OCD: Lisa

A Germaphobe?
"I have OCD. I'm a major germaphobe. I always feel panicky and anxious. I'm always cleaning," says 30-year-old Lisa. "I clean my kitchen probably five to six times a day. I probably scrub my kitchen floor on my hands and knees at least four times every day, if not more."

The mother of four says her biggest fear is her children contracting stomach flu. "Vomit is, like, the worst thing. I don't want them to vomit," she says. Lisa says she researches health issues every day online. "If there's an outbreak, I don't let my kids go out." [AD]

"If one of the kids gets sick, Lisa immediately packs up everybody else, and she leaves. I stay home with the sick child until they are completely, 100 percent [well]," says her husband, Khristian.

"My husband definitely said I was getting worse. I wrote to Dr. Phil. I remember the day. I was having a really bad day," Lisa admits with tears in her eyes. "I could see it affecting my kids. Just the way I was feeling inside. I just knew I didn't know where else to turn. I didn't know what else to do. I just felt like I was dying inside that day."

Dr. Phil cameras capture a typical day in Lisa's life.


"I clean my kitchen first thing in the morning. I wipe down all the counters, and I wipe down the table," Lisa narrates. "I get down on my hands and knees, and I clean the whole floor."

When Lisa's children awaken, she makes them wash their hands. She encourages them to scrub until they finish singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." After her son, Reno, and daughter, Makiya, eat breakfast, Lisa homeschools them.

"I do laundry every day. I do up to three loads. My kids don't ever wear anything twice. Whether it was on for 10 minutes or the whole day, it goes in the laundry," she says. "Any time I touch wet clothes, right after I have to go wash my hands." [AD]

Making lunch can be an ordeal for the stay-at-home mom. "I always wash my hands before I touch anything in the kitchen. If I touch the meat, I have to wash my hands. After lunch, I usually do another wash under the table, because there is usually a mess under there," she shares. "I'll open the mailbox with a Clorox Wipe and then grab the mail with the wipe.

"I usually start supper by 4:00, and then I clean up," Lisa continues.

Lisa and Khristian join Dr. Phil onstage.

"What's your reaction to seeing your life patterned on video?" Dr. Phil asks Lisa.

"It seems so irrational," she replies. "I watch it and think, why do I have to do that?"

"What about it seems irrational?" Dr. Phil inquires.

"I guess just the need to have to wash the floor so much, my hands so much, the way I am with my kids," she answers.

[AD]"When you do these things that we call ritualistic behaviors, in the moment, you do it for a reason, there's a pay off. What's the payoff for you?"

"Peace of mind."

"How long does that last?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Maybe five, 10 minutes, and then I just feel that building again."

"It gives you temporary relief, but it's not very efficient," Dr. Phil summarizes.

Pointing out that Lisa calls herself a "Clorox Wipes junkie," Dr. Phil says, "In September of last year, you had a blood analysis that showed that you were toxic for cleaning chemicals. You had done this so much that it had been absorbed, and your blood was toxic. What did you think then?"

"I was really afraid. I wanted to change," she responds. "They said in 10 years or less, I'm either going to have some sort of major disease, like cancer or lymphoma, leukemia or some heart disease. It's just affecting my whole body."

 

[AD]"You're cleaning the floor four or five times a day; you're wiping down everything. You go through all of these rituals, because you're afraid [germs will] make you sick, right?

Lisa nods.

"You then are told that your doing that actually has the potential of making you very sick, fatally sick, but even with that knowledge, you continue to do it," Dr. Phil points out.

"Right."