When will enough be enough

It’s a couple of months since I wrote a post, as I do try to live in denial that it wrecks normal day to day activities, but last night I was so angry that I have to live with OCD that I was motivated to share how annoying this (expletives galore) condition makes normal living.

Because my OCD manifests itself with handwash after handwash every hour of the day, it is important to plan the most mundane of activities to minimise how many times I have to go through this palaver.  So obviously tasks need to be done in the order of dirtiness e.g. empty the dishwasher immediately after you’ve washed your hands and don’t get distracted by anything else like putting the kettle on or moving items in the pantry.  This means continually thinking about the order of jobs that need doing and often I plan them in my head before launching into everyday tasks.

In this exacting order, it stands to reason that once I’ve sat down on my germ-free sofa, with my germ-free dinner plate and germ-free glass of juice, I don’t want to get up to add salt and pepper from shakers that are not germ-free.  I therefore work out everything I need once I’ve sat down with freshly washed hands to enjoy a couple of hours relaxing (both physically and mentally) in front of the TV with my dinner, dessert and drink.

Last night was no different, I filled my juice glass, I filled my wine glass, I selected my knife and fork – all lined up on my sofa side-table ready to sit down.  I added salt and pepper to my dinner and washed my hands ready to enjoy my meal on my germ-free sofa.  But ….

OCD Happy knitting on sofa
germ-free sofa

After I’d enjoyed my meal I realised I had forgotten to get my dessert prepared in a germ-free way on my side-table.  I decided I was thoroughly sick of washing my hands that day and that I could get some kitchen roll to tip up the opened tube of Toblerone chocolate to extract the foiled wrapped (meaning germ-free) chocolate.  Alas, as I used the kitchen roll to up end the tube of chocolate my hand accidentally touched the outer dirty germ-ridden wrapping.  I told myself that it was only a small amount and for a nano-second, so with my “mind-over-matter” strength I should live with this and not feel the need to rush to the sink to wash the germs off my hand.

Even though I knew this was a difficult dilema, as I went to sit back down on my sofa ….  I slightly bumped the side-table with my big backside and knocked the (expletive) TV remote control onto the floor!  Aaagghh now the remote control is filthy dirty and I needed to clean it with “Kills 99% of all germs” spray, and then wash my hands AGAIN!

 

Germs OCD frustration

 

There is absolutely no escaping this nightmare thinking that OCD causes, minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day – I HATE OCD and feel so angry, which leads to being very upset.  I wish my mentality was “don’t get angry, get even” all I ever end up doing is dissolving into buckets of tears after I get angry.

I try to rationalise my OCD by telling myself how it isn’t that serious, it isn’t living with cancer or a similarly serious condition – at the end of the day it is within my control to kick it’s backside into touch, but I haven’t been able to for approximately 30 years.  Should I give therapy with a professional a try?  Should I put as much effort into a solution, as I do into planning how to minimise washing my hands?  It’s so tiring living with this, my brain is tired out, and yet I’ve not done anything useful or lucrative to cause my brain to be so tired.  Should I just be grateful to be alive and able to see beautiful skies, the waves of the sea, and the birds sitting on my patio?

OCD Exposed

 

 

Checking

In previous explanations of my OCD I’ve exposed some of the antics of my ‘worry OCD bully’, but not the ‘checking bully’.

Worry worry worry
Worry worry worry

I do work constantly on trying to fight back against this one, but the weight of responsibility makes me buckle, such as locking my (valuable) car and (my biggest valuable) house door when leaving, and then returning for a cheeky re-check.  I feel conspicuous when I walk back to re-check my car doors, because on CCTV I could look like someone trying to break in to the car!

Leaving my home for more than a few hours means several checks of doors, windows and taps but when I go on holiday it involves far more lengthy checks and double checks of:

1.  Are all the plugs switched off?

2.  Is the fridge door closed properly?  Push it and then stare for several seconds (just to ensure my eyes don’t deceive me).

3.  Is the water heater off?  This means staring at the on/off switch for several seconds and then touching it to check followed by more staring to ensure I didn’t move the switch by accident.

4.  Is the television plug removed?

5.  Is the washing machine switched off?

6.  Ensure there are no small appliances plugged in e.g. irons, hair curlers etc?

7.  Are all the taps in the house turned off and the plugs nowhere near the plug-hole?  Now due to my ‘contamination OCD bully’ we now have two bathrooms, shower room, cloakroom and obviously kitchen, meaning 14 taps and seven plug-holes in total!

This takes a great deal of staring followed by my hand underneath to check my eyes aren’t being deceived, by the transparency of water, and then more staring and a counting ritual.  Each tap is given a number (which is always an even number) and counting to that number whilst staring e.g. one, two, three, four, five, six.  I continue wandering around the house checking and if I’m very whittled I go back to the tap and count through to that number again.  My mind has to be comfortable with the level of checking before I can head for the door.

Transparency of drips
Transparency of drips

9.  And finally … Locking the door?  Once locked and the key removed I try the handle whilst counting to a number (2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12) and if worried return to the door and recount to that same number again whilst trying the handle – this is not helpful for the longevity of the handle and my partner goes potty when he catches me doing this!

I have read many books on OCD, the potential causes, and the most effective fixes, so I am aware that I do not trust the message being sent from my eyes to my brain that for instance the tap is not dripping, meaning I stare, or put my hand under the tap – presumably a trust issue?  As I mentioned at the start, I am trying to kick-the-butt of this ‘checking OCD bully’ on a daily basis, but ….

Thank goodness I’m not working set hours for someone else, because when I did have a pressurised job with lots of responsibility I would go through the above checks and then be half-way through my journey to work and start to panic that I’d missed a check, or not done it thoroughly enough.  Was I preoccupied when I left the house and the vision I have in my head of locking the door was from yesterday?  I would imagine the house being burgled and thieves going through my personal belongings, so I would turn the car around a.s.a.p. to go back and re-check.

U-turn the car back home
U-turn the car back home

I should say at this point, that so far, returning to double-check something worrying me has not been fruitful – I have never found a sink full of water at the point of starting to drip onto the floor and flood everywhere, or the door left unlocked or worse still left open with cats and dogs roaming in, doing wees and poos everywhere and then leaving.  Recently the worse thing I have found is the washing machine was not checked (by my partner !!) so it was flashing as finished even though the contents had been removed.

On occasions I fought this instinct to return home, but it would play on my mind for several hours meaning extra pressure to the job, but obviously when I did take the time to return home it would make me late for work and then I faced those consequences.  Even though the company operated ‘flexi’ hours (thank goodness), this generally meant cutting comments like “Morning part-timer” or “Had trouble getting out of bed today”.  This is what OCD sufferers contend with rather than face the ridicule of explaining the life they have to live with this condition – it is so sad.

Worry