Retreating but better armed

As I explained in a post last June, I took a big step in December 2011 by moving in with a friend and I explained why this was such a big step.

This Christmas I made another big decision – and that was to move out and back in with my parents. A big part of me didn’t want to do this as it felt like a backward step for someone of my age, but in the end I know it’s the right decision for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the house, however it’s not been somewhere I’ve really been able to relax. In fact it’s felt like I’ve been living in a self-catering holiday cottage & if you read my post on why holidays for me are not restful, you might understand why this has been a problem.

Every time I went into the house I had to be on the constant look out for stains or marks. My housemate would wear her shoes in the house and even put them on the coffee table, setting my anxiety levels soaring. Every time I ate a meal I would have to check the plates and cutlery thoroughly. My housemate had a habit of leaving washing up for several hours without even putting things to soak, so even when they went in the dishwasher they would come out encrusted in old food. The same would often be true of glasses, mugs saucepans & baking trays. This meant that even making dinner or getting a drink would be stressful. In the bathroom she would frequently hang her towel so it draped over the handle, meaning I had to touch it every time I opened the door.

I have to say that my security OCD at the house wasn’t a problem – I just needed to check the doors once and I was fine, but my contamination OCD spiralled. Living with that much anxiety on a daily basis just got too much and it spilled over into the rest of my life. I was generally stressed all the time, my OCD when I was at ‘home, home’ got worse.

One of my New Year’s challenges was to overcome 3 of my OCD rituals and more than that, I really want to get to grips with my condition. I’ve done it before, so I know I can get back there. However, I knew that at the levels of anxiety I was living at last year, this wasn’t going to be possible. Therefore by retreating back to my ‘home home’ my anxiety levels will reduce and I will become mentally stronger and that’s always a good thing in this fight against OCD.

I know many people will say I could have told my housemate that I have OCD and explain what my problems were and I did think about this, but ironically she sees herself as a ‘clean freak’ and very, very tidy. As it was her house I could hardly have expected her to change her lifestyle so I would have had to live with those things anyway as well as hurting her feelings. We’re still good friends, and maybe one day I will tell her about my OCD, but the timing is not quite right at the moment.

I’ve technically got a couple of weeks left at the house, but I’ve only spent a couple of nights there and will be mainly based at home. I have to say, my anxiety levels have already fallen substantially and I’m in a much better place to fight my OCD. So yes, I have retreated, but I feel much better armed now and that was the plan.

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