I want to talk about a mental health condition that affects many people, ill or healthy. Along side many sufferers Anxiety Disorder likes to keep the OCD company, which is fab right? I mean, it must be great to have a lovely clean home and have everything neat and perfect? WRONG.
So what is OCD?
OCD is the short-term for Obsessive compulsive disorder; it causes unwanted thoughts of obsession that you don’t want and the urge to do things over (which is different for each person.) It causes stress when there is simply a dirty cup on the table or a few dishes on the counter. However no matter how much cleaning that your urges get you to do, the relief is only temporary from it and you constantly look for other things to clean or look better. You also have fears that never leave you… that everything will hurt you or you will hurt someone or something. You live in fear that things have germs and are contaminated which makes you feel dirty. It also makes things look different and certain things must be facing a certain way when to everyone else it looks fine. It also makes sufferers wash their hands more than needed, hoarding, constantly asking for reassurance and avoiding certain places, people, foods, smells and conversations that can cause obsessive thoughts to clean or get rid of germs.
How do you develop OCD?
People can develop OCD from family history/events, if someone else in the family has it- it is passed through genes, if they have been abused or bullied, been neglected, if they have high standards, have moderate anxiety and if they are independent.
There are also links to OCD such as Depression, Eating Disorders, Hoarding Disorder and Anxiety Disorders.
For me it’s all about routine each day and every week. So i plan times and days when i will clean certain things and certain rooms, the days when i wash my hair and when i strip and wash my bed and anything i can think of to make them ‘cleaner‘ even though they are already clean. Each day wake up and i have to do certain things so my routine isn’t broken. When my routine gets broken i am stressed and i panic, which friggin sucks! I also shower the dogs once a week on the same day and wash all their bedding, toys and blankets. I also feel extremely uncomfortable with odd numbers on the volume bar on my tv and radio channels etc (pretty weird huh?)
I asked friends and family who are affected, how OCD affects them to see how different it is for each person. These are the answers:
My OCD get’s much worse on days where I am in pain with my back (which is most days), as i also suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease, Fibromyalgia, severe Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Every morning when I wake up, I start my day with struggling to get out of bed due to my back condition which then triggers my thoughts of mess and everything not being in order and i become anxious before the day has even begun. For me my OCD affects my obsession to hoard things or I simply can’t throw away certain things. I obsess over books which for example i may read over and over again. Food that’s kept in the cupboard has to be facing all the same way, which can cause me to be stressed and dampens my day so to speak.
My OCD drives me fucking insane. The thoughts of the worst case scenario are constantly there in my mind and the habits of checking everything in case it goes wrong. By insane, I mean that it just comes out in pure anger and stress when the triggers are that constant and my mind won’t stop…You know full well you have checked the window and the locks 74,0000 times but the overwhelming obsessions and urges make me check again and again in case something bad happens. It’s fucking exhausting.
My experience with OCD was around 25 years ago. It was completely exhausting due to doing everything over and over so many times that it took over my life. Firstly, it started with turning the lights on and off many times before I’d leave them alone. Any slight click that sounded different would have me doing it over and over again. It was the same with locking the door.. pushing and pulling over and over checking it was locked which often led me to missing my bus. Doing the washing was a nightmare, if I dropped a sock when taking the clothes out of the machine I’d put the whole load back in again and I ended up taking hours of that day to do a couple of loads! Cooking took forever too, I was paranoid about food hygiene. Many times I’ve thrown away a whole chicken because after putting it in the oven I panicked in case I hadn’t defrosted it enough or was still raw. In my head I thought I was going to do something that would harm my family but I have no idea why it started. The OCD lingered for around two years before it slowly eased and although I still worry about light switches and locking the doors I would say I no longer suffer from OCD.
My son suffers from OCD and it affects him bad at the moment. At first he used to do things a couple of times a day such as switching a light on and off, washing his hands, showering and making sure the volume number on the TV wasn’t on an odd number. He counts quite frequently with certain things when doing daily activities and if he doesn’t do the certain number of things, he then ends up with really bad abdominal pain. If he is going out the house he puts approximately 10 socks out on bed and he feels them to decide which he wants to wear.
