If I had to pick one thing that causes me the most anxiety on a daily basis, it would be the thought of using public restrooms. I say “thought,” because I rarely ever use them. The situation has to be dire in order for me to even consider this as an option.
I get it, we all need to go to the bathroom, but it seems inhumane to have to share a restroom with total strangers. Right? I mean gross. I know that most people, even those without contamination fears, find public bathrooms disgusting. However, for me and other OCD sufferers, it feels like you are entering a war-zone… Any wrong step could prove deadly. Ok, ok, that is a tad bit dramatic, but that is what it feels like.
For the most part, I’d prefer to go all day without drinking, than have to use a public bathroom. I’m not joking. I’ve done it. Multiple times. However, I am trying to be better about it, due to the fact that my doctor said I am causing irreversible damage to my bladder and that if I don’t stop, I’ll likely be in Depends (adult diapers) by the time I turn 35… So, with the hopes of not having to worry about changing my own diaper in addition to my child’s, I am willing to give it a shot.
I believe that in order for this to work, preparation is key. So, I have come up with my own “public restroom strategy.” I know this must sound crazy to all you normal people, but just hear me out. This plan includes both strategic tips and necessary material items.
- Never touch the door handles. Use your sleeve, scarf, paper towel…anything. I don’t even like to think about how many times those handles have been touched. This goes for the external door and the stall door, both of which are havens for germ infestations… ew.
- Always do a full sweep to see which stall appears to be the “cleanest.” Things to look for, paper towels on the floor, over-flowing garbage, any type of moisture (you hope it’s water, but most likely, it’s not), and anything else that might look hazardous ( I won’t go into any gross details, but to give you a hint, these things sound like “shwoop” and “wee”).
- This is likely the most crucial point. Don’t ever sit on the toilet seat. I get it, sometimes you have to sit. If you do, use half a roll of toilet paper to line it first. I never understood the whole “sit on your hands thing..” Who told you that? Whoever they are, they have been severely misinformed…Sure, place your hands, the things you eat with, touch your face with, shake MY HAND with, on the toilet seat… yea, that’s a good idea…NOT. If you don’t have to sit, pop a squat, making sure no vital clothing items are touching the toilet.
- Bring your own TP. I’m serious. Kleenex makes adorable travel size packs. This way you know the toilet paper is clean and no one’s grubby hands have man-handled it before you use it.
- Always flush with your foot (as long as you have shoes on, but if you are barefoot in a restroom, you are too far gone for me to help you). Do you really want to touch something that people touch directly after doing their business? I know I don’t.
- Reference number 1 for tips on exiting the stall.
- Wash your hands. Make sure you take a paper towel first to get soap and turn on the water. Once you have washed your hands for at least 30 seconds, get another paper towel to turn off the water. Wait, don’t throw it away yet, you still need that paper towel to open the external door.
- Once the door is open, turn and take a three-point shot with your paper towel for the garbage can. I have to say, I’ve gotten really good at nailing this shot. I know you’re proud, don’t lie.
To be honest, even with these handy tips, 98% of the time I deem public restrooms unfit for use and have to attempt to find one that meets my standards. This can be a long processes. Lucky for me, I have a bladder of steel, live close to where I work, and have a husband who is patient enough to drive from place to place on road trips to find somewhere that has a bathroom I think is suitable to use.
This is one situation where I envy guys! Why can’t women do their business standing up? I’ve actually been told to get one of these devices , but that just seems too extreme, even for me.
Anyways, enough OCD ranting for now…