Thursday, February 01, 2007

OCD in the 323

When I was just a wee lad, knee-high to a grasshopper, I had a hang-up where if I touched something accidentally (like bumping my foot on a chair-leg, or brushing against a door-jamb as I walked through) I had make sure I touched it with the same body part three more times. That's four times total. Within a year, this little pecadillo faded away into memory.

But it was replaced by an uncomfortable preoccupation with not being turned around. This one's a little harder to explain; if I were to turn to my left, & keep turning until I was facing forward again, I would become extremely uncomfortable until I turned all the way around to my right & was subsequently re-aligned, or untangled, or whatever the hell I was. That one took a while be over & done with. But eventually it was a thing of the past.

Then I started up with something that still has me in it's grip, although in recent years it's been notably toned down. I started checking things. First it was the doors. I wanted to make sure they were closed all the way, & locked. No biggie, right? I was just being safety-conscious, right? It was a strange day when I mustered the lucidity to realize that getting up in the night to unlock & relock the door several times wasn't the standard fare for people in their early twenties. The point was driven home when I found myself checking the stove afterwards. Standing there in my dark & dirty kitchen, staring at the blue flames of the burners, turning them on & off, leaning down to see if I could smell gas, I knew that what I was doing was, in a word, why did I keep doing it?

And why do I check the front door now, sometimes unlocking & locking it until I like the way the click sounds. Sometimes I get out of my car again & re-check just to be sure. And sometimes I get halfway from my parking spot to work & have to go back & check if my car doors are locked. If it rains, I fight, I mean FIGHT, to keep from walking down to see if I left the windows of my truck open.

The isolated instances in all these years when I discovered an unlocked door made it all worth it.

Another little trick is setting the alarm clock so the minutes add up the hour. I know that sounds a bit Dali-esque, but it makes perfect sense upon cloder examination. Let's say it's 8:17. There! 1 & 7 add up to 8. What better time to get up? Or let's say you want to beat traffic. Well, how about getting up at 7:43? Or 7:34? Or even 6:51? I've tried to re-set my girlfriend's alarm clock this way but she's on to me. Hey, it used to be a lot worse...I used to only be able to get out of bed when the numbers added up.

Just for giggles, I did a perfunctory look-up online & found a self-administered test...the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) that kindly explained to me that I was most likely experiencing "moderate" OCD. Now, let me be honest with you, dear reader, & admit that I probably would have scored lower, or "mild", but I didn't like the way it looked when I filled in the answer-bubbles that way.

That can't be a good sign.

I know I've only relayed the "compulsive" aspect of this little merry-go-round. I'll save the "obsessive" for a dark & stormy night. I mean, if I could just write about it here like it was no big deal, I wouldn't have to run around checking things & futzing with 'em like a freakin' maniac, now would I?


Blogger Gavin Elster said...

My issue is I hear the phone ring when I run the water in the bathtub. Even if I bring the phone into the bathroom I swear I can hear "ANOTHER" phone ringing. I have to look around to find the ringing phone. Seriously sometimes its not the phone. Its voices as if people are talking to me from another room. Something about the running water that make me hear things.

11:44 PM  

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