When Magherafelt woman Diane Field’s obsession with cleaning was at its most extreme, she would have washed her hands so many times every day that they actually bled.
The 33-year-old mother-of-two was so consumed by ensuring her house was germ-free that she spent a fortune on soap, kitchen roll and Dettol wipes.
But when her habits began to take over her entire life, she decided to seek professional help, and was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and carries out certain activities compulsively.
There are many different types of OCD including checking, contamination, intrusive thoughts and hoarding. OCD often consumes a lot of time out of a person’s day and causes them distress. This can have an effect on their relationships, work life or school life.
After getting herself back on the path to recovery, Diane decided to capitalise on her incredible attention to detail in terms of domesticity - and set up her own cleaning business.
And business is booming, with a host of families and couples from the Mid Ulster area taking advantage of Diane’s expertise.
“Since I advertised the phone hasn’t stopped!” she reveals. “I would nearly need to hire a secretary as well!”
Indeed, Diane’s Home Cleaners currently comprises herself together with two more ladies, and she’s currently interviewing for more staff.
The women service not only homes, but also businesses and landlords who might want an end of tenancy clean, or anyone needing a spring clean.
And so far, Diane is revelling in the feeling of finally being back in control of her life.
“I have always had a bit of OCD,” says the charmingly down-to-earth South Derry woman, who is married to Gareth and mum to five-year-old Ethan and four-year-old Erin.
“Even when I was living at home, my room would have been immaculate all the time - I would have had my clothes for the next day all organised and even for the whole week!
“I would have been checking switches and door handles and plugs, and when I got married it got really bad because it was down to me to look after the house and not my mum, so I was checking things all the time. When the children came along I think it just went totally out of control.”
Diane explains that she was obsessed with hygiene in her home and ensuring every thing was as clean as it could possible be. And that included her children - “I didn’t want germs or anything near them.”
She reveals: “I was taking it to extremes. I would have been washing my hands several times a day till they were bleeding. It had got really bad. I was cleaning and cleaning all the time, I went through lots and lots of soaps and kitchen roll and Dettol wipes - I nearly bankrupt us buying all this stuff.
“Then I hit rock bottom and I had to go and get help from the doctor.”
Trying to explain the fear that clouded her mind, Diane says she was terrified that “something was going to happen the kids if they got germs - that they would get sick and die.”
And one fearful thought led to another - and another.
“It was all taking over and it got to the stage where I wasn’t really looking after the kids properly - that sounds bad but, that is the stage I got to, where I was spending more time cleaning and had no time for anything else,” she continues.
“It was just clean, clean, clean. It was a terrible environment for my husband to live in, he couldn’t come through the door and touch anything or I would be cleaning up after him, or giving off to him and it just hit rock bottom. I had probably a bit of depression and the OCD was what I clung on to.”
After approaching her doctor and receiving treatment and therapy, Diane found herself able to loosen the grip OCD had on her life, and she says that thankfully, she is “back to fighting strength.”
And not only has she tackled her psychological demons head on, but she has turned her issues around so they’re serving her, and not working against her.
“I had worked for a vet for 11 years, then all this happened so I gave it all up,” says Diane.
“I had my two children and then started doing wee cleaning jobs for a few friends. I have always had this drive to start some kind of a business, so I thought why don’t I just stick with what I’m good at and what I know? I saw a gap in the market for it - I certainly didn’t know of any other cleaning companies around the Magherafelt area.”
Diane’s Home Cleaners only started at the beginning of last month, but so far, it’s been manic for its proud proprietor and her team.
“So far I’ve been booked for jobs right across Mid Ulster,” she says.
“I have a real mixture of clients, everyone is different and has their own circumstances. I never expected that it would go as well as it has.”
It is important that if you think you have OCD to go and speak to a doctor about your symptoms.
*For more information on Obessive Compulsive Disorder and help contact: OCD NI, firstname.lastname@example.org, which runs support groups in Belfast and Magherafelt.
*If you wish to contact Diane, she can be reached on 0789400 7378 or 028 7963 4411.