Andrea Harrn Counselling Services

I’m always tidying up. Is this OCD?


So you tidy up a lot, you like all your food tins to be facing the same way and you double check you have locked the door at least twice before you leave the house.  You laugh at yourself quite readily in front of friends and when your partner calls you OCD you kind of agree with him.

How many people do you know right now in your life who describe themselves or others as a bit OCD?

OCD otherwise known as obsessive compulsive disorder is a term that is readily applied these days to anyone who might otherwise have been described as neat, tidy, organised or a worrier.

It is in fact quite a serious dysfunction for some people.  It falls into two main categories as follows:


This is where a person becomes obsessed and compulsive about performing certain rituals for fear that something bad might happen.

Take the young teenager who walks up and down the stairs 3 times before she will leave the house to go to school.  She will not walk on the cracks in the pavement and checks her bag at least 30 times before she arrives at the school gate.   She is highly anxious that if she does not perform these actions something bad will happen to her family.

Then there is woman who spends at least 3 hours a day washing her hands and using anti-bacterial wipes on every surface she comes into contact with.   She has had to give up work because she can’t cope with all the hand washing.   She feels depressed and bad about herself for much of the time.

Thought Based

This is where people have obsessive intrusive repetitive thoughts.

Take the man who repeatedly tells himself he is bad and will do bad things.  He is afraid to go out and mix with other people in case he harms somebody.  He spends his days avoiding life, does not work and will not go on any family outings.   Highly stressed about what he believes are voices in his head.

Then there is the woman who broke up from a very very short term relationship but could not stop obsessing about the man.  She felt they were meant to be together and that he really loved her.  She resorted to stalking him.  All the time thoughts were banging in her head, stopping her from being happy, finding new positive relationships.  She became highly anxious and stressed to the point of breakdown.

There are different levels of seriousness when it comes to OCD.   The more it affects a person’s day to day life the more serious it becomes.  Also where a person has been suffering for many many years the obsessions are harder to break.

Both types of OCD can also be seen as addictive behaviours and both are treatable with cognitive behavioural therapy.

As for keeping things tidy.  Be house proud with no need to diagnose yourself!!!

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