Those with OCD are often portrayed as having a disorder that involves tactile and tangible things. Again with the touching of doorknobs, relationships with cracks on the sidewalk1, those clichés I’ll probably mention a lot. Because they are not what makes up OCD for everyone that has it2.
One of the major issues I have with my OCD is how time plays into things. Let’s get the obvious out of the way—I always need to be on time. I learned as a child to be well ahead of on time, but as an adult I grew a need to be on time to the exact second. If I am to be somewhere at 7 pm, I strive to be there at 7:00:00 PM. I will circle blocks and pace in front of doors to make this happen. And to the more obvious and not really fascinating I hate I when people are late—because as I’ve touched on before, those with OCD have a somewhat selfish bend about them that projects their own characteristics onto others. Interesting for another article, but we’ll leave it there for now.
The big thing with me is future events that are going to happen at a certain time contain a whole world of emotions in my head. And like most things in my head, they are amplified beyond the baseline of a normal person. I am very emotional about the future. And with that, I am in absolute need for the future to be as predictable as possible.
Predictably is a cornerstone of OCD. It’s not very romantic, fancy-free, and all that good stuff that would make for a good dating profile. No one is really searching for someone who “needs things to know when All Things are going to happen, and needs them to happen when they’re then supposed to happen—preferably to the minute.” Ha!
Now, the emotional aspect. When I am told of an event happening at a certain time, that I’m going to be a part of, I will begin to and actually complete a complete emotional picture of that event. While many wouldn’t call me an optimist3, I do actually frame as positive of an emotional environment as possible for said event. And then I begin to exist within it—well before it happens.
It is important to note that this event can be anything as small as just “we’re going to sit down and watch TV.” As well, it could be something big. It doesn’t matter. I have architected an environment I will be in, and since I have major issues with comfort, I have architected inside that a place for me to feel comfortable. Maybe even happy. Most likely, let’s just stick with comfortable.
And the more detail that is added to the event—say the specifics of a TV show we’re going to watch, the more vivid my self-architected, pre-event comfort becomes. This has now crossed the line into obsession. (Hey! That’s what you came here to read about, right?)
To any typical person the thought of “we’re planning to watch this show at this time” means something very different. For one, I’ve highlighted the term “planning” because that is how actual reality works (not mine, but yours.) People plan, plans change, plans are open to be liquid.
However, I cannot bear liquidity in life. I only find comfort in solidity. The known. Thus, here is where I can go into a place no one else would go, and where I can come off as crazy4: changing plans. Once plans change—be it the time of the event, or the particulars of the event—what happens to me is I am already there at the event in my head, and I have already made myself comfortable. And have done so maybe hours, or even days ahead of time. I must rip myself out of comfort no different than someone having a difficult time getting out of a nice sleep to face what they know will be a stressful day,
Worse yet, when plans change they are most often going to move from something more solid to something more liquid. The seal has broken for plan changing, and anything can happen at all—which is the most terrifying thought to someone with my type of OCD. “Anything can happen at all” is akin to “we’re going to visit hell, the real one, the hot one with the devil and all, how’s that sound?”
I know plans can change. But I refuse—because I can’t handle it—to let that be an ok thing. It is a lot to ask of people not to change plans, people are people. Everyone is living their own life, not mine. I get that. It should just be known that I cannot handle such changes like most people can5.
Time. Time is solid. A certain place, time and event put together in the future is something I can work (and it is work) to be comfortable in. I have to build that comfort, and will well ahead of time.
I’d like to conclude with just: “don’t fuck with it.” But I understand normal life, and I know you’re human, and you will, and that’s ok. -ish.
1 Me, I don’t know if they’re supposed to be good or bad. As someone with OCD, am I supposed to touch every one, or not touch any one? [BACK]
2 I will always note that these things are a part of many peoples’ OCD. They’re not wrong or made up, they are just not the entirety of OCD. [BACK]
3 Sheesh, that’s for at least five more articles! [BACK]
4 You know, I don’t use that term much. It actually doesn’t offend me. “Crazy” is fine, I admit it is a word one can be honest and use about me. Go for it! [BACK]
5 You may as well know, because this is going to come up a lot—when I do handle things well, I’m faking it. [BACK]