According to Psychology Today, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined as “an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.”
OCD ranges from mild cases, like my own, to severe, in which individuals feel an absolute need to complete a certain task repetitively or routinely.
(For a good read on OCD behaviors, I recommend “Kissing Doorknobs”).
As a kid, I drove my parents up the wall with my 3 a.m. kitchen cleaning sprees and need for order around the house. Even now when I go home to visit my parents I end up spending a portion of my time rearranging something, much to the chagrin of my family.
When I got to college and began sharing a dorm room, I learned to let go and let things be messy every once in awhile.
Now living in an apartment sans roommates, I have reverted back to my old ways of neatness and order. My definition of a dirty apartment is a few dishes in the sink and un-made bed.
My need for all things neat has also carried over into my work life.
My OCD tendencies are heightened when I am under pressure or stress.
I am often driven to reorganize my desk at work when I am close to deadline or I have a big story to complete. The act of aligning my stapler and tape dispenser to the desk’s edge calms me down. Ensuring that each paper is in its proper (alphabetical) file gives me a sense of control.
I am that weird person who can tell when someone has used my stapler because it isn’t where I last set it down. My desktop is organized by file folders and color coded tabs.
Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at things) it is impossible to color code and alphabetize everything.
If there is anything the past year has taught me, it’s that I can’t control everything. I cannot control situations, but I can control how I choose to respond to each situation life throws my way.
I am choosing to look on the bright side of things. I am choosing to take the stress every challenge throws my way and use it as building blocks. Those building blocks will be aligned properly though. It may take some compromise to find this balance.