Monday, June 18, 2007

Boy, do I ever need this

OCD CycleAt long last, I made it back home Saturday night. I step out of the cab to see that Lil'E had been sitting in front of the door waiting on me for a good while. I loved the reunion and missed my family.

Then came church time on Sunday morning. Ah, for me Sunday mornings get to be about the rush. Everyone has to get up, get moving, get fed and dressed, and get in the car. Punctuality is an obsession of mine. This Sunday was a bit more hectic than many, so I'm on edge. So, what follows this? Why, my dear sweet little girl who waited by the front door decides to push my buttons. During worship, she exhibits - no, flaunts - the fact that she has switched the caps on the markers we gave her to color with. The red cap is on the black, the blue on the brown, the brown on the green, etc. She giggles as she sees me, quite obviously, restraining myself from grabbing them all away from her and putting things right. You see, she knows at the age of four that her daddy is obsessive/compulsive and knows just how to manipulate me for a good laugh on her part.

And then, as we were driving Sunday afternoon, Mrs. E randomly sees a billboard advertising
this: the 14th Annual OCF Conference. I did not realize that there was an Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, much less that they were holding a conference in my back yard next month. We laughed about that; but we both wondered if it was something that I might need, if not today then for the future.

It's no secret that I am, to some degree, OCD; although I am functional, I still have periods where it overcomes me and the results can end up hurting others (as I seek to right what my mind deems wrong). Don't put me in front of a video game, not if you ever want to interact with me again. If I play Tetris, I see the blocks falling in my mind 24/7. If it is something that requires more thought, I find myself strategizing all the time. This obsession I came to grips with when I visited a children's home and found myself playing their Nintendo rather than playing with the kids; I was terribly ashamed.

I mentioned the above marker caps being mismatched - I'm big time into things have to be in their proper place. When people visit our house and help out in the kitchen, they place items back where they think they belong. I follow behind them and completely rearrange things to their "proper" order. Mrs. E knows better and leaves emptying the dishwasher to me. Of course, I'll also rearrange everything someone has put in the dishwasher to a better, more "efficient" order. On the plus side with this, you should see how I can pack up for moving or storage!

I do count, though not so compulsively. I find myself driving and either counting poles and signs, or more often I'll count the time it takes to travel between them or the time between when the car in front of me passes a spot to when I pass the same spot. I know that the cat's eyes (reflectors in the road) are spaced so that when traveling at 60-mph you will pass one every second (that's 88 feet). I've counted the timing on and off over the last twenty years (since before I started driving). Walking through hallways I find myself reaching out to touch the wall at times, especially at corners. Walking down the street, I'll reach out to touch the occasional pole. I'll even arrange my footsteps, either to walk in step with people or to walk with specific spacing on tiled or sectioned floors.

I have no problems with germs. Dirt? Ah, who cares!

Oh, did I mention light switches? You know how sometimes there are two switches that control a single fixture? I hate it that they are not both up or both down at the same time. Hate it. In our living room, there are two lights, each with two side-by-side switches; one of the lights has a third switch on another panel. If that third switch is used, then the side-by-side switches don't match (both up or down at the same time). I will go out of my way to switch the third switch so that symmetry in the side-by-sides is restored. Lil'E also plays on this compulsion, at times.

Let's not talk about proper folding of papers.

So, what do you think? Should I attend this conference? Mrs. E says I should, even at $250 for the conference. Do I sound like a man in need of therapy for his OCD, or therapy for an overactive imagination? Maybe if I go, I won't feel so strange by comparison to some of these wack-jobs, er, obsessive compuslives.

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Douglas said...

"I will go out of my way to switch the third switch so that symmetry in the side-by-sides is restored."

I'm not the only one!!!

My new house has one switch that


euphrony said...

I have been chastised and reminded by Mrs. E that she rather frequently empties the dishwasher. She does such a good job that I must have felt the need to take credit for her proper putting away of the dishes. Apologies have been made, and I am here setting the record straight.

And no, MB, you're not the only one. Though I suspect more than one person is making fun of us for this.

FancyPants said...

I would like to see you two OC engineers in a Sadoku match. Who would win? =-)

Chaotic Hammer said...

Hmmm. Interesting.

Many of the things you mention here as being your OCD habits are things that I live with also.

The light switch thing? Ouch, ya got me with that one.

The main floor of my house has a lot of windows, with a lot of horizontal blinds, and I'm pretty habitual in regards to the arrangement of which ones are completely open, which are turned up or down, how the pairs of blinds on a given wall should match symmetrically, etc.

I still remember long walks home from grade school where I would deliberately count how many times I had stepped on each section of sidewalk, and how careful I was not to step on any cracks or break the numeric patterns to my steps.

Tetris, yep it will invade my dreams and make my sleep agitated, as I try all night to arrange random pieces in my mind.

I'm a little more picky about dirt and germs than you seem to be, but that could be partly because I worked in Preventive Medicine professionally for several years, and know a little too much for my own good about what hazards there are in the world of microorganisms. I'm not one of those "wash my hands 'til they bleed" people, though I am careful when handling food or caring for sick people. (I also believe that too little exposure to pathogens is harmful, as our body's natural defenses do need to be challenged to stay healthy -- so this balances out the germ-fear thing a lot for me).

And so forth. But honestly, having said all that, I do NOT consider myself OCD. It doesn't control me or force me into actions that are a distraction to normal functioning. It doesn't draw my attention to some little detail and make me dwell on that detail until I "correct" some imbalanced or uncomfortable situation. It does not affect my relationships. In fact, for me, many of these little habits and idiosyncrasies are a sort of coping mechanism for a mind which wanders too much and is too easily distracted. I set up certain boundaries as guideposts, then hold on to those guideposts during the course of normal activities, to keep from wandering too far off the path and becoming disoriented.

I've seriously considered whether strange little habits and mental pattern-seeking rises to the level of a disorder, and in my case it does not.

Based on that, I would estimate that you sound like you're pretty close to the same level as me, (though maybe a little bit more compulsive about certain things). But it doesn't sound to me like you need to attend some sort of special event aimed at people who have more severe cases of these disorders.

Carrie said...

I don't think that's OCD I just think that's orderly... right? Otherwise I might need to go to the conference as well....

euphrony said...

C-Ham, de Nile ain't just a river in Egypt.

Carrie, I'll save you a seat.

No, I know that I am not OCD to the point of needing serious treatment. But, it does really get ot me at times - I can feel myself starting to freak out when something is not quite as I believe it should be - and when I start flipping out, it really rubs off on the family.

Anne said...

"No, I know that I am not OCD to the point of needing serious treatment. But, it does really get ot me at times - I can feel myself starting to freak out when something is not quite as I believe it should be - and when I start flipping out, it really rubs off on the family."

You would NEVER make it at my house. Maybe you should attend just for fun. :)

Susanne said...

I don't think you need the conference unless your family is miserable. The world needs some OCD people to balance out the people who are completely carefree! I think it just works that way. :)

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