Oven and stove checking OCD

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Oven checking anxiety usually revolves around the fear of a fire. These worries can cause distressing intrusive thoughts and exhausting compulsions and rituals.

We keep our OCD articles anonymous. Our aim is to help people understand how normal certain thoughts are, and to know that professional help can improve daily life.

I wish my oven worked like a microwave. It pings when finished and that’s it. Sadly ovens have stayed in the past and it drives me crazy because of my oven checking OCD.

I want to share some of my thoughts when cooking and my behaviors around this, in the hope that others can relate.

Why do I keep checking it?

I want to say that I think ovens are amazing.

Sometimes I will think about how our ancestors had to create fire to get a nice cooked meal, now we can eat cooked food with barely any effort. But with great ease comes great complacency, and I worry that I’ll forget the oven is on at all.

After-all there are so many distractions that can lead me to forget. Or maybe I will just fall asleep. What if I head to the store, run into a friend and have a 30 minute chat whilst my quiche bursts into flames. 

It is all too easy for me to panic and check multiple times. One time is never enough. I don’t want the house to burn down, but I don’t want my mental health to burn out either.

OCD makes me believe that multiple checks are vital for safety, but instead makes me lose trust in myself. That self trust and confidence needs to be brought back by checking the once and not giving in to the urge to check again.

I’m not quite there yet.

I overthink the worst case scenario

If I have been cooking, I can’t sleep or leave the house until the oven has cooled down again. The same with the hobs on top.

If I know something could land on the hob when I am not looking, I fear a fire could break out.

I cannot leave the house without these intrusive thoughts. I cannot sleep for the same reason. I worry that I may never wake up again due to smoke inhalation. It’s horrible.

I have a ritual

I open the oven door, stick my hand in to make sure it is cool. Even if I haven’t used it.

Next I’ll close it veeeeery carefully to ensure I don’t accidentally knock a dial.

Then I will check all the dials are at 12 o’clock (in the off position) and stare at them until I feel relaxed. I have to concentrate until my mind gives me the green light, usually after a few seconds.

I hope no-one is watching and thinks I am a weirdo.

Many of my obsessive thoughts revolve around putting myself and those I live with in danger, and I do everything I can to stop that.

But the more I check, the more I feel I put myself in danger. These rituals are driving me insane.

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