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amilita
OK, I gotta get paint, but I wanted to go ahead and start this thread now.

My dad and uncle both had OCD that mainly involved hoarding, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately because I tried to participate in a genetic study about OCD. It turns out I couldn't because both of them have died, and they would need genetic samples from them.

It really effected my dad's life in a negative way, though...we're not talking about little things like how I prefer to eat things in even numbers. And he never got help for it, which is sad.

I'll be back later to post more!
livelyupurself
Oh man, I love the name of this thread! Props to AP.

And to Amilita for starting it. I have a feeling we need this here.

I know I struggle with my own OCDish quirks. I admit to having my own 'things must be eaten in this order or things must be placed just so' rituals and there are things I tend to overstock on, but mostly they are necessities I don't like to run out of. I am a paradox of OCD, while certain things drive me apeshit if they are not done my way, I can also, at times, be disorganized and sometimes messy (not dirty, there's a difference!). I just wish that the OCD traits would manifest themselves in a more productive way. I mean could I at least get a really organized home out the deal? Yes, the canned goods all must face the same way, and the towels had better be folded right or I *will* have to refold them. But my place is far from 'Sleeping With The Enemy' organization. Nor will it ever qualify for Better Homes And Gardens. My aunt, rest her soul, was majorly OCD. She could not look at things that were not symetrical. I swear, she would have anxiety. And she was a hand washer. She was also a nurse in a nursing home, so I don't blame her on the hand washing thing. I'm not as extreme as some of my loved ones.

And some unloved ones too. My ex was such a hoarder, it made living with him utter chaos and hell. It's a relief to have clear pathways and walkways im my home again, and to not constantly be battling the bulge of excess crap we don't even need.
auralpoison
Cool! I'm glad the title worked!

I used to go to my grandma's house & move things, like, a half an inch to the left. Then I would sit & wait to see how long it took her to notice & how long it took her to mention she noticed that something had been moved. She denied up & down that she had OCD, but she was the worst of us all.
amilita
I'm really interested in the defining characteristics of OCD...like what is the line between particular/not throwing anything away/whatever and full-on OCD? I suppose it has some grey area like most psychological disorders, but I kinda thought the line may be when it has a negative impact on your life, similar to alcohol or drug use.

And lively, it is funny how some people can have a cow if a can is turned around the wrong way, but they haven't cleaned the bathroom in a year, or something like that. A guy in an apt. complex I used to live in was OCD, and I got to hear all these things from a neighbor who cat-sat for him. For example, she had to leave her shoes, coat, and purse in the hallway. To let a plumber in, he first had to remove all the kitchen cabinet doors and cover the faucet handles in saran wrap so he wouldn't be touching stuff at all or directly. But she also said the place was a pigsty. It was like OUTSIDE dirt bothered him, but not the dirt that just seemed to be there already. Oh, and when his son came to stay with him, he had to take a shower in his underwear! He really seemed to be ruled by his OCD. It was sad.

It's kind of emotional to write about my dad, so I'm gonna come back later and do that.

Oh, yeah, and thanks for giving AP the props for the title...I realized I hadn't as I was posting, but I really needed to run out the door!
pixiedust
My OCD manifests in sniffing things...everything! I do it unconciously all the time. It's funny because it took my ex husband like 7 years of being married to me before he noticed. Mr. Pixie noticed right away...and has even picked up the compulsion! I am also a "messy, not dirty" person. I rarely have everythign put away nice and neat...but i can tell you exactly where in a big pile of shit somethign is. I have an organization system, but I could never articulate it to anyone else.
hummingbird
This title is freaking hilarious!!!!
auralpoison
Glad you like it. Amalita posted in the Forum that she wanted an OCD thread & I just tossed that out there.

I hate drinking out of clear glass glasses. When I have to, I will place my lips/fingers in exactly the same spot every time. I don't like a glass that *looks* dirty. When my mom lived with me I used to hate it when I'd leave the room for five minutes & she'd get her grubby fingers & icky mouth on my beverage.

I can be utterly disgusting & step over/around the same pile of dirty laundry for weeks on end, but god forbid if my medicine chest is even remotely disorganized.
livelyupurself
That is how I am too, Pixie. My chaos is my own organization. My bathroom sink may be cluttered with my overabundance of different beauty products, but I can tell you exactly what is there.

Hey Amilita, I am just glad you got on it to begin this thread and that AP came up with a hilarious title for it. I think it helps to poke fun with the thread title, given the serious nature of this and it's impact on all of our lives. It's good for us all to feel like we aren't alone in this. Some of it's amusing, but really it is a touchy subject. It's nice to have a place for us all to admit our quirks, vent about others and hash it all out.

ETA
When I say cluttered, I mean too many products but they are all organized, lined up neatly. I feel you on the medicine cabinet thing Aural. My medicine cabinet shall na'er have an item out of line, na'er I say! Yeah, I will let my laundry pile up and then have a total freak out laundry fest, where I have to sort everything according to color. Yes, they must be sorted accordingly: black & dark blue, red & purple, pastels (yellow, light blue, lavender, pink), whites, browns & greens, and tans & greys. And I even have different soap for the darks and lights. And underthings are an entirely seperate issue. It's really sick.
mornington
You've all convinced me I have OCD... I have the whole organized thing down, but I won't hoover for weeks. I freak out if my shoes aren't lined up the right way round, and I hate sharing a bathroom because it means people move my stuff.

