Recognizing OCD: Having Trouble Getting Over Lost Belongings

When My OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) Started

Ever since high school, I can remember feeling anxious, stressed, and frustrated whenever I lost any of my belongings. From something as small as lip balm, to something more valuable like a pair of earrings. Of course, I was more emotional over the expensive items. Nonetheless, easily replaceable things still made me quite upset.  

When friends and/or family would ask me what’s wrong, and I would express to them my concerns, I barely felt better. What else could another person say except, “It’s okay, you’ll find it” or “Don’t worry about it anymore.” It was nobody’s fault except my own, I was fighting against the power of my mind. 

During these times, I felt bad because people felt sorry for me. They would see me cry, but I knew they would never understand my thoughts, the reasoning behind my mental stress. 

Example 1 of My OCD  

OCD Blog - Image Source: Fabian Irasara on Unsplash
Image Source: Fabian Irasara on Unsplash

I once accidentally deleted a bunch of photos as I was transferring them from a phone to a laptop. The moment was horrible because as soon as I realized my mistake, there was no fixing it. Those photos disappeared, gone forever. Yes, I checked the recycle bin on the laptop. Yes, I checked all the folders and no, they were no longer on the phone. 

I was so frustrated with myself because if I had just taken my time and not rushed the process, perhaps I could have avoided this unfortunate situation. Photos are memories, they hold sentimental value, and I unintentionally got rid of them. The average person would be disappointed for a while then go on to say, “There’s nothing I can do about it so I should just move on.” But for someone like me with OCD, the negative thoughts would prevail for much longer. Though time may eventually help me overcome the emotions I felt during the event, a sudden recollection of that memory could make me sad again. 

Example 2 of My OCD  

OCD Blog - Image Source: Vera Davidova on Unsplash
Image Source: Vera Davidova on Unsplash

Recently, I lost a belonging that made me extremely frustrated with myself again. It was a dark blue, reusable face mask. I was putting away another newly washed mask when I noticed the dark blue one was missing. I knew it hadn’t been used for a while so I tried to recall the last time it was worn. I searched my phone’s photos to see if I had gone out and taken a picture with the mask on. When I found a photo, it was taken months ago and I was sure I had used my dark blue mask even after that day. I couldn’t remember when and it wasn’t found in my laundry.  

This sent me into a frenzy. I checked all my bags, purses, pockets of jackets, in between clothes and more. I asked family members if they had seen it, if it accidentally ended up with their clothes. I even checked the cars. The dark blue mask was nowhere to be found. 

“It has to be in the house.” I was so confident about this statement. When I go out, I keep my mask on at all times, even when I get back into my car. But if I needed a moment to breathe properly, I would take off my mask and either put it in my jacket or pants pocket, or purse. The possibility of it falling out when I got out of the car is small, because when I get home, I put the clothes I’ve just worn in the laundry right away, mask included. So, I would know if I was missing my mask. All these thoughts ran through my mind. 

Attempt 1 of Dealing with My OCD  

OCD Blog - Image Source: M. on Unsplash
Image Source: M. on Unsplash

“If you stop looking for it, it might show up.” I tried, but I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was reminded every time I used another mask, every time I saw an object that was the same colour. My mind kept coming up with possible scenarios and places it could be. I hated to be a burden to other family members but I still wanted help looking for this item, even though I had searched everywhere. 

The average person would be in disbelief about how much I obsessed over a mask. “Just buy a new one,” they would say. But for me it’s not the same. I want to find the exact mask that I lost because I take care of my belongings and I am very organized, so how did I manage to misplace this item that I use often? I’m aware that I can’t control everything in my life, but this is something I know I look after. Did I take it for granted? I could have used it so much more in the future. This is the web of thoughts my OCD takes me through, makes me endure.

No matter what I lost, it’s not as easy as “this happened” > “we can’t do anything about it” > “we should just move on.” 

Attempt 2 of Dealing with My OCD  

OCD Blog - Image Source: Sarah Brown on Unsplash
Image Source: Sarah Brown on Unsplash

My attempt to move on from this lost mask involved thinking about other items in the past that I wasn’t able to recover. This didn’t help much because as I said earlier, any recollection of a bad memory would only make me sad again. But I tried because if I figured I could convince myself: “Hey, you lost those belongings and couldn’t find them, and time helped you overcome them eventually” then I could accept this would pass as well.  

I kept busy, doing other tasks to distract myself, organizing other belongings to reassure myself that my life was in order, that my system works. In the process, one midnight, I had discovered the dark blue mask that had been stressing me out for several weeks. It was hidden between two scarves, one of which was the same colour as the mask, explaining why I may have missed it while putting away clean laundry. I was very happy, but it didn’t last long.

Parting from the momentary relief I felt after finding my mask, I realized I had to work hard to train my mind to accept that this won’t always happen. In the future, I’ll lose something again and good luck will not always be on my side.  

Attempt 3 of Dealing with My OCD  

This situation also led me to search up: “Why do I have trouble getting over lost belongings?” I found this article with explanations and a personal experience that gave me some comfort, as well as a better understanding of the OCD I go through.   

OCD Blog - Image Source: Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash
Image Source: Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash

With mental disorders, there are typically different degrees. I have OCD, but I know there are more severe cases than mine. You may choose to undergo therapy or seek a professional who can prescribe you medication. Or if you can handle living with OCD, that is an option as well.  

Friends and family know me as organized, which I am. I’m not super precise, I can definitely be messy at times, with clutter lasting a few days before it gets put away. Which is why I think others can’t grasp the mentality of: “Everything has its place but if I can’t find what I’m looking for, in the place that I thought it was, I’ll start to panic.” 

From my personal experience, it’s tough to have OCD because people will downplay your moments of anxiety. It’s difficult to find someone that truly understands, in fact they might make fun of you and call you sensitive. It will hurt and sometimes you just have to tolerate it because trying to explain would only cause them to humiliate or embarrass you more. The reality is you’re an overthinker, however, that doesn’t mean you need to keep all your thoughts to yourself.  

My Advice If You Have OCD or Know Someone Who Has OCD  

Find someone to express your feelings to, someone who is willing to listen even if they can’t fully understand your perspective. I write this blog hoping it will find someone who experiences OCD like I do. I can’t comfort you because I don’t have the solution myself, but please know that you are not alone. 

OCD Blog - Image Source: Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash
Image Source: Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

On the other hand, if you know someone who experiences OCD, please be patient with them. They don’t want to disturb you, they are not looking for someone to blame. In most cases, they are already blaming themselves. Just let them deal with it on their own time and be there if they have any questions. Try your best to not get annoyed because that will only add to their stress and thus, make the overall environment/atmosphere stressful. Trust that time will help this person and if it doesn’t, and you find it is only getting worse, then again, please seek professional help. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. 

©Parting Stories

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