip balm that might have blood on it and Ill have to dry off with the towel that might have blood on it. Im trying to do what the therapist has instructed and she said be consistentwell, I feel like Im consistently on my way to Hell (if Im not there already).

I know you wouldnt answer a question so I wont ask. Ive already seen the answer anyway, that if I got some semen in the bathroom where it could have entered their bloodstream (via a cut) then they might have HIV, if the guy was HIV+ (no idea and I dont really want to look him up and ask him) and I might get it in return because my mom made a mess of my bathroom.

A friend of mine brought up a really good point, that I cant ask everyone who comes over to have an HIV test first. Well, its mostly guys (my boyfriends buddies) who visit anyway and they wont leave a used pad or tampon in the garbage for me to clean. And if some girl did, Id be just as upset but it would be easier to get over because it wouldnt be my fault that she was infected in the first place.

Im not allowed to throw out my contaminated garbage can either. And I had to touch that used padit fell out of the garbage while I was pulling it out. Theres blood all over my bathroom (this happened a couple of days ago, Saturday I think and its Wednesday now) and if its infected then its my fault. I probably tracked blood out into the hallway where the neighbours kids walk and the cat lays all over the house, including the bloody garbage can, she drinks out of the toilet and then gives us kisses; theres blood everywhere.

I know that HIV doesnt live long outside the body, but how long is not long? What if I get some of that dried blood in my bloostream, via the lip balm or the wet towel, which could pick anything up might have got blood on it when the blood was fresh, who knows?

I cant figure out if Im being selfish staying with my boyfriend, or if its the right thing to do. I love him very much but I dont want him to contract HIV because of me. I tested negative so he feels hes safe and he doesnt share my paranoia about most things (I havent told him about this new one, about my family maybe having HIV) but if anything happened to himif I find out I have HIV months from now hell think I cheated, and what then? Ill lose everything.

But I know Ill lose everything if I dont overcome this paranoia Im stuck in an endless loop and theres no escape and no relief.

My therapist thinks I can beat this because Ive beaten it once before, but then I was a version. After having sex with a stranger, the OCD came back slowly and then full force and then worse, all because I got some random guys semen on my chest and maybe on a used pad and probably spread it all over my familys bathroom. It was a stupid thing to do, I know that now. I knew it then so I dont know why I did it. I feel if I start asking my boyfriend to use protection now hell leave me because its all my paranoia; but what if its no my paranoia? Im not getting HIV from him, but what if he gets it from me?? We stopped using protection after I tested negative for HIV because I thought the nightmare was over, but it was just beginning. After testing negative, it should be impossible for me to contract HIV because Im in a monogamous relationship and I dont share needles, so where would I get it from? My mothers blood of course, or my sisters, but will he believe that? Probably not.

Obviously you cant do anything to help me, but once again, thanks for taking the time to read this. Im sorry its gone on so long yet again. Eventually I will either stop being so anxious or I will stop writing in because Ive gone completely insaneeither way you will be rid of me.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your HIV fears are completely irrational and totally unwarranted. Your problem is psychological, not virologic. I urge you to continue to work with your therapist. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. (No McCain. No Sarah "I can see Russia from my house" Palin.)

I would suggest you bring a copy of this post and my response to your next therapy session and discuss it with your therapist. You do have a very significant medical problem, but that problem is not HIV!

Dr. Bob



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