Morning Routine

I wake up in the morning and contemplate my day.
I know I need to leave my flat, but part of me screams to stay.
Inadvertently I consider what might happen if I go;
Loved ones might fall ill or die and it would be all my fault I know.
But I cannot stay here forever, there are places I must be,
And as I finish getting ready I try to convince myself to see;
That these thoughts are trying to trick me, I need to push them out.
But once I’m ready to leave my flat the intrusive thoughts gather about.
Have I put away the paracetamol? Is it in the cupboard? On the shelf? Am I sure?
I open the cupboard and look inside, but each time I close the door,
My mind tells me that I might be wrong, that I cannot trust my eyes.
Perhaps it isn’t really there. In that case it’s my fault if my pet dies.
The fear of losing a loved one is too much for me to bare,
So I take a photograph or video to prove the paracetamol is there.
I shut the cupboard and look at the clock, if I don’t leave then I will be late.
But as I step towards the front door anxiety returns at intolerable rate.
The paracetamol is on the shelf, but did I shut the cupboard door?
And as the fears and doubts overwhelm me, I go back to the cupboard once more.
And how do I know one photograph is enough to prove my eyes are not lying?
So I open the cupboard again because it’s my responsibility to prevent my pets dying.
And I repeat this ritual as many times as it takes for anxiety to release me.
But then I wonder if I shut the balcony door and anxiety beckons me to see.
Yet time is not forgiving and I know I need to go.
I am already late to leave for work but my anxiety shrieks ‘NO.’
If I don’t check thoroughly something will happen, will I be able to live with myself?
So the stress of being late cruelly adds to my anxious wealth.
I take deep breathes and try to complete my compulsions at a faster rate,
But a feeling of cold resignation settles as I know that I will be late.
And when I finally build the strength to leave the flat and shut the front door,
Before I can enjoy a feeling of pride in myself, anxiety returns once more.
I worry as I drive away if I’ve turned off all the lights,
Did I lock the front door? Turn off the oven? My mind swarms with doubts and frights.
And when I arrive I am too ashamed to explain my lateness is because of my mental health.
I know this is a battle I experience alone and that I have to fight myself.
For if I try to explain to others the difficulties I encounter,
They tell me to get up earlier. To leave earlier. And in the face of this I flounder.
How can I explain something I myself don’t understand?
No matter how early I start to get ready, my anxiety gets out of hand.
I’m trying my best but nobody sees,
So I smile. And I nod. And I agree.
But tomorrow will be exactly the same,
Because this is my life with OCD.


By Emma Bartle