Door checking OCD

Door and lock checking can be an exhausting compulsion, usually done when leaving the home or going to bed. Intrusive thoughts about a break-in can have a sufferer checking the door is locked multiple times before being convinced things are fine.

The following article is anonymous. Our aim is to help people understand how normal certain thoughts are, and to know that professional help can improve daily life.

I live in a city. And with that, I have plenty of people walking about the area all day and night.

Whether I’m going out or going to bed, I have this urge to check the door. I have to do it lots of times and its very tiring and stressful.

If I am leaving my house, I have to shut it hard and push down hard on the handle. To be completely satisfied I need the sound and I need the feeling.

It is important to feel the pressure of the metal against my hands to register it as locked. 

Sometimes one check is enough, other times it takes more.

Door checking may or may not be associated with the fear of a home intrusion

Anxiety about a break-in can fuel checking compulsions, and this is a very common fear within the OCD community.

Image of door left ajar

Previous experiences led me to my current habits

I am from a small village in the north east of England.

It is one of the more deprived areas of the country. The sound of the police helicopter over our roof was a regular occurrence at 3am.

One day, an alcoholic tried to get in our house. He lived a few doors up from us and frequently visited the village pubs in the afternoon.

Thankfully the door was locked and he didn’t succeed.

We were right there in the living room… he tried the door, failed and walked up the street. We wondered what would have happened if he was able to get in, and tried to forget about it.

About an hour later, my friend (also living in the same street) called me.

Mate! You know the alcoholic that lives between us?! My dad found him asleep on our front couch!!!

He was asked to leave after being very rudely awakened by my friends parents. He found his own house, and I am sure had some questions the next morning.

Sometimes I relock the door if it didn't feel right

Sometimes things have to feel just right, usually because of a bad thought I had at the time of doing the check.

I cannot close my door for the night knowing I had a negative thought about harm coming to myself or a family member.

Sometimes I need to have a certain feeling in my hand after shutting the door or I need to do it again as well.

Just Right OCD can describe compulsions that have to be done due to a sensory urge, such as touching a door handle or hearing a ‘clicking’ sound.

Mental contamination is the feeling that something is ‘contaminated’ by a bad thought.

Some days are worse than others

Sometimes I leave the house when OCD isn’t causing me so many problems. This is extremely rare but on those days, I don’t remember my ritual and do worry that I may come home to an empty house.

My checks just before heading to work are worse than if I am just popping to the store.

They are much worse if I am going to be away for a week or so.

If I am going on holiday, I need to see that damn handle mark deep in my palm all the way to the airport.

When I am away I am fine, because I know that I would never leave until I was absolutely certainBut this only adds pressure in the checking phase, and this is as stressful as it gets.

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Hi, I'm Sam. I write about Tourette and OCD to help myself and others.


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