Fridge checking OCD

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Please note: Articles on lived experiences can be a trigger for those with tics, OCD and anxiety disorders. Articles are intended to show we aren’t alone, and that help can improve quality of life.

Fridge anxiety often comes from a worry that food will spoil or contaminate other foods. It can include checking, contamination and ordering/symmetry compulsions. 

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

Needing to constantly check the fridge puts me off wanting to cook. It is one reason for my very poor diet in my twenties.

If I am in the kitchen just grabbing water from the tap, I still find myself staring at the door to convince myself that it is closed and the food is safe.

Staring is often featured in checking compulsions.

Here, it is accompanied with fears of contamination and/or food poisoning, further increasing anxiety and a desire to check.

 

Having a broken fridge didn't help

My first apartment was old. The landlord was lovely but didn’t fix problems, and it had a lot of problems.

We had a fridge that would open on it’s own, not all the time but probably ten or so times in my twelve months living there.

My flatmate accused me of leaving the fridge open when I got back from work one day.

It is hard to explain to someone that doesn’t have OCD just how much effort I put into making sure I don’t leave the fridge open.

Every hour of every day.

This fridge became my enemy

If fridge OCD was bad before, it certainly worsened after this.

Therapy helped me understand that my checks weren’t needed. However in this apartment, they actually were needed.

I no longer wanted to eat meat stored in there. What if the fridge was open all night and only closed by someone the following morning? It isn’t worth the risk.

Bin it. Order pizza.

It sounds like a silly obsession to have, but I’ve wasted so much money on takeaways freaking out over potential food poisoning.

I started doing weird things to convince myself the door was closed

After moving out, I kept the same rituals, but they got even worse over time.

I would look at an already closed door, and stare at it. Waiting for my mind to validate what it was seeing.

It was as if I didn’t believe it was closed even though I was staring at it. I couldn’t trust what I was seeing.

Touch became my go-to way of validating the check.

I would press my hand firmly against the door to feel it was shut. But over time this wouldn’t satisfy me either.

I had to open the door to see the light inside, then close it to hear the quiet thud of the door closing… watching the light disappear behind the door’s seal.

This would inevitably lead to another stare-down before I could walk away anyway.

Basically to check the fridge was closed I would stare at it, open it, close it again and stare at it more.

Organization of the foods inside is important too

When I am not focused on the door, I am focused on the foods inside.

Raw meat I am okay with, so long as it isn’t above anything else. Order isn’t too much of a big deal, although I couldn’t have two of the same item sitting in different compartments.

I do have a hard time with yogurts, or drinks that can spill. I constant worry that a mess is being made when I am not there to see it.

Usually I don’t have to go back to check these, so long as the last time I was in there I stared long enough to be content.

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DISCLAIMER: Articles contain lived experiences, but cannot be used to diagnose. Medical advice can only come from trained professionals. 

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