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OCD & Light Anxiety - Help!

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Hi everyone, 

I've been having a very odd experience over the last few years (around 5-6) since moving into our current home.  Our next door neighbor has an outside light that faces our house as we are side by side and as older properties our kitchen/back doors face each other.  We also have smaller side windows in our lounge, dining room and master bedroom that face our neighbors house.

Our neighbor runs a business from home and has an outside office and frequently leaves this light on whilst working (I assume so he can see when going back into his house) but it seems to shine in each of our rooms downstairs and our bedroom, admittedly we do have blinds on all windows etc. & you can't see the light shining in the house aside from the kitchen (directly opposite) but I know it is one and I obsess on it until such time the light is off.  This is usually between 7-8pm.  It doesn't affect or bother my wife but I get a huge spike in anxiety when the light is on.  I've spoken with the neighbor on several occasions and to be fair it is not on that often (twice in the last 2-3 weeks).  I get so obsessed and anxious that I am trying to convince my wife to move house, I know there are things we could do to minimize the impact but  I get so annoyed that I can't think straight whilst the light is on.  I am feeling anxious now just writing this down...However I do make it worse for myself by checking every 30 minutes that the light is on.  I also have a feeling that next door keeps it on just to annoy me (which as they are very nice "normal" people I'd doubt would be the case) and I can't seem to let go of this...hence the obsession...

Has anyone else experienced something possibly quite normal and mundane that just seems to blow your mind?  I really struggle with over stimulation and lights is a massive trigger for me.  I'm really at a loss as what to do, I take citalopram daily but this has no affect here, I've tried to ignore it but always seem to catch site of it via a crack in a blind etc. and if it is on when I pull up from work I know the entire night is a wash out.  I feel annoyed for my wife as it doesn't bother her but causes me to be very quiet and annoyed; it really is **** to be so upset over a small outside light but it runs my life in the winter months when I know it'll be on...any advice on this would be massively appreciated. 

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I'm pretty sure moving house, is massively over reacting, and probably won't make you feel any better.

In fact even if you do get your neighbour to turn the light off, I'm guessing, that there will always be some thing.

I'm not going to suggest that you approach your neighbour about this, as I don't really think it's their problem.

I'm not being arsey and I sympathize, there are many times I just wish EVERYONE and EVERYTHING,  would just go away!

People are noisy and messy and often do things we don't like, (my autocorrect keeps changing neighbour, to neighbor). But you have to filter the annoying to you, from the unreasnoble behaviour.

So outside lights on till 8, ho hum, massive halogen disco lights all night, call the council.

The occasional noisy barbecue in summer,  live and let live.

Regular loud music all night

Legitimate complaint.

Tolerance works in both directions.


If they are doing it to annoy you  I would think they would leave the light on a lot longer than they do.

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Hi Closed for Repairs,

I know you're right.  Of course this isn't my neighbours issue, I think the problem is OCD causes ridiculous over reactions to minor situations - this is case in point.  I have a lack of affinity for bright lights, always have had I think therefore in this case I've zero'd in on the neighbours light as a huge issue (to me) and have become obsessed over whether it is on or not & for how long.  I haven't approached neighbour again as yet as my wife has the same mind set as you, I don't want to annoy her so try to cope as best as I can.  My brain has essentially made this much, much more important than it is so it has become my focus - that's OCD for ya!  I know when I have something I am totally obsessed with I have to have a successful resolution for myself, this can manifest in many ways, for example when working on projects at work or "fixing" situations I find inconsiderate.  It is exhausting.  When I last saw a therapist she stated I was "over considerate" and essentially expected everyone else to behave the same, obviously the world doesn't work like this so I struggle with this.  As you rightly say try to "live and let live".  

I think the best I can do is try to treat this as it is, normal neighbourly behaviour.  I've always tried to work on taking the importance out of situations my OCD brain has decided deserve my time so to normalize them somewhat.

Thanks for taking time to respond.  I think a lot of the time having a rational opinion to an irrational situation can help you see it for what it is.


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If it's not one thing, it'll only be another. Treat as you would any other cry wolf charlatan. 

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