Tuesday 8 April 2008

My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

You know you have one. Or twenty.

Admit it.

Unless you live in a rural area, never travel, see few people, and even then . . . many humans have signs of OCD.

Some years ago at SXSW a fantastic group of friends had lunch at P.F. Chang’s and talked about our unique Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.

It was such a funny and enlightening conversation, I’d like to jump-start it here.

Mine? Pillowcase openings must point to the left; I can’t leave an empty cardboard toilet paper roll on whatever that thing is (the roll?) that we put it on. I have to either replace it or leave it empty.

Other than that I’ve only a few inconsistent quirks.

How about you?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 18:50 | Comments (77)

Comments (77)

  1. 1. Travelling to work or anywhere for that matter, i plan the route and must stick with it, will not change, thats too scary

    2. No one packs the dishwasher properly, why am i the only one.

    3. left sock, left shoe, right sock, right shoe, it’s easy, life will finish if you don’t you know,

    4. disinfectant and bleach are common everyday household cleaning products, why am i the only one that will use them daily.

    That should be enough for one day, i now have to go and count to myself

  2. We are currently working on a website for the OCD foundation of Chicago. This new website will provide many online resources for the online community. Its URL is

  3. I align paper to whatever geometry is suggested by the table it is on, and ovals do suggest geometry. Most oval tables align most usefully if set wider from left to right than sitting at the end of one, therefore paper, which doesn’t often get used in landscape which feels intuitively wrong to me anyway, simply has no comfortable place on an oval table top.
    Gad! … save me from the table πŸ™‚

  4. Ok, I am the only weird one here. I utilize a transitional object in the form of a blanket (currently a pillowcase) of which I routinely roll the corners of and place up into my nasal cavity. I also use an iron to “warm” the ends to achieve a desired smell that heightens the “experience.” I also tend to analyze how everyone must know that I have this secret behavior and that my ultimate undoing shall arrive at anytime, for acting so strangely. I have done this all of my life and have had ritualistic ceremonies attempting to destroy previous “blankets.” I have managed to keep this behavior a secret from the military for over ten years and have attended college for over six years. I know that I do not want to act out this behavior, it disgusts me, and yet I am helpless against it.

  5. I sort my M&Ms by color on opening the package; eat the blue ones first in a single handful just to get rid of them (there should NOT be blue M&Ms!); then I eat the largest group (dark brown) first and proceed down by largest group through the colors. (I eat the colors other than blue by singleton.)

    Toilet roll? Over the top (was raised in a house of under the roll, as soon as I emancipated, I changed my life.. er… my toilet rolls).

    Shirts all must hang in the closet with the button sides facing the same way. I fold my underwear in the drawer and the colors are piled separately from the whites.

    (However, my husband says I’m too disorganized and sloppy to be OCD… {wink})

  6. No one notices what I do or when and most of the time I dont even notice. BUT, the big one is touching the tips or between fingers. Randomly I will scratch in between two fingers and then i have to do it to every other gap on my hand, but I also have to do it at the same time as I do with the other hand. Same goes for just tapping the tips. Always has to add up to 4 times, or at least a multiple of 4. Same goes for when I place my hand on something. Each finger has to tap at least 4 or 8, etc times.

    I also will either step in between tiles/slate pieces or on the corners/edges while i walk. I’m not freakish though where I have to walk back if I miss one or anything.

    OH BIG ONE, when I leave my house I always lock my front door, but when I start pulling out of the driveway I guess I dont remember or something. It will irritate me so badly that I will drive back down the street to check(assuming I am still close).

    That’s just the beginning. Like I said, somehow no one notices these and soemtimes I dont even realize it.

  7. I definitely agree that every one has their little quirks. Don’t think it’s actually OCD though unless it disrupts the person’s ability to function in life.

    Here’s my quirks:

    M&Ms must be eaten two at a time, same color, one on either side of my mouth. If I have an odd number of one color, the last one gets bitten in half and each half get sent to either side of my mouth. Brown goes first because it’s the color I like least. Green last, because it’s the color I like most.

    If volume controls have numbers, the setting must be divisible by either 2 or 5.

