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Anxiety over blood

I work in a business setting. Paperwork, and paperwork and paperwork. A gentleman I work with claims he takes blood pressure medication that sometimes will make his nose bleed. He will clean up and continue working, and sometimes his paperwork ends up in my hands. As I flip through the file I will see blood spots and smudges on the paperwork and it instantly becomes clear what it is. His blood. I freeze because I’m already afraid of blood and to see these on paperwork I need to handle sends me into questions on how if I touch it and can’t wash my hands and use my computer, phone, pen, etc it’s going to contaminate everything and worse what if he has an underlying health issue. My question is how long does blood live for, what can happen if I touch it and don’t realize and touch my eyes or mouth, can it spread and live on surfaces etc. Thank you.
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973741 tn?1342342773
I just want to say that this absolutely sounds like anxiety. Do you have a phobia or ocd? Intrusive thoughts or intense fear leading to a panicky feeling? Health anxiety is a real thing too. But all of this is treatable. Does it carry over to any other things in your life besides irrational thoughts about blood at work?
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19 Comments
I do have OCD, Anxiety, minor depression, currently taking alprazolam 15MG, trazadone 10mg, 20 MG fluvoximine, and 15MG of dextroamp per day. I have a fear of contamination, and I’m getting crippling fear of seeing these spots because I know exactly what they are and don’t know the true nature behind if I touch these. I’m extremely successful in my line of work and my career is solid, but this has made me almost want to avoid coming into work.
Ocd is really tough. My son has ocd and the way the mind can whirl and spiral, it is hard. You are on a lot of medication and I hope it is helping. Have you ever heard of exposure response therapy? This is really the gold standard of therapy.  It's kind of challenging in the beginning but it really does seem to work. My son does a 'form' of it without going full in because he wasn't yet able to tolerate that much discomfort. He too has had depression but it's been severe so we are very careful. Anyway, exposure therapy is what it sounds like. Exposing yourself to your fear. Now in this case, you can do it with thought. Rather than avoid, you don't avoid. You don't engage with the thought. You don't rationalize, figure it out, seek help to hear the work environment is safe. You don't engage with the thought at all which will make you quite uncomfortable but the more you do it, the less uncomfortable it is. And then these spots.  You do not avoid them. Touch them. When you don't get sick, you'll be less and less afraid. If you see a therapist which I'm guessing you do, ask about this type of therapy. It could really help you.  Medication helps but does not make it better.  This can.  
Thank you. I do see a psychotherapist and he has mentioned this. The biggest problem I have is I’ve been dealing with this for over 7 years. In the past 2 years it has become worse. Besides going right on it and touching the “fear” what worked for your family in a smaller step? For example if I was to touch the blood spots I will go and wash my hands for at least 30 mins in a panic. And the rest of the day I will think about it until I can get home and shower. I have been able to cut out some other things such as being able to shake peoples hands and not run away to a bathroom to wash. It makes it hard because I’m in a extremely uncomfortable situation, and even harder is the fact I’m in a business setting with professionals. What worked best for your family?
You might be able to find a book that guides you through this kind of therapy. It would have a lot of information and strategies.
Hey, I get it. There are a lot of resources online or books. I know that there are apps such as NOCD which you work with an ERP trained therapist on it. And there are books. What worked best for my family is my son understanding how the brain works. That thoughts and the intense desire to 'do something' to make it feel better aren't real. It's a manifestation of your brain and patterns it is following. So, if you break the pattern, the intense fear and sensation goes away eventually. The problem is that you have to make yourself very uncomfortable in the process. Do it for as long as you can tolerate it. So, you shake hands for example. This triggers the worry of contamination and the compulsion of washing your hands.  It feels intense like you HAVE TO WASH your hands. But instead. Stay and chat for a few minutes. Don't rush to the bathroom. Then go sit at your desk for 5 minutes. Time it if you have to. And THEN, you can wash your hands. That discomfort for that time still talking and not washing your hands for 5 minutes while sitting at your desk is important. It's what is going to rewire your brain to not feel like you need to anymore. Then make it 10 minutes. Go longer and longer. Eventually you'll probably stop. Breathe through fear. In for a count of 4 and hold. Out for a count of 6. Repeat. Know that your brain lies to you and you don't have to do what it says (go wash).
