If you saw that row of pencils above, would you have to push that last pencil in line?
I would. My brain would be screaming at me, ‘fix that’, ‘a ruler would do the job nicely just to really make sure their ends are all lined up perfectly’. I couldn’t walk away. Not fixing it would make me whimper pathetically and feel like crying.
You see I have this t-shirt. On it is written, ‘I have CDO, it’s like OCD, except all the letters are written in alphabetical order, as they should be’. It was given to me, by someone who knows me well. It’s meant to be funny, perhaps it’s actually a bit scary. I don’t think I have a bad case, just a more-than-mild whiff of obsessive compulsive disorder. At least this is what I tell myself. Friends may be laughing out loud at my delusion. I’m very neat and tidy, being clutter free clears my mind. People will always mistakenly/laughingly associate neat and tidy with OCD. It’s not, that is just fastidiousness. OCD is the need to do something to relieve an anxiety about an insignificant thing that is blown out of normal proportion in someones mind.
My first memories of being a little bit obsessive was in Grade 4, when I realised that I had to have the longer pencil sit behind the shorter one on my desk. Any other layout, made me uncomfortable. I just had to make the adjustment, and then I could stop thinking about it. I felt protected, if the larger items were on the outside and the smaller ones were closer to my body. A bit like a defensive wall. Of pencils.
I also remember going through a period in mums kitchen where I could only stand on squares following a diagonal pattern. I could never step on an adjacent square. Adjacent was wrong. Fortunately that only lasted a few years before I forgot the whole thing. These days, I mostly just need things in their place and looking orderly. Tins in my pantry must have their labels facing out. Hey, that’s practical though, I can’t tell what that stuff is just from the small writing on the back.
My partner likes to come along after I’ve straightened things and turn one thing out of alignment. This really drives me nuts, he knows it. It’s his little joy. He’s also teaching our children the fun they can have using mummy’s OCD against her for their own amusement. I also have a thing about eyebrow hairs. It’s sort of like how you don’t pat a dog in the direction against its hair growth. (That is a thing isn’t it?) Anyway, I don’t like eye brow hairs to be going in the wrong direction. I’m a constant smoother of my eyebrow hairs. I have a particular way of running my fingers over them to smooth them up from the bottom and then smooth them down from the top. The evil one I refer to as my other half, has taught our kids that if they really want to rile me up, they simply need to rub their eyebrows in the wrong direction. Oh god but I can’t bear it. Just the thought of how that feels, let alone the sight of it. MUST. FIX. EYEBROWS.
I hate seeing emergency exit doors that say things like ‘Keep shut, door is alarmed, only open in an emergency’. I hate it because all I want to do is push that sucker open. When I visited the Eiffel tower years ago, I had to stand a good 3 metres back from the edge, gripping my partners hand. Not because I’m scared of heights, but the lower 2 levels of that thing don’t have high barriers. I was more than a bit concerned that I might get a sudden urge to throw myself over the edge, just to see if I could. The top floor was fine, that’s the floor they install floor to ceiling mesh on. Like I couldn’t just as easily kill myself from floors 1 or 2! Once something pops into my brain, it is really hard for me to stop thinking about it.
I read somewhere that about 1-2 % of the population suffer from OCD. But I reckon that’s the really bad kind that stops you functioning normally. I still pass as normal, I function, I get stuff done. I’m not at the flicking light switch stage from the movie ‘As good as it gets’.
I’m betting there’s another good 20-30% of people out there who’d push that pencil above back in line. That’s called satisfaction, a job done well.
I’m thinking that probably makes me normal 🙂