What is Responsibility OCD?

A post about responsibility OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

I have decided to blog about responsibility OCD, a condition that many have, but don’t talk about.

I feel I haven’t opened up about this OCD as its admitting there was a difficulty within myself. Although, I’m in a better state of mind now, since Covid I have noticed that I do sometimes slip into my OCD ways. When this happens I stop what I’m doing and remember that I have overcome this, I will not let it take over again.

I realised not to long ago, that responsibility OCD probably started after the birth of my first son, 8 years ago. After suffering Postpartum Psychosis, I remember the routine I had of checking everything was safe around my son.

This routine was worse at night, I’d spend up to two hours checking his cot, the windows, I’d tap plugs and tap everything in the kitchen just to make sure everything was off and safe.

It eased up for a bit and then I became pregnant with my 2nd child.

After the birth of my 2nd son in 2014, I quickly started the checking routine again and before I knew it, I was obsessing over anything to do with my children.

At the same time I was training in perinatal mental health and supporting families. I knew through my training that I had OCD, however, I couldn’t put my finger on what I was obsessing about.

It was more than having a clean house. It was everything, the right clothing, the food checking, the tapping of switches and the 2 hour routine before bed.

Responsibility OCD was also intrusive thoughts. An intrusive thought is an unwelcome, involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate.

As the boys grew up it didn’t get any easier. I would have to know what my children were doing 24/7. I even used to go on school trips so I could be with them. The school at the time were brilliant with my condition.

Safety was on mind constantly. Everything I did had to be checked and checked. What if plastic got in their food? What if I don’t check the window is locked? I found it very hard to have a night away from my sons. I was questioning the safety of my children in an obsessive manner.

Even if we went away on holiday I would continue this routine.

I discussed it with my GP who confirmed I had OCD, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I was diagnosed with responsibility OCD.

What is Responsibility OCD?

Dr. Phillipson defines and discusses Responsibility OCD.

Common Responsibility OCD obsessions:

  • Fear that you accidentally put someone in danger.
  • Fear that an action or action you didn’t take could hurt a loved one.
  • Fear of failing to prevent harm from happening. 

Common Responsibility OCD compulsions:

  • Guilt: Thinking you’re a bad person for harming a stranger or loved one by an action that you took or an action that you didn’t take.
  • Prayer: Having associations about spiritual harm happening to someone and then praying that it doesn’t happen.
  • Excessive washing: Repeated or overlong showering, hand-washing, using antibacterial soap or heavy-duty cleaning products on your skin. This is similar to people with Contamination OCD.
  • Thinking you’re a bad person: Your character is at risk if you do the wrong thing and you feel devastated if someone thinks you’re a bad person.

Common misconceptions about Responsibility OCD:

  • OCD only comes in one, general type. Subsets like Responsibility OCD don’t exist.
  • You care more about others than those of the general population.
  • You have really low self-esteem.

Responsibility OCD | Made of Millions Foundation

Writing this brings back so much emotion, I wish there was someone around at the time who could tell me I wasn’t crazy and that what I was going through was common.

Through talking about it to peers and using guided meditations, I saw light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

So, if you are reading this post and thinking ‘that’s me!’ Please talk to someone about it.

Please head to my Instagram or Facebook to keep updated.

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