I find my OCD is different in many ways.. First thing I HAVE to do is go toilet, sort out my Ileostomy and brush my teeth/use mouth wash and blow my nose every morning. I find I get extremely irritable if i see dust, little bits of fluff or hair on the floor, it may even be one bit but that’ll make me want to hoover the entire house using the nozzle to go around the edges. I then go around hoovering everything I can see, sofas ( as they’re fabric) then i polish everything in sight, bleach the bathroom and downstairs toilet multiple times a day along with the kitchen. After me and my husband have a shower/bath. i then clean the bathroom and even hoover, so no little bits of fluff from our dirty clothes go anywhere and when i get clothes out of the washing machine to the tumble dryer, i find myself hoovering just in case those little bits of fluff go anywhere… If this doesn’t happen..Say i wake up and my routine is off, i can’t focus. I feel sick, hot. I find myself getting angry, frustrated. I feel like my life is a mess. I start to doubt silly situations like, why am i bothering… I find cleaning helps me cope with my days. I’ve never really spoke about my OCD. People normally come over and say ” Oh how lovely and clean you are” but unfortunately there is more to it. No one ever see’s the mental stress on myself and others. My husband gets really confused and angry at the fact he can NOT quite understand how me being in a clean environment helps me the amount it does. We tend to argue a lot about it. It’s a good and bad thing really. It’s good because clean things in life are lovely but the bad side is… it controls me. I sometimes wish I never was like this. When i have visitors, i start to worry that they can notice me worrying about the crumbs they’re going to get somewhere or knowing that i can’t wait for them to leave, just so i can clean. Don’t get me wrong i love having people over but i also dread it. I also have one standing Anxiety/ PTSD due to other illnesses (I won’t go into them) but it doesn’t help this situation in regards to being OCD. I even have other OCD people say to me ” My gosh your OCD is really bad” I never really thought I had OCD until it started causing problems with me and my husband and the realisation of others telling me constantly that I should go and see someone to talk about this. I find if i wake up and I’m a bit down, worrying more so than normal then i HAVE to clean.. it’s essential! Once I’ve cleaned the whole house like i do everyday, i don’t just stop there.. I’m constantly asking my husband what he’s up to, so i know if he’s making a mess… Or I’m checking every room constantly to see if there is anything else i can try to scrub. My OCD has been quite extreme lately. Me and my husband have moved into quite a big house 4 months ago and I’ve had so many panic attacks because when I clean to me it doesn’t look any different, that’s because it needs decorating but then decorating is hard for me as paint goes EVERYWHERE!! When it comes to going out I become even more anxious because i worry if there’s any dirt, hair, fluff on me or if i smell nice, whilst checking if the doors locked about 100 times, going in and out to check if everything is off and locked properly. I’m extremely terrified of catching any bugs, so therefor i take my own drinks everywhere, my own anti – bacterial gel for my hands. If none of this is done in some sort of order that i do it in, i get ridiculously bad-tempered, worried. I say things i shouldn’t ever say and think things i know i definitely shouldn’t. Sometimes I have crying fits. Another issue i have with being OCD is that whenever my husband offers to do something around the house, I’ll be very hesitant about it but I think, no he wants to be a real man around the house and do things.. This never ends well as because I’ll go to whatever he just tried to do and re do it but it offends him. My intention is never to hurt anyone’s feelings but I don’t feel satisfied until I’ve done something myself, because in my head it’s only done properly if I do it. He always says to me ” I can never be as thorough as you and I’m sorry”
I’ve had OCD for a while now. It started with intrusive thoughts for me. I have obsessions with cleaning and compulsive skin picking which is also known as dermatillomania (caused by OCD). My son has it as well. He is just 11 and has rituals. He has to check all the doors to make sure they are closed. He says certain phrases and if I don’t answer him correctly, we have to say it again till it is correct. Could take 10 times sometimes. He overly washes his hands. He has sooo many rituals. It is very stressful.
From speaking to these people, it is important to realise that OCD isn’t just what you see on TV where we all clean our homes 5/6 times a day or paint things on a daily basis etc.. Just like we are all human yet we are all completely different to one another on the outside and the inside. It can be difficult not only for the person who suffers, but for the people close. It’s hard for others who don’t suffer to know how to support the person affected and at times can be very frustrating. I’m hoping that by reading this blog it helps someone to help someone else. Relationships can have tension from time to time and if you love someone who suffers from any mental illness or if you suffer please, please remember that help is available and it is out there. I bet you are asking “Well where and how can I get the help I/they need?” Going to your GP and explaining what has been happening and they can refer you to a psychologist, where they will offer therapy services or medication.
For any more information click here through the NHS.