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Is It OCD or Am I Spoiled? Please Help Me Treat My Obsession

I am an obsessive compulsive cleaner

I am an obsessive compulsive cleaner

Is it OCD?

I like things a certain way – When I vacuum the floor I have to start at the same end and go in the same direction every time. When I cook, the same foods have to go together…chicken gets green beans and a white wine sauce, beef goes in taco salads, and steak gets sliced up to go in stir fry – the stir fry with peppers and NOT carrots only please. Otherwise I pick out all the carrots from the frozen veggie bag before I even think about cooking them. And I can eat the same meal for weeks on end without getting tired of it! My dishes all get stacked in the sink the same way and they always get washed in the same order. Don’t even get me started on the stray cup that someone reaches under my arms to plop in with the bowls. I buy the same trash bags, the same conditioner, the same toothpaste and the same toilet paper no matter what is on sale. So am I suffering from OCD or am I just spoiled? I mean these things don’t adversely impact my life…for the most part. I DO get really dry skin from washing my hands constantly and my bank account could benefit from sale items.

How my Family Deals with OCD

So how does this work out with 3 kids and a husband? Thankfully my husband just laughs at my “habits” and pokes fun at them while also understanding my need to follow through on them. The kids? Well they are coming around too. Two are just as OCD / spoiled as I am but there’s one who just doesn’t get it. And we butt heads A LOT! She is like her dad – they both just go with whatever, ignore messes, change with the wind, and laugh at everything the rest of us OCD’s do. (Wow, that would be a nice change of pace for me!)

The OCD does seem to get worse and more obsessive with hormone changes – dear me someone help my husband when I finally hit that ‘change of life’. I am going to be THE worst menopausal woman in history.

What IS OCD?

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is an anxiety issue and not a thought issue as was once believed. The OCD person has uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors. Many people are aware they have OCD tendencies but they are unable to resist them and break free. With OCD a person’s brain gets stuck, or focused, on a particular thought or urge. That thought or urge does not go away and only gets stronger until it has been met in the appropriate way according to the person’s thinking. Compulsive hand-washing and checking doors repeatedly are both common forms of OCD. Some people wash their hands until they’re raw and others may need to check that a door is locked anywhere from 10 to 100 times.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Obsessions

Obsessions are involuntary, uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses a person may think or feel over and over again. These thoughts are disturbing and distracting most of the time.

Obsessive thoughts include:

  • Fear of being contaminated or contaminating others
  • Fear of causing harm to yourself or others
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts or images
  • Excessive focus on religion
  • Fear of losing or not having things you need
  • Order and symmetry – everything must be in its right place and be lined up just right
  • Excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Compulsions

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals a person feels driven to perform again and again. Compulsions are usually performed to make obsessions go away. For example, I have horrid thoughts of being contaminated with something from a filthy home. Some might call me a germ-a-phobe. And that may be true. But my obsessive thoughts over contamination cause me such great anxiety that I clean my house top to bottom every day. I perform the exact same chores in the exact same manner every single day. My obsession is contamination and my compulsion (in an attempt to rid myself of the obsessive thoughts) is a strict daily cleaning ritual.

Compulsive behaviors include:

  • Excessive double-checking locks, appliances, or switches
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones
  • Counting tapping, repeating words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Ordering and arranging things just so
  • Accumulating “junk” out of fear of something bad happening if you discard of it

OCD Washing Hands

OCD Washing Hands

OCD Categories

Most people with OCD fall into one or more of the following categories

  1. Washers are afraid of contamination and have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions – I have both.
  2. Checkers repeatedly check things they associate with danger. A checker might need to make sure the stove is turned off or the door is locked over and over. I repeatedly check my curling iron to make sure it’s turned off. I have to check it at least 5 times and run my hand down its cord to touch the plug in order to know I unplugged it. Otherwise I go into panic mode and I think the house will burn down. This obsession/compulsion has gotten so bad that I don’t even use my curling iron anymore.
  3. Doubters and Sinners are afraid that they will be punished if everything isn’t done just so and in a perfect manner. This one does not apply to me but if you feel you have some instances or examples of this form of OCD please email me or add it to the comments below and I will add it here.
  4. Counters and Arrangers are obsessed with having order or keeping things symmetrical. A counter may have superstitions about a certain number. For example, I have to brush my teeth with exactly 54 strokes each time or else my teeth will all rot out of my head OR all my shirts must be hung in color order according to the rainbow or else I will have the worst luck of anyone alive.
  5. Hoarders compulsively hoard things because they fear something bad will happen if they throw something away. This is another one I don’t have a problem with because it would go against my “washer” tendencies.

