My OCD and Me
The cup in the photo is one of six I recently bought from the reduced shelf in a local discount store. Two of the cups are emblazoned with the word TEA, and four say COFFEE (I drink more tea than coffee, but hey ho).
When I make a drink in this new crockery, I must use a cup that bears the name of the beverage I am about to prepare in it; I can’t make tea in a cup that says ‘coffee’, and vice-versa. If I fancy a cup of tea and there are ‘coffee’ cups in the cupboard, and no clean ‘tea’ cups, I will either wash a cup or make coffee. Yet if someone gives me tea in a coffee cup, I will happily drink it; it is only when I am in control of the situation that I must impose these odd rules.
This irritating episode is typical of the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that dictates certain areas of my life. Here are some more examples.
I used to live in an apartment block where twenty copies of the local free newspaper were left on a shelf in the lobby for tenants to take. I would never take the top copy, but I’d always pull the second or third newspaper from the pile. I have since moved from that building, but I sometimes buy a newspaper on a Saturday, and when I do, I take a copy from below the top one.
I must put on my right shoe, sock, slipper, flipper or flip flop before the left. If I inadvertently put on a left boot first, and I was merrily lacing it up when I realised my mistake, off it would come.
I avoid chopping or slicing vegetables twelve or thirteen times (twelve slices means thirteen pieces). I had a tin opener that required thirteen turns to open a tin can. I avoided this number by putting in several short turns. The big question here, of course, is why count cuts or turns at all?
I’m no expert, but I think the answer to this may stem from my youth when I worked as a roofers’ labourer. I would go up the ladder 100 or so times a day, often in isolation, as the tiler might be finishing another roof while I prepared the next. For some reason, I started counting the rungs of the ladder in my mind as I went up. This mental counting stayed with me and, I think, branched out into other areas, including food preparation.