OCD Is So Much More Than Cleaning Obsessively

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“There I sat, hands on the wheel, foot on the pedal, eyes forward, repeatedly checking my mirrors. Waiting. Shaking. Obsessing. ‘What if I hit that person jogging?’ ‘Have I already hit someone and I blanked out and didn’t know it?’ ‘What if that car swerves and hits me head on, do I have an escape plan? Do I turn my car or slam my breaks or gun it off the road away from it?’ ‘What if I drove my car off the bridge, what would happen?’ ‘Am I crazy?’

Woman with OCD battles intrusive thoughts while trying to drive
Courtesy of Kylee Cook

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is so much more than being a clean freak and afraid of germs. It’s the horrible intrusive thoughts. It’s being out to dinner and seeing the knife on the table and wondering, ‘What if I accidentally stabbed someone, or what if someone ran in here and grabbed it and stabbed me?’ It’s the constant need to check things. The amount of times I make sure the stove is off before leaving the house, even though I haven’t used it that day, is completely ridiculous and I know it, but I can’t help but check again just to make sure. It’s persistent thoughts of something bad happening to myself and my loved ones. I track my husband everyday on his way home from work so I know he’s still moving and safe and hasn’t been in an accident. Some would call it stalking, but to me it’s comforting and necessary for my own mind and heart to be put at ease.

Woman with OCD takes a photo with her husband out in the snow with Christmas lights behind them
Courtesy of Kylee Cook

OCD is arranging items again, and again, and again, until they feel just right, only to have to arrange them a fourth time. It causes me to replay scenarios in my head over and over as well as traumatic and dramatic events because my mind won’t allow me to just let them go. It causes upsetting life events to take a toll on me for far longer than they should because I can’t let them go as quickly as others can. It takes up to a week for me to calm down about the tone of voice someone spoke to me in. It’s so much more than just washing your hands and cleaning obsessively. It’s a depressing, anxiety ridden disease some of us are unfortunate enough to deal with. It takes the fun out of almost everything. OCD controls my life, and makes everything so difficult when it shouldn’t be.

The worst part of my OCD is my issue with intrusive thoughts, especially while driving. I have struggled for many years now with driving. I didn’t get my license until I was 19 because I had zero desire due to being afraid of being in an accident. After I had my son at 22 in 2018, it amplified into something even worse than I thought it could be. Not only was I worried about myself in the car, but now I had a baby to keep safe too. The negative and disturbing thoughts that creep into your head you can’t get to go away are the absolute worst. They’re never fun ones about you and your family on a road trip singing songs and laughing, but ones where you are all severely hurt or killed because of an accident of some sort and you watch the whole thing play out. You see the accident and the blood and it’s almost like an out of body experience as you stare at yourself and your loved ones.

These thoughts can be so bad, and they stick like glue, and the only thing I can do to get them to go away sometimes is to physically shake myself. Sometimes they’re so overwhelming, I need them to stop immediately. No matter how much I try to think of something else, I’m stuck envisioning these horrible thoughts in my head, wishing they would just stop and go away. OCD is my reality as well as many others who suffer from it. This may sound dramatic and even be labeled as psychotic to some because trust me, the hurtful comments have been made, but it’s real and raw and a peak into another part of OCD that is never talked about. It’s why I struggle so bad driving because every time I get in the car, these scenarios play out. I wonder if the person ahead of us is drunk or on drugs and what they’re going to do. I worry about the person behind us ramming us and hurting us. Over and over and over again. Images play.

Sometimes they happen while I’m lying on the couch watching television, wondering if I should move my kids and I into my bedroom to play just incase someone were to break in and hold us at gunpoint or kill us for no reason. Over and over and over again. Images play. I think my OCD is part of the reason I don’t do much at all, because I’m so terrified something bad is going to happen to myself, my kids, or loved ones.

Mom of two battling OCD takes a photo with her two sons, all with red hair
Courtesy of Kylee Cook

I pray over these thoughts everyday, pray that they will lessen and go away. Some days are better than others, but some days are also worse than others. I’ve learned to take it day by day. I used to try to fight off the thoughts, but I’ve learned just letting them play out knowing it’s not truly going to happen and it’s just my OCD has helped me become able to live with them. I got so tired of fighting them off; it was exhausting me mentally. I know I would never hurt someone, and I know the chances of someone hurting me are slim, but my OCD doesn’t think so. I wanted to take the time to highlight the reality of OCD, especially the intrusive thoughts and that it’s so much more than dusting, mopping, organizing and arranging. It’s more than hand washing, sanitizing, bleaching, and disinfecting. It’s debilitating, mind warping, and disturbing at times. It’s thoughts you want to go away, second guessing yourself, feeling anxious, and depressed. But one day at a time, it’s conquered by those who struggle with it.”

Woman battling OCD takes a beautiful self portrait
Courtesy of Kylee Cook

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kylee Cook of West Harrison, IN. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here.

Read more from Kylee here:

‘How is your house so clean with two kids?!’ They don’t realize the literal pain I feel inside when it’s not.’: Woman details navigating motherhood with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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