I have a constant battle with one of my flatmates, because he wants to put my blender in the cupboard, but I like it on the worksurface... *gets worked up just thinking about it*. Mind you, this is the guy who lines up all the fridge magnets/notices so they're straight. (dear god, the clash of two ocd-types... like world war three!)
auralpoison
Oh, do not even get me started on the laundry. I am psychotic about it.

When my mom lived here I had to hold myself back from shanking her every single day. I had kitchen scissors & utility scissors. Kitchen in kitchen, utility in the utility drawer in the hall. She kept putting the utility scissors in with the kitchen ones. Drove me starkers. She had a thing about the coffee table being neatly arranged. If there was stuff on it, rather than actually put things where they went (Because there's a place for everything!), she'd just tuck them into a cupboard where she couldn't see it. I'd open the linen closet & find my mail & a bunch of other junk from the coffee table.
amilita
Is there anyone who has had treatment for OCD?
damona
heh, i think i've got some OCD tendencies too (maybe everybody does??)

i too will ignore the laundry pile until i can't see over it anymore, but heaven forbid if the spices in the spice cabinet are not lined up neatly, with all the labels facing out!

i am a messy person, but i keep the actual dirt to a minimum. i vaccumn obsessively, 2x a day at least.

i am a semi-hoarder. lol. no idea if that's an actual definition or not, don't take my word for it! but that's what i call it. i hate to throw out stuff that might be useful, but i'm not totally obsessive about it. like my mother...

if she's reading this, she'll prolly get pissed at me, but... the woman just won't get rid of stuff! she was a teacher for, oh, i'd say about 12-15 years (can't really remember). BUT she quit in 1987 and hasn't gone back. but she still has every paper she ever ran off and every bulliten board decoration... every everything!!! and it's all in my basement... then ppl wonder why my place is a mess.... maybe cuz i don't have anywhere to store things???!! aaarrrggghhh!! *deep breath* ok, i'm better now...

thanks for the thread amilita and aural!
mrj
Hi, I have OCD and Bipolar II. I have to go to therapy twice a month for them and to be honest I am not sure if it is doing any good.
I am getting better about the way things are cleaned. I would literally stay up all night to get everything in the house cleaned and finished just to get up early the next morning to start over again. My therapy has helped me to start shutting my childrens bedroom doors and only cleaning them myself once a week and making the kids do it the other nights. I have given in on the order anyone else does the dishes by just leaving the room or going for a walk. I cannot stay in the same room with someone doing the dishes in an unorderly fashion. My kids know that I require all of their movies to be in a certain order, my husband knows not to leave the shower curtain open and many other things. I vaccuum at least twice a day and dust daily. I have to have the bathrooms sanitized daily and I bleach everything in my house. I wash my walls and ceillings once a months and this goes on and on. Therapy works some but I do not think it can be 100%. I go and do things but when I get home I clean and clean. I will not let anyone help with laundry or vaccuuming if so I do it over. This is my life and I have learned to live with it.
amilita
Thanks for posting, everyone, I'm glad there is interest about this! Mrj, I was glad to read your post because I'm interested in what makes OCD diagnosable...I suppose I should go online and investigate. I see some quirky things in my own behavior, but nothing that I would call intrusive.

I had a little bit of an adjustment when I moved in with the Mr.; I hadn't lived with anyone for a long time before that, and I got really used to being in control of my space. To a degree that I had some anxiety at first...but I think I've been able to adapt, and ultimately, I think it has been good for my control issues to be made to adjust.

My dad, on the other hand, was really effected by his (undiagnosed) OCD and depression. And it effected us, his family.

Mrj, while you think threapy may not be helping a lot, it's hard to say how things would be without them...maybe it is helping you keep things at a liveable level? Do you take medication?
auralpoison
I was medicated & saw a therapist in my late teens/early twenties. The pills, not so much. The therapy did help me learn some coping mechanisms that make my life liveable today.
ambercherry
i think i definately have ocd tendencies, if not ocd itself? i'm a checker, for sure, anyway. i have to check things multiple times, especially if i'm leaving my apartment. when i lock the door, i can't just lock it and leave, i have to check to make sure, by trying to open the door. and then i check it again, and then i sometimes insert the key into the lock and make sure it's all the way rotated to locked side. and then i check again. sometimes i return from the car and check it again. same with my car - check to see if it's locked, to make sure i pulled the parking break up.

and with the oven/stove/toaster/coffee maker - i have to make sure all of these are off before i leave the house - even if i don't use them before leaving!

the worst is before a vacation, when i'll be leaving the place for more than a day...i hate being the last one out, because i have to check everything.

and i think i'm another one of those messy-but-not-dirty people with some things. i can tuck things messily into a cupboard or unseen place and be totally fine with that - as long as i can't see it, it's fine. if everything looks put away and neat and tidy, that's all good, no matter how unorganized it is behind a closed door.

