Living with someone who has OCD

My experience of living with someone who has OCD.

Let me just start by saying this is not an attack on OCD or people with OCD, it’s my experience of living with someone who has OCD and how I see how it affected their and my life.

If you have OCD, fine but i think you need to think about what its like to live with someone who has OCD, or what it’s like to live with yourself. I’m not passing judgement on what is a mental disease in this blog post but if you have OCD then you need to get help before it dominates your life.

I lived with someone who’s propensity for cleanliness has ruined their life and to some extent their ability to function as what you might call an normal human being. However I am completely aware someone might call those without OCD “not normal!”

When you have OCD every needs to be super clean. The house, the garden, the dogs, everything!

With OCD though its not just about the cleanliness or the perceived cleanliness its the routines which go along with the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How  those with OCD make sure everything is done in a specific order otherwise everything isn’t right. IE, not clean!

If you don’t know what OCD is, then let me explain.

“OCD is short for Obsessive Cleaning Disorder, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder depending on how you look at it. Some people class it as a cleaning disorder as this is how it manifests itself in most sufferers. A mental disease which grips people and turns then into robots who must perform specific tasks to fulfill a requirement. This is my interpretation of what OCD is. A proper explanation can be found at the Mind.org website.”

It also gave the person in my life irrational actions such as not being able to leave the house if the table wasn’t cleared after a meal or inability to leave things for just 5 minutes to the point where they had panic attack type levels of hysteria. 🙁

I will give you an example of how this affected them with a simple task of using the dishwasher.

  • To start, the dishwasher is opened and the dirty pots are individually rinsed under running water so no food bits accumulate inside the dishwasher.
  • As each item is washed its then placed into the dishwasher in a specific order not to maximise load capacity but for aesthetic qualities, so they look nice, plates together in size order, cups in size order, etc.
  • Once loaded the dishwasher is loaded with powder, door is closed and the dishwasher set in motion.

Now you’re thinking job done. No. All the work surfaces must be cleaned but we’ll get to that in a moment.

As the sink was used, the sink is now dirty and must be cleaned. First with soap and a scrubbing pad. All the bowl, taps, drainer, plug hole are throughly scrubbed. Then rinsed and wiped with a cloth to remove all the soap residue.

The cloth and sponge are then rinsed till no soap is left in them and they are wrung out and folded in the case of the cloth or stored in a specific container in case of the sponge. There are even specific cloths and sponges for specific jobs. One for the human food containers, one for the dogs bowls, one for pots and pans and one for the sink!

Next the drainer and sink are sprayed with anti bacterial spray and wiped with a secondary cloth. Again this is rinsed, folder and stored. Next the sink and drainer are wiped using paper towels to dry everything off. And finally bleach is poured down the plug hole. This takes about 10 minutes and is repeated every time the sink is used even if only hands are washed!

Once the dishwasher is in use then all the horizontal surfaces in the kitchen are sprayed with anti bacterial spray,  wiped with a cloth, a specific cloth used only for this job which is then cleaned/rinsed and put away before the sink is again cleaned.

When the dishwasher is finished it’s then emptied in an equally precise manner.

  • Items are individually removed, dried throughly and placed in neat piles on the worktops. Cutlery is also placed in rows on the worktop.
  • Once empty, hands are washed, cloths used for drying are folded and put away before the cupboards are opened one at a time.
  • First off the plates.
  • All the non washed plates are removed from the cupboard and placed on top of the just washed plates in effect rotating them so the cleanest are at the bottom.
  • This is repeated for plates, cups, glasses, cutlery until all are put away in a similar fashion.
  • The dishwasher is now loaded with a cleaning tablet and put on the short cycle to clean it!
  • All work surfaces are now cleaned again in the same procedure as is the sink!

Only then can the kitchen be left.

This is just one of the procedures which must be adhered to and also involves a long time and several bouts of hand washing, hand creme being applied and cloths and paper towels being used.

Please don’t think these OCD tendencies are limited to just the kitchen. All the house gets the same treatment even outside in the garden.

The way the lawn is cut does not escape the OCD treatment. First it has to be mowed in a particular way up and down to generate the lines in the grass before the edges are trimmed with a hand trimmer or even a pair of scissors to get the perfect edge. In the past they even ended up with blisters on their fingers from cutting the lawn with scissors!

All grass cuttings on the flower beds are collected by hand so that there is zero grass contamination on the gardens and then all the hard surfaces are first brushed with a large stiff brush to collect all the larger debris and grass, then a softer brush is used to sweep up all the smaller particles of dirt and dust.

Flowers are staked and tied up so they all stand to attention and any deviations means a plant is tied tighter or its trimmed and removed. However, no cleaning products are used in the garden, yet!

Yes the results are amazing but the work involved!

It might sounds like I’m bitter and twisted this is not the case. It actually depressed me because I loved this person and I lost them many years ago to OCD. Seems at times because of the OCD they cared more about cleaning the kitchen sink than about sitting talking to me.

You might even say I’m jealous of the kitchen.

At the same time I’m also sad because it’s taking over their life completely in some regards. They would say that I’m just cleaning the kitchen. This isn’t cleaning the kitchen that’s sanitising the kitchen. Repeatedly.

It went on day after day and you can’t say anything about the routine or what’s they’re doing as most people with OCD get very defensive and aggressive about this. I’m also not anti clean but this is too much!

I can also hear people saying, “Why didn’t you help them?”

The other thing with OCD is that sufferers see these spaces as “their space” and you can’t help them. At best you are a hindrance at worst you are making it worse. I’ll give you a really good example.

While they were away on holiday alone I stayed home to look after the dogs, so the day before they were due to come home I blitzed the house top to bottom. I spent 14 hours cleaning, polishing, wiping, vacuuming, mopping and much more. I thought the house was immaculate but on picking them up from the airport and coming home the first thing they did when entering the house was start cleaning the kitchen. This was accompanied by lots of muttering and tutting! Made me feel about 2 inches tall!

They then spent an hour cleaning up and this was after 18 hours travelling!

If you have OCD I beg you to seek help, see a psychotherapist, go see your doctor, speak to your friends, talk to your partner.

GET HELP!

If you don’t you seek to alienate yourself from those who love you.

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