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Mental Health (OCD) and Pesticides

Morning all, I haven't been here for a long time as Ive been suffering with my mental health quite badly since the pandemic changed my life/business. Before this industry, I worked in the electrical industry, but I decided on a career in ground maintenance as I had anxiety issues and checking my work, so I thought this would be much better and help get better.

Fast forward to the current day, I've spent the last 7 years qualifying in this sector, gaining as much knowledge as possible, intending to specialise in the control of invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, but picking up other work along the way, such as lawn weeds, hard surface moss control and more.

My issue is that after completing my Japanese Knotweed training, I started to struggle with my OCD once more, which relates to intrusive thoughts rather than cleaning or counting, which most people think OCD is. I constantly worry about being sued, poisoning people, animals and wildlife, and causing a significant spillage to the point I haven't sprayed for a long time, sold my knotweed equipment, and basically spend days every week ruminating about doing the thing I'm passionate about, as Ive lost my lust for general gardening.

This all sounds really odd, and I can appreciate that, but even if I were to stack shelves in a supermarket, my OCD would attach something to that line of work. I'm extremely knowledgeable about weeds. They've been my focus for the last 7 years, but Im not sure how to move forward. I did set up a dormant limited company last year as a way to mitigate the risks but dissolved it that same year. 

Can anyone offer any pointers, or suggestions, or does anyone else suffer with an anxiety condition such as OCD, as I would love to  move on with my business and life.


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  • hello Richard,

    i have ocd to a degree and i understand what your saying.a book you might find useful is "brain lock" by jeffrey.m.schwartz.tiredness can make my ocd worse.i manage to run a part time garden maintenance business.depression can cause a person to loose interest/motivation etc.hope this is helpful to you.


  • PRO

    Richard, from my own experience and from talking to others it's pretty normal to loose enthusiasm for gardening after 7 years, what else is there really to learn after that point. I just try and do more of the stuff I enjoy and more profitable work. if that doesn't help I listen to spotify after singing and dancing all day I feel much better.

    Conserning using chemicals it could be just be your conscience telling you to stop with your ocd your over analysing. I truly dislike using chemicals and use them as little as possible. Another way to look at the chemicals is you are applying them correctly so less garden's are over dosed. I once saw a customer spreading lawn sand by hand with no gloves on over a 1/4 acre lawn!

    I have ptsd. As a result I have/had a lot of hobbies to distract me from the noise. Weight training, running, bass guitar, mountain biking, electronic drums. My current obsessions are weight training, electric guitar. I think guitar is my favourite.

    My wife has ocd, she worries about everything I say to her 'Don't worry about the things you can't control'. 



    • PRO

      Hi Richard well done for highlighting this I know it affects many people to a degree  

      The Electrician reference is a familiar story I know an electrician who was time served and worked for a company with no issues until he became self employed and his behaviour suddenly changed , He would return to customers property at night ,park nearby to reassure himself that the property was not on fire . 

      He ended up giving up his business and became unwell for quite some time . 

      I think the answer could have been to work with someone who could check his work and sign it off . 

      Eventually he went on to do more training and became an employee for a major utilities company and has made great progress with his confidence restored , he says that becoming self employed and the burden of responsibility was the trigger . 

      Maybe this is a route for yourself to reduce that burden and have the back up of an employer . 

      personally I have similar fears an example I left a bottle of two stroke mix in a customers garden but was not certain who's garden I left it in and spent all night worrying I imagined a customers child or grandchild would find it and drink it  

      I never use chemicals or slug pellets , I dislike working on public footpaths in case someone trips over a tool or ladder , I even worry about my vehicle leaking oil onto someone's drive . 

      I think to some extent this is rational thinking we become health and safety conscious it's the nature of the work and part of being a responsible human being . 

      We can do risk assessments on even the smallest of jobs .

      My wife is a health professional and worries on occasion she practices emotional freedom techniques and cognitive behavioural techniques to break the negative thinking patterns .

      I know how crippling it can be , people from different walks of life and of all intellects suffer , I see it in customers too who are over anxious .

      My granddaughter is OCD with the neatness trait but it's also a strength she has a good eye for design and colour coordination . 

