I wasn’t sure how to title this because I don’t consider myself to have severe OCD. I am lucky enough to be able to have some control over it. I’m blessed enough to not have OCD control my life and I am not ignorant to that. I know people have it MUCH worse than I do. Regardless, I want to share my story with OCD. I realize that at this point in my life, I’m also blind to my OCD habits because I have lived with them for so long. Something that really brought my habits to light was my boyfriend who doesn’t have OCD, and I realized that I have weird expectations when it comes to the cleanliness of things. Now, I do notice my habits that involve the overwhelming need to do certain things to calm my anxiety or do things in a certain order.
Something that was interesting for me, and maybe this isn’t uncommon, but it was that my OCD started off as anxious thoughts that I could only calm by doing an activity a certain way and a certain amount of times. Thoughts like my dad was going to die on his drive home from work. Which is very possible, and that’s why I couldn’t ignore it. As I got older, and my environment changed, my OCD became more about cleanliness and being as perfect as possible and less about calming that anxious thought because those anxious thoughts don’t as often.
What’s important to understand is that those anxious thoughts that triggered my need to follow a routine repetitively didn’t go away. I just got so exhausted with them I had to force myself to stop. That was so hard. It was so hard to accept that if I didn’t check my closet and under my bed and have certain screens open on my phone that my mom wouldn’t die. It was hard to convince myself that even though I JUST CHECKED my closet, under my bed, and my phone screen, that they were still the same as two minutes ago. Usually I would check them AT LEAST three times a night for a while there. My phone I checked every two minutes for an hour or two. My phone thing went on for years. It’s something I still struggle with sometimes.
One thing I noticed as I typed the previous paragraph was that I still have to write down EVERY anxiety causing thought in my notes on my phone or else I can’t let that thought go. Maybe it’s a task I need to do, or maybe it’s something that happened that I’m overthinking and I need to talk myself through but then I can’t stop talking myself through it and I OBSESS over it.
My habits changed over the years, some developed and some disappeared.
When I first noticed:
I first noticed I had OCD when I was little and I had to touch things a certain way a certain amount of times. Like touching a door handle. I had to touch it a certain way or tap it a certain way so many times before I walked away. Same for the salt and pepper shakers when I would set the table.
I remember having to shower day and night for a little bit there because I was so afraid I smelled. I was only in 5th grade.
No one believed me when I told them I thought I had OCD. I’m not mad about it, though. It’s not like my OCD was obvious at the time. Although, now it’s totally obvious if you live with me.
Where did my OCD come from?
If we’re being honest, I could probably name multiple things that could’ve caused it. I’ll never pinpoint it because I’m sure it’s a combination of genetics and my home life. I truthfully don’t remember exactly when it started but I’m sure it was a way for me to cope with my anxiety.
It became clear to me that my dad has OCD when my parents separated. I noticed his OCD because now it was just him and I in a house and he was a clean freak. I didn’t notice it before, because he would stay in his room in order to avoid my mom. If it’s not clear already, I’ll just tell you. I don’t remember a time that my parents liked each other. I hope that if my mom reads this that it doesn’t upset her. She wouldn’t be mad at me, I know that, but I don’t want her taking responsibility for something that wasn’t all her fault and something that’s so far in the past and none of us can change. To be truthful, I’m thankful for my upbringing because it allowed me to become strong in a way that not everyone becomes. It allowed me to become who I am, OCD and all.
I’m sorry if I’m jumping around, but that’s how I tell a story.
So, genetically I’m sure it came from my dad. But, my environment is a big factor in my anxiety, my OCD, and my desire to always be perfect in the eyes of my entire family.
My entire family suffers from anxiety, but only my Dad has OCD. The thing is, my desire to be perfect is a giant source of my anxiety. My desire to be perfect is because I’m the youngest. My desire to be perfect is because growing up as the youngest you hear everyone talk shit about everyone else. I heard my dad complain about my mom, my mom complain about my dad, my brother complain about my sister, my sister really doesn’t complain about anyone, to be honest. She’s probably the most forgiving of the eight of us, including my parents.
I heard everyone constantly complain about how the other wasn’t good enough. It’s not that we didn’t love each other (although, my parents definitely didn’t), it’s that my older siblings grew up in such a toxic environment that all that resentment in them came out in the form of words and I never wanted to be the target of those words. It’s that they all coped in different ways and sometimes the others wouldn’t approve of it. I can’t explain how much I wanted and still do want two of my brother’s constant approval. You know why? Because if anyone is judging me, it’s them. You know how I know? Because people talk. It makes me want to cry just typing it because it hurts to know that my own family, the people I adore, cringe at my blogs and judge my character.
I grew up in a home that seemed normal to me when it comes to cleanliness. I would say it was, I don’t remember it being disgusting. But as I got older, messes just got bigger. Things weren’t cleaned as much anymore because my siblings were all moving out. The junk piled up. I felt like I was in a minor hoarding situation. I felt like I was drowning sometimes. When my parents separated, my home went from kind of dirty to dirty where I didn’t feel clean even after a shower. I’m not saying it WAS that dirty, but I have OCD, so dirty to me isn’t the same standard as most people. I don’t mean to shame anyone, but this is my chance to speak up about what demons I fight. Because of my living situations, I now have a constant cleaning lists because if every inch of my house is not wiped down I feel like I failed.
When I was younger, before we had family over we would clean the entire house. That turned into me cleaning my entire house starting a week before any family event or any party we have. I clean every inch of everything in my house.
Some of my siblings would always say they were too embarrassed to have friends over because our house smelled like dog or it was dirty. I didn’t see it that way, I saw it as a house. No one has a perfect house. But now I obsess over making sure our house doesn’t smell like dog even though we have three. I obsess over making sure nothing is left messy before anyone comes over. Everything has to be put away and everything has to be washed. Couch cushions, blankets, dogs, they all have to be washed.
No, I don’t have resentment for my parents because it is what it is. My need to have everything clean has just created cleaning as something I enjoy to do and every day I work on not obsessing on what didn’t get done. Its how I handled being in the situations I was in when I was younger. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, though.
It’s not all my parent’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault in particular, it’s just my environment created who I am today.
Believe it or not, I’m not ashamed of my OCD. In fact, sometimes I see it as a gift. There are some articles saying people with OCD tend to be more successful. I don’t know if it’s true, but my desire to be perfect has me chasing dreams like no one else I know. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but I try to find the good and embrace it and I work on diminishing the bad.
That’s my story. That’s what I felt comfortable sharing in hopes that you can understand me better and maybe so some of you don’t feel so alone. I’m not shy to admit I have OCD. And for those of you who didn’t understand what that meant for me – this is what it means for me. I shared what I could without pointing anyone out in particular or shaming anyone. I love and adore my family and I am grateful for them everyday. We may have had some tough times but we pushed through it together.
Thanks for reading,