The Health Anxiety Guide to Making a Sandwich

People have often asked me what goes through my mind when I get anxious. It is actually a difficult question to answer. A lot of the time, these thoughts are so ‘normal’ to me now that I don’t even think about it. I have tried to think about my actions when doing something like making a sandwich and I am going to share this with you. There may be other things I do that I haven’t thought about, but I think it’s pretty close.

This isn’t a definitive list, other factors and situations can and will influence what I do on any given day. The more anxious I am, the more I will check and re-check.

1. Wash Hands (you will see this a lot)
2. Take a plate from the cupboard.
3. Inspect both sides for anything that missed the washing process.
4. If yes, put in the sink and repeat 2 and 3. If no proceed to 5.
5. Open the bread and inspect for mould (in all cases, even if fresh)
6. Put 2 slices on the plate not on the chopping board or work surface. This is in case of contamination.
7. Open fridge and take out butter and ham.
8. Check date on both. (If on or a day past date don’t use just in case)
9. If ham has been opened the day before, don’t use just in case. (If unsure don’t use)
10. Wash hands as I have touched the fridge door which might be contaminated.
11. Take a knife from drawer. (Go to steps 3 and 4)
12. Butter bread then put knife in the sink as I can’t use it for anything else until washed.
13. Repeat step 11.
14. Open ham and smell it. If it smells at all odd, don’t use. (this can be very subjective!)
15. Put ham on bread.
16. Wash hands because I touched the ham.
17. Put ham and butter in fridge.
18. Repeat 10.
19. Repeat 11.
20. Cut sandwich.
21. Put knife in sink.
22. Did my hand touch the sink? Wash hands just in case.
23. Take sandwich to dining room.
24. Wash hands.
25. Eat sandwich checking for odd tastes. (Again, subjective)
26. Review previous 25 steps to make sure it is ok.
27. Worry for a couple of hours about contamination/food poisoning.

If for any reason, someone else makes you a sandwich, go straight to 27 multiplying the time by a factor of 10.

As I said, this process can be affected by any number of factors including level of anxiety at that moment, interruptions and what I am eating.

I am sure there are people worse than me. This is what goes through my mind, but anxiety is not a ‘one size fits all’ type of thing. But you may think that you are the only ones who feel this way – you aren’t. Help is out there for people who feel like this. It is never too late.


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