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Forums / Anxiety / Fear/Extreme Anxiety of Cigerette Smoke / Cigerette Butts and the sight of someone smoking

Topic: Fear/Extreme Anxiety of Cigerette Smoke / Cigerette Butts and the sight of someone smoking

9 posts, 0 answered
  1. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    29 November 2019

    Hi All,

    I am really hoping to get some assistance. I suffer from extreme Fear and Extreme Anxiety towards Cigerette Smoke / Cigerette Butts and the sight of someone smoking.

    To give an idea of the level of Anxiety.

    These are the things that trigger me to HAVE to wash completely before touching anything in my house (except for door handle). I have to put my clothes straight in the washing machine (or as you see below even consider throwing my clothes in the bin)

    - Walking past someone smoking
    - Seeing someone parked next to me at the lights that is smoking (just as much with my windows down)
    - Finding a cigarette Butt in the garden
    - Seeing a cigarette butt on the floor (if I step even near one I throw my shoes away and buy a new pair)
    - Finding one in my garden is extremely stressful. I use a piece of cardboard and scoop some of the dirt with it and throw it in the bin
    (including the cardboard)

    The following things will take me approximately 2 days to mentally recover from (where by I will be comfortable to touch things in my house such as xbox or tv controller (or even sitting in my bed).

    - If someone touches me that smokes
    - If I have to shake someones hand that smokes
    - Touching something that I have seen a smoker touch (such as if they were to use my keyboard at work or sit in my seat)- I brush past someone that smokes

    In the past, I didn't seem to have much concern for this (no where near). I wouldn't necessarily shower afterwards even by going past someone that smoked. I even owned a car that was a previous smokers car and didn't mind (didn't shower when I got home). The car still had a smoking smell to it after thoroughly cleaning it.

    In a previous friendship, I had to ask for their partner to not smoke in the car. In other situations when we were outside I really didn't enjoy being around them while the person was smoking and it felt little consideration was made to make me comfortable (pull me away from the situation) even though I was a guest in their house. This stressed me for many years and my attention to disliking cigarettes got worse and worse.

    I suffer from OCD and have for most of my life. My way around was to buy something and if bothered by it enough I would sell again (due to marks developing/noticed or scratches that bothered me too much).

  2. Samfromwa
    Samfromwa avatar
    17 posts
    29 November 2019 in reply to highhopes
    Hey,
    This is defiantly a obsessive compulsive disorder. I think you need to focus on perception with a psychologist and find techniques to help you cope.
  3. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    12994 posts
    30 November 2019 in reply to highhopes

    Hello Highhopes, I know what OCD feels like and anyone who hasn't got it should be so pleased.

    It's always a continual annoyance every moment and every day we suffer from it because we experience obsessions, compulsions, or both, and they cause a lot of distress.

    As Sam says you would find it helpful talking to a psychologist, preferably one who may specialise in OCD.

    If you can get back to us at any time that would be great.

    Geoff.

  4. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    3 December 2019 in reply to geoff

    Hi All,

    Thank you very much for your kind assistance.

    I seem to have a huge amount of frustration and to make it worse I have terrible luck.

    For example, I don't go to get food out at lunch because even the sight of seeing someone smoking while i drive past them (with windows closed and vents closed) I still get frustrated and have to shower when I get home.

    When I shower, I even wash my ears, eyes and nostrils :(

    If someone touches me that smokes (for example someone at work today that tapped my on my shoulder as they walked past who is a regular smoker) pretty much wrecks my next 2 days. After I wash myself I still don't feel clean. It will take me about 2 days to "recover" where I am comfortable.

    Even though the person has only touched my shirt, my skin itself feels tainted like it is radiation.

    In our new house I found some cigarette butts in the garden and get hugely upset. I use a separate piece of cardboard and some soil (as I feel like the butt has melted into the ground).

    Every day I wake up, I leave off where I was the day before.

    When I was saving for the new house, I had to sell nearly everything we owned because the neighbour to the right hand side of us were constantly smoking out the front of the property.

    I decided to keep 1 item which was a computer that I build to bring to the new house. While I was selling the last of my things, there was someone standing out the front of the house with a lit cigarette. Suddenly in one moment and for the first time in my life, everything in the house and everything in the world related to Cigarettes has made me fear it obsessively. I was possibly the most stressed I have ever been in my life (buying a house, selling to save up for deposit) and that person was the cherry on the top. I literally felt like I had a mental breakdown. It mentally hurt more than when I broke my arm when I was a kid.

    The only similar feeling I could relate to when being touched on my arm was when I was in school and I was bullied (or knew I would have to see a bully on my way to class). That same fear of having to go through something I didn't want.

    The last physiologist I went to discussed through coping methods but to be honest it doesn't lower the intensity and impact. Everytime I see something smoking related (even on tv) it puts me back in the old house with the smoking neighbour and the guy out the front smoking on our property when we were our most stressed ever :(

  5. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    romantic_thi3f avatar
    2408 posts
    4 December 2019 in reply to highhopes

    Hi highhopes,

    Thank you for your post and sharing about your fears and anxiety around smoking.

