If you think OCD is about house cleaning, hand washing, door checking, putting things in line and order, counting, contamination, germs or repeatedly driving around roundabouts you are missing the point.
OCD in my experience is about anxiety and fear.
All the previously mentioned stuff is just detailing.
You could take someone off the street, and get them to wash their hands 60 times a day, but if they don’t fear the consequences of not doing so, then they are simply washing their hands too often.
You could get someone to drive repeatedly to and from my work for a few hours, they might even enjoy it, but if they are not doing it because of a brain crushing anxiety and fear that they have harmed someone or caused an accident, despite KNOWING they haven’t and that it is just their mind tricking them, then guess what? They’re just running up a big fuel bill.
I have heard OCD rituals described as ‘a bit inconvenient’, ‘somewhat rewarding’ – even ‘enjoyable’ if you believe what a current television programme promotes. This is enforcing an incorrect and disturbing message that OCD would be something be cool to have and something to be proud of and aspire to.
This is so far from the reality of OCD that it’s almost laughable…..well it would be if it wasn’t so serious.
The list of tasks OCD has bullied me into doing is a long and varied one.
From the stereotypical hand washing and door checking through to electrical appliance fears, the need to see the floor for every step I took to make sure I wasn’t standing on anything ‘bad’, driving issues, contamination fears including inspection/avoidance of shiny things on the floor and anything red that could vaguely resemble blood, paranoia of being overheard talking about people, inability to throw post and food packaging away without inspecting it, need to inspect all public door handles and seats I had to use …… and ………. a long list I could go on and on with.
All of these compulsions have something in common. The fear. The anxiety. The overwhelming, head filling, desperate fear that if I didn’t perform the tasks that something horrific would happen to me, my family or my friends and that my non-performance of these compulsions would mean that it was my fault!
The joker in the pack that OCD deals up is that, at least in my case, you KNOW this is bullshit.
You KNOW that an OCD sufferer is probably the least likely person to suffer contamination, tread on a needle, cause a car accident, say something inappropriate, throw a private letter away, sit in some blood……..You’re also pretty sure that if you did sit in some blood, get urine on your hands, tread on a drawing pin or god forbid leave a light on that nothing catastrophic would actually happen.
BUT…. And it’s a big but. That doesn’t matter one bit because you CAN’T ignore it. OCD doesn’t let you ignore it, it nags and bullies and talks to you until you do what it wants from you.
AND THEN! And then it feeds from your weakness by increasing its grip. Each and every time you scratch its itch it grips a little tighter until it’s gripping you so tightly you can barely live your life.
There are things in my life that look like OCD but are not. My CD collection is in alphabetical and obviously chronological order. Hmm, ordered and regimented. Looks a bit suspicious? How do I know this isn’t another branch of OCDs terror? Because there’s no anxiety, no fear. I COULD mix them all up tonight and not feel a single need to change them back. They are ordered through CHOICE……sounds a little bit like CHOOSING to clean someone’s house for them doesn’t it Channel 4? I have them in order because I LIKE them like that, not because I NEED them like that.
p.s. my desk and side of the bedroom are a complete mess and if it was down to my cleaning, the bathroom would be a pretty grim place in my house. OCD is NOT a cleaning disorder.