      On more than one occasion I have self sabotaged opportunities through overthinking and becoming trapped in the headlights but I also know it's not unique it's more common than we think . 

      I always try and raise my self esteem when it slips by taking small steps .

      I feel you have taken a step forward by posting on the forum . 

      The book recommended sounds worth reading I shall look it up myself .


  • PRO

    Hi Richard,

    I have never suffered in the way you have, but I have one team member who does. We have attempted to adjust his work so he doesn't do the things that cause his anxiety, and this seems to have worked to a large extent. I was wondering then if you could use your extensive knowledge in a different way. Could you lecture or train others? Could you maybe write a book, or launch a blog. I am sure there are many who would want to tap into such knowledge and pay for it. I suspect many of us are self taught in grounds maintenance, so being able to tap into a resource such as your knowledge would be truly useful.

    Good luck mate!


    • PRO

      Hi Richard, the strange thing is that I'm good at training others; I often talk my customers new staff through using equipment such as machinery, as I got obsessed with talking CIty & Guilds and lantra tickets to reduce anxiety and prove I was good enough to do the work in my head. I have looked a few times at being an assessor, but the cost is crazy, I also sweat like a pig due to a combination of medication and anxiety, but I can talk to anyone.

      The most important I've learned about my anxiety and OCD is the fear of loss. Many people with it worry about the consequences of their work and usually value their job more than anybody will realise. Gaining qualifications in the industry helped me, but I know from being employed most of my life that the feelings above crippled me.

      Always happy to talk about this and have just put myself forward to be a guest on a mental health podcast.

  • PRO

    Well done to you for highlighting your issues Richard. That is half the battle with dealing with any mental health.

    I can't really offer any advice on OCD other than to say I too have mental health problems, Bi-Polar 2 & EUPD. It has taken me 3 years to get some counselling which I was told I needed last time I was hospitalized, mid lockdowns.

    I am open to all of my clients about my issues, most of which stuck with me when I was locked up! This can help them understand why you do the things you may do, go back & check & check again.

    I too find at this time of the year I start to lack enthusiasum for work, not wanting to visit gardens which I have worked hard to maintain & improve, including my own. But I know it will pass & I will get back to it, looking forward to spring.

    Good luck Neil

    • PRO

      Sorry to hear that Neil, I too think I have another issue due to the way my moods can go from low to being overhappy. The lads at group who have BPD, think it may be that as well. 

      Ive always been open too especially on social media, but my wife thinks its been a bad move on my facebook page. Never had a bad review, and everyone likes me and my work, but down to one customer now, 2.5 days a week.

      Hope you keep on smiling through winter buddy, always hear if you want a chat.

  • To me it seems that gardening and OCD go together, it's the nature of the job as we do the same things over and over again, for years. It also gives us the chance to think and brood as we work, which can be good but can also bring problems if we get into a negative thinking loop (been there, done that). I wonder, in your case, if you could turn your OCD around and make it work for you. You've spent seven years studying weeds, which are really just wild plants in the wrong place, so you have gathered a good amount of knowledge. Might that be transferable to the ecology sector? Using your knowledge in a positive way and working with others might help. 

    • I'd like to add that when I was struggling with PTSD I got so fed up of feeling unhappy. I started telling myself, every day, 'This is my mind and I'm in charge here, thank you very much' and worked on changing how I was thinking. It was hard work, no mistake, but it did help a great deal.

      • PRO

        I feel you pain, I've been living with PTSD since I was a child, which kindly got top up to the age of 30. I was originally diagnosed with depression which turns out to be just one symptom of many.

        It's been liberating getting a correct diagnosis so i can deal with the symptoms correctly and explains my completely irrational behaviour for decades.

        What's freed me is knowing I've got a loving wife I adore and two amazing kids, my own successful business. It makes me feel so lucky and great full.

        I took anti depressants for 10 years. They just made me feel dead inside, So i stopped. I started to think positively and do positive things I cut out those negative people.

        The greatest improvement in my mood has been the past 18 months where I've been learning to playing instruments, it's filled my heart with so much joy. Its given me clarity and peace of mind. Even my 17 year old son complemented on my guitar playing the other day, Which say something.


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