My memoir on postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD should be out soon (fingers crossed!) (tightly crossed!) In the meantime, here is a deleted scene that gives a glimpse into the inner workings of an anxious mind.
We paid a local maid service to clean our house every other week. Given my new obsession with germs, a reasonable person might assume I would hire the service to come more often.
I was not a reasonable person.
A trio of cleaners always came on the same day of the week, but their arrival time was uncertain. The day before the scheduled cleaning, the service would call and give me a two hour window for when the cleaners would arrive. Sometimes, the cleaners arrived a half hour before the window; other times, not until fifteen minutes after the window expired.
This was not a problem for most customers who worked away from home and gave a spare key to the cleaning service; but there was no way in hell that I was giving a spare key to a bunch of potential maniacs. I therefore had to be at home when the cleaning service arrived to let them in and then stay at home to supervise them and make sure they did not steal a laptop or scrub the counters with rat poison.
This should have been easy for an agoraphobic recluse.
It was not.
It was hell.
What if I was breastfeeding when the doorbell rang?
What if I was changing Pippa’s diaper? And I got distracted and walked away to answer the door and Pippa rolled off the table and smashed her head open?
What if Pippa was napping and the cleaners woke her?
While the cleaners worked, I listened.
Was that a sniffle? A cough? A sneeze?
Was someone sick?
Was that another sniffle?
Should I ask the sniffler to wear a face mask?
Would she hate me?
Oh god, she would hate me.
Was that another sniffle?
She said it was allergies.
What if it was pneumonia?
Was it contagious?
How long could germs linger on a counter?
The cleaners clomped and stomped and jumped and bumped and crashed and thrashed and made an ungodly racquet with no regard for humanity. The vacuum cleaner was so goddamn loud. What the fuck were they doing, vacuuming a pile of nails and tossing around bolts of thunder? Was Zeus himself vacuuming the bedroom?
And what was that vile smell?
It smelled like death. It was death. There was poison in the air and Pippa would breathe it and suffocate AND DIE.
This was not a cleaning service.
This was a barbarian invasion that would be the death of me and all I loved.
I blamed my anxiety on the cleaning service, fired them and felt a surge of bliss and wellbeing. But like the calm I felt after washing my hands, it was very, very short-lived.
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