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Lifestyle & Culture

Germaphobia Affects Daily Life

By; Madison Bara

Most people suffer or have suffered from a fear or phobia at some point in their life. Whether it be stage fright, deep water, or the dark, everyone has been a victim of the overwhelming anxiety a person feels when facing one of their worst nightmares. However, many do not let this fear take control of their lives. They can work, relax, and enjoy special occasions without having the looming thought of when they might meet their worst fear plaguing their mind. But I am one of the few who let my phobia of germs take complete control over my thoughts and everyday life. 

My phobia started in December of 2016. I was in my junior year of high school, and I had a chemistry teacher who would show up for class, even when she was ill. I sat in the front row of this class, as well, so throughout the year, I grew weary of the germs I could contract from her constant coughing and sneezing. Thus, I started to have high anxiety over the thought of catching something, and I began to take precautions. 

First, it was hand sanitizer, which I would apply every 20 mins throughout the school day. In fact, I was using so much that one of my friends worried about the damage it would cause to my hands. Then, feeling like I needed to do more to protect myself from harmful germs, I decided to start using Lysol, a chemical disinfectant, on my smartphone and school items. Thus, leading to me irritating my sinuses and possibly killing brain cells as the acidic smell lingered in my room for hours. 

However, this was only the beginning. As my anxiety of contracting harmful germs grew, so did my methods of prevention. By the end of 2017, I was imprisoning myself on my bed as I thought if I sat on the floor or couches, I would contract an illness. My phobia then started to affect my relationships as I wouldn’t allow my parents or friends to touch me or my belongings. In fact, I would yell at people if they placed their hands on my stuff as I felt they had contaminated it.  

It wasn’t until 2018 that I found a better way to protect myself from germs and still be able to live my life. In the winter of 2018, I learned of a product called Clorox wipes. These disinfectant wipes would prove to be an essential part of my life as they were less harmful to me and still provided me with the ability to disinfect my belongings. However, I didn’t know how obsessed I would become with them. To explain, I would use about 75 wipes a week, so I would have to buy two boxes of them each week. I even brought them on my trip to Disney World as I knew how disgusting the theme park was, in regard to how many people have ridden or touched the rides and displays. 

In the same year, I started college and began to take two showers a day, one after coming home and one at night. The unnecessary number of showers I took caused arguments between my parents and me, as the amount of water I used a day was causing them to have a higher water bill. Thus, stuck in a constant state of hating myself and feeling helpless, I realized I had let my phobia take control of my life to the point where I didn’t know how to fix it. 

At the beginning of this year, I decided to try to combat my germaphobia because I felt ashamed of what I had become. Thus, I started spending less time obsessing over the possibility of being infected, but it didn’t help to curve the overwhelming anxiety I felt when being near people or touching things in public places. Therefore, during the summer, I had a relapse and started washing my hands an unnecessary number of times with cheap soap, which led to me harming the skin on my left hand. But I have since stopped using it and opted for a more moisturizing soap to help rehydrate the damaged skin. 

Although I have made immense progress in combating my fear of germs, I still have a long way to go. This phobia has held me back from many opportunities, including making memories with my friends, and I am tired of living under its mercy. It is sad to remember how much time I wasted because of it. In fact, while everyone else is snuggled in their cozy beds, fast asleep, I am up late doing an hour-long night routine to protect myself from harmful germs, each night. While I previously accepted the fact that this is a part of my life, I have since learned that this is not a proper way to live. Thus, while I still take many precautions to shield myself from harmful germs, I am no longer a slave to my anxiety. Therefore, I will continue to work hard on recovering from this phobia so that I can one day live freely once more.

Most people suffer or have suffered from a fear or phobia at some point in their life. Whether it be stage fright, deep water, or the dark, everyone has been a victim of the overwhelming anxiety a person feels when facing one of their worst nightmares. However, many do not let this fear take control of their lives. They can work, relax, and enjoy special occasions without having the looming thought of when they might meet their worst fear plaguing their mind. But I am one of the few who let my phobia of germs take complete control over my thoughts and everyday life. 

My phobia started in December of 2016. I was in my junior year of high school, and I had a chemistry teacher who would show up for class, even when she was ill. I sat in the front row of this class, as well, so throughout the year, I grew weary of the germs I could contract from her constant coughing and sneezing. Thus, I started to have high anxiety over the thought of catching something, and I began to take precautions. 

First, it was hand sanitizer, which I would apply every 20 mins throughout the school day. In fact, I was using so much that one of my friends worried about the damage it would cause to my hands. Then, feeling like I needed to do more to protect myself from harmful germs, I decided to start using Lysol, a chemical disinfectant, on my smartphone and school items. Thus, leading to me irritating my sinuses and possibly killing brain cells as the acidic smell lingered in my room for hours. 

However, this was only the beginning. As my anxiety of contracting harmful germs grew, so did my methods of prevention. By the end of 2017, I was imprisoning myself on my bed as I thought if I sat on the floor or couches, I would contract an illness. My phobia then started to affect my relationships as I wouldn’t allow my parents or friends to touch me or my belongings. In fact, I would yell at people if they placed their hands on my stuff as I felt they had contaminated it.  

It wasn’t until 2018 that I found a better way to protect myself from germs and still be able to live my life. In the winter of 2018, I learned of a product called Clorox wipes. These disinfectant wipes would prove to be an essential part of my life as they were less harmful to me and still provided me with the ability to disinfect my belongings. However, I didn’t know how obsessed I would become with them. To explain, I would use about 75 wipes a week, so I would have to buy two boxes of them each week. I even brought them on my trip to Disney World as I knew how disgusting the theme park was, in regard to how many people have ridden or touched the rides and displays. 

In the same year, I started college and began to take two showers a day, one after coming home and one at night. The unnecessary number of showers I took caused arguments between my parents and me, as the amount of water I used a day was causing them to have a higher water bill. Thus, stuck in a constant state of hating myself and feeling helpless, I realized I had let my phobia take control of my life to the point where I didn’t know how to fix it. 

At the beginning of this year, I decided to try to combat my germaphobia because I felt ashamed of what I had become. Thus, I started spending less time obsessing over the possibility of being infected, but it didn’t help to curve the overwhelming anxiety I felt when being near people or touching things in public places. Therefore, during the summer, I had a relapse and started washing my hands an unnecessary number of times with cheap soap, which led to me harming the skin on my left hand. But I have since stopped using it and opted for a more moisturizing soap to help rehydrate the damaged skin. 

Although I have made immense progress in combating my fear of germs, I still have a long way to go. This phobia has held me back from many opportunities, including making memories with my friends, and I am tired of living under its mercy. It is sad to remember how much time I wasted because of it. In fact, while everyone else is snuggled in their cozy beds, fast asleep, I am up late doing an hour-long night routine to protect myself from harmful germs, each night. While I previously accepted the fact that this is a part of my life, I have since learned that this is not a proper way to live. Thus, while I still take many precautions to shield myself from harmful germs, I am no longer a slave to my anxiety. Therefore, I will continue to work hard on recovering from this phobia so that I can one day live freely once more.

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