When is the last time you second-guessed something? Have you checked whether you locked the car door or front door?  Did you forget to turn the stove off or think you might have? What about the oven? Are you certain you fed the dog? You thought about it and think you might have done it, but certainty is not there. This happens to everyone. We think about it and stress levels slightly rise, however, the amount of anxiety settles within moments and we move on to the next.


Those affected with Checking OCD have a different experience in these situations. Let us paint a picture of the anxiety one with Checking OCD experiences in a way everyone can understand. Have you ever had a time where you were laying in bed and then for a moment you felt a jolt of panic that you may not have locked the front door? Would you ignore the feeling and just stay in bed or would you just check in case you might have actually forgotten to lock it? Let us say you ignore the feeling and stay in bed despite the shock of anxiety. Maybe you are exhausted and you just do not want to do it. The anxiety grows more intense. Would you have the strength to not check? The only way to make the anxiety leave is by checking the door. Finally, you check and find the door locked. You get instant relief. You might even say, “I knew I had locked it.” You then are in your bed a few moments later and suddenly a thought enters your mind. The thought says that as you checked the lock you might have not rotated the lock back. You get a flood of anxiety with the feeling you might not have locked it. The same thing happens as before, the anxiety intensifies and will not let up until you check. You know this is stupid and ridiculous, but the worry will not stop. You get out of bed after emotionally fighting going back to the door. You flip the lock. You find the door locked. You get instant relief. You are happy and you are back in bed. A few moments later, you have a moment of doubt triggered by significant anxiety. The thought is, you know you checked the lock already, but as you were checking the door as your hand was coming away, did it possibly knock the lock? You are angry about it because you know this does not make sense, but it feels so real. This thought causes you to doubt what is true. You experience the anxiety and concern. It continues to build the longer you stay in bed. Perhaps this time you stay in bed for a solid hour fighting the anxiety until you finally yield and check. You find the door locked, just as you left it. You are back in bed and within moment, it all starts again. If this has happened to you, it is likely you have Checking OCD.


Checking OCD is the anxiety a person experiences causing fear and doubt about what might have happened. They get relief by creating certainty. They verify the situation. It will then happen again. With Checking OCD, a sufferer sometimes becomes so sick of checking they will set things specifically to help create some level of certainty. Example: I will not wash my car. If I run someone over, instead of driving back to the spot where I felt it happened, I will just pull over my car and walk around to see if any dirt is gone from the person hitting the car. As I see it is not, then I know it has not happened. Another approach is avoidance. I had a neighbor who struggled with Checking OCD. She was afraid her house was going to burn down and her family would burn up. It would be her fault. Her fix was not to use the oven. For two decades, no one in her family used the oven or stove top. This way, she saves herself significant pain and misery even though she cannot cook hot food in her home. The possibility of losing her family in a fire is not worth cooking food.


Checking OCD focuses on anything you check repeatedly that is physical or mental. Checking OCD can happen a few times to checking off and on all day long. Everyone experiences uncertainty. Remember the difference is the intensity of anxiety and emotion experienced when those thoughts occur.


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