Packing too much into your bag could be the first signs of OCD.

Packing too much into your bag could be the first signs of OCD.

Fashion is an expression of how we see ourselves, and more importantly, how we want others to see us. But aside from that, handbags can offer a look into our personal habits and, believe it or not, in some cases it can show the first steps towards the start of a mental illness.

Some people read tealeaves, but we’re reading handbags. So what could your handbag be saying about you? 

Debenhams have carried out a study on what kind of bag was the most popular in each area of the UK and what those bags say about each individual. Professor Karen J. Pine from the University of Hertfordshire, when discussing the research found by Debenhams said: “This research also demonstrates how the bag we carry, like the clothes we wear, reflects our personality.”

Debenhams described the owner of a Tote bag as being: “A woman on the go and you need a bag that fits that life. You need to carry everything you need for work, an extra pair of shoes, an outfit change, a small horse, etc. Basically, life is overflowing but you are prepared. Just remember to breathe every once in a while so you don’t get overwhelmed.” This sounds suspiciously similar to how you would describe the life of a woman who has experienced some form of anxiety or OCD.

Being prepared for the worst is something that we are taught as children, how many times have you heard things similar to “failure to prepare is to prepare to fail”, at least 50,000 times right? OK slight exaggeration but you get the point. So when does preparing get too much? Packing a few daily essentials in an emergency kit is fine, but packing three pairs of Louboutin’s that you think you will without a doubt need – in your dreams – is not.

A 24-year-old student describes her experiences of dealing with OCD and what she thinks started it all. She says: “I’ve always been very anxious and obsessive and these tendencies have manifested themselves in compulsions”. She goes on to explain how she does in fact have a tendency to over-prepare.

She adds: “I used to panic about every little thing and used to try to prepare for things that were never ever going to happen. At school I must have gone through at least 5 backpacks a year because I put so much stuff in them that they got so heavy and used to break”.

Research has shown that because OCD stems from anxiety, a lot of people end up being diagnosed with both conditions.

Dr. Danny Walters specialises in cases of obsessive compulsive disorder and explains that: “Feeling anxious about even the smallest of things can lead to long term anxiety problems and can result in OCD.” He discusses how over-preparing can trigger anxiety in the brain, which causes a person to feel emotions similar to those connected with obsessive compulsive disorder.

According to OCD UK, the disorder can present itself in many ways, from persistent and uncontrollable thoughts to frightening images, worries and fears that all stem from the sufferer experiencing obsessions. These traits are often unwanted and disturbing and in most cases they can significantly interfere with the normal day-to-day life for that person as they become increasingly difficult to ignore. More often than not people who suffer from OCD realise that their obsessive thoughts are irrational but they believe that the only way to relieve the anxiety caused by them is to perform the overwhelming actions.

Dr. Walters has analysed countless numbers of patients who have been diagnosed with the disorder and, along with other experts, has come to the conclusion that typically a person’s OCD will fall into four categories: checking, contamination / mental contamination, ruminations / intrusive thoughts and hoarding. A person who fills their handbag to the brim with unnecessary items would come under two of those categories: hoarding and intrusive thoughts.

So Dr. Walters suggests that if somebody feels they are perhaps hoarding items in their handbags to prevent themselves being caught short in an everyday situation, they should assess the other areas of their life to see if they could perhaps be in the initial stages of developing obsessive compulsive disorder.

Jessica Lindley - Female First