I’m not a hoarder …

… quite the opposite!

Kerry, from Kent, tells how her ‘horrible childhood’ (her words) resulted in her OCD. No, it’s not hoarding, but it’s a similar problem in that it there is often an emotional upset somewhere in the past. And that type of thing can stay with you for decades, or even for life. And it can show up in various ways. In Kerry’s case it showed up as OCD.

by Kerry
(Kent, UK)

Well, I’m not a hoarder, but I used to have OCD. My particular obsession was ensuring that everything was clutter free, neat tidy, symmetrical and perfectly aligned. Kind of like a really over the top feng shui! In fact, I’m sure that to a certain point some of what I was doing was good, but anything that starts to take over your life is never good.

OCD is quite serious.

Images like this are quite funny. OCD is no laughing matter though, it’s quite serious.

I’ll give a couple of examples of what I used to do. When washing up and putting the clean cups away each had to face the correct way (handle pointing 45 degrees off of left, largest at the back, smallest at the front, none left on its own, each had to have a partner. If one got broke and there was an odd one that didn’t have a partner, I would throw one away to make things even.

Glasses arranged in the same way but in sets, largest at back, smallest at front.

Perfumes, toiletries etc lined up on dressing table in a perfectly symmetrical pattern. And the same theme running through household decor in general. If I had two alcoves, I couldn’t just have a picture in one, it would have to be symmetrical, therefore a picture in each.

I managed to cure myself of OCD when I realised how much time I was devoting to it. I started small and literally forced myself to stop worrying that all the forks were facing up the same way and that all the knives were serrated side pointing right. It did take a little while but I cracked it. Sometimes when I do a mass house clean/spring clean I do tend to let the symmetry thing take over a bit but nowadays I can just put glasses and cutlery away without a care as to which way they are facing or how many there are in a row.

I didn’t take any medication, I just did it by being absolutely conscious of my actions and pushing myself to realise that nothing terrible was going to happen if the forks didn’t line up perfectly.

It is a horrible thing to go through. But it is to do with control. When I was a child I had a particularly horrible childhood, wherein I had literally no say in where I went, who I stayed with, who I was friends with or even if I was allowed to go out to play after school. I had an extremely domineering mother and looking back on it I guess she had her own mental health problems.

Anyhow, that coupled with a less than amicable (to say the least), divorce between my parents, I believe I was crying out to be able to have some control and some say over what happened in my life even if it was just seemingly small things as how neatly the tea towels were stacked. It gave me a feeling of security which I no longer need thankfully.

Thank you for writing this page. OCD in all its forms is much much more common than most people realise. Most people don’t even realise they have a problem. So with any luck your page will make something click for someone.

So thanks again – and great website!

by: kmber

Haha I was so happy on seeing this. my friend call me “clean freak” the reason is so obvious I need not explain why. But I seriously cannot stand shabby and untidy places inside my house. Thinking outside of my house the same way is idiotic as it is not within my control.

I can identify with that!
by: Ken

Thanks, Kerry, for sharing that.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I could very easily identify with the kind of thing you used to do. I had a bit of OCD myself (I wouldn’t actually go as far as to call it OCD actually, that can be quite a serious problem) … I had a bit of a problem with that type of thing anyway, and now I just stop myself dead as soon as I spot that I’m being too picky over something.

OCD is serious, unlike this funny image!Where I still have OCD, to an extent (and no, it’s not really OCD, I shouldn’t call it that), is in preparing a page for this site. I tend to write the page, then come back to it, convinced that I’ve left something undone, or done something wrong. That’s fine as far as it goes, that’s just me taking care to put together a worthwhile page … but when you’ve come back to it four or five times, after finishing it and thinking “That’s it, I won’t mess with that anymore!” … mmm … that’s when you have to say “Enough!”.

I do try now. I try to remember that most people skim-read a page anyway, so what’s the point of being too picky?? 🙂

Okay, enough said. If I keep on pursuing this comment it’ll be like I’ve got OCD or something!


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