Treating OCD

If a loved one does have OCD there are some things you can do to help him or her such as:

  • Providing a calm, supportive environment
  • Don’t scold or punish the person for performing rituals or having thoughts
  • Be as kind and patient as possible – focus on positive elements of the person’s life
  • Don’t play along with OCD rituals for this only reinforces the behavior
  • Find the humor in the situation without belittling the sufferer.Sometimes humor can help the person realize the habits and rituals are indeed silly and this lessens the strength of the anxiety attached to each thought or ritual.

Not everyone who engages in the above behaviors should be labeled as OCD.In order for the thoughts and behaviors to be classified as OCD they need to cause tremendous distress, take up a great deal of time, and disrupt a person’s life and relationships.There are several successful methods of treating OCD.Don’t making a self-diagnosis of OCD.Speak with your family doctor who can refer you to a specialist for a definite diagnosis and treatment plan.


justaguy on May 25, 2013:

Have you asked your husband to spank you? Just a thought. It might help. Don't think of it as punishment or abuse. Think of it as an alternative therapy or motivation. Just saying an idea. You don't have to.

Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 28, 2012:

Well drats Sharyn! I would never expect anything OTHER than nice stuff from you. It was probably uber-intelligent and witty too ;) So you are a checker huh? I can see it in your face. You check and double check for everyone’s safety and security right? See now I am also psychic hahah Sorry, sorry. I hope you are right and many more will read this and realize it isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing to be set in our ways.

Hello poowool, I envy you for your ability to just go with the flow and take things as they happen. I wish I could be like that more often. I know many things I stress over just aren’t worth it – but I cant help myself in the end. I hope your son just likes his habits but realizes that changes are ok too :) Best wishes with that.

Crazybeanrider, I love your name! Im sorry to hear you have this bad enough to disrupt your life. Even though I make light of OCD in the Hub I really DO have the problem too and I know it can be a very serious distraction. Thankfully I have a wonderful support system now. But my first marriage was not the same. I had a VERY lax partner who didn’t take into consideration or thought how upsetting and taxing it was for me to deal with my obsessions and compulsions without his understanding. Yup – it drove him nuts and we fought and we divorced.

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on March 23, 2012:

What a great way to look at OCD, I am a counter/arranger and obsessive/intrusive thoughts. It is very time consuming and disrupts many facets of my life. Most times I can get through with therapy alone, but with stress it gets worse, and need a boost with meds. It can drive loved ones over the brink sometimes, but if you have an understanding network of family and friends that is a pluse. Enjoyed reading your point of view. excellent hub!

poowool5 from here in my house on March 22, 2012:

Great hub, and loved your funny opening, Ardie!

I am more in the camp of your husband and one kid (the "whatever" camp!), but of my 3 kids, one has minor OCD tendencies (or just quirkiness? as one hubber commented, hard to draw the line between them). Your hub gave me some good things to think about, and ponder as to whether my son has a big or small issue here. Thanks for the info. Voted up and useful!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 22, 2012:

Oh, that's too bad cuz I said some really nice stuff :) Seriously, I loved your openness and humor in this piece. I used to think that I was OCD. Mostly it has to do with second guessing myself. I know for sure I shut something off but then I still have to go and check it. And I would drive myself crazy with that. It has all lessened as I've gotten older.

So, I really feel that others who are OCD will read this hub and be very gentle with themselves and even have a little giggle too. Great job Ardie!


Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 22, 2012:

Hello billybuc :) Thanks for being so dang sweet :) I think we'll be friends for some time to come. I even love all people named Bev so there's another point in my corner, right?! As for laughing - I learned a few years back that it's easier to accept my shortcomings if I poke fun at them instead of fighting them. And if I can make others laugh with me - then my day is MADE!

Hi Sharyn :( I did not get another comment from you. I lost a comment I was working on too. I hit the Post Comment button and got the "Is down for maintenance, check back in a few" message....dang.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 22, 2012:

Ardie, I wrote a long comment here, did you get it? It seems like HP was doing "maintenance" at the time. Let me know. You could delete this one :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2012:

I love this hub! You are so matter of fact about something that could easily be a huge problem if it weren't for your realistic outlook on life and a husband who just laughs. I love your ability to find humor in what some would consider shortcomings or faults or whatever...I really like you Ardie....here's hoping we have a very long friendship!

Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 17, 2012:

Hi Marcy hahah up your meds? Are you feeling OCD'ish? Thanks for laughing at my insane habits :P I dont think Im OCD either - because my habits dont disrupt my life or hurt relationships. I just have a certain way of doing things :)

Hi PCC! Im so glad to see you again :) I bet you're right. Maybe the OCD tendencies get worse at times of stress because we revert to what we know is comforting.

Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on March 14, 2012:

I reckon we all have OCD tendencies and can develop in times of high stress. A very interesting hub by you, Ardie. I learned a lot from it which I never knew.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Oh, dear. I'd better up my meds.

Really interesting hub - great information, and useful for everyone to know. I'm not sure I'd call you OCD, and I had to laugh at your dishwashing ritual and other fun details.

Voted up, interesting and useful!

Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 09, 2012:

Oooh then you and I could get along perfectly RHW! I would organize your books and you could help me keep my floor swept. I bet you sweep dog hair just as often as I do :D

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 08, 2012:

Oh I am a neat freak! Lol. It just never ever passes muster for me. I get behind on laundry but I'm a freak about my floors...I do not like dirty floors! Ew! I make sure everything is picked up and put away but I know it needs to be better ... Doesn't it? Lol. I'd like to label everything. I like my books to be on the shelf in size order...like that:)

I do think you might be a bit spoiled...but that's a good thing:) lol

Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 07, 2012:

Aaw RHW – I should’ve known you’d be first here :) Ya know I would have pegged you as the neat freak kind. You just always seem so with it and like the perfect mom and wife! I wouldn’t worry about your daughter’s OCD tendencies – I always had them too. It made me a little less flexible in my habits and ways but I still turned out ok (I think!). Your little one will just always have a certain way of looking at her foods and of arranging things. Hopefully later in life she will find a partner who accepts those things about her and lets her be as structured as she likes!

Hello weestro :) I sure hope I don’t give people a major complex with this Hub hahah Thanks for reading

Turtlewoman, I wish I could be a little more like you (and my husband)! Sometimes I try to let the house go, or cook different foods together – but then my anxiety hits the roof and NOBODY can stand me :P Maybe we just need to find a middle ground!

Hi Rolly :)It sounds like you have a few habits that could border on OCD as well. But then again – how harmful is it to check the door locks a few times before bed? You never know when you will forget and someone can sneak in while you sleep….ugh! So then that begs the question…is the tendency OCD or is it just a habit? Thanks for reading and voting.

Hi Cloverleaffarm! I bet other people noticed your OCD before you did – it took me a special someone pointing it out for me to realize JUST how obsessed I was with my compulsive behaviors. I wonder if it’s a learned behavior in families or if it’s a genetic thing. My daughter showed signs of it very early on too and I know my mom has several similar OCD tendencies…ones we never discussed until recently!

Hello Ruchira, haha! I love how these comments are either people with OCD that see no problem with it or the people who live with someone with OCD and it drives that person nuts :X I should ask my husband his real feelings about my habits and rituals.

Hi Meg :) I don’t know much about the doubters and sinners other than a little clip I watched about it several years back. I like that you used the word “slight” so we all know not to worry about you! (That’s another of my OCD’s – I worry about EVERYONE)

Hi jenubouka! What is that picture for your profile?! HAHAH omg – ok, sorry….I can act mature here. You’re hilarious with the “laces out” reference. I will have to watch and see if my OCD gets worse as I get older….I do know it gets worse if Im stressed out.

Hi JAS! Your friend sounds just like…wait – are you talking about me?! I wash my hands so often that I have to apply lotion after every washing or my skin breaks and bleeds – eeew. I also do the lip balm thing. LOL I won’t ever invite you to my house. You’d be straightening my pictures the whole time. My kids jump around too much for the frames to stay put :D But of course I would thank you – and perhaps even offer to pay you a tip!

Hi Millionaire Tips, I’m glad you enjoyed this. It was so easy to write because I’ve researched the info for years and years…that’s another of my tendencies. I overly research everything. So tell me – as a person who does not have OCD do the tendencies annoy you?

