Practice English Speaking&Listening with: My Life with Germaphobia during COVID-19

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-I'm washing my hands at least 20 times a day.

I have to wash my hands after I touch anything.

I wash my hands so much

that the tops of my hands bleed sometimes.

I know that washing my hands this many times is compulsive,

but I just can't stop doing it

because I'm too afraid of being sick.

I'm obsessed with staying healthy.

I'm obsessed with germs.

And it's only contagious things that bother me.

And airborne things.

But if you told me you have the flu,

now I'm getting panicky.

I was afraid to go to the grocery store.

I was afraid to be in situations where there were children.

It's very hard to live with something that you don't want,

but also you feel like it keeps you out of immediate danger.

Coronavirus has taken over the world, basically.

My worst fears are coming true.

Everything that everyone told me wouldn't happen

is now happening.

♪♪

♪♪

I'm Tracey Carnazzo, I live in New York City,

and I'm a professional podcaster.

This is my bed and I feel like if I keep everything white,

I can bleach it and that actually will get the germs out

'cause there's nothing that kills a stomach virus

except for bleach. So I bleach my pillowcases,

my sheets, my duvet every single week.

I watch reality TV and then I take notes on it

and then I podcast about it, the recap.

So I'm always in bed taking notes.

That's why I have pen marks on my pillowcases.

I'm like, "Don't worry, I'll bleach them right out."

I like to be safe in my apartment.

I try to keep it clean. I'm not like

obsessively cleaning.

I'm obsessively putting things in order.

I use these wipes because they kill everything.

These are like heavy duty wipes.

You do not use them on your body.

And I just like wipe everything off.

And I always have foam soap, because I feel like foam soap

gets the dirt off a little bit better.

So I'm just disinfecting my countertops.

I do this every single day

because I want to make sure that everything is clean.

-[ Coughing ]

-Have I killed you guys?

-[ Coughing and groaning ]

-[ Laughs ]

It's probably blowing your way.

So this is my favorite counter spray

because it is effective against the norovirus.

I use it every single day.

I would love to spray that right into my mouth.

I want to kill all the germs.

I remember being three years old

and I remember having my first anxiety attack.

I always knew that there was something going on,

but it was always like "Tracey, get over it."

I was diagnosed with OCD in adulthood.

I think that the obsessiveness and the compulsions

are about the things in your life that you can control.

I'm obsessed with staying healthy.

I'm obsessed with germs.

And it's only contagious things that bother me.

And airborne things. I'm washing my hands constantly.

I wash my hands so much that the tops of my hands

bleed sometimes. I try to use lotion,

but then I feel like the lotion also attracts dirt

because it's kind of sticky.

And then I have to wash my hands again

and I'm washing my hands at least 10 times a day,

maybe not 10, probably like 20. I lied.

I tried to -- I tried to be more normal.

I know that washing my hands this many times is compulsive,

but I just can't stop doing it

because I'm just so afraid of catching something.

I feel like I'm a slave to it.

The main coping mechanism that I use is avoidance.

I avoid situations where I am not going to feel comfortable.

I avoid taking public transportation.

I avoid being at gatherings with lots of drinking.

I avoid being around people that might be sick.

[ Exhales sharply ]

New York City is definitely not the place for anyone with OCD

to live, especially the public transportation.

I know that we apparently

have a great public transportation system

compared to other cities.

But to me, everything is dirty. There are just so many people.

I haven't even seen a train this close in like seven years.

It's really weird. I've only seen them from a distance.

It's like reminding me of what it was like

to commute every day.

I have not been on the New York City subway

or any kind of public transportation since 2012.

Just thinking about like all the germs

that are on the train and all of the people

that are crammed in there on a rush-hour commute.

Oh, I can't do it anymore. I choose not to do it anymore.

I've tried to create a life where it's not necessary,

but there have been so many times

where it would have been so much more convenient

to use the subway or the railroad or a bus.

♪♪

-Hi! -Hi.

Podcast recording is my full-time job.

My co-host is my best friend, Noelle Winters.

And we've been friends since we were children.

Hello and welcome to B.S. -- Not Teen Mom related.

I'm your host, comedian and Reverend Tracey Carnazzo

joined by my co-host, Noelle Winters Herzog.

-That's me. -We have a bunch of questions

from you guys that we're gonna answer.