thanks for this thread! and i love the title!
pepper
i am really neat and tidy, but clean as well. the clean i can let slip but the tidy, urm, no way. if there have to be things on tables on piled up on it's way somewhere it will be in organized orderly piles, same height, equal spaces. it Will Be.
it takes a LOT to let someone do the dishes for me. even though i don't particularly enjoy doing them myself i have a SYSTEM. i don't know why i can get three times as much Neatly into the drain board than anyone else. it makes me almost angry. i have to leave the room or FORCE myself to ignore it when someone else is doing them or i will just take over.
i used to be such a horder and i hated letting go of things but i found something that i couldn't stand even more than giving stuff up. it's the feeling of being owned by something. i quit smoking cold turkey because i felt like it owned me, same with having lots of stuff. i found myself moving once again and having to pack up all my things and find transportation and storage for it all and i just felt "owned". don't know how else to describe it but there it is. i immediately set about getting rid of ALL of it. i methodically sold and gave away nearly everything i had (including the most amazing bed i had JUST bought!) and now i have the opposite problem. i just can't hold onto stuff unless it has a clear and definate purpose. i find myself practicing such non-attachment that i throw or give away important things. i had to get a filing cabinet to put paperwork into because i kept looking for things i had recycled and it was messing me up!
and i make lists. endless little scraps of paper the i cross things off of when i'm done and then compile new lists from the remnants of the old lists. it is totally crazy. my life is ruled by teensy little bits of paper.
and it is torture to be in someone else's messy space and not tidy it up. but i don't or i would have NO friends.
pollystyrene
I think I'm more of a perfectionist than OCD- I have certain things that go in certain places, but it's more of a preference thing than an irrational need...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Anyway, I come from a long line of OCD/hoarding/anxiety issues, on bith sides. I'd call myself more of a packrat- I have a hard time throwing away things that I've accumulated, but they're usually things that I had for a legitimate reason at some point. As opposed to my maternal grandma, who is a pretty bad hoarder. She buys things just because they're on sale, thinking she'll need them or she can find a family member who needs them. I'm sure a lot of it comes from the fact that she raised 9 kids and never got used to not buying for all those people. And because she lived through the Depression, so she buys things when the prices are good. She lives in a small 3 bedroom apartment and 2 of the bedrooms are completely full of stuff. The rest of the house is a series of pathways. The only place to sit that stays cleared off is one dining room chair and there's only enough room on the table for her plate, cup and silverware. She moved into this place about 12 years ago, 4 years after my grandpa died. Until then, she lived in the house they raised all the kids in. She still owns that house, but moved out because she couldn't climb the stairs anymore due to a back surgery. The house is completely packed with stuff, and it's just a huge science experiment- there's leakage problems, so there's years of mold and stuff in there. But she is very reluctant to give it up. My mom is one of her few kids that she can trust and it's only in the past few months that she's admitted it would be better if she let it go. The problem is that my mom lives 500+ miles away and it's like one step forward, two steps back. One week, my grandma's ready to give it up, then the next she's back to square one. Meanwhile, she's caring for her friend who lives a few doors down, who's in worse health than my grandma. She goes over there and makes his meals, cleans his house, does his laundry. She can hardly do that for herself, let alone doubling the work to take care of him. Her friend's family is basically waiting around for him to die so they can get their inheritance. My grandma is running herself ragged (literally- this has been going on for a few years and about 3 years ago, she got so stressed and exhausted that her sodium levels dropped to a nearly deadly level and my mom had to go down there and nurse her back to health.) My dad is so fed up with the situation that he's ready to call the friend's family and tear them a new one for not hiring a private nurse (which they can easily afford) for their father/grandfather. Sorry, that's all sort of OT, but my mom is afraid that when this friend is gone, my grandma won't have anything to get her up in the morning and she'll just wallow in her misery.

((Sigh)) And that's just my mom's side! I haven't even gotten to my mom, or my dad's side (they're not *as* bad.

It's hard enough when it's a young person, but being old and this way is so much worse. When my grandma dies, we're basically going to have to rent some dumpsters and just toss everything.
laurenann
I also get a lot of "Ooh, you're soo OCD" but I don't think it is ACTUALLY OCD if you are particular about where things are and like to keep a clean home.

I am really particular about where things are, though. At our last BBQ my boyfriend took the kitchen chairs down to the yard so there would be more places to sit. They are the kitchen chairs, not the yard chairs!

I think having preferences and a desire for order is more related to generalized anxiety or even just your personality type. My understanding is that obsessions and compulsions go way beyond those types of things.
cloverbee
my grandmother would get up out of a comfortable chair to pick up a hair she spotted on the carpet ten feet away.
Once, my mom called me while I was at my friends house and made me come home and put my barrettes in the drawer in the bathroom b/c I left them on the counter. Yeah, that's a little extreme for me. now I'm somewhere in between those two.
polly, I am the exact opposite of a hoarder. I throw EVERYTHING away that's not nailed down.
sixelacat
I used to be so bad about hoarding and clutter. Therapy in my early twenties helped me sort out a lot of those issues, but I would have ended up like THIS if I hadn't. My apartment back then was pretty close to how the lady in the story's house was....
bilka
I definately have OCD, stemming back to an unhappy childhood. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I still count things in my head a lot. In a way, I suppose I'm lucky because it can be easier to manage when it just stays in your mind, in my experience anyway.

The only trouble is that I'm now around 2 stone overweight, and need to start watching what I eat, etc. Haha, not a good combination when you have OCD! I have been in this situation in the past, when my OCD was worse, and I was completely obsessed with counting calories. I think this is partly why I have ended up overweight again, as I phased out the counting and just eat whatever. I'm a bit worried about being in this situation again, but I am trying to stay strong, and record everything on paper in an attempt to stop thinking about it and counting everything up again and again.