    HTML code must always be properly indented (CSS too). Thank you Dreamweaver for your nifty “Apply Source Formatting” feature. When I used to code with a basic text editor, this was hell (for a while I refused to use WYSIWYG editors purely on principle). I’d spend more time going back and properly fixing the layout of the code than actually writing it.

    If I’m going somewhere overnight, I usually have to check my bag at least 3 times to make sure I didn’t forget anything. And even then, during the trip, I’ll still think “Am I sure I took underwear???”

    If I’m driving and I know where I’m going, I have to go the way I know, even if I have someone in the car that knows an easier or quicker route. This may actually stem from a friend of mine who would constantly correct me as I was driving. I think I started to ignore her just to spite her. πŸ™‚ Now I do it with everyone.

    I know there are more, I just can’t seem to recall what they are at the moment.
    Oh, but I have no quirks about toilet paper. That can go any which way… πŸ™‚

  8. ah ..

    /all light switches that are in one outlet have to point toward the same direction.
    /my hair always has to be perfectly groomed. [i always have to have a mirror and brush with me at all times — also might have body dysmorphic disorder]

    /i have to know a day or so in advance if i am to go anywhere, so i can get all my clothes and everything ready and deal with problems -shirt i want to wear still in washer, etc.- AND i must know what time i have to be at the certain place [so i know what time to wake up or start getting ready or whatever] -like, if it’s a planned event, or whatever- .. if there’s no time, i make one up -even to go to the store the next day.

    /if i am near a mirror and it isn’t perfectly clean, i have to clean it some how
    /my bed has to be perfectly made at all times ..

    /if i am working on CSS for anything, it has to be perfectly typed and indented

    /my i-pod has to have ALL the album covers for each song, if it is availiable -i dont buy mp3s ;]-, but if i can’t find one, i just clamp my teeth togethher and ignore it. all the names have to be correct and grammar must be perfect, and only words that are SUPPOSED to be capitalized are capitalized, vice versa if the certain word isn’t .. the genres must be correct, also, of each artist. there must be NO duplicates on my i-pod, either, so i make sure to check if there are ..

    /my nails must be perfectly straight -it’s not THAT big a deal if they aren’t, so if i notice they aren’t and there’s not a nail file or whatever availible, i just will take care of them when i get home- and cut as short as they can go -it feels .. wrong to me if they are long ..

    /if i have a profile on something and it allows comments to be made, i always delete them when it looks .. unorganized .. if there are too many comments

    /when i’m leaving a comment capitalization doesn’t bother me much, -it does when I’M posting a blog, though- but spelling and such does

    /um, my computer files have to be all neat and such, but only on MY computer, or if i use a certain computer consistenly [even at school when it’s ALLOWED -psshh- to change the desktop and such]. but if it’s at SCHOOL then i just go about changing the appearance and desktop, then i leave it at that .. files would take too long. i try to have as FEW desktop icons i can manage, also. the fewer the better. same with files and add-on programs .. so my computer usually has TONS of room on it.

    /i don’t like other people taking pictures of me, because i think they do it incorrectly .. so, i avoid that as much as possible. i do love taking pictures of other things and myself, though. =]

    /if i DO take a picture of myself, i have to look as nice as possible .. vice versa of other things

    /my earbuds for my ipod have to be perfectly straight -i have a problem with chewing on them when i’m listening to music, and when i do it bends the wire :/, or else it bugs me to death. i have a chewing thing with pencils, also .. but the i usually lose each pencil i use at school day by day, so i don’t have a problem with them having to be in perfect shape.

    /ditto on the toilet paper, but it’s not a huge thing with me ..

    i’ll stop before i look TOO crazy ..

  9. I still have a few left, actually …

    I always have to check if I have everything when I go to school. That’s not a problem, though, because I usually have about FOUR things in my book bag -again, the fewer, the better- … most of which aren’t school related. Actually, the only thing in my book bag at the moment for school is a book, and that’s only because I like to read, lol. ^-^

    All the way through elementary school I used to ALWAYS have to have my books in my book-bag in a certain order, and that started as early as first grade or kindergarten, lol. πŸ˜› But since I picked up the habit of having only a few things in my book bag, order doesn’t bother me anymore.

