I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Nope, it’s not the cleaning kind, you won’t find me scrubbing my loo at all hours in the morning. In fact I’ve never really got the cleaning thing. Yes, I like things clean, and I like things in order, but that’s not what I class as my OCD.
I have my OCD under control..
It was at it’s worst around 15 years ago. I was a single mum and going through a difficult time. I was losing control of my life and my mind. There was no-one there to see my crazy ways, apart from my kids and I don’t think they really noticed.
I still find it hard to talk about so let me put some things I used to do in a list.
I washed my hands a minimum of 20 times a day. My skin still suffers from this.
I never switched anything on once, I had to turn it off and switch it on twice.
Whenever I switched something off I unplugged it from the socket, I never left a plug in.
Doors that could be locked were always locked.
When I went to bed I had to turn everything off, unplug all plugs, check everything again. Go to bed, get up again and check everything again. Then I had to re-check that all the doors were locked.
I had panic attacks daily.
I rarely went out.
This is most of what I can remember, I’m sure there was more. I learnt to control it with meditation and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, I’m aware of it all the time but being aware of it helps me keep it under control. Sometimes I’m even strong enough to disobey it and do something really rebellious like lick my fingers, or put a book on the bookshelf in the wrong place (never horizontally though, that is just wrong!)
Some days I don’t vacuum behind the sofa, or bleach the loo.
When I told my OH about all the checking I used to do he thought it was natural. I was a single mum and worried for mine and my children’s safety, it was the right thing to do, double check everything. He didn’t understand, people rarely do.
When you have OCD you HAVE to check and double check, if you don’t the voices in your head drive you crazy, they will not let you have any peace. Yes, if you don’t lock the door a burglar might get in. When you have OCD if you don’t lock the door something terrible will happen to you or one of your children, sometimes you can imagine what terrible thing may happen but sometimes it doesn’t matter, you just believe it will be so terrible that you cannot rest until you have checked that the door is locked. Then you still don’t get any peace, what if you didn’t check properly, can you be really sure you checked it, you have to check it again, it’s not safe if you don’t. Are all the plugs unplugged and the switches turned off? Are you sure? I know you’ve already checked them, but maybe you haven’t checked them right, you will need to check them again just to be safe. Did you turn the gas cooker off? You know you haven’t used the gas cooker since tea time which was hours ago, but the house might explode if you haven’t turned it off, so you check. Then you climb into bed exhausted because it’s already taken you an hour to get there with all the checking and all you can think is, ‘did I turn it off properly? Maybe I turned it on again instead of turning it off. I will have to check again’
Living with OCD is not always about having a spotlessly clean house, it’s about living with a nightmare in your mind.