Oh the joy.
amilita
polly, your family story has some similarities with mine. When my dad died, we DID rent one of those huge dumpsters and completely filled it. The main living spaces in our house were 'normal' but any hidden space or empty room got filled...the basement just had a winding pathway to the washer/dryer, the garage was full to the ceiling (and had water leaking, so all the mold/rot issues), drawers were packed, etc.

And you couldn't throw anything away! My dad had to sit and go through all the trash before it went to the curb. That was really hard to watch...I'd go upstairs if he was doing that because it made me so embarassed and uncomfortable. Gross. His big example was that he once found a ten dollar bill in the trash...and I'm thinking, "You couldn't pay me $100 to sift through all the trash."

Sometimes you would throw something away...like I remember these cheap, foam curlers...and then a week later you'd see them sitting on the counter. If you had something private you wanted to throw away, you would have to sneak it out to the curb.

If my dad was busy, the trash bags would sit in the garage until he had time to sift through them. Sometimes if he was gone and there were several, you could sneak a few out to the curb.

And he wasn't in good health, so it's like he wasted some of his limited energy on this stuff.

*sigh* It feels good to get some of this out. I haven't even started on my uncle or other stuff about my dad. He was the greatest guy, and it's sad that he had to deal with this. He was of the generation that thought if you got psych. help you were 'crazy.' Also lived through the depression.

Oh, and I agree with those of you who said there is a difference between OCD and just being particular or whatever...I found this site that defines OCD as..."a disorder of heterogeneous origin characterized by intrusive thoughts or compulsive urges or behaviors that are distressing, time-consuming, or functionally impairing."

So, there is still grey area there, but it makes me feel better to have it defined in my mind. It makes me glad to be able to attibute my dad's behavior to a real, bona-fide disorder.
yuefie
laurenann, I get what you are saying but a lot of us here know that our 'quirks' go beyond just wanting to keep a tidy home or have things orderly.

I know for me that no matter how unorganized I may appear to others, it is my own system of chaotic organization. It all makes perfect sense to me. And in other ways I am really uptight about how things *must* be done. Certain things will drive me absolutely nuts and I will find myself snapping at others over it. This is not just a preference, but the way things have to be done. Like watching others clean is is simply maddening to me. I am with pepper on the dishes thing. I have to leave the room as not to hover and direct and basically insult the person trying to help. I won't let the roomates put the groceries away or I will redo it when I get home. Trust me, if the towels are folded by one of them, I will not rest until I refold them the way feel they are *supposed* to be done. And yes, I have gotten up in the middle of the night because it was bugging the hell out of me that something wasn't done the *right* way.

There are also other signs. I can't fill out a credit slip for a restaurant bill unless I make it an even number, even though I prefer to always tip in cash. What I do is round the number up, leaving a small portion of the tip in credit and the rest in cash. I don't like things not to be even or rounded when it comes to numbers or time. My mom used to joke with me about my being born at exactly 4:45 pm. She said, I had to be early for dinner and of course it couldn't be at 4:44 or 4:46. I also can't dine in a restaurant without rearranging the table. Heaven forbid there is a vase of flowers or some sort of centerpiece blocking my view of my dining companions. I can't stop myself from moving these things. I tried once because it had become a joke amongst my loved ones and I was annoyed by it. About halfway through the meal, after practically bringing on an anxiety attack, I finally relented and moved the shit. And damn, it was such a relief! I think these behaviors go far beyond just a preference.

ETA: I am livelyupurself, just switched my user name back to my oldie but goodie :-)

Amilita, my ex was so much like that. I would throw things away, and later find them stashed in the garage or in a closet. I don't know how many times I had a dumpster delivered to try to clear the house out when we were first living together, only to have him retrieve the majority of the crap and hide it back in the house. It was a never ending uphill battle. I expect them to find him buried under his trash someday.
pixiedust
All these stories have me thinking about my exMIL. Most of you know she was almost Roseviolets MIL too, and she passed away last october. Anyway, she would buy ANYTHING if it was on sale! And she would not throw anything away. once when she and the Mr. were overseas for a long extended period of time and Rv, I and our guys were living in the house, we went through the refigerator and found food that were YEARS out of date!
We also got into serious trouble once because we couldn't stand the mess anymore and bagged everything that was obvious trash. I think we filled like 6 trash bags full! Anyway, she griped to the boys about it and didn't talk to me and RV for a couple of days! I can not imagine how incredibly difficult it must be for her husband and sons to clean out the house now that she's gone. There is teh sentamental value of things and then there is just the sheer enormity of how much stuff there is to deal with!
We always wondered if something was wrong with her mentally, but I never knew it was OCD until I met Mr. Pixie. He has been diagnosed as having OCD and took antianxiety drugs for it for a while before I knew him. He pretty much has it under control now. And I never realized how many OCD tendancies i have. SO whenever we have little issues come up we just have to tell each other,"this is the way it HAS to be". At least we understand each other's weirdness.

