It seems that getting out of the house and being around people helps. I find myself much less compulsive and, for that matter, much less obsessive when not behaving like a social hermit. And even the obsessive parts have less power when I have been out and about. It's odd, because while I am at home, going out and facing a plethora of contamination possibilities kind of makes me want to bar the doors and windows and never emerge from my safe zone again. Meanwhile, I fully realize that avoidance only breeds fear, and is basically like feeding OCD a giant bowl of crack.
I visited with my dad again recently, and it was really cool. I was in town where he lives and called to see if he wanted to meet me for dinner. He did, and another family member was at the restaurant we went to, so we all sat and talked two hours away. It was great, hugs and all.
My laundry pile is finally diminishing, and it is so satisfying to watch that pile get smaller. Also satisfying is opening closets and drawers and finding them full, instead of completely (or damn near) empty. It hasn't been easy, standing there with my heart pounding and my hands shaking until my mind accepts that I am just going to do it despite my fear. Get used to the cold pool water, your body will habituate, I tell myself. Years of spending entire summers swimming in pools and the lake have afforded me this metaphor. Jumping in always sucks, but pretty soon you're just swimming and going about your business without a thought in the world to the water temperature. That is precisely the goal of habituation in OCD. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it often works if I make myself stick with it.
I am getting better with public. I still cannot bring myself to touch shopping carts, even if I wipe them down with those sani wipe things. That is a goal for me. For now, I carry plastic bags with me or use produce bags in the store to wrap the cart handles with. Shopping carts just freak me right out. Gah!