Fridge checking OCD

In recent years my need to constantly check the fridge has worsened. It puts me off wanting to cook and one reason for my poor diet in my twenties.

Opening the fridge usually means opening a can of worms.

Fridge OCD comes from my worry that food will spoil or contaminate other foods. For this reason, I place it in my Checking, Contamination and Ordering categories.

Topics covered

  • A worry that the fridge gets left open for long periods
  • Throwing foods away that may have gone bad
  • A fear that certain foods may contaminate others
  • Obsessively checking for spillages
  • Having food and drinks in a certain order

Fridge OCD

Having a broken fridge didn’t help…

My first apartment in London 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 told me when I got back from work the first time it happened.

Sam, you left the fridge open before work.’

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.

Fridge door left open in the dark

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.

Trash can

It sounds like a silly obsession to have, but I’ve probably wasted hundreds of Pounds (currency not weight, I live in London!) freaking out over potential food poisoning.

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

This is when I started to doubt my sanity.

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

But it wouldn’t.

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 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.

This is a good example of how OCD can worsen overtime. And I still struggle with this in my new apartment.

Worrying about food in the fridge

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. That’s just madness.

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.

It is one of the most time consuming aspects of my OCD

Checking in general takes up so much of my time. In fact, this is part of a larger checking ritual I do around the house, and before bed.

The fridge is a must, along with taps and locks.

But blogging about it helps. I am finding that the more I put in writing, the more organized my mind feels.

I can look at one thing at a time and focus on it.

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