    When I was seven I used to have a TON of stuffed animals on my bed, so they ALL had to be in a certain order .. so I only took them off when I went to sleep, but when I put them on the floor, they also had to be grouped, too. >__

  10. I can’t seem to stop from listing them all ..
    plus, I found it interesting to read everyone else’s little quirks, so I guess if anyone else likes reading little quirks or whatever like I do, this should be quite an experience. Plus, while I was reading everyone else’s comments, other things kept coming to my head ..

    -I always have to have a fan on in the room I sleep in, but it does not have to point towards me, because sometimes I don’t feel like having wind blown on me.
    -I ALWAYS have to have the door closed when I’m in a room in my house, even though it bugs me when my seventh period teacher leaves her door open before the bell rings .. except when I sleep, I only leave it open a crack. It feels weird if I can’t see light coming through the door, or hear sound clearly through the door or whatever, but this doesn’t mean I’m afraid of the dark. =]
    -I have to type everything on my mind when I type, or else it bugs me and makes me feel anxious when I don’t “finish” something. -See what I mean?-
    -Is it common courtesy to put the cap on the tooth paste, or is it OCD? Because it doesn’t KILL me when it’s not on the tooth paste, I just do it when it’s not on the tooth paste when I can .. I can’t decide if it’s a serious impulse or not .. >_

  11. My sister has severe intractable OCD. When she gets up from her chair at church meetins or at a restaurant, she will “check” to make sure she didn’t leave anything. She’ll have purse and keys in hand and will look all around her chair and around the table to make sure she didn’t leave anything. It’s like she’s looking for the back of her earring or something else small and important. Other people in the restaurant will start looking under their chairs in their effort to help. They will say, “What are you missing? Can I help?” My sister picked up her empty dinner plate at the restaurant and looked underneath of it like something was stuck to the bottom of it. Then she looked around where the plate was and then placed it back onto the table. My sister said that she was “making sure that nothing was left underneath the plate”. It’s totally insane. She’s been on a myriad of medicines, but her OCD has gotten worse and worse as she ages. The family is trying to arrange sometime type of inpatient treatment for her since all other treatments have failed.

  12. Has anyone heard about Deep Brain Stimulation for OCD? My sister may be a candidate for this type of neurosurgery. I do hope that something can be done about her severe, intractable OCD. She’s become disabled by her condition and it’s heartbreaking. It drives my family crazy having to witness her endless rituals and having to try to reason with her. You can’t reason with a crazy person!!!!!

  13. While walking in a grocery store or other public area with aisles, if I pass an obese person I will hold my breath until I reach the end of the aisle.

    If I am watching a movie or a television program where someone goes under water. I too hold my breath until that actor surfaces and takes a breath. This does not count for sporting events such as diving or swimming.

    I sometime, while fumbling for my house or car key, pretend that I am in a spy movie and try to get the door unlocked before the bomb explodes.

    My sister, If she touches raw wood (2X4, plywood), she has to lick the webbing between her thumb and index finger. That one is just plain weird.

    While cutting the grass, my back and forth lines have to be straight. I really appreciate the greens keepers and landscapers at ball fields.

    Vacuuming, the lines and “swoosh” have to be uniform.

    I feel better now.

  14. my ocd is that i have to do sum specific things 3 times. and i hav to du these things 3 times or my something bad will happen to me.

  15. I went through a stage where I had to wash my hands all the time. When I switched the tap off I had to turn it on again to get rid of the germs from the tap. Fortunately I don’t have that obsession any more as my hands got red raw.

    Now I’m a hoarder. Not to any exent that I’m drowning in stuff but I always think something will come in useful. Sure as eggs the day I do throw it away I think of that special project I could have used it for. Then it confirms that keeping it was a good idea. Makes it harder to throw other things away.

  16. Hahaha, well I think I have the worst case of O.C.D. after reading this! I have it with cleaning and writing things! I can’t write a damn thing, I feel like their is something wrong about it and I HAVE to re-write it! I wish I had someone to follow me around all the time and write everything for me…anyone? The cleaning is a whole other story!

