When OCD crosses the line, by a million miles

OCD is, simplified, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours (rituals) that are done to get the obsessive thoughts to fade.

For me, the rituals were only time consuming, irritating and got somewhat in the way of functioning like an average person…

However, what happens when the rituals themselves generate so much distress from the fear of not doing them correctly that I avoid doing them? I shutdown and stop functioning 😢

Things just don’t get done, including eating and drinking (don’t get me wrong, I do, just not as often, healthily or regularly) as they require a clean surface or tap to do.

I end up spending potentially hours in bed when I’ve already woken up just avoiding getting up and facing down the rituals.

I end up putting off having a shower because the rituals involved make it take five HOURS!

My flat ends up a mess as the anxiety of carrying a contaminated item over to the dustbin exceeds my threshold for acceptable distress.

Walking through a door becomes an exercise in avoiding bumping into the doorframe.

Just opening a door becomes stressful as the handle isn’t clean, so am I going to face down opening it even with gloves? Now, in 30 minutes, or in 2 hours…?

Using gloves or wipes becomes a guilt trip for the sensation of wasting them to avoid touching or clean something that doesn’t need it.

Sitting at my desk becomes avoiding raising my kneecap so high that it hits the underside of the desk, which I haven’t cleaned, yet, from a day or more ago.

Going to sleep becomes “will I be too contaminated to function when I wake up?”. So how about staying up a bit longer, like until 4am…

Being on the bus becomes will I brush against anyone? So if the bus is crowded I’ll wait an unlimited amount of time for a less busy one.

Putting my coat on becomes did it get contaminated because I was careless taking it off?

Putting pyjamas on becomes will pulling my shirt over my head to change contaminate my face? So I sleep in my clothes.

Resting my head on my arms becomes contaminating my head with whatever might be on the floor as my elbows brush against stuff. So it doesn’t happen, no matter how relaxing…

I just shutdown, stop doing anything, and try to work up the courage and energy to get up and face down another task until there is no longer a day to face down and life becomes just pointlessly existing.

I feel so guilty expressing my distress that I get even more distressed and become unable to form words. My mind simply prohibits it, making not speaking the compulsion.

P.S. About the title, it’s a reference to how unreasonable OCD is. The line being minimal impact on life. The distance past is how impactful it becomes. I love playing on common sayings to say something awkward. Although as I find myself explaining them a lot, maybe they get a bit confusing 😛, hopefully this one isn’t…

P.P.S. I even feel guilty about writing about my OCD, knowing that someone might spend time reading it, and so I feel compelled to thank you for getting this far. Thank you 🐭

Waking up

I have to do this every single day. It’s usually the worst part of the day though, with the behaviours generated by having OCD.

Step 1: Leave my bed

Leave my bed. This is the easiest part, so long as I don’t touch anything.

My OCD splits all the environments in my flat into different contamination states. In the past being in bed didn’t count as having any contamination, although in the last year it’s evolved into being avoid a state all of its own.

Step 2: Breakfast

At this point I have two choices.

  • I can wash my hands twice so that I can touch my cupboards (estimated time 30 minutes)
  • I can use disposable gloves as a barrier between me and the things I touch (estimated time 30 seconds)

Now onto making and eating breakfast. Put my granola with milk in a bowl and eat it.

Because of the contamination level from the contact between my mouth, which hasn’t been cleaned yet and (in)directly on other items, the bowl, spoon and surface now require cleaning before I can use them later in the day.

I usually don’t clean them until later.

Step 3: Netflix

I know have to change gloves to ensure I don’t contaminate my phone from the breakfast items. I’ll break my phone from cleaning it later, it has happened to more than one phone.

This step is just while I work up the motivation to have a shower. Depending on what I’m doing later and how anxious I am this state could last between 5 minutes and 5 hours.

Step 5: Shower

Including disinfecting the bathroom floor,washing my hands, cleaning myself and brushing my teeth this part usually lasts about 2 hours.

After this the bathroom floor and any sinks I’ve used are now contaminated from whatever I’ve washed off. Exactly what that is and why it’s a big deal doesn’t matter. It just is.

Step 6: Flat cleaning

This bit just eliminates any contamination created on any surfaces or sinks by the previous steps. It means that for the rest of the day I don’t need to worry about contamination as touching the items will no longer feel contaminating.

Done

I’m ready to start the day now.

If that seems tedious and and excessive, that’s because it is. With OCD I’m aware of the irrationality of what I’m doing, but I have no real means to control it.

This is my start of the day, every day. On the plus side, for today, I don’t want to hurt myself.