I want to tell you about how important it is for people who suffer with OCD how constant disruption and unsettled life can make OCD worse. I’m going to talk to you about some of my life experiences and how hectic it’s been for me living with this illness.
I never had a choice where I lived and I was just taken to where ever was available and that was really hard. It’s because I never knew where I was going to be moved next. I didn’t know who the people were or their families I was made to life in places with complete strangers.
If I would be safe, secure, and a home I lived in was clean I would still have to do my own washing. I had to make sure nothing of mine was touched by anyone. As a child that was really hard because a lot of the time I couldn’t be in control of doing these things. I would be told it’s not a child’s place to clean or do their own washing. How could I make them understand that it was important for me and I needed to do that just to feel secure?
In most homes I was moved to, a lot of my foster carers would love that I was so clean and tidy and kept there house in order. Unfortunately, some places I had to live were strict and wouldn’t even let me use their hoover. It’s very important for people to understand that OCD plays a big part later in life for anyone no matter of the age who has suffered any abuse or neglect and trauma.
This can happen even straight away and can be very challenging to live with and cope with. Especially when I was a child and people didn’t know or didn’t understand that I had this problem. People who I lived with and I didn’t know what it was called and all I knew was I had to do certain things in a daily routine to give myself some peace and sense of feeling safe and secure.
OCD can be very tiring, exhausting and worrying about the cleanliness around you. As an adult I understand things more but as a child I didn’t and I couldn’t speak out about how I felt or what I needed to do. At any time OCD gets worse when you are stressed and worried and when your anxiety levels are bad. The urge to clean for me gets really over powering but once I’ve done it I am a lot better and calmer and I always feel organised and in control of things in my life a bit more again.
I grew up in many care homes from a young age and I carried this baggage of extra stress with me absolutely everywhere I went. Unfortunately, it never got any easier as I grew up and got to where I am now. I went from foster homes to bed and breakfast places. Sometimes I would have to stay in a bed and breakfast for a few months.
At a time I would take a disinfectant to the shared toilet and shower facilities I had to use. I was always worried about germs from the other people who were staying there. One of the places I stayed as a teenager was extremely dirty. The damp, cold and smell was awful and I was founding it hard. I had to stay there for at least 5 months and I battled through a routine of cleaning this B&B everyday. If I didn’t do this it was going to make me feel more unsettled and insecure and not safe. It’s quite surprising how trauma, no control and living an unsettled uncertain life can make you want to clean isn’t it.
Some would think my constant cleaning is strange but it’s a reality part of life for us that suffer with OCD. It’s very much time consuming and can be very distressful until your daily tasks of cleaning routine are done. From bed and breakfasts where social services made me live they moved me to two different care leaving hostels. The first was just for a couple of weeks and the second was for almost a year. The hostels had 9 rooms, two bathrooms and two toilets between all the residents that lived there. One shared washing machine and one shared tumble dryer.
I was glad for a place to live but with my OCD being so over powering I spent most of my days cleaning that place. It was just awful as much as I got on with most of the people who lived in there it was dirty and dirty everywhere and everyday. I kept my room all spic and span luckily for me my room had a tiny kitchen attached. I had my bed then a place where I had a little fridge. Luckily I could make something to eat and I never ever made any food in the shared kitchen down stairs. I was always so afraid of the germs.
In the morning I tried my best to wake up before everyone else so I could be the first in the shower. I would still take cleaning products bleach and disinfectant with me and make sure it was thoroughly cleaned before I washed in there. It was the same every time I used the toilets. That was the worst part for me no one wants to use a dirty toilet. No matter how much it would be cleaned. After me doing them they never stayed like it for more than five minutes. For some reason I always remember we didn’t have a regular cleaner.
There was one Henry hoover that was to be shared between all nine residents in the hostel. I always had Henry in my room, not many people used him. I would hoover the stairs clean all the banisters. I’d even clean the office down stairs for the staff. When I moved in I was told I’d have to have a room inspection once a week to all residents. Mine was done once and they never came back to check my room again. I was glad about it as I didn’t like anyone in my personal space. My room was clean and no one else could make it dirty, only me.
I would disinfect the washing machine before I put my clothes inside to be washed. We had an allowance of £55 a fortnight each to live on. Unfortunately, needing to clean as much as I did in there all of my money went on cleaning products. All that was left would get me some tins and may be pot noodles. But I had to spend the money, I had to feel clean where I was living!
I want to say now that others would say that’s crazy and tell people that they’re wrong and they’re not looking after them selves. I’ve had many people tell me off and slate me for spending more money on cleaning products than food. But do you know what OCD illness and living a life of being extremely scared worried and anxious is?
For most people with this level of anxiety most important is just to feel safe. Just to get a nights sleep of course, a nice hot meal would of been nice as well as being able to clean. As an OCD sufferer and on a tight budget you don’t have any choice. You can try but if the OCD levels are high, you don’t have a chance to get out of that habit. You just stick to this daily routine that make you feel secure and safe. That’s exactly what I did every single day.
I would even sometimes offer my cleaning products to encourage others to clean their rooms. That just to help my anxiety levels living in these places. A lot would knock my door for washing powder. I had a big problem with hoarding that too especially in there. My life was never settled all I ever wanted was just one home and be happy, safe and secure.
I have siblings and I wanted us all to be together but we never were. We were separated all the time. I craved a normal life and just to be settled and have some security in my life. Just so I could go on and achieve my dreams. We all have wishes and dreams. My biggest was a normal home and a home that I could call a home a place that wasn’t going to be taken away from me and somewhere I could be safe I never got it.
I went on to moving around in bed and breakfasts again the care system did let me down. They are still letting young people down now. When I was around 17 and needed a home they offered me a place called the YMCA. I remember the day the social worker took me to have a look around. WOW those images will live with me for the rest of my life. Dirty, cold, smelly dull a complete wrong kind of place for someone of myself and anyone for that matter.
There was blood stains on the mattress, strains on the carpets, foul smelling from the toilets. You could see human feces on the walls. Inside I was no longer than five minutes I ran outside and had a panic attack crying my eyes out. I was begging them to find me a proper home this wasn’t my fault? I didn’t choose to be niggled I just wanted a safe and clean place to call home, some real security. That is all any of us want in life. How can you function and concentrate on living a good happy life with out that?
I never have been able to and I know there are others who are or have suffered like me. I want you to know you are not alone! My life now still isn’t great and I live in fear and uncertainty every day. I battle my anxiety and OCD every single day but now I understand my self more. I don’t beat myself up so much and I know it’s not my fault. Just like that is not anyone’s fault going through anything like this you are not alone.
I now live in a flat that I have lived in for many years. Even though I have been here a long time I’m still fighting hard to keep it as my home. I really am hoping that soon it will be possible and I finally get my security that I’ve needed all of my whole life. I won’t give up it’s been my longest home. My neighbors love me and I love them I’m settled in most ways and I feel safe here. How can my neighbors not love me? I keep our stare way clean and tidy and with out being big headed I do a way better job than the people who are employed to do. But that’s another story for another time.
I hope some of what I have spoke about helps others who are in similar situations feel better in some way. That is my aim you are not alone although you feel it. I do to but we are strong and you are always stronger than you think! OCD, anxiety and any kind of mental health abuse trauma although it doesn’t seem it believe me although we still suffer. We are strong it’s our only way.
Take care everyone, keep positive, stay strong and keep fighting. Lots of love from your Unknown Cleaning Fairy. 🤗💖