One with the OCD

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 23 October 2017

They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but what if it turns into an obsession? Here’s how it is like to stay with a cleanliness-freak.

You don’t really know someone unless you start living with them — you get to see their best and worst sides. So, when I enrolled myself for a post-graduation course in journalism, I was happy that Priti Gond — someone I had known years (my schoolmate’s elder sister) also joined the same course and began living in the same paying guest accommodation as mine. I got along really well with her — we shared food, travelled together, discussed assignments and studied together too.

She used to spend a lot of time in my room, which was a bit of a problem for my then roommate who suggested that perhaps I should shift to my friend’s room for better communication. I agreed and I must admit, it was a terrible decision.

I was surprised to find that she spent nearly two and a half hours doing the dishes (which only consisted of a plate). Just a plate! After finishing our dinner, I would quickly clean my plate and come back to my room but Priti di (that’s what I call her) would take forever to clean a single plate. I tried telling her that this was a wastage of water and time, which made her conscious and she found a new way.

She would wait for me to fall asleep and then go and wash her plate. Now  let me tell you that I do not go to bed until it’s midnight. She would tip-toe to the kitchen around 1 am and take her own sweet time to wash her plate. There were times when I have woken up and peeped into the kitchen, only to find her scrubbing her plate.

Very soon, the other girls and the PG owner’s wife began noticing her behaviour. Four of us used to share one washroom and she would bathe for hours. By the time she came out of the bathroom, the tank would run out of water.

Things began to get worse when this became an everyday affair, but she didn’t want to mend her ways. We soon realised that she had an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which centres around fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner. She would often wash her hands for almost 30 minutes. This began to irk me a lot.

She wouldn’t let me sit on her bed or touch her until I had taken bath. Despite the maid cleaning the room, she would sweep and mop it three times a day, which was too annoying. Since she was wasting gallons of water and other inmates continuously complained about her behaviour, she was warned by the owners.

Surprisingly, we saw a change in her behaviour soon enough. She finished her bath in 15 minutes, did her utensils in nearly five minutes, and so on and this made things a little more comfortable until she began leaving the class early everyday.

One day, when our class was dismissed early and I came home, I found her locked in the bathroom for about three to four hours. I didn’t knock, just waited for her to step out and she was astonished to see me as if I had caught her red-handed.

It then struck me that every afternoon she had been missing lectures just to come back and enjoy her leisurely shower. I confronted her and she admitted that she feels that there are germs all over her body and that’s why she has to bathe for long to get rid of the dirt.

I tried explaining that this was a medical condition and she needed treatment, but she refused to accept and the conversation turned into an argument. Very soon, the owners came to know about her problem and warned her parents that if she didn’t change her ways, it would be difficult for other girls to stay with her. She soon left the PG accommodation. 

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