Hi Enlydia :) I think your husband is right! I mean, by definition the obsessive compulsive behaviors have to disrupt life or relationships in order to be OCD. And I know my habits don’t disrupt my life (that I am aware of). So perhaps I’m just anal! I hate lint on the floor too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi Bardie – I know for a fact that you are a counter and checker! :)

Hello mar! You’re so kind with your words and thanks for all the votes. You add the voice of reason here – the key is balance and maintaining life’s functions even with the habits. I strive for that daily and I think I do alright – let’s hope my 2 daughters learn THAT from me as well.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 07, 2012:

Hi Ardie,

I think you addressed this issue with a sense of comprehensiveness, individuality and humor, while sharing much personal insights. I believe many of us have habits that we can be quite determined about.

As you and others have stressed, balance and keeping an ability to maintain life's functions is paramount in order to prevent the habits from taking over/ becoming grossly dysfunctional.

I think you are so cool, sounds like your family does as well! Voted UP & UABI. Hugs, mar.

Bardie on March 07, 2012:

Can I be a checker and a counter? I count steps and I have to talk to my daughter every day to make sure she and the children are ok.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on March 06, 2012:

My husband says we all have a touch of all of these things, but in varying degrees. One of my issues is with floors...I am more troubled with lint on the floor than with dust in the rafters. Unfornately, It doesn't necessarily make me a neater person.

Shasta Matova from USA on March 06, 2012:

This is great information about an important topic. I have several friends who I suspect might have OCD. Myself, I have many issues, but this is not one of them.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 06, 2012:

Interesting article. I know someone that constantly washers her hands and is always putting on lip balm. Never thought of her having OCD before reading your article.

I wash my dishes a certain way as well and have never changed the way in which I do them. Crooked pictures on walls drive me crazy and I'll go into someone's house and actually go and straighten the picture. Some people say thank you and others give me a strange look :)

Up, useful and interesting.

jenubouka on March 06, 2012:

In my aging years, I have become OCD-ish for sure. "laces out!" per say. I have this thing with double checking, sinner/karma thought process. If I start to clean, moments later the toothbrush, toothpick, and bleach come out...

Wonderful hub, entertaining yet some good info too.

Megh Brandel from Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 06, 2012:

Cool one. I guess I myself am a slight ''Doubters and Sinners''. :-P... That's a little creepy though

Ruchira from United States on March 05, 2012:

I am not as anal as my hubby n kid. They both drive me nuts...lol

I like your style...the way you went about discussing your OCD behavior :)

Voted up as interesting yet funny

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on March 05, 2012:

Great hub! I have the cleaning OCD bug. I never realized it until a few years ago. I just thought I liked to clean things. I also organize. My son has it, and my grand daughter..even at 2, we see signs. I seem to do it more when I am anxious. Hate crooked pictures on the wall...lol.

Vote you up. More people need to be aware of this.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on March 05, 2012:

The reason why I like to read your hubs Ardie... I so appreciate the way you speak the truth and share with people. We can all relate to some of what you have written... me I check the door a few times before I go to bed for the night... I do like to keep my writing area clean as it does create an atmosphere of well being and peace.

Up and all the way across the board with this one... well done and thank you for sharing with us.


Kim Lam from California on March 05, 2012:


This is an interesting article! My brother and boss have mild cases of OCD and it drives me crazy because I'm the opposite. Then again maybe I drive them crazy. And don't worry, being OCD makes you a more controlled, orderly person. Your clean house will always make people jealous! Me, on the other hand...I'm complete chaos. Great hub! Voted up and beyond!

Pete Fanning from Virginia on March 05, 2012:

This is really interesting, at what point does it go from a quirky habit to ocd? As I was reading I found myself thinking I may be a washer and a checker! Great job, voted up!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 05, 2012:

Ardie - I wish I was an obsessive house cleaner. I really do...messy stuff bugs me to no end...and I have high anxiety so everyone makes fun of my house keeping. I will start in one room - than I may go to put something away - and if I see something out of place in that room - I will focus on that and go from room to room to room all day and at the end - it all gets done - but it's nonsensical!

My daughter - has OCD tendencies - her main issue is food checking. We call her inspector number 9:)) lol. Her doc says she is glad she's picky and concerned with germs, viruses, stuff like that so we are just observing for now. She is extremely together - has her routines - does not like to deviate...I wish I was more like that...so hard to strike happy mediums!

Really interesting hub - I read everything I can about it za obsessively! Lol

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