    While I do not have OCD personally, I can only see how much this has taken it's toll on your life and the impact it's had on you; it sounds so incredibly exhausting and I imagine it would be draining all of your finances.

    You've been given some great support from Samfromwa and Geoff around talking to a psychologist, but I saw too that the coping methods didn't help. Can I ask what coping methods they suggested or if they specialised in OCD? The therapy for OCD is so different to therapy for anxiety in general.

    rt

    1 person found this helpful
  6. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    5 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Thank you very much for your input. I really do appreciate it.

    The coping methods given did allow me to "delay" and "disregard"how I react, but the first initial trigger feels just as strong if not stronger as when I first had my PTSD moment when the guy smoked outside our place when the front door was open.

    There is much anger and frustration each time I see it. It is like it is reminding me of all the regret I have in getting us to debt . I didn't even know I had OCD till 11 months ago (I spent probably 20+ years experiencing the same encouraging compulsive thoughts without even realising).

    The other day I went to get lunch from the shops, I stay looking around constantly seeing if I can see a smoker, even if they are in their car. the second I make contact with the cigerette, smoke or hand out the window I am instantly brought to my mental "knees". I become frustrated that I didn't leave 2 seconds before or 2 seconds later. I get frustrated I got lunch.

    It will all return back to myself, that I am angry that someone so normally passionate about life could do what I thought was right in my mind (selling cars to get something else because it was "tarnished") could get me to a point where I wanted to be 10 years ago (just buying a house now in my mid 30s).

    I have had a lot of great opportunities in life, a loving family, a caring Fiancee, a great upbringing. I feel almost selfish that my OCD took command over my choices in the last 20 years to eventually hold me back.

    When I see someone smoking, it reminds me of that and brings it home very quickly.

  7. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    11 December 2019 in reply to highhopes

    Yesterday was possibly my worst day yet. I decided to go to lunch with my friends at work. They were going to a local hotel/restaurant down the road for a bite to eat.

    It ends up it was actually at the pub/TAB section of the restaurant.
    Where I parked my car I didn't' realise was an area that smokers would sit outside while they have their meal and smoke. There were cigarette butts everywhere.

    The only way I could describe it is, ever have a dream that you are surrounded by snakes on the ground and if you try and move they bite you? It felt like I was literally drowning in a pool of smoke and cigarettes.

    Even opening up my car it felt like the smoke was ever engulfing (even though common sense knows it wasn't)

    My perception and sensation of Cigarettes feels like anything that is or has touched them feels like radiation, and once its been touched there is no going back.

    There is no relief from it, I go outside to the shops, there is cigarette butts I have to step over.

    If I was to step on one, I would likely throw the shoes away and walk in my socks.

  8. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    12 December 2019 in reply to highhopes

    Today was supposed to be a good day. I had all my mental energy I could that I would have a great day. Then someone I was assisting at work put their hand against my arm (I know they are a heavy smoker).

    From there on my day has gone from average to crap :(

    It will take me about 2 days to recover from this. It happened at 9am and I have to work for another 9 hours till I can go home and shower. Not to mention when I am sleeping tonight I will be tossing and turning (I wake up at night because I won't want to rest on my arm where they touched me).

  9. highhopes
    highhopes avatar
    21 posts
    26 March 2020 in reply to highhopes

    Hi All,

    4 months since my last post and I have a feeling it might be getting worse:

    My cigarette phobia is easily my biggest fear, I live my life on it and have played out in my head pretty much every scenario. I keep my phone in a glad sandwich bag sealed all day long and still wipe it down out of the bag after a day out.
    I rank my encounters as follows (higher number the bigger anxiety). My reactions are included after:

    1. See something on tv of someone smoking/vaping

    Reaction - Uneasy and play the thoughts in my head. I want to change channels or feel like the show is ruined or wish they didn't have to show it.
    2. Have to touch a surface that MIGHT have come in contact with a smoker. For example, door handles, trolleys, buttons on lifts, keyboards/mice in office environments, pieces of paper, public seating, public toilets, public taps.

    Reaction - Wash without question once home. Clothes straight into the wash after I was my hands, then straight to shower without touching anything else. Uneasy feelings of anxiety for the evening. Keys, mobile and keycard sanitised.



    3. Have to touch something that I have seen a smoker touch with my bare hands or worse they have made contact with me (such as brushing past me, shaking hands or touching something of theirs that may have been in contact with the smoke

    Reaction - Wash without question once home. Clothes straight into the wash after I was my hands, then straight to shower without touching anything else. Uneasy feelings of anxiety for 2-3 days around what item touched me (hands will feel itchy, if touched on my arm it will feel like its not my arm). Keys, mobile and keycard sanitised.
    4. Smelling 3rd hand smoke either on someones breathe or through corridor.

    Reaction - Same as 2
    5. thinking I might have stepped on a cigarette butt.

    Reaction - Shoes in bin, new pair. Rest is same as 3.
    6. Going past someone smoking

    Reaction - My biggest fear by far. Same as 3

    I'm exhausted by the end of it. I have been let down by a friend in the past whos partner smoked and always felt there was no care taken when i was "not keen" on being around it. Over time it built up to being a very uncomfortable fear.

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