I’m sure that everyone probably has some OCD tendencies even if only in childhood,where you avoid cracks in pavements for example. It makes sense to check that you have your keys/purse/mobile and that you’ve locked the back door and closed the windows. When I was little I used to put all my toys and treasures under my bed at night for safety. When I went to Mass every week I was careful to remember the list of people to pray for. In fact the ritual of a Catholic Mass always struck me as quite an obsessive thing- the repetition and particular ways of doing things at the altar – rinsing out the chalice and drying it especially. Order and repetition are comforting. At primary school we grew up very attached to the church,quite literally as it backed on to our school -the graveyard was an extension of our playground and we trailed around the tombs quite happily. Four of us called ourselves the 4 Pies because our teacher, the formidable yet much loved Miss Murtagh, talked about being pious. We clamoured up to the organ loft to sing at Mass, regularly took part in The Stations of The Cross (Veronica wiping Jesus’s face was a favourite,for some reason) and stayed after school for Benediction (very ritualistic with added incense) even though we often missed the Kew coach home and had a long walk back along the south Circular or on the tow path.
Catholic guilt I think is somewhere in the mix with OCD for me- I still feel a bit worried about having too much good fortune or things going too well for me. Recently I have won 2 prizes – no skill required, just ‘liking’ 2 Facebook fan pages – I got a beautiful greyhound necklace and a lovely print of an oystercatcher – and the thought that I can’t possibly be that lucky and there might be some sort of payback crossed my mind.
When I was very happily working and had a happy life with good friends my first episode of OCD struck. This was very scary as I had no idea of what was happening to me. Years later when I was happy,with my own house, work and was going out with Graham it returned and then some years after that,when I was married and expecting Theo and obviously happy it came back again. Having good things and being fortunate obviously requires some protecting otherwise it might be taken away again, so rituals are things I turn to.