Monday, December 10, 2012

The O of OCD

I have OCD.  I have talked about it a bit before.  I have mostly discussed the "C" portion, which stands for compulsive.  It means that you feel the overwhelming need to do a certain thing and if you don't do it, then you can't concentrate until you do or you just have to remove yourself from the situation completely.  For me, my stongest compulsion is straightening pictures.  If there is a crooked picture in the room, I have to straighten it, even if I am out to dinner and the picture is all the way on the other side of the room and I have to walk past numerous other diners to get to it.  If I don't straighten the picture, I have to stare at something else so I don't accidentally look at the crooked picture again.  It makes me feel uncomfortable when there are pictures that aren't hanging straight.  A compulsion that I had when I was youger, but outgrew, was much much worse.  When I put on my pajamas before going to bed, I had to put my dirty clothes into the hamper a total of three times.  I couldn't toss everything in at once.  I had to do it in three separate times.  For example, I would put in my socks, then pick up my shirt and put that in, then my shirt last.  It had to total three times, not four, not two, not one, three.  If I didn't do it in three, then I felt like something very very bad was going to happen.  If I was just putting my socks into the hamper and nothing else, I had to put them in one at a time, then take one out and put it in again, so that it totalled three.  My parents were not aware of this behavior and therefore I was not diagnosed with OCD until I was in high school.

But I am not talking about compulsions today; I am talking about obsessions.  I'm sure that everyone knows what an obsession is.  Maybe you're obsessed with a famous person or a band or a certain TV show.  An obsession is something that you are so fascinated with that you cannot get it out of your head and can easily devote a large amount of your time, and in some cases money, to it.  It is possible for anyone to become obsessed with something.  It is much much easier for a person with OCD to become obsessed.  I'm not sure if I told you this story before but if I have it was a long time ago so I'll tell it again. 

When I was about 12 years old, my brother and I shared a Game Boy.  Not a Game Boy Color, but an old black-and-white Game Boy which had no backlit screen.  This was old technology at that time but it was what my mother allowed us to have so we were happy with it.  We were each allowed to play it for 20 minutes a day and not a minute more.  My uncle hit a deer on his motorcyle and became very badly injured.  He was in the hospital for a very long time.  He has recovered now, aside from brain damage.  When he was in the hospital, my mother and my grandmother would go to Portland to visit him every single day.  Since it was during the summer, my mother would drop my brother and I off with my grandfather while they went to the hospital.  We were allowed to visit later, but at first his injuries were so awful that if a kid saw them, they would be scarred for life.  Of course my brother and I would bring the Game Boy when we went to our grandfather's house for the day.  Our grandfather would sit in the dining room and watch TV while my brother and I were in the living room.  He didn't really check on us that often, except for when he brought us our lunch.  He definitely didn't enforce the rules.  Our mother allowed us to play Game Boy for one hour each while we were at grandpa's house.  We always played for much longer than that, but took turns, because we knew how to share.  We got this game called Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle and it was one of those games where you couldn't save but you did get a password every time you beat a level.  My brother and I would each play until we died three times and then let the other one play.  We were trying really hard to beat this game, which must have had about 50 levels.  It took many days.  On the day that we would beat it, we played for a long time and then finally reached the last level, where the final boss was a big witch.  My brother tried again and again to defeat her, but couldn't figure out how.  He got frustrated and left me to defeating the final boss.  I tried and tried for hours and then I finally beat it!  Later our mom came and took us home.  I was in washing up for dinner and there were Bugs Bunny's floating in my vision as I washed my hands!  I was really frightened but my mom knew right away that I had played the Bugs Bunny game for too long.  The thing with the screen on the old Game Boy not being back-lit is that it causes much more eye strain than today's screens.  Bugs Bunny stayed in my vision for a few more hours and it was long enough that I never played longer than my time limit after that. 

The point of me telling this story is to illustrate how I can become obsessed with things fairly easily.  My brother quit when the game got frustrating but I had to keep playing until I beat it.  To this day, I get this way with computer games, which is why I can never ever start to play World of Warcraft.  I stick to Flash games like escape the room games and point and click games.  These games are shorter and can be beaten in the course of a day.  When I discover a TV show that I enjoy, I have to watch every single episode that exists all in a row until I'm done.  When I first started reading blogs and in fact up until the beginning of this year, when I discovered a new-to-me blog that I enjoyed I had to read all of it.  I would take days just reading through the archives and stopping only to eat, sleep, or take a bathroom break.  I don't do that with blogs any more.  I have managed to outgrow that obsession, but I do still love to read blogs.  Don't even get me started on websites where you earn achievements or badges.  I can stay on those for days until I earn all of the badges.  There is this really difficult Flash game called Achievement Unlocked.  Your character is an elephant and you have to traverse the small game area earning achievements.  You can see the names of the achievements but that is it.  There are over 100 different achievements.  You have to try things and push random keys on your keyboard until you figure out how to do things.  A random key will turn everything orange and you earn an achievement for that.  You earn an achievement for having your elephant hit the spikes 100 times.  I played that game for an entire day straight and most of the night until I earned all of the achievements.  By the end I was no longer having fun.  I even had to look up the walkthrough and then do everything it told me until I got the remaining achievements.  Most people would have been satisfied with just reading how in the walkthrough or even just quitting the game, but not me, I couldn't stop until I earned every last achievement.

The reason I share all of these personal things with you is to help you understand why I do some of the things that I do and also to be real.  I personally can't stand blogs where it's nothing but cute outfits and fun outings and yummy foods and nobody ever even gets a splinter.  I like to read about real people doing real things.  Real people make mistakes.  Real people don't have perfect lives.  Real people have things that make them weird and unique.  So this is me letting you all know that I am a real person, just in case you didn't already know that.


  1. I've got OCD and to share my way of coping with the "O", I must say that there is only one way to get rid of an obsession - replace it with another obsession :))

  2. I didn't know that you had OCD, but now that I think about it, you do seem pretty obsessed with decorating, which is basically the loveliest obsession to have. And that's definitely true that you can only get rid of an obsession by replacing it with another one.


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