OCD, Fear Of Decay And Death


These feelings have been very central in my particular brand of OCD (checking and hoarding).

Now, fears of illness, bodily decay, and death itself are a fact of life. Everyone has them, and everyone eventually will have to cope with them. At a certain time in a person’s life, mortality becomes ‘visible’ on the horizon. The years still to go can be estimated, counted, and set against the time one has spent on this planet of ours. Together with this, a person tends to form some inner appraisal of what life has brought up to that point. Happy memories are cherished, and sad ones get mourned about (again).

A psychological phenomenon that most of us know is: with getting older, the seasons and years seem to pass by faster than in our younger days. Perception of their length has changed. Why is that? To me it seems like a period (a month, a year, the summer season) is mentally divided by the total time that one has behind one already. Thus, the ratio becomes ever smaller, and perceived length of a unit of time with it.

But it is also a fact that time becomes more precious, once the idea of mortality has sunk in. The young are generally more prone to lose time than are the elderly. They know rationally that their lives have a limited time span, but it is as if this knowledge has not yet reached their souls.


When I was profoundly confronted with obsessions and compulsions, around 1982, I began to feel ‘old’. Not as in: a senior citizen, mind. But something inside of me must have told my heart that much, much time was getting wasted, it just slipped away. I got an exaggerated sense of ageing (at least, as I saw it, when I tried to see how others dealt with this). The less I could spend time on good things, the more I began to ruminate about ‘having to stay young(ish).

It is understandable, I think. No deep psychology is needed here. Just as OCD is a very exaggerated form of worries and actions that all people have, my own special fear of decay and death was a huge overkill of what everyone goes through. I was really sad when I got my first glasses, much sadder than everyone else I know. Then I began to punish myself mentally for my vanity in the matter. Same with teeth, or watching anxiously whether there were too many hairs on my pillow and in my comb in the morning.

All this because time was slipping away, I mean: I lost monstrous amounts of time because of the beast known as OCD. And that was hard fact.

After my medication had begun to work, I went through a terrible period, because was I glad that I could leave my apartment more easily? No sir, no ma’am. For the first time in my life I could look back, and make an estimate of what had happened to me. That was awful. It lasted for years.


Here are two record sleeves that concern songs about the passing of time. Both are particular favourites of mine.

The Heptones: ‘Party Time’:

…and Culture Club: ‘Time (Clock Of The Heart)’:


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