When I first had OCD I can’t remember whether it was a gradual thing or whether it was suddenly there- at any rate it certainly made it’s presence felt. I was living a happy and relatively carefree life, working in the studio space rented by my friend Fig for her fledgling illustration agency. It was above the Chenil Galleries on King’s Road,near the Town Hall, so was a very familiar place as we’d spent three years there at art school.
People with OCD can get different variations of anxieties,compulsions and rituals -they can change over time,so you might start washing repeatedly instead of counting , but mine have always been washing and checking . We shared a fairly manky kitchen and loo with the other people who worked in the floors above the galleries and I can remember the anxiety of trying to complete my long hand washing ritual with the possibility of being interrupted.
At home I spent a huge chunk of time washing my hands until it felt right- if I was interrupted or had a stray thought during the ritual I’d have to begin again as I couldn’t be sure they were properly clean. The thinking behind it was that I had to protect other people from germs, and carrying out careful hand washing would help do that. I was afraid of touching things that might contaminate me – not with concern for my own health,only in that it might hurt other people. At home I’d get through quantities of soap – a bar a day at least. I used to go to different shops to buy my supplies so that no one would suspect that I was mainlining cleaning products. My hands were pitifully damaged and cracked, but I didn’t know how to stop.