In planning this site, I realized that most of the articles would come off as negative (though they’re more nuanced than that.) “Maybe I’ll inject some humor into this whole thing”, I think to myself. Maybe later, it’s enough work explaining something complex and debilitating. With my OCD present you must realize the temptation to edit each piece so every word holds meaning- the perfect meaning- I am trying to convey. Oh, I do that actually (I think we’re already into benefit number one, and I’m just trying to write an introductory paragraph. I’m thinking I’m pretty fucking great now, with my OCD1!)
No, I am purposely shading toward the serious for now. Bear with me on that. This thing I have sucks the life out of me five out of seven days a week on average- so let it be a downer for you for just the time it takes you to read this all.
1. So we’ve got benefit number one started, people with OCD, like me, are excellent editors. It, like most things that will be discussed here, comes out of fear. Speaking for myself, I’m pretty creative. Couple that with OCD, and you can surmise that I can edit film, writing, perfect the layouts of web sites pretty well. Almost all self-taught, as well. Because moving things around until they’re perfect is something I do with the tangible and intangible irrelevant every minute in my mind anyway. When I speak, every word is parsed. Some would say that is for manipulation, and that could be a fair summary- if I could control it.
2. The second item is really the most important quality (I’ll deem quality vs. drawback here) of someone with my type of OCD. If an interviewer asks me what are my best qualities, I start with this. It can’t be stressed enough how important I think quality is, and how badly I wish everyone had it: I think of every eventuality. For purposes of absolute accuracy, you can put “almost” in front of “every,” but I’m keeping the preceding sentence as-is. Because that is how it feels, and it will fill my mind into levels of self-induced stress and worry beyond that which you can believe. “I think of everything” is a bit too sparse a phrase to explain it. I am by far not the greatest computer programmer out there, for reasons I’ll explain in another article. But one thing I have excelled at is managing the entirety of tech products. Why? Because, again, my paranoia has me thinking of every possible way someone can break the product, every possible way someone can use the product, every eventuality.
Some of the people I admired most were the paranoid. Baseball managers, for the most benign of types of people. The paranoid ones had to think two, five, ten steps ahead of the guy on the other side. And I relate to this fear. I fear failure, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I fear it because of the social embarrassment of it. I would rather take the pain of letting my mind consume itself now with every possible negative outcome than find it out the harder way later.
You should see be build a database. For even the most simplest or products, I’ll already have areas covered that won’t be truly used for months if not years.
3. One of the big problems with OCD is it is all consuming in the brain. It can be a fog, an insanely this concrete wall, a pile of books 1,000 tomes high- you pick the shitty metaphor. Therefore, since my brain is already consumed to degrees of magnitude beyond what others have going on- I am excessively fast at what I do. Everything, fast. I have no capacity to waste time. For one, I don’t have the room inside my head, and secondly wasted time is disorganized. And I don’t need to tell you I abhor disorganization.
With every quality there is a drawback, I admit that. I admit I’ve often placed speed over quality when having to choose between the two. But when this happens, it is actually more nuanced than the black-and-white concept of “X over Y.” Quality inherently comes from the paranoia aforementioned, but speed is often paramount. This is why every real job I’ve had has been at a start-up. Every one. Because I can actually think dirty, because I already think my thoughts are a mess. Back to the point, all of these scenarios create an environment where I must get work done and out of the way immediately, thus I can spend my time fetishizing number two above (thinking of every way my work can not succeed, be seen as poorly done, embarrass me and those working for me.)
Beyond the complex (where, for some godforsaken reason I always find myself) I also exceed very well at the menial tasks necessary, because it is these tasks that give my mind a break. I sometimes long for the day of stocking shelves in retail. Because I could (and still can) blow well past the threshold of “seventy cases an hour,” into a record-setting pace2
4. I am very socially awkward and shy. Most people with mental illness are. Because their illness is consuming them right in front of you. For this reason, I have become extremely good in social situations which are pre-defined. I flourish in the pre-defined! It tracks with my OCD perfectly. Thus, I am an excellent communicator in business and other such areas, but for strange reasons. My socialization is organized in an almost militaristic fashion. I am still probably awkward (you decide), but I am less hesitant than I am in regular life (where I am not just a wallflower… but a wallflower that really needs to be the other side of the friggin’ wall.) As mentioned above, I parse every single one of my words. And here I am free to be manipulative. Or, as society has corrected this term: convincing.
Because, again, my brain is so full of stuff– I have little time for bullshit. I almost never talk on the phone, but I can write with extreme such extreme attention to every detail, my points can only really be missed by the… let’s be nice and say those who aren’t going to pay attention anyway3.
5. Number five is here because I laid this article out to have either three or five qualities. But I stopped at four and am satisfied with those four completing the purpose of this article. But odd numbers are better in situations where points are being made. This, to me, is a fact. And it’s going to kill me that I have four points and not three or five. Am I describing a quality here in number five? I’ll let you have at it with this one. I, personally, just need a number five. And now I do. Trust me, though, it is not filler. I do not write filler.
So there you have it. The irony of something so completely debilitating I have built an entire site out of elucidating it, being of a major benefit to the endeavors of others (and my own.) However, it rides on the undercurrent of everything I try to communicate about OCD and mental illness. We are disabled, but in that disability have gained extreme ability in other very specific areas. We may not be easy to work with, but I’m betting the results outweigh this. And really, think of it, how many people you work with would you consider “easy to work with” anyway? So take a chance on people like me. Aside from the grand attributes I’ve described above, if nothing else works out- at worst, one day, you’ll find your office supply closet completely fucking organized from top to bottom with labels, containers and the sweet aura of paranoid perfection.
1 People with OCD can also have delusions of grandeur. More on this later
2 They don’t actually document statistical records in retail.
3 I deleted the word “stupid” here. I don’t actually like to boil down people to words like such. I’ve been on the bad end of that too much myself.