From as young as I can remember, everything had to be a certain way.

Teddies had to be lined up in a certain order, ornaments in a certain pattern, etc. My room was always immaculate as a child. My bed was always made, my clothes always put away neatly.

As I got older and moved in a flat of my own, I guess it increased but for me it was just a natural way to be. Tins always facing forward in the cupboard, bottles always neat along the top of the bath, towels ALWAYS neatly hung over the towel rail in the bathroom – a bit like in the Julia Roberts film, where her husband has OCD.

For me it was never a problem, never anything to hide away or be ashamed of. I was just a very neat and tidy person.

Then as I got older and friends started coming to my house, I noticed it get a little more intense. My remote controls always had to be in a certain order on the coffee table. If friends brought their kids over and the remotes got moved…I could feel myself getting twitchy. Other people started to notice it too, especially the parents.

As things in my life spiralled out of control (like the death of my father, when I was just 19) my OCD tendencies increased. My desk in work was perfection. I loved sitting there and looking at it whilst I worked. I’d take a file out of the filing cabinet, work on it and then place it back, before taking out another. No need for clutter or mess – just calm neatness. It was bliss. I could tell if someone had even moved the pen because it was an inch out of place.

People started to comment on my “funny ways” and I wondered why everyone wasn’t like me. It seemed so much easier; I never lost things and I never had to clear up after myself – I just did it as I went. The dishes were washed in a certain order and stacked on the drainer in a certain order. My clothes faced a certain way in the wardrobe. My underwear was always matching sets and each set was kept in a sealable clear food bag in my drawer. This was the funniest thing my friends had ever seen but to me it was beautiful when I opened the drawer.

My head stayed calm as long as my world stayed orderly. I couldn’t relax if things weren’t just so. I would sit on the bus and look at shop fronts, trying to work out the central letter of the shop name. It made journeys fly by and it was calming for me.

Since having my son nearly a year ago, it’s subsided a little. During my pregnancy it virtually disappeared but I guess that’s just because I was so poorly. It’s definitely not going anywhere but I think I’d miss it if it did. After all it doesn’t really hurt anyone and it’s just me. Nobody is “normal” and who’s to say that my life would be better without it. Think of all the tidying I’d have to do!

Ceri Dibble

OCD is often misunderstood by the public. Have you experienced OCD? Have you had to explain to friends or relatives what it means? You can leave comments below, or on Facebook.

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