Why Buying Online Is Torture with OCD

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It is really can be put into one simple word, but I think it is fair to expand on that for the sake of explaining my OCD in the real world.

As someone with mental disorders that can suck an entire week’s worth of energy to do anything productive out from me, replacing it with obsession and the like—I don’t generally like to go outside to shop. I don’t drive because of anxiety, so my options are somewhat limited—though I live in a big city and I am far from materialistic. That mitigates a lot of the not-having-a-car stuff.

As well, as someone who started my tech career before the dot-com boom, I still believe in the Great Promise of the Internet in terms of all the mechanisms that should be easier than the way we used to shop.

Signal-to-noise, that is really the problem. While I’m very happy that around 85% of my shopping is purchasing items I’ve purchased before and continually need (got that down to a few clicks,) the issue here comes from trying to find items that are unique to me for whatever reason. I keep coming back to clothing as an example, and you’ll have to bear with that being the basis for my examples here.

With my OCD, my brain is tremendously picky about clothing. I am actually the opposite of those with any fashion sense, in that, I want the simplest and least expensive clothing possible (while still matching my very pruned preferences for fabric type and color.)

An example, I want a t-shirt fabric zip-up hoodie. It has to be only one color (no stripes, no patterns, nothing but that one color.) That color has to be military green or brown (I have a black one.) It needs to be a size 3XL because while I am not a 3XL, I’ve found that larger is more comfortable to me, as I have an obsession over thinking clothing is too small on me. I am willing to look like a fool to mitigate this.

This all seems simple, no? I also figure if I look for such an item online, it should be easy to find. Google, Amazon, and all the other shops networked together… this should not be difficult, right?

It is hell.

For starters, while I know I am good at searching for things online (I grew up with this, heck—I programmed some of this), the end result of my searches are completely filled with noise. Logo/patterned/graphic thick hoodies. Hoodies that don’t go up to 3XL. This noise is impossible for me, with my OCD, to filter out at all. Even looking at a few of these pieces of noise in my search results forces me to focus not only on them but of the potential futility of my search. I instantly want to give up.

Let’s expand that. I do give up, and then I come back later when I get my energy refilled. And again I give up. Repeat ad nauseam (thus far infinitely in my search for this particular item.)

Now we’re talking about shopping online, and even beyond clothing, I’ve purchased so many items that have shown up to be not exactly what I expected. And I need to know the specifications of things to the inch.

For example, I purchase hooks to screw into my cabinets. Seems like the same hooks I can purchase from Walmart down the street (if they weren’t so crappy about inventory management.) Seems. But the screws are much, much longer than anyone would want when I look at what has been delivered in the mail.

Because I take every reaction in my head to a heightened level, I feel an instant disappointment. Almost depression. I’ve wasted all of this time and some money. The money doesn’t even matter as much as the fact that I now need to go back and find the perfect hooks.

This all sounds like complaining. First-world problems, all of those crappy labels.

The point isn’t so much the actual items I need, but how my OCD reacts to shopping in this new world.

Scratch that, part of the point is the items. I need that t-shirt fabric, military green or brown zip-up hoodie with no other colors at all.

If you want to shop for me, please. I’ve given up after attempt number eight.