Last year I visited my first ever festival and managed to cope with my OCD quite well. I only had a few anxiety issues and they were largely related to things falling on the floor or touching items I didn’t think were clean. We were lucky to camp somewhere near relatively clean flushing toilets with water and soap, which meant I didn’t touch a chemical or compost toilet the whole time. But this year was very different.
This year we camped in regular camping, several hundred yards away from some chemical toilets with a limited supply of hand gel and toilet roll. We’d prepared for this by packing our own toilet roll and each taking a small bottle of Vital Baby’s Aquaint sanitising water . The sanitising water was a bit of a life saver as it’s great on surfaces, hands and is even safe to swallow. That’s not to say you should drink it (you really shouldn’t). But I was able to spray it onto tops of cans and round cups if I wasn’t sure how clean they were.
My first major barrier to overcome was using the chemical toilets. Now I am reliably informed that Camp Bestival toilets are some of the cleanest festival toilets you will find and I can agree that they are kept relatively clean. But you may find yourself behind someone with a terrible aim or even worse, a terrible tummy. But you have to go, when you have to go and I am quite impressed with my routine of visiting the loo.
The toilet roll we took came in handy with cleaning the toilet seat before use and allowed me to use the flush (when they worked) and open the lock with a piece. Now to someone without OCD this may seem extreme, but for me it meant the difference between an anxiety attack or not. I found the compost toilets easier to manage. They were more spacious, which meant I was able to move around without brushing the walls and they felt generally cleaner than the chemical toilets, despite having to hold a cup of compost if you needed a number 2. Though these toilets did start to whiff a bit towards the end of the festival, but I guess a big pit of poo is going to do that.
Before the event I expressed my desire to Clara, to buy tickets for the posh loos and I am so proud that I didn’t do this. The queue for these was often long and at £2 a pee/poop, I was not going to waste my morning mocha money on that. The next biggest achievement for me was trying food from new food stalls. Some of the larger brands had their hygiene ratings displayed, which was really comforting for someone with food cleanliness triggers. But many food stalls didn’t display these signs and though these weren’t always displayed I was able to see into all food prep areas, which was good. I had one mini anxiety attack when I watched a server drop a cooked sausage onto a raw sausage, but he placed it back on the grill and was using a food thermometer on every sausage he was serving. This happened to be the same stall that served me stone cold bacon, but they were incredibly accommodating and replaced it with some freshly cooked bacon.
Many of the stalls displayed signs about allergens and prompted people to ask any questions if they were unsure of things, which is quite helpful if you are worried about what you are going to consume. All the food I ate over the weekend was well cooked and served at a great temperature (apart from the cold bacon).
My best advice for visiting an event like this when you have OCD is to make sure you are open and honest with the friends you camp with. I am lucky to have an understanding wife and one of the best friends you could hope for who gets me and accepts my little ticks and panics. We have a sense of humour about things and everyone understands not to take things personally when I don’t want to touch certain items etc. Being able to talk about things or say I am struggling with my OCD makes all the difference to enjoying the event.
If you have any questions, do please get in touch, I will do my best to ease any worries before you visit Camp Bestival. It’s such a fun event, I am so glad I didn’t let my OCD beat me whilst I was there.
Our Camp Bestival tickets are covered by Camp Bestival. We were sent Aquaint sanistising water to review, all views are our own.