Every now and then we all feel like we left the motor on, or count the cracks on the floor as we walk. All of us like order and cleanliness in different measures but what do we really mean when we say we have OCD? There is a hazy line which differentiates OCD from this routine behaviour. Our everyday behaviour is often voluntary – the urge to perform a certain task such as washing our hands when they are dirty. When a person has OCD, the very nature of this “volunteering” changes. Let us take a look at Shabnam’s story –

Shabnam was in great distress when she finally sought help from a therapist. She used to work as an engineer but then she had to leave her job due to her family circumstances and her condition. She was constantly worried about catching germs to the point where she would shower multiple times in the day even in the midst of winter which would often leave her shivering and troubled. She wanted to stop taking these baths but the fear of germs would keep taking her over.

From Shabnam’s story we can see that she is needs to often bathe herself or wash her hands whenever she thinks that she has been exposed to germs. She finds it difficult to control these repetitive thoughts which she knows are not grounded in reality – she knows that she maintains her hygiene and doesn’t need to shower multiple times a day to protect herself from germs. These are not “voluntary” actions but are often driven by intruding thoughts that one cannot shut without performing a certain behaviour. For many people there can be different kinds of urges which could be the need to check if they locked the house again and again, or washing hands being commonly known examples. These often cause them a great deal of distress, take up a lot of their time, interfere with their day to day life and relationships, their self-esteem and more.

Getting back to Shabnam’s story – now on the course of recovery, both medicine and therapy have been helping her slowly pick up the threads of life which got scattered on this difficult journey.


Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | teenmentalhealth.org


Living With #OCD | Samantha Pena