Did I leave the stove on?: Hi guys! Happy... - My OCD Community

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Did I leave the stove on?

Purplerains
Purplerains

Hi guys! Happy New Year! I am new here and I am glad to be a part of the community. I was wondering if anyone can relate to this: I am always worried that I left some of the appliances on when I leave the house, or that I didn't lock the door. In fact, I know I did lock the door, and I always turn everything (oven, stove, iron...) off but I still have to come back and check! Usually, I have to come back multiple times, and even touch everything to make sure it is off. I always feel anxious that I might cause a fire or hurt somebody by not being cautious enough. If you can relate to this please let me know how do you cope with the problem. Thank you!

13 Replies
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This is a fairly common obsession. I have them too. I just have to force myself to lookat something once ( sometimes more) and then walk away.

Purplerains
Purplerains in reply to LuvSun

Thank you so much for the response!

Like LuvSun said, this is a pretty common obsession. I've had it myself for a long time but it has gotten much better lately (partly due to ERP therapy, and partly because my OCD focused on a different topic!).

If you aren't familiar with ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) therapy, do some reading about it and try it yourself. It's basically what desipurple describes. You force yourself to experience the anxiety without doing the checking, and in time the OCD urges will grow weaker and may disappear completely. The idea is that you are teaching your primitive 'fear' brain that its alarms are unnecessary and irrelevant, and eventually it stops sending them. The basic technique works for all types of OCD (checking, washing, ruminating on harm, etc).

Needless to say ERP can be really hard to do, but a good therapist or self-help materials can help you find creative ways to accomplish it. You might start off gradually. If you're checking 4 or 5 times now, you could limit it to 3. Once you feel okay about that, cut it down to 2. Or whatever. The goal is to make yourself moderately anxious for the treatment to work, but you should not be so distressed that you give up. In my experience, being gradual and consistent works best.

So a scenario for you might consist of checking your stove, oven, locks, etc. once (or however many times you decide to start with) and then leaving your house. You should expect that at some point in the process you will get the feeling that something is wrong and you need to check again. (Don't let the feeling take you by surprise, because you have OCD and it's going to show up.) Then you will try to categorize that feeling of anxiety as just a feeling resulting from OCD, not from any real problem. It will still feel real, but you know you've already checked, so keep going and don't go back to check again. All this will make you very anxious for a while, but keep reminding yourself that the anxiety is not about the stove or the locks, but is just a symptom of a disorder you have. It has nothing to do with reality and you can tolerate it.

The more you do this, the easier it should become. Good luck and happy new year to you too!

Purplerains
Purplerains in reply to MothFir

Thank you for sharing your experience! I find this very encouraging. I am familiar with ERP, but it is so difficult for me to resist the anxiety I have if I don't check. But I guess the only way to overcome this problem is to face it. Thank you again. Have a great week!

MothFir
MothFir in reply to Purplerains

Have you tried an anti-obsessive medication (like an SSRI)? Sometimes they can take the edge off enough to make therapy easier and break the OCD cycle.

Purplerains
Purplerains in reply to MothFir

No, I haven't tried those. I have always been scared to go on medication, but I guess if I don't manage to solve this by myself I will have to give it a try.

MothFir
MothFir in reply to Purplerains

I would definitely give medication a chance if you've struggled with ERP in the past. I've taken a low dose of Prozac for nearly 20 years with no significant side effects. Meds don't work for everybody but it doesn't hurt to try. One way or another I hope you can overcome this soon!

Purplerains
Purplerains in reply to MothFir

Thank you!

I’m the same way with appliances, the door, alarms, etc! I got to the point where I’d leave extra early to go places to account for me having to drive back home to check the garage and gate

I totally thought everyone was like this too until I casually told my therapist and she was like “uhhhhhhh 😬” lol

I totally agree. So frustrating! Sometimes I walk away from my building, and I have to come back. That overall takes me extra 20 mins to do.

I tell myself, "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't!" And then I go about my day.

Yes, checking is a problem for me too. Did I leave stove on, the water on, did I leave the door open, did I let the dig. Then go check, sometimes drive back home to check, get out of bed go check. Agree with feedback given in other replies, look at dr reed wilsons material.

Thanks for the response!

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