  17. I have an obsession with hair. I can’t stand it. I think it’s absolutely disgusting. Especially if it’s not my own. I always carry a roll of clear packaging tape so that I can keep my self and the things surrounding me free of hair/or fuzzies. I truly go absolutely insane if I can’t use my tape.

    I shower twice a day. If I don’t shower twice a day I will make it up the next day and yet I will still feel un-even. Sometimes when I’m done showering after I dry off I still feel dirty so I will will get back in the shower.

    Everything in my apartment has a place. I get highly irritated if something is moved or if something is added with out me doing it.

    Ah soo many more! I think I need to get help soon!

  18. Hi Molly,

    I am working on a documentary style show about people with OCD. We are looking for more participants and I would love to speak to you. We have therapists on board that help our participant! It will air on a well respected cable network and is non-exploitive. Please email me at or call us at 310-341-2500.

    Thank you!

  19. ??? what is this all about??

  20. We all have little quirks and tendencies that resemble OCD behaviors. You don’t really have OCD unless it becomes disabling and interrupts your life. It is odd though that little things annoy us so much! I do have OCD of the hand washing sort. I’ve fought with it for about four years and thankfully have it under control now. I identify with a lot of your all’s comments. When I was younger my writing had to be perfect with no extra lines hanging past the letters. Also, in talking with other people with OCD, I have found that arranging and organizing are really important to some people (but not one of my symptoms). Also, praying repetively, counting, feelings of “even-ness” and a sense of “it just feels right” are hallmarks of OCD. Don’t simply freak out if you have some tendencies or “weird (ha!)” habits. Chances are, you are perfectly fine πŸ™‚ If these things are a problem for you, I encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. There’s absolutely no shame in it, you can’t help that you have OCD, and treatment can be really successful! If you’d like more info, let me know!

  21. I have a really weird OCD, in which I ca’t touch paper. I don’t know, it’s so horrible and It mean’s I can’t write properly anymore. I have to drag the cuff of my shirt over my hand, and I can’t write at all if I’m wearing a t-shirt. It’s horrible, and restricting.

  22. Hey, I have about 2 OCD symptoms, if I touch something, I have to touch it again to make it even, so if someone touches me, I need to have that part of my body touched by somone or something.
    Also, while eating at the table, I MUST use a certain fork, and if I see someone else with it I will take it from them, wash it, then use it, it sounds rude, but cant eat without it.

  23. I have many OCD symptoms.
    Everything has to be in a certain order.
    When in a grocery store, movie store, etc., if something is out of order, I have to straighten it out. Like today we were in Movie Gallery and several of their DVDs were out of order or a bit crooked and I found myself straightening them out.
    I will NOT step on sidewalk cracks.
    I have to step on leaves when passing them.
    Like Carl, I have to touch something a second time or more to make it even.
    If something is misspelled, I have GOT to correct it no matter what.
    I’m constantly wiping things down with hand sanitizer.
    If there’s one little speck of dust on a piece of paper I’m writing on or on the computer screen, it HAS to go or I’m irritated to no end.
    I count my steps sometimes, not as bad as I used to though.
    I count everything I see including how many letters or syllables in a word/sentence and to feel completely comfortable, I run that sentence or word in my head in several ways until I can make it an even number of letters/syllables. It can’t be odd.
    If I ask someone something, they answer me but I keep asking for reassurance on that matter for at least another 20 minutes and then I will come back later on that day asking, “Are you SURE?!” until I feel comfortable. This occasionally causes fusses between my husband and I because of the constant reassurance demanding. But I can’t help it!
    When I set my alarm clock at night, I check it several times until comfortable.
    I pick at the loose skin on my hands, creating MORE loose skin which I pick at and then I wind up with sores and sometimes will STILL pick if there is still loose skin.
    If I happen to do something with my left hand like tapping or something to that effect, I have GOT to do it with my right hand too the same amount of times as the left.
    I know that there are many more but can’t think of them right now.

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