Preparing for a vacation is always tough for me because I pre-worry that my OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder fears will actually happen while I’m on vacation. Although being on vacation is hard for my OCD, with my last two vacations I have noticed a positive change which has lessened my OCD symptoms. Ironically both times it had to do with latex gloves. The latex gloves I wear to do almost everything inside my home.
Over the years, with the help of psychotherapy, I have been able to cut back on the latex gloves I wear to do chores and other things inside my home, when I consider myself to be ‘dirty,’ but I still wear them very often. When I pack my suitcase for a vacation I always put plenty of latex gloves in my suitcase and in my carry-on bag. It always turns out that while I’m on vacation I use all of them and I have to go to a local Walgreens drug store and buy more boxes to use. I do notice though that as my vacation days pass by one by one, I use less and less latex gloves than when I first arrived at my destination. It seems that while I’m away on vacation my OCD brain is less particular about the separation of what I can do when “I’m clean” vs. what I can do when “I’m dirty.” While I’m on vacation, I seem to feel that less things will contaminate me and that I will contaminate less. It could also be that my mind goes into the “Who cares” mode of thinking and I become more daring – taking more chances. Whatever the reason(s) may be, it is a very liberating feeling and it makes me feel good that I am overcoming my OCD more and more. In spite of using all the latex gloves I pack and having to buy some more, overall, I always seem to use less latex gloves than if I was home.
Luckily, every time I come home after a vacation I am able to put my mind into thinking, “If I wore less latex gloves while I was away on vacation, I can do the same when I’m home.” I think loving being on vacation so much has something to do with it and enjoying the partial freedom from OCD while I’m away. As I said before, it is a very liberating feeling. It’s also a very good feeling to feel ‘healthy’ and somewhat ‘OCD free.’ I also love the savings in spending, since latex gloves are very expensive – $4.99 per box of 50 in Walgreens. In addition, it’s also still very hot here in Arizona – in the high 80s and wearing latex gloves inside my home makes me feel very warm, so the freedom from wearing them all the time makes me feel much cooler and I sweat less.
Another factor is that at home I am usually inside my house with just a few family members, who know I have OCD and are very familiar with all my OCD symptoms. I feel comfortable wearing the latex gloves in front of them. I think being on vacation and being with many different people in all different situations inhibits me from wearing gloves in front of those people because of embarrassment and they wouldn’t understand, therefore while I’m on vacation I am also forced to do more ‘normal’ behaviors without wearing latex gloves. Although sometimes feeling very uncomfortable and nervous and anxious while being put in such situations, this is very good exposure therapy for my OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Since my mind automatically thinks of an OCD fear in any given situation, I have to constantly remind myself of all of the freedom I enjoyed so much from wearing less latex gloves while being on vacation, but it is worth the constant fight against my OCD thoughts.
Unfortunately, most of the time my OCD has me feeling like a prisoner inside my own home and being on vacation has me feeling very free. I love being on vacation for more reasons than one and I am already planning my next vacation. Someday I hope to be totally free of wearing latex gloves and can function inside my home at a ‘normal’ level. I very much look forward for that day to arrive. I’ll even be much happier if in the future the only reason I need to wear latex gloves inside my home is to pick up something off the floor.
I’ll continue to fight my OCD thoughts until I have more power than those OCD thoughts do.
I’ll never give up hope.