Spring Cleaning or OCD? You Decide...

This time of year is a double-edged sword for me.

You see, I'm a recovering sufferer of OCD. And, while I often joke about it, the truth is that there was a time when I was really sick. There was a time when I spent every spare minute of my life cleaning. Again...not a joke. If I wasn't at work or cooking a meal for my child, I was cleaning. Every evening, every weekend.

To illustrate the extent of my illness, let me put it this way: on Sunday, in addition to normal kitchen and bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, and laundry, my ritual was to scrub every tile floor by hand, to scrub every baseboard in the house, and to wash all the curtains. Every Sunday. With bleach.

When I went shopping, I couldn't let my food items share the cart with non-food items.

I washed my hands a lot.

Like many of these things, it's about control. This was one area of my life I could control and so I did - with a vengeance.

Thank god for therapy and Prozac.

So, I've been pretty healthy for the last 15 years or so. Every now and then, while at the grocery store, I feel my brain start to scream "WHY IS THAT LYSOL BOTTLE TOUCHING THE GRAPES!" and then I remind myself that it's not the end of the world and I do a little deep breathing and everything is okay. Sometimes, I force myself to put incompatible items next to each other in the cart just to prove the point.

Unfortunately, spring cleaning is one of my worst OCD triggers. Culturally and practically, this is the time of year when "over-cleaning" is encouraged. We're supposed to pull out our sofas and vacuum behind them. We're supposed to get the cobwebs out of the corners and scrub the winter off our floors. All that sunshine coming through the windows makes it impossible to ignore the dirt, right?

Well, I had the day off on Monday and thought I'd clean a bit. A trip to the equipment rental store and seven hours later, you can eat off of every surface in my kitchen. Yeah... I went a bit overboard.

If you've never rented a commercial grade floor cleaner before, let me recommend doing so. My kitchen and bathroom floors have never been cleaner and I even went as far as pulling the appliances out from the walls and cleaning behind and under them. Obsessive, yes. However, I eventually forced myself to stop and even replaced the (filthy, in my opinion) uncleaned dog gate in the kitchen doorway. I lost a day to my OCD this week but I managed to stop myself and not let it completely blow out of proportion.

And I've got a wicked clean kitchen to show for it. I guess a little OCD can be a good thing sometimes.

- Alex


  1. When people joke about having a touch of OCD I always think that they don't know just how difficult and destructive it can be. Although, there are times when I wish I was a little more diligent about cleaning! Glad you managed to harness it to achieve some very impressive looking cleaning, without it taking over.

  2. @pinkundine - You know, once I got "better" I sort of went in the opposite direction and became a bit of a slob. Finding the happy medium without allowing myself to get sick again is the key. I feel like I did pretty well on Monday. :)