I’ve found that when I’ve sat down and considered all of the things that cause my OCD to flare up (as it were,) most of it boils down to my aversion to change. In fact, there is very little I can extrapolate out and find a different basis than an aversion to change. This is probably the root of my OCD, I would hesitate to try to explain anyone else’s OCD.
Thus, I was thinking of the ways where on the surface I find myself doing something that is clearly connected to OCD, and then finding where these things boil down the unwillingness to have things change.
1. Cleaning and Organizing
We’ll start with a way of acting that is the most stereotypical for someone with OCD. While my OCD is a whole universe more than this, I do need things to be clean and organized. Organization is the easy one here. I need things to have one (or two at most) spots they should be in, and things should be put back as soon as possible into these spots. So obviously things being in seemingly random spots means their “proper” location has changed. I do not like this.
Cleaning is a bit more nuanced for me. Separating out organization, I am not a clean freak. I do have touches of contamination OCD (especially with certain types of food,) but overall I don’t need everything to be clean. However, what I do need is for things to not change. If making something clean brings it back to its proper state (dishes, clothes, and towels,) I am obsessive about this. However, I find I will not dust around my office. Because I have a fear of moving wires and disconnecting things and not being able to get things like the Internet and other computer-related things back to how they should be working. In this case, I’ve overridden the need for things to be clean by obsessing over things staying in their spot untouched.
2. Television and Music
When I am completely on my own, I tend to obsessively watch the same thing at the same time. Now I am a curious person, and I do venture out into all sorts of documentaries and the like, I find I go through phases where I need to know that my night will end with the same type of show (a very exact “same.”) to give me comfort that the process of my night will not change from day-to-day. If I have to make others happy with television selections, I can handle it, but I find myself a little more stressed out. Example, I’ve taken to watching Lifetime movies obsessively. They are stupid, all of them. They all have pretty much one of three to four plots. But I’ve found comfort in knowing that is how I will end my day. This will pass and I will move my obsession to something different.
When it comes to music, I pretty much have a playlist of maybe two to three songs I will listen to obsessively over a period of a month. Then it may change, but it’ll remain in the range of two to three songs. In fact, I will set time aside to listen to these songs, as if they were homework, and move on with the rest of my day once I’ve filled myself up with the emotions the songs bring. They’ll then play out in my head, sure. But the key here is I don’t change the few songs I listen to at all very often. And I certainly—except rare occasions which happen maybe twice a year—venture out beyond the mp3 collection I already have.
I wear three pair of shorts, rotated. Green, brown, black. With each pair of shorts, there are corresponding matching t-shirts. Solid colors, all of these. I then have a select few sweaters for the rare cold days/nights. But once I find a shirt that works (and I buy cheap,) I will get about five of each t-shirt. And I’ve recently found that I have such a fear of spilling something on a shirt and not being able to get the stain out, which could result in me needing another t-shirt and not being able to find the exact match… that I’ve recently purchased shirts to put “on deck.” These shirts are the same as the ones I wear but are bagged away in case I ruin one of the active shirts. This all comes from my love of lack of change. See, it isn’t just an aversion. I truly love waking up and wearing a clean version of the same green (or brown, red, black) shirt I’ve worn the past few days. I love the lack of change, and I think it makes me look good. Of course, no one but those who are close to me realizes I am wearing something that I will be repeating over and over, but I do.
The theme is obvious here, so rather than replacing “clothing” with “food,” I’ll tell a story. It comes from before I was even diagnosed with OCD. I was single and living on my own without a girlfriend. So I ate whatever I wanted without regard for anyone else. I found that I liked the local Mexican shop (I lived in a very Mexican area.) Not only did I like this particular place, I liked one specific order. A #3. One cheese quesadilla, 2 steak tacos, Mexican rice, refried beans, and large iced tea. This is the only thing I ordered there, and at one point had this for eight straight dinners. I looked forward to the lack of change.
5. Random Things That Pop Up
I could go on about other things, but they all work in the same way. Here’s the thing, from time to time things will come up which I didn’t even realize would deviate from my routine. I’ll be invited somewhere when I didn’t even realize that I felt I should be alone that night and going out would be a change to what I guess my brain planned without me. This also goes for being with people at night. If I am set on hanging out with a certain person, any changes to that plan throw me for a loop. I’ll often get inwardly angry. Funny thing is that I don’t mind being alone or with people, depending. My brain is just set on that thing happening, and deviating from it is not a good feeling.
Change is not good for me. But what is most important is this is the root of almost everything I discuss when delving into my OCD. I can probably track most things back to this.
A perfect world is one without change.