Tidiness is a religion for me