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Bed bugs can and DO cause mental stress as well as physical!

by Sheri Lorene
(Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.)

I've been living in an "extended living" building for two and a half years now. Bed bugs have been a part of our lives the whole time. I suffer from bi-polar disorder, and I'm telling you right now, I'm SUPER STRESSED from this disgusting infestation!

Just knowing that I am being bitten every night, and knowing that my family probably is as well, although I'm the only one who ever has visible bites all over. I feel ashamed, and I feel like I'm not a good mom because I cannot afford to get my kids out of this.

I know that these things can live anywhere; not just in motels or low income housing, etc., but when you actually HAVE to live somewhere that you know is infested with bugs, it plays on your mentality. A lot. I'm actually extremely depressed over this. I feel like a loser, like I'm beneath the rest of my family because I can't afford to get my kids a place to live without having to think about how they're getting crawled all over and bitten at night.

I'm crying right now, as I am writing this, because I'm feeling all of this right now. It feels like I'm starting to go crazy. So if someone tells you to "just deal with it" or "get over it", then they obviously have never had this problem. For the ones who know what I'm talking about, good luck to you all, and God Bless. Oh, and by the way, the treatments don't always work, and even the most recommended to us was the use of steam. It didn't work.

Take Care

Editor Suggestion Regarding Living with Bed Bugs

Dear Sheri,

Thank you for sharing this story that puts a human face on the bed bug problem.

I'd suggest contacting your local department of health for assistance. It sounds like the exterminator did not know what they were doing, since there are products and methods that can effectively kill bedbugs. Major companies such as bed bug exterminators that are part of the Service Magic network gaurantee their work, they don't treat and disappear.

Regarding treatment them yourself, steam is only one part of a treatment plan. While it is effective, it only kills those bed bugs and bed bug eggs that are in the line of the steam. Others that are hiding deeper inside
an object would not be killed.

While I always recommend using a professional exterminator who has great references for bed bug treatment, you can do it yourself.

I'd suggest carefully following our step by step instructions for killing bed bugs. You'll need more than steam to get the job done including a knock down spray such as Sterifab and a residual spray such as Phantom that can provide some lasting protection against any bedbugs. Add to this mix the use of steam, thorough vacuuming and the use of diatomaceous earth (fossil dust) and you have a fighting change to get rid of the bed bugs. The use of mattress and box spring covers will also help to trap any bedbugs you miss.

Now I understand that you don't have much money. Be sure to also contact the local health and human services department and a local politician for assistance such as a city councilman.

Even without money, you can follow these tips to reduce the bed bug population:

1. make good use of your vacuum and steamer. Be sure to steam around all mattress tufts, and particularly around any labels. Steam the boxspring and all furniture including the bed frame and headboard. Use the crevice tool on the vacuum to get into hard to reach places. You can even go along seams with a hair dryer (just be ready to catch fleeing bed bugs in a rag).

2.Wash all linen in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer.

3. Dress the kids in long pants, socks and a long sleeve shirt since bedbugs go after exposed skin areas.

4. Dispose of all clutter as this provides more places for bedbugs to hide.

5. After treating a bed make sure it is at least 6 inches away from all furniture and walls. Keep blankets off the floor making it harder for bed bugs to climb up onto the bed.

6. Make your own bed bug traps as outlined here.

Best of luck to you and your family in fighting this growing problem, particularly among people that can't afford the $1000+ that is required for a professional exterminator (PS: professionals will negotiate price, particularly with people that can't afford their services - you can call bed bug exterminators listed with Service Magic (phone 1.877.233.1145) - to get an idea of how flexible they can be.

Comments for Bed bugs can and DO cause mental stress as well as physical!

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Mar 01, 2022
Stress added to Bipolar illness?
by: Joan

Thank you for sharing your story. I am also a senior citizen, living with bipolar and bedbugs!

I live in senior housing, and like many people, our apartment building is infected with the little devils.

I am totally stressed out! I am handicapped, and have chronic pain. I am just starting the prep for the exterminators. Thank God the management will pay for it. And provide bags, etc. But I just lost my son to cancer two months ago, and I feel totally overwhelmed. I just want to be left alone. I do not feel up to handling all this. And I am going to have to take my cat and leave for four hours. Can't drive my electric scooter in the rain. This is Oregon! Where am I supposed to go??? God help me. Amen

Jun 20, 2013
Bed Bugs on Psych Ward
by: Anonymous

Sheri, I feel you. In fact I'm sitting in a senior citizens low income apartment building that has had an infestation. 200 apartments and every day they're exterminating another one. You can imagine how difficult it is for these seniors to have to clear everything out of their homes...

I'm bipolar too. I'm doing well now so this isn't causing me the stress level that it used to -- But Sheri, in 1998 I was admitted to a pscyh ward with severe depression. I wasn't there a whole day before they moved me to another room. No explanation. No explanation as to why the door to the room was covered with black plastic. Or why I had to wash all my clothes in hot water all of a sudden. It was as if they were saying my Alzheimer patient roommate had the cooties. I had them too I guess. I sure felt like I did.

Now here's the worst of it: I was taking a new medication. On the label -- I read them -- it said very clearly that if you break out in a rash it could be you're having a dangerous reaction. Stop taking the meds right away and call your doctor.

Well, I'm in the hospital, I have a rash, I tell my doctor. She says she's going to send me to the dermatologist. Keep taking the meds. Huh?

Never did see the dermatologist. Next day they started releasing a lot of patients, people who were obviously in no condition to go home. Bewildered people who had no place to go. Mentally ill people who had no idea that the hospital was infested with bedbugs.

I didn't know that those terribly itchy rashes I had on my arms and legs and... were from bedbugs until later on when I went to my regular psychiatrist. I was too mad and too bent out of shape to even raise a good protest.

But I can tell you for certain this problem severely exacerbated, worsenend and extended my mental health crisis.

I don't have any suggestions and I feel bad about that. I'm beginning to worry that we're going to have to try to get this place exterminated (and my husband is a hoarder whose been living here 11 years!)

So all I really have to say is I know how you feel. Sometimes I think it helps to know that someone understands. You were wise and courageous to write about your circumstances. I know that even major expensive hotels and city buses are fighting bedbugs; they're all over the place. We who have bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses can just add this to the other not-so-visible stresses we fight each day. Hang in there, Sheri. You are not alone.


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