Podcasting is such a good career for me.

I get to do it mostly from my home.

There aren't crowds usually.

It allows me to avoid a ton of triggers.

So, Noelle thinks that I live in a bubble.

Noelle is married now for over a year

and she wants to have children soon.

All of these fears and phobias

have affected my relationship with friends that have kids

because I don't even want to hang out with them anymore.

Children are germ factories, they're vomit factories.

I get afraid to hang out with them without their children,

even, because if their children are sick at home,

they're usually carrying something.

-I want to have kids.

And it's something that I've thought about,

like what's gonna happen in our relationship.

I just want her to be happy.

I think that she will love a child that comes from me.

I can't see her being like,

"I don't want to ever see your child."

I just don't see it happening. -We'll start with some pictures.

-Yeah, that's fine. Start with some pictures,

like, through the phone. It's fine.

-Krista asks, "What advice do you have for people

who are going to therapy and in search for the right therapist?"

We've been using BetterHelp.

-BetterHelp saved me. -Seriously,

because we don't have to leave our house.

It's probably the easiest way to get someone to

"go" to a therapist. -Yes. Yes.

-And I started cognitive behavioral therapy about,

I would say, six months ago.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is changing the way you think

and your thought patterns and figuring out

why you're thinking certain things

and changing your behaviors.

-Hey, how are you? -I am good. How are you?

-Oh, man. This week's been a little bit tough.

It's -- It's getting cold out now and a lot of germs.

And it's kind of like flu season now.

And I'm just getting a little bit hesitant

to leave the house too much.

I do therapy once a week with my therapist, Patricia,

and I use online counseling.

And what if in the next two weeks

I get exposed to the flu and I catch the flu?

-The minute we start saying the what ifs,

we take things to the next level and the next level

and the next level. And we get into that --

that's just what we call a cycle of suffering.

-I know logically that even if I got the flu,

I'd probably be okay.

But for some reason, like, even just thinking about

getting that, like, makes me feel like

this is gonna be the death of me.

-You think of the worst-case scenario

that ever could possibly happen.

-But, like, who wants to be sick?

-You're right. Who does want to be sick?

Yet, are we gonna always avoid it our whole life?

-I want to. -You want to. [ Laughs ]

-I do. I really want to. I wish that I could.

I watch people in the city walk around with these masks

and I'm like, "Oh, I know that's not socially acceptable,

but I really want to do that."

I feel like everyone looks at someone with a mask on

like they're nuts.

And meanwhile, I look at them like,

"thank you so much for your service."

-When we have avoidance behaviors what happens?

-Yeah, I know I'm isolating myself

and I know that I'm trying to build this world

where I just don't have these things to be exposed to.

Am I being ridiculous or am I just trying

to keep myself healthy?

To me, to be normal is not to have all of these fears

and phobias and just worries.

You know, I look at other people and I envy them

when they're not afraid of germs,

when they're going to visit their sick friends.

I really, truly want to be able

to do all the things that I am afraid of.

It's very hard to live with something that you don't want,

but also you feel like it

keeps you out of immediate danger.

[ Telephone rings ]

-Hey, Tracey, it's Dan from Vice.

Just wanted to check in, see how you're dealing with coronavirus.

-Might make you louder so I can hear you.

My worst fears are coming true.

Everything that everyone told me wouldn't happen

is now happening. There is contamination issues.

The coronavirus has taken over the world.

I'm cleaning even more than when you last saw me

because I'm trying to sterilize things.

I'm trying to sterilize light switches every few hours.

I've been washing my hands every 30 minutes.

The line between mental illness and actually just being prepared

is very blurred right now.

I miss the fact that, you know, I was the outsider

and I was overreacting to things.

And now it's just the way that everyone's been reacting.

People that don't suffer from anxiety,

germophobia, they're all having a really hard time.

And I think that anxiety is heightened around the world

for everyone across the board.

And it is so much worse for me

because I've been suffering from germophobia for so long

that it's even more elevated than anyone could ever imagine.

The only silver lining that I could see to this pandemic

is that people are going to be more cautious.

And no one's really gonna call me crazy anymore

because they're all gonna see what it's like

to live life through my lens.

♪♪

♪♪

The Description of My Life with Germaphobia during COVID-19