I started noticing my OCD tendencies when I was in highschool. I got my first job and walked to school, so I was very intent on being on time. This doesn't seem like much but I would set my clocks 10 minutes fast to hurry myself along. I would often double or triple check that my alarm was set. I was often early to work and to school. Being early is still something that I do. I arrive for my clients sometimes 30 minutes in advance, as well as meetings. Of course, most people see that as an assest nowadays. but that was just the tip of the iceberg. People don't understand that I hate being even a moment late (well they probably have some idea now) and that when others are late, I judge them pretty harshly unless they have a good excuse (and aren't chronically late).
I believe both of my parents suffer from undiagnosed forms of OCD. My father is a control freak and needs everything to be a certain way. My mother is a hoarder. This caused many clashes between them through the years. My father would go on crazy cleaning missions, while my poor mother would look on in horror and watch my father toss important documents (as well as things that only held value to my mother). My father would get upset if the shower curtain wasn't closed after you had a shower (to allow it to dry out–something I now do…haha), while my mother saved almost everything it seemed. My father is also an alcoholic with a lot of other issues and my mother also has a lot of anxiety and picks her skin (though I am not sure to what extent she does now but I grew up wondering about her scabbed arms).
I am a combination of my parents. I am a control freak like my father. I need my environment to be a certain way (clean, neat and orderly but I am not a germaphobe). My parents divorced when I was young, so I grew up mainly with my mother. but now I can't stand to have a messy or cluttered home. I think it was because I had no control over my mother's hoarding (thankfully we didn't have dead animals or feces around). Cleaning makes me feel good inside and I used to clean even more than I do now (reasons I'll explain later), along with lengthy check lists that I liked to make for my cleaning "parties" that I would have on my days off. I love buying and making my own cleaning supplies. I also like to have everything stocked up….toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, sponges, etc. One of my favorite moments in the past was cleaning the house for a large part of the day and having candles lit and everything perfect for when my significant other would arrive home from work. I felt proud and it gave me a "high."
I also pick my cuticles until they are sore and sometimes they bleed (but I can grow my nails), which reminds me of my mother. I have a lot of anxiety, though part of my problem was an actual physical health reason that was causing my anxiety but I got surgery and took care of that (Hyperparathyroidism). I no longer have panic attacks but I think most of my anxiety now stems from not having control over my home environment.
Luckily, I do not hoard crap. I do keep things stocked but only because I buy/make some things in bulk. I don't keep buying/making, I use up what I have and shortly before it runs out, I buy or make more. I like to keep lists for these types of things as well.
I have a lot of things that I am not sure would be considered obsessions or compulsions. I need to fold my laundry a certain way (if it's folded "wrong" I re-fold), have the toilet paper facing the right way and always have a spare roll on the back of the toilet. Every night after washing my face I wipe down the sink. Every weekend I make sure I vacuum and dust. I wipe down the kitchen sink after doing dishes. When I am done cooking, I clean the top of the stove.
I know this all seems ordinary but its something I think about a lot. I think it used to be more extreme (cleaning the toilet frequently, dusting the baseboards, cleaning light switch panels, cleaning cat nose prints off windows, sweeping, organizing…pretty much every week like friggin' clockwork!) because I lived with just my husband. I could do as I pleased and keep things just how I wanted. My husband of course enjoyed it (most of the time). but a few years ago we moved in with his mother to help her out (financially) and she's a hoarder (who lived in her parents house). I no longer have complete control over my home. We just recently purchased this home we're in with her as well and hope that eventually she'll be moving out but have no idea when that is going to happen (due to her own health and financial problems).
She creates shit-piles wherever she is. Inside, outside, in the garage, in the basement, on the tiny porch. She hoards but is also a stacker. That means she thinks she is cleaning up her messes but stacking them doesn't make them go away. She also is a saver. I tossed out a bag of shells she had sitting on a counter for 2 weeks and she almost cried over it but has another bag sitting in the basement that's been there for over a year and still hasn't used them. When I ask her what she's planning on doing with said shells, she has no clue, maybe a craft–do you know how many craft things she owns?
When I come home from my long work days, I walk into a kitchen that feels chaotic. I automatically wash dishes, put dry clean ones away, wipe up crumbs, hang up the dish towel, put out a new role of paper towels if it's left empty, wipe down the sink, put the sponge in it's holder (so it's not sitting in dish water), not in any particular order but whatever I can get my hands onto first.
My mother in law does everything part way and that's also a problem–half completed projects are everywhere (ugly painted furniture, those damn shells or paints/paint thinner) or she'll start to put dishes away but they'll sit on the counter or stove top when they are 3 feet away from their place where they would be out of the way. It would literally take seconds to really put them away.
If I don't do these things, I feel a burning anger and anxiety. I just want to scream. How hard is it to take 2 seconds to hang a dish towel so it dries and doesn't smell?? How hard is it to hang the pots so we can start dinner without having to deal with them being in the way of the burners?? How hard is it to wipe up your crumbs from that morning's toast or put spoons/knives from breakfast in the sink (because she uses more silverware just for herself than I can understand)?? Ugh. Its never ending in my head….For me it takes about 5-10 minutes to catch up on everything. Its just scratching the surface but it helps me stay sane for a little while.
Every Friday I have a new ritual. I take all the towels being used and put them in the laundry. I hang up a new dish towel, a new foot towel on the tub, a new hand towel, etc. I used to do all of my laundry on Fridays or weekends but my mother in law always has to do laundry at the same time and then she would fold all my clothing "wrong" or leave it inside out. Better than a crumpled pile but for me, it just created more work! I tried to switch my laundry day (which is hard when you have OCD) but she always seems to have to do laundry on days when I am doing my own!! I told her I was trying to avoid this problem but there is no rhyme or reason to when she needs to do her own clothing.
I didn't really mind most of my obsessions or compulsions before we started living here (though time consuming sometimes, I felt awesome when I could do them). I miss them. I do what I can but it never stays orderly and its driving me insane:( I try to take a deep breath and remember I can't control everything and that my mother in law could be worse. but to me…this is pretty horrible. Its slowly pushing me over the edge. I've tried to talk to her about it but I know its not going to change anything.
I am kind of scared to post this blog because it really is quite honest and raw but I need to vent where people that understand might be listening…thank you.