WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ONLY CLICKS THE LOCK BUTTON ON THEIR KEY ONCE!? This is a thought I have on a frequent basis. Why do I constantly have this thought? The reason: I have been diagnosed with a mental health condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, after thinking that I had it for nearly eleven years. It was a relief to finally have my long-term suspicions confirmed, however, from my own experience, I know for a fact that is not the easiest thing in the world to cope with this.
During adolescence, I would get bothered if someone just put the dishes away in whatever order they wanted. There was only one order I was comfortable with. If I saw silverware or pasta plates stacked poorly, it would bother me to my absolute core. I would have to rearrange it to my liking to feel more comfortable. Even to this day, I hate seeing the dishes put away in any random order. I can’t watch people do it, otherwise I will have this intense urge to get angry and accuse them of being sloppy.
Another instance of OCD-like behaviors (although part of me is convinced this is only anxiety-driven) occurred in 2019. I was terrified about locking my keys in my apartment bedroom. I had to keep them on my person at all times, or keep the bedroom door open. This happened because I locked my keys in my apartment bedroom in the morning while getting ready for work. I had no choice but to go to work in my pajamas and shower shoes with only a fleece pullover to keep me warm in the subfreezing temperatures as I walked across the university campus. If I was outside of my bedroom, either the door was open or my keys were on my person. Even if I was eating lunch in the common area, my apartment keys were in my sight. If I was brushing my teeth, my keys were in my sight. I feel like this habit will follow me to other apartments I will move into in the future.
The biggest OCD thing for me is clicking the lock button on the car keys until I hear the beep three times. It bugs me very badly when people only click the lock button enough times to hear the lock beep once. If I don’t hear that beep three times, I will be adamant that someone will hack into and ransack the vehicle. The only way to keep my peace of mind is to lock that car three times.
Listening to the smoke alarm go off because there is dropped food at the bottom of the oven makes my ears figuratively bleed. I have super sensitive ears and the piercing noise is too barbaric to handle. Consequently, I have a habit of triple checking the oven to make sure there is nothing that can burn and trigger the alarm. Speaking of cooking, if I’m using the bottom oven, I need to move the towel hanging from the top oven away from the bottom oven opening. If not, I will be adamant that I will close the oven on the towel and cause a nasty fire.
The pandemic hasn’t been easy on my OCD. Every time I felt a headache, I would feel the need to check my temperature because I was instantly sure that I had coronavirus. If I hear a thud, I freak out. I am adamant that someone is very badly hurt and will only keep a cool head if people reassure me that there are no serious injuries or death. I get scared of having grocery bags of just snacks on the ground of the car. I need them to be as hidden as possible. If not, I will be beyond sure that someone will break in thinking there’s a laptop, then think, “false alarm, it’s just gas station food.”
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is not just wanting people to take their shoes off when they get in your home. It’s not just liking the kitchen clean. It’s not just wanting the living room rug vacuumed once a week. It’s having to relocate glassware from near the edge of the table or counter because you practically know for a fact that it will fall and shatter if you don’t. It’s having to constantly check that you turned off and unplugged the curling wand to keep your condo complex from burning to the ground. It’s checking your backpack, purse, or briefcase eleven times before going to bed, almost every single night, to ensure you have all your necessities for the next day.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is not a trend, a joke, or a label. It is a mental health issue that interferes with the daily lives of people. If you live with OCD and anxiety (like I do), it can make the issue much more frustrating to cope with. Therapy and medication can make a big difference when coping with OCD. It has helped me, and I hope it can help others who have also been diagnosed with this condition.