Counting, Checking, and Repeating: The Daily Struggle of Living with OCD

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be an overwhelming experience. The constant battle with intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors can disrupt daily life and cause intense anxiety. Among the most common symptoms of OCD are counting, checking, and repeating rituals. For those who struggle with these symptoms, life becomes a daily uphill struggle.

Counting is often associated with OCD, where individuals feel compelled to count objects, events, or even their own actions. This may involve counting steps, organizing items in a particular pattern, or keeping track of numbers in their head. These counting rituals can be incredibly time-consuming, with individuals spending hours every day fulfilling these compulsions.

For some, counting provides a sense of control and security. It can create an illusion of order in a chaotic and unpredictable world. However, the relief from counting is only temporary, as the compulsion quickly returns, reinforcing the need to keep counting. This vicious cycle perpetuates the individual’s anxiety and keeps them trapped in the ritual.

Checking is another common compulsion among individuals with OCD. Whether it’s locking the door, turning off the stove, or verifying that a task has been completed, checking behaviors are driven by an intense fear or doubt. These individuals struggle to trust their own perception and memory, leading to excessive and repetitive checking rituals.

Checking rituals can be time-consuming and provide only temporary relief. Individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of checking and rechecking, unable to fully trust that they have completed a task correctly. This not only disrupts their daily routines but also leads to significant distress and frustration.

Repeating is a compulsive behavior characterized by repeating certain actions or words until they feel “just right.” This can manifest as repeating a phrase a specific number of times, rewriting sentences, or redoing tasks to achieve a sense of perfection. Repeating rituals are often driven by an overwhelming fear of making a mistake or a deep-seated need for symmetry and order.

Individuals with OCD who engage in repeating rituals may become exhausted and frustrated by their uncontrollable urge for perfection. The pressure to repeat certain behaviors until they feel “right” can interfere with basic tasks and responsibilities, leading to significant impairments in daily life.

Living with the daily struggle of counting, checking, and repeating rituals can be incredibly challenging. These symptoms can consume a significant amount of time and energy, causing distress and interfering with normal functioning. Relationships, work, and personal goals may be compromised as individuals struggle to manage these compulsions.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for OCD. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), is considered the gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP helps individuals gradually face their fears and resist the urge to engage in compulsive behaviors. Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Living with OCD is not easy, but with the right support and treatment, individuals can regain control over their lives. It’s important for society to foster understanding and empathy towards those battling OCD and to break the stigma surrounding mental health. By raising awareness about the daily struggles faced by individuals with OCD, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate society.