Just wanted to send an update. I have tried to do the breathing exercises and they have helped. Thank you. Scientifically, would could dry blood on peoples hands, and object’s possibly cause for an illness/infection. I mean, it has actually left blood marks on my hands after touching the paper with small open wounds(paper cuts from an office environment on my hands)
We aren't going to discuss your actual obsessive feer as your need for discussion and reassurance is part of the illness. Please find a source for help to begin ERP strategies of non engagement or even leaning into it. Touching blood and feeling the fear without doing a single thing! You may wash your hands after a few moments but not engage otherwise.
Until then, don't engage and just feel the distress. This is how you get over it. It's the only way.
I appreciate the blunt response, but I guess how would “most” people respond to touching someone else blood. It’s extremely distressing situation, and I can’t really ask people who I work with about what they would do because I don’t want people to start looking at me as that guy in the office and especially when I’m their supervisor
You do NOT have a typical response like most people. Sure, they wash their hands which is hygienic but they don't freak out, picture illness, act or feel over the top. Typical and healthy mentally people do not distress over it. You are quite ill it sounds like and I'm trying to help you.
Most people would wash their hands and move on, and never think about the event again. Touching blood while having everyday wounds isn't how people contract infectious diseases.
If I got a strangers blood on me, I'd not panic. Worry. I'd just wash my hands. If it was someone I know, I'd certainly not be upset and just wash my hands. Like I would when I get raw chicken on my hands. Big deal. Happens every day and nothing to worry about or feel upset over. You get upset in a clinically anxious way
That is 100% facts. I would have to say I do appreciate the help and advice. Ultimately, it is 100% anxiety driven. One of the worst feelings a human being can experience relentlessly. On the outside people look at me as this person who can handle situations, and massive amounts of professional work and problem thinking skill sets. I would say you truly do not know someone’s worth behind the scenes. You have offered some great advice and compared to the other answer responded easily recognized it was anxiety and I know it is as well. Thank you.
Both advice givers were correct. You should reread all of the advice (especially about "quite ill") and seek therapy now instead of hoping it will go away by posting here for 2 weeks. You won't uncover something new by continuing to post about the same problem - blood phobia.
People empathize here but they can't cure something like this.
Sir please don't beat yourself up. This is hard stuff. We understand. Anxiety doesn't go away with a weeks worth of trying. I know what you mean. You, we can suffer so much internally and no one knows. It's a true battle. but keep fighting it and get your life back. Hang in there.
It is possible that a therapist can quickly help you overcome this phobia. However, there are no guarantees it will even work, but you already know the problem so that will make it easier for the therapist to try to alleviate your suffering.
Yes, I do understand the problem is self created. Yes, I do understand the anxiety. I have this fear of the contagion that comes from the blood. My mind, telling me there is a fight or flight response from the blood built into me from cavemen time. My brain wants to run, but my fight stays in and ultimately compromises with the compilations of hand washing, Clorox wipes, avoiding….. pretty much anything and everything. Medications, sleep, healthy life balance of all what I have. My psychotherapist had also recommended exposure therapy… but to little extent.
Please don't feed his anxiety by offering percentages and logic. The point is to not engage. more logic based analys isjust created more engagement for him which is to be avoided in ocd therapy.
Self created isn't what anyone said. Anxiety and ocd are real disorders. It's hard. I have great compassion for you and you should for yourself. But to get better, you have to really put effort into it. THAT's your guarantee. And yes, most people recover if they stick with the strategies. ERP is extremely effective. No more logic based answers to your fear. Just don't ask. We aren't going to feed questions about blood anymore. Only anxiety.
Ironically, my current physician also mentioned I need to put effort in as well. That has stuck with me. It also has helped me from my previous point of ocd. It was in a worse situation this time last year.
3191940 tn?1717500602
This is an anxiety forum, not an infectious disease forum, so I'll keep this brief - you aren't going to catch anything from spots of blood on paper.

Are you seeing a therapist about your anxiety?
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