I was diagnosed with OCD and Anxiety disorder around 3 years ago.
One of the huge misconceptions about OCD is that all sufferers resemble either a Cinderella type persona, that excessively cleans everything; or the complete opposite and belong on an episode of Hoarders!
Unfortunately for me, and to the dismay of my Mum and partner, I am not the obsessive cleaner, and fortunately I do not feel the need to collect junk!
My OCD manifests itself quite quickly. Firstly it started with me having the overwhelming feeling I had left something on in the house when I was about to leave. If there was someone else in the house I was ok, as I knew I could contact them, or if I had left something on, they would be there to turn it off. It was a completely different story if I was the last person to leave, however.
I would start by walking around all the rooms, checking first the things I knew I had used, my hair straighteners, or the oven if I had made breakfast, or the fire if I had had that on.
Then, it got worse. I would start by checking items that I KNEW I hadn’t used! Plug sockets, microwave, candles – it was awful.
I would go out the door to work, and even though I had checked everything in the house that could possibly set alight, gas the house, or anything like that, I would still convince myself that I had left something on! I would get 10 – 15 mins away from the house and eventually have to turn back and go and check again. Sometimes, when I had got too far to work and didn’t want to be late, I would call my neighbour who has a key and insist he should go and check for me!
I have three flower pots on my windowsills. These 3 flower pots must be in a particular order. The large one in the middle. The 2 smaller ones either side. Not just for aesthetics, but because it really really stresses me out when they aren’t in the right places!
The two smaller pots are exactly centred so there is an equidistance between them and the centre vase.
I know this is not exactly life-changing or major, but its an annoying part of life, in case anyone moves my pots!
When my OCD was at its peak, in order to be able to leave my house in the morning to go to work, if I was the last person to leave; I started taking photos. I would go around and meticulously photograph everything that could go on fire, explode, burn something, electrocute something etc and take a photo to remind myself later that I had, in fact, turned it off.
This, in theory, was a good idea, but this is how OCD affects your thought processes. After I had taken the photos, I would leave the house, but somehow I would start to convince myself that I had used the item again after taking the photo – therefore negating the point of the image! Or I would think that I had actually taken that photo the day before (even though it was date stamped on my phone, with that morning’s date). My brain would not accept photographic evidence that I had, in fact, turned everything off.
Eventually, it got too much. I was making myself late for work, annoying my neighbour by calling him and just generally stressing myself out. So I told my mum.
At first, I think she thought I was being a little melodramatic; until I showed her the HUNDREDS of photos on my phone. Plug sockets, fireplace oven. All there on my phone. She was shocked!
The next day I went down to the Doctors and told him. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and OCD and put on Sertraline.
OCD does not always manifest itself in the way of making someone a ‘clean freak’ or a hoarder – it can be much more subtle than that and creep up on you over time.
If you feel like you suffer from anxiety or OCD – do not let it build up on you like it did with me. Seek help and talk to someone you trust. Don’t be afraid, to be honest with people and let them know you need some help. They are not going to judge you, they will help you.
You can contact the fantastic charity MIND here and talk to them confidentially.