That I am kind of a mess. When most people hear that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they assume that I suffer from the type that they’ve seen portrayed in movies or on television shows. The type of OCD that makes people clean their homes like they are prepping for surgery to happen on their kitchen table. Think Monica Geller on speed. This is not the case for me. Not even close.
I can guarantee you that if you come to our house on any given day, you will find the following things:
Dishes in the sink. Yep, the only time the sink is empty is in the middle of the night, and even then it is not a given. Breakfast dishes remain in the sink until we get home from work/school. I then put those in the dishwasher and prepare dinner. After dinner, dishes remain on the table and in the sink until the kids are in bed. Once the kids are in bed, if I am not too tired, I clean them up and set the dishwasher off. But, anytime during the day, you will find dishes there, probably half-full of Riley’s uneaten cereal, and Bode’s bottles, which had accumulated in every room of the house, and have been collected and deposited in the sink to be sterilized. It is a constant and surprisingly, I am ok with it.
Laundry folded on the couch. Laundry is a never-ending battle in our house. Many people think of laundry as a two-step process: wash and dry. No, it is a four-step process, and if you can’t do all four steps, you have failed. The steps include: wash the clothes, put the clothes in the dryer, fold the clothes, and put the clothes away.
In my house we usually wash the clothes and let them rot in the machine for three days. Then, we wash them again. If we remember to put them in the dryer, we then move them to the couch, where they rot for another three days and need to be rewashed, because they are now completely wrinkled and in my mind covered in filth. If the clothes do get folded in a timely manner, they usually remain on the couch for an additional day, or six, before we bring them upstairs and put them away. During that time, people pick out of the piles to find what they need, and then leave the rest to sit there and continue rotting. It is a struggle and I am always in complete awe of people that can do laundry and put it away the same day. Cheers to you! I don’t see us accomplishing that anytime soon, but it is always good to have goals.
Toys. EVERYWHERE. Riley and Bode have a playroom. It is amazing. That being said, toys slowly migrate into the other living areas during the day. I am surprised I haven’t paralyzed myself by slipping on Legos, stamps, or “don’t break the ice” pieces yet. Winning!
In addition to not being tidy, I do not care about things being in order, being in the right place, or being organized.
For example, one place that my OCD is not, is in my email inbox. People who look at my phone’s home screen usually freak out. I don’t clean out my emails. It is just not something that I do. Of course, I read my emails and then sort them into proper folders, but I don’t delete them. I also keep them as unread, especially if I think that I will need to reference them in some way in the future. I guess it would be fair to say that I, Jenna Stewart, am an email hoarder. You may think it is strange, but I think it is completely normal to have 10,000+ unread emails at one given time.
I also have really annoying habits that drive Pat crazy and would make other OCD people cringe. Including:
- I leave the empty toilet paper roll on the holder and put the new roll on the back of the toilet. I do the same for paper towels. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.
- I have a collection of coffee cups on my bathroom sink.
- I leave empty shampoo bottles in the shower in addition to the new ones that I buy, but if you leave the empty milk carton in the fridge, I will freak the f*ck out.
- My fridge is often filled with many multiples of opened condiments, two mayos, two mustards, and two ketchups… oh man, maybe I am a hoarder.
- My car can only be described in one word, disgusting. It is dirty. I wont go into details, but there is usually an unidentified smell, accompanied by discarded yogurt pouches, coffee cups, art projects, and Hannaford’s bags containing clothes covered in poop, vomit, or urine. Oh, hey! I found the smell. Winning again!
So how does my OCD manifest itself? Well, mine focuses on contamination and keeping my family and myself safe from harm. So, basically, my dirt is fine, but your dirt, well, that is completely unacceptable.
Things I do and don’t do:
- I will not use your bathroom. I barely use the ones in my own house.
- I will not let you try my beer, actually I will, but then I won’t drink it.
- I don’t like to share food, same as beer, so order your own, ok?
- I wash my hands, a lot. They bleed sometimes. I wash them more in one day than most people probably wash their hands in a month. So if I tell you they are clean, they really are.
- I have compulsions. I check the carbon monoxide detectors in our house three times each before bed. We have six of them. At each one, I tap my leg in multiples of 2, three times. It takes a long time. If I get out of bed in the middle of the night, I do it again. Why? I have absolutely no idea, but if feels wrong to go to bed without doing it.
- I check the oven before I go to bed and before I leave the house. I click the button on and off three times and then count the burners four times saying “off” as I do.
- I don’t like blood. In my mind, everyone’s blood is diseased. This is something that I’ve been working on a lot though, because people (kids especially) bleed. They just do.
I have a lot more, but I want you to still like me and not run away thinking, “freak!” So, I’ll stop for now. I think a lot of people have OCD tendencies. But, I also don’t think that people completely comprehend what it really feels like to have OCD and anxiety in general. It can be crippling. I tend to laugh about it, because internally there is so much suffering. I find it helps to be open and honest. I also am really proud that I was able to recognize that I had a problem and get the help I needed.
Medicine? AMAZING. Therapy? Also AMAZING. If you are struggling with something, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Talk to someone. It is such a freeing feeling to know that you have tools to help and that you have people supporting you as you make strides to make your life better.
What are your OCD tendencies? Tell me, it makes me feel better about putting my crazy on display!