Living with OCD

By Sandrea

When people hear the word obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) I would imagine that a lot of people asked what the heck is that?  But for the many of us who have to live with this disorder it is not no picnic and the worst part is the inability to stop you from which ever form this disorder takes.

For me, my obsession takes the form of house cleaning, I cannot stop myself from cleaning the house, all it takes is to see a speck of dust and the whole house gets cleaned from top to bottom.  So I decide to write my story in order that the hundreds of people who have to live with OCD can rest assure that they are not freaks, they are just different.

Imagine you have your family and most families like to visit each other and have the occasion dinner, party and generally just drop in for a chat.  Well that for me is a living nightmare, the thought of anyone coming to visit especially if there is more than one person send me into frenzy.  All that I can think about is that my kitchen, bathroom, living room they are just going to get dirty and the seeing any kind of mess makes my life a living hell.

On the few occasions that I actually have family members and friends around, I spend the whole night after they left cleaning, I was so exhausted that I collapsed, and my son found me in a heap.  My whole body felt like it was going to shut down and still as my eye spot a tiny speck I was grabbing the cleaning cloth and scouring the speck as if my life depended on it.

The frustrating part of all of this is that I have no idea when my cleaning turned into an obsession.  I was always a very clean person and growing up in the Caribbean that was the norm.  It did not matter what kind of dwelling your parents occupied it had to be spotless otherwise the consequences would have been dire.  I carried that with me and have always have a nice home, neat, clean and tidy.  However the last few years I have taken cleaning to another level which I have since learned that they called OCD.

Moving on to visiting friends, if I enter their home and see it messy and untidy then my exit is so fast you would believe that the devil was on my tail.  They could not understand what was wrong with me, why could I not sit and talk with them.  Then one of my friends found out my secret and told the other, because I did keep it as a secrets, they knew my house was always clean and neat but what they only found out recently is the level of obsession with cleaning.  The other obsession that I have is with ironing, everything that is washed must be iron, whether it is bra, knickers, towel, flannels, sheets, pillowcases, you name any item and they will not go on my person unless they have been ironed.

Imagine the predicament that I am in these two obsessions having completely taken over my life, I cannot see myself actually living with anyone because I would not be able to cope in a relationship.  Do not get me wrong I have already four children and I do not believe that my OCD was as prevalent in those times, I believe that when their father and I separated, I just flung myself into looking after my children and the cleaning was just a way for me to occupy myself away from my job.  Looking back now I can almost believe that is where my obsession could have stated. Now these obsessions have taken over my life completely.

When my friends found out that I had not been in a relationship for over 15 years they cannot believe it.  But when my relationship with my children’s father ended, which was an amicable one, we never lost touch throughout those years and he still continue to visit me and occasionally stay at my home.  I took the view that my children were more important than any other relationship and what I did not want, especially my daughters to see is me having different men coming into the home.  So I sacrifice a relationship so that my children would not have to worry that I was sharing my time with someone else.

My children are now adult and if I chose I could be in a relationship, but as I have mentioned my OCD would prevent me venturing down that road.  Just imagine that someone comes into the home, he may squeeze the toothpaste in the middle rather than from the end and that would make me see red, so I have chose to isolate myself in order that me and my obsessions do not have to bother anyone.

I am not ashamed of this disorder and for the people that have similar disorder, do not let anyone one berates you.  I have embraced my disorder, and because I can identify what I have I can happily live with this for the rest of my life and I really do not care what people might think.  We are each born with differences and as such we should not have to apologise for who and what we are.

If you are an OCD suffer, do not hide your obsession, because if you do then it controls you, but if you embrace it then you control it.

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