My biggest OCD tendancy is about my privacy. I think part of it is because my exhusband violated my privacy very early in our marriage by opening a letter from a male friend of mine. He also never trusted me and suspected me of cheating on him long before I ever did. Anyway, he would try to read e-mails over my should or snoop around to see what I did online and stuff that it became a compulsion to always close my browser when he came into the room reguardless of if I was doing anything innocent or not.
I went through a phase when I wouldn't talk about anything real online or write anything down in a diary or poem or anything because I felt like if I wrote my thoughts down somewhere, they weren't my own anymore! It took a long time to break it, but I seemed to have picked it back up at work even though my boss has told me repeatedly that she doesn't care if I am online as long as I am getting my work done on time.
Anyway, that is why the lurkers and trolls bother me so much. But I am learning to deal.
runningwestward
Pepper: I'm a list maker too. I have so many layers and levels of to do lists. I make to do lists about what to do lists I need to make. It's out of control. I get up and as I drink my tea and check email I start my list for the day. On any piece of paper too. Once it was with an old lipstick on a napkin. And then once in a while I gather then up and make new lists from the left over parts of the old ones. And it's not like I ever get anything done that's written on them. But I still need to write it all down.
mrj
amilita,
I am not real sure how they diagnose OCD. I know they analyzed my behavior for about 2 months. They would watch everything I done from the time I got to the therapists office to the time I left. They questioned my family, especially my husband, about how I interact at home and keep things. I am on valproic acid for my bipolar and they say it helps some with the OCD. I guess because I am not as obsessive when I am not depressed or having a bad spell. I still get raving mad about little things like how the dished get done, how the laundry is done or even who sits where in the truck. Yes, I am so bad that my kids have their own sitting positions in the truck. There is not a time in the day that I do not know exactly where my husband and children are. When my husband is at work, he travels all day, he usually calls me several times a day or I call him. I will literally freak out if I am not able to get him to answer his phone. I worry to a point of it runs my life. There are just so many things in my life that control me it is unreal and I wish I could take some type of medication where I could feel normal. I know it is not normal to stay up half the night cleaning just to be able to sleep, to vaccuumm so much I have to buy a new vaccuum cleaner twice a year. I literally wear them out vaccuuming so much. I just want to be normal.
Now, I will be honest that there are times when I am sick I will just fall asleep or let the laundry go for the day but then I will exhaust myself catching back up. All I know is this is how I live everyday of my life and if I can get a little relief it would be nice. It has helped me alot knowing others have the same problems.
pepper
oh no runningwestward, part of my obsession is to actually do the things on the list so i can cross them off and then work at configuring the stragling remains. i am a Freak about the lists and goddess help us if i actually LOSE one, oh. my.
i make mulitleveled lists too, long term lists, short term lists, lists of things to get, things to do, people and places to call, things to get Other people to do, wish lists, mail lists, lists for shopping and paying bills and projects and music, movies, books and such i want to find.
oh man, it's so out of control how in control the lists in my life are. ack.
venetia
What an amazing thread. This is a real eye-opener for me. I feel really grateful to you peeps for sharing this.

I'm beginning to think my mother has mild OCD. She started in the past year with this behaviour that to me resembles what they call "animal hoarding". At the worst point she had 18 cats and they weren't toilet trained, and they'd get health problems and she would be in denial about it. And there were dirty catfood bowls everywhere. However this had a silver lining because she was using a lot of newspaper to place feeding dishes, etc, and it was making a real dent in her enormous collection of old newspapers. I was so frustrated that I read up on the cat lady stuff and saw that it was linked to OCD. We've finally managed to get it down to 6 cats now and spayed all the adults which removes her ability to breed any more.

Thinking back there have always been a lot of things she'd hoard, plus there's a lot of filth in her house, yet she's a control freak and wants things just how she wants them - she can't bear for something in the living room to be a horrible colour, for example. Her fridge is always full to the brim with food, often a lot of it rotten, yet she's an amazing cook who would never eat rotten food. She denies that she wants things that way but she gets so anxious if you go through her things or try to help her in any way, and intervenes with a thousand digressions and objections and orders and suggestions.

Hmm she also makes a lot of lists. I make lists to do the things on them, but she makes lists of her actual thoughts, eg she once made a list of all the things she hates about us, pinned it to the fridge and then forgot it was there!

The one thing she does admit is a morbid fear of washing her dishes. I've occasionally found maggots in the sink, which didn't do a lot for my feelings about the dishes when I was a kid.
pollystyrene
My boyfriend has OCD issues, it's mostly blood and germs. Just a few minutes ago, he was reaching behind our couch to plug something in and there was an upholstery staple sticking out a little bit. It scraped his arm as he was pulling his arm out and left a 3-4 inch scratch that bled a teensy-eensy bit. Like if it had been any more shallow, by one more layer of skin, it wouldn't have bled at all. He races into the bathroom, and starts scrubbing it, then comes out with two jumbo band-aids on it, like the kind you put on kids when they scrape their knee. It's so ridiculous.

I guess I've just gotten so used to getting little scratches from having cats, that stuff like that doesn't even faze me; yes, it needs to be washed off and kept relatively clean, but it's not a freaking gunshot wound. It looks like a failed suicide attempt.

He keeps band-aids on him all the time, and uses them if he even suspects any little mark on his skin could be a cut. It just gets really aggravating.

Yeah, I'm a list maker too...I've gone beyond list making to Excel spreadsheets, though. I am very very bored at work and working in Excel makes me look busy, so I have like every facet of my list-able life plotted out in a spreadsheet.
opheliathemuse
Okay. I think I have OCD, and it's not because I'm neat or tidy or handwash.
I shower a lot when I am stressed--as it is I shower maybe twice a day-- I check certain things, like the light switch, I don't eat also when I am stressed, I like things spotlessly clean, but I don't mind clutter as much. I love to clean bathrooms and kitchens but my bedroom and paperwork give me trouble. I mean, a LOT. I have some sort of weird mental block there. My twin brother has the same problems, which we just discovered on Wednesday. I also make lists. I don't just wear any old outfit. Everything has to "feel" right, be the right colour and flow correctly. I include underwear, bra, and perfume too. I need to have the door open to clean my room, otherwise it doesn't feel right.
I too am on a lot of valproic acid, although it's because of my epilepsy. It seems to have helped the checking, and some other things. When I was switching over to my current meds, man! I had perfect attendence for 13 years because of OCD. I couldn't not go to school. I'd freak out if someone suggested staying home. People used to ask me why I was doing it. I couldn't explain I felt a compulsion to go to school, otherwise they might've thought I was a freak??. I also have OCD in the family: my dad was a hoarder, as were his parents, and his main compulsion, I think, was to dress up in women's clothing. Also, he and I share the trait of reading a book or listening to a piece of music over and over and over and over and over. I mean, like, 500 times, no joke. I checked one of my favourite books out when I was a child at school 27 times, and that was before I bought the book. His parents cut out old newspapers and saved their Ohio license plates.
ETA: Thanks. That felt sort of like a confessional. I've been sort of just dumping personal info around Bust lately. Heh.
pepper
i am making a list right now. no wait, make that three lists. dang.
pixiedust
Ophelia..I used to have the same mental block...still do a little. I was in therapy for depression after my divorcea and we discovered that Clutter in my head resulted in clutter in the house and the areas most affected were the areas of my life I was most stressed about. My divorce/personal life turned into a messy bedroom. Food obcessions/dieting turned into a messy kitchen, and so on. I've gotten through most of them. I still have a real problem with hanging up my clothes though. I'll do laundry..and even fold most of what needs to be folded, but damn I just put the hanging clothes into a hamper until I am ready to wear them.
amilita
Go for it, ophelia! It's felt good to get some of the stuff about my dad out, although there is so much more. (on an aside, my Mr. takes valproic acid for epilepsy, too...but he has absolutely no OCD tendancies)

Venetia, you may be interested in the website Children of Hoarders. I found it though the advice column on Salon, and I found a link about a genetic OCD study, which I couldn't participate in because my dad and uncle (the OCD people in my family) are dead. But anyhow, I found the website interesting.

I was surprised to read that the person who hoards will feel hurt if they try to clean up a little and it's not appreciated...it really is hard for them. I remember my dad would be like that...we're all like, "We don't care you threw one thing away, the entire freaking basement is still full of crap!"

His hoarding (and other OCD tendancies) was one of the main problems in their marriage. He was very controlling about house-related things...and I don't think it was because he's a controlling man, I think it was OCD all the way. Like, my mom would hire someone to fix something in the house (he was always going to do it, but nothing ever got done) and they'd call to confirm, and my dad would cancel. It drove my mom crazy.

One funny thing was that while we were cleaning out the house after my dad died, we found every cancelled check since my parents had married, oh, say, 35 years ago roughly. And it was fun to flip through the ones from the 60s and to see the weekly one to the beauty shop for like $7 or something...my mom used to have that stiff 60s hair and she'd go get her hair did once a week. Cute.

And you'd think it would be fun to have all your toys and stuff from when you were a kid, but almost everything is ruined because it's not stored properly. The OCD person controlls it all, so you can't go in and pack it up as a keepsake. *sigh*

Love to all the OCDers.
yuefie
Stopping by to say I love this thread. That is all.
:-)
altargrrrl
my boyfriend has OCD. we've been together 5 years and lived together about 4. he's a handwasher, lock-checker, contamination-phobe, hoarder. his mom's a hoarder, too. and, actually, i can see that his condition worsens when he goes home and is surrounded by more and more stuff. i definitely agree with pixiedust that the mental clutter and physical clutter are correlated.

it really is a constant source of stress in our relationship, but i love him and know that he doesn't really want to be this way. it mostly bothers me when he tries to force his rules onto me. i could care less if he washes his hands a million times a day (except when they get really chapped, that makes me sad) or if he has to throw away something that's perfectly good because it has been dropped on the floor or touched something it "shouldn't have". but when he makes me wash my hands or throw something away or his clutter takes over the couch or kitchen table so that i can't use them (and he won't let me move or throw away the stuff myself) then i have a problem. his family moved around a lot when he was younger, and i theorize that some of the hoarding tendencies have to do with saving memories and having some control over his situation. also, his parents are somewhat smothering and controlling. i think that on some subconscious level the hoarding and clutter allows him to take over and claim certain areas of the house/apartment. like marking territory or something. i know that he doesn't do this on purpose, and really does want the apartment to function normally and for me to feel comfortable everywhere in it, but deep down i think it's about control.

he's been on prozac before for depression, and went off of it a few years ago. i didn't really see that much of a change in his depression level when he stopped, but his anxiety and OCD definitely got worse. so SSRI's could be useful in treating it. we also spent a ton of money buying inositol powder, a dietary supplement that is supposed to be a building block in dopamine or something and has been shown to help OCD, but we didn't see much of an effect (and you have to take A LOT).

i am an on again off again user of the flylady system. there are a few other busties that use it as well. if you can get over the sort of housewifely overtones, the system itself is great. i have read a great many testimonials from from both the hoarding type and overly meticulous type of OCDers who have found the system to be a godsend. flylady is very much against any kind of clutter as well as against perfectionism. the basics of her system are short morning and evening cleaning/personal hygeine/time management routines and short (15minute) daily decluttering sessions. i have found that when i'm more faithful to the flylady system, that my boyfriend's hording tendencies also get better and he seems calmer. the system is also good for grown children who never learned cleaning or organizational skills from their OCD or ADD parents. or for grown children who (like me) subconsciously rebel against the perfectionist cleaning techniques of their parents.
amilita
Altargrrrl, I've skimmed the Flylady system (because my mom was talking about it) and it does seem like it could be good for hoarder types...seeing as how it's very anxiety-inducing for them to deal with clutter, it's probably helpful to have really narrow, do-able parameters.

Also, the Children of Hoarders site that I linked below is not JUST for Children of Hoarders...it has sections for the hoarders themselves and for other relationships. It recommends a book called Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding...and the site has a forum. There's a lot over there.

Sometimes I look at myself and the OCD-ish things I do and wonder if I'm OCD...I like to eat things like cookies in even numbers, I can't relax too well if the house is cluttery, I have all my hangers facing the same way, I don't like my underwear to clash with my clothes, and on and on. But none of those things is hard and fast, like if I get one fortune cookie in a restaurant, I'm fine...even the relaxing around clutter isn't an absolute. So I tend to think of myself as having OCD-tendancies. Which seems probable, due to the genetic link there seems to be.

I do think that circumstances can serve to tone down tendancies, however...like my dad, who kept his hoarding to a certian level because he had a family. My uncle, on the other hand, was completely out of control with it, and he never lived with anyone as an adult. I think if I hadn't gotten married, my tendancies may have expanded...I think I may have turned into a cat collector, though I can't imagine ever having so many that I wasn't taking care of them properly.
venetia
Thanks Amilita, that site looks interesting.

Animal hoarders always think they are taking care of their animals properly, I discovered - apparently in extreme cases they refuse to acknowledge that dead animals are actually dead!

I'm not sure how much my mother fits this whole profile - it doesn't help that she's also a long term alcoholic and an abuse survivor; it makes it hard to tell what she actually believes about her animals or her hoards of junk, because she quite often lies to me.

Also, she often isn't attached to specific objects so much as the presence of something (eg her car is usually a large amount of trash with a drivers seat, every so often she cleans out all the newspapers and mouldy food and so forth from it quite happily, but more just piles up again.)
sixelacat
Man, I would really like to know how much of this stuff is genetic and how much is situational. We moved constantly when I was growing up (like 11 times by the time I was 16), the 'rents were complete control freaks, and I had a lot of anxiety/depression starting at a pretty early age (grade school). But, I also remember in junior high helping to clean out a couple of my great-aunts houses after they died (my great-gran's two sisters) and their houses were just *packed* with junk. One had 3 or 4 feet of stuff piled all over the floor, and she had put down cookie sheets on top of it to form weird metal paths through the house, with stuff piled even higher around the paths.

It's all my mom's side of the family, and there's a lot of depression and the like among the women on that side of the family. Nobody really acknowledges anything as disordered, though, it was just like "sometimes women get like that", like when I was 8 and my grandmother told me about her grandmother blowing her head off with a shotgun, but she told it like "yeah, everyone was suprised she did it with a shot gun because she was barely 5' tall and had to pull the trigger with her big toe" .
sassygrrl
I believe that my grandmother was a hoarder. Having to clean out her house a few years back took two cleaning crews! We did find some interesting things like a family tree and some great old jewelry. I think I have gotten some of her tendancies perhaps. I notice this the most last time I moved. Although, I had to deal with it the most when I became homeless briefly. My grandmother suffered from depression (I believe that it runs undisognosed in my family until I went to a shrink), and maybe the OCD stemed from that perhaps.

Anyways. I will check out The Flylady system, because I suffer from ADD as well. Thank you for creating this thread.

I now live with someone who has OCD and ADD. Our kitchen is always in disorder, but I've almost gotten used to it.

opheliathemuse
Oh my god. altargrrrl. I think bodyclutter is why I stop eating. It makes sense, because if I stop, then the mental clutter will too, right? Oh my god.
Thank you!

(((everyone)))
pixiedust
"I was surprised to read that the person who hoards will feel hurt if they try to clean up a little and it's not appreciated...it really is hard for them."

That is so great! Really, I mean I thought I as weird or something. I tried and tried to explain it to my ex and he just looked at me like I had three heads. Mr. P admittedly doesn't understand it, but he acknowledges that it is a mental problem and not me deliberately trying to drive him bonkers with my mess!
And I think a lot of it does stem from control issues with me. My ex husband was pretty controlling...he got worse the longer we were together. He also was on the road contstantly and he would leave or come home with hardly any notice and I couldn't even plan ahead for the next day. I have this HUGE need for stability so I think as long as I was surounded by mess I was confortable. I knew where everything was...it was piled in my "I'm the only one who understands this organizational pattern" piles.

I am also one of those people who kept most of their childhood toys...and now that I have a child old enough to play with them...I get irrationally upset when I see heads torn off my Barbies or my cabbage patch kids naked.
humanist77
Great title!

I count stairs and items most of the time, mostly in sets of seven.

Also whenever I'm at a table eating, usually in a restaurant, everything on the table has to be neatly arranged, all crumbs and puddles wiped off and all unused dishes stacked neatly. I will often fix other people's areas of the table as well.

I often have to read every paragraph at least twice because I'm afraid that I didn't understand it well enough or that I missed something. I'm a fast reader, but it still takes awhile to get through a book because of this.

The worst compulsion is my thinking and breathing patterns. I will often subconsciously become stuck on a single thought or word and will repeat it over and over in my mind until my heart rate goes up and then I really notice it. Often times if it is a word, I just need to mouth the word, or say it out loud and it will stop. Then I need to explain situations or processes in detail to myself even though I already *know* all of it clearly, they are usually totally menial or senseless things that don't need to be gone over.
If I'm not paying attention to how I am breathing, it is often controlled by what I'm seeing, thinking, doing or looking at. There are lots of things I will hold my breath for, like passing by certain people or seeing something that I dislike, like contemptible politicians or people on TV or something, which is not an emotional response, as if "it takes my breath away" but sort of to avoid inhaling and absorbing whatever I'm seeing.

I could be a lot worse, like saving everything and keeping everything around me perfect and organized, and going through meaningless rituals everyday, but these things give me such awful anxiety if I ever do notice myself doing them, that I consciously avoid them. Sometimes it is hard. The worst thing about these things is they often causes physical symptoms like increased heart beat and shortness of breath which is uncomfortable. I think anxiety is a huge part of compulsions for me (not sure if this was mentioned before-I haven't read all the posts thoroughly).

I was a lot worse as a child, but I think everyone goes through traditional OC phases while growing up.
koala
I'm really glad this thread is here because I've oftened wondered if i had OCd tendencies and eading though this has def given me some answers.

I can't stand for someone to clean for me. I've been like that forever. Whenever my mom would tell me i had to clean my room before I went out, my friends would always offer to help and i would always tell them to go watch tv while i do it myself. I think its because of A) i think the other person will screw everything up B) I won't know where anything is c) privacy issues. When I do clean, it usually takes forever. I have hoarding tendencies for the most nonimportant stuff that I can't throw away because of memories. I also pretend i have a system when i clean but i don't at all and it gets really complicated.

When I write things down, i will write a letter or two down and if they don't look good enough, i start over. I have even rewritten pages and pages of class notes because i didn't like the way they were written.

Since i was a child, i hate sharing my art supplies because other people don't know how to treat them and mess them up. Especially crayons....

I'm definitly a lister
opheliathemuse
when I was a kid, I was scared I would stop breathing, humanist.
cstars124
I don't think I really have OCD, but when I was younger, I would spell out sentences and words with my footsteps, and if the words didn't end on an even number of footsteps, i would have to go back and add puncuation or sometimes spaces so it did.

I don't do that anymore, now that I'm older. However, I will get an idea in my head, either something to say or something to do, and if I DONT do it, I'll freak out about it. For example, a lot of times, I'll be a passanger in the car, and I'll get an idea to open the door as the car is moving. And obviously, it's a dangerous idea, so I try to talk myself out of it. But if I DONT do it, I just don't feel right. I feel disgusted with myself. Does that make sense?
sunshine
**bump for all of us**
auralpoison
The funniest thing happened. A boy noticed my OCD yesterday & thought it was *cute*. My fave Jcrsuh bartender watched me straighten out my napkin & place my glass just so. One of the reasons he's my favourite is that he places my glass back exactly where & how he found it, so I don't have to hunt for my lip/finger prints. I am so sick!
sassygrrl
Online boy crush noticed in the rain yesterday that I count the cracks on the sidewalks. He started counting them too... heh. I think he also has some OCD tendancies,but will not share them yet. I know we're both insane with lists. We both carry notepads around....

That's great AP. I do that too!
ericamamerica
I had OCD starting at age 11. I kept it a secret for many, many years. I didn't get help until I was 18, and by that point OCD had already taken over my life.

I sought treatment. I started seeing a psychologst who combined talk and behavioral therapy. I was also prescribed Zoloft.

I am now 21 years old and my OCD is completely under control. I cannot say that I've been "cured" because I know it is something I will always have to live with.

I do want to say that I understand how difficult living with this disorder is, and how hard it is when your family and other loved ones do not fully understand just how terrible living with this disorder is.

Seek help if you need it. After I stopped keeping it all a secret and got help, I got my life back.

If anybody needs some advice or just somebody to listen who will completely understand, I'm here.

I had touching/movement compulisions, repeating number sequence in my head, obsessions that if I did not complete the compulsion *just the right way* that I would cause harm to somebody or something (largest obsession was a fear that my father would die), and with all of that, I also had anxiety/panic attacks. Before I started taking Zoloft, I would sometimes have a panic attack two or three times a day.

Craziness. And the most ironic thing about it all is that YOU KNOW HOW SILLY IT ALL IS - THE COMPULSIONS AND SUCH, BUT YOU "JUST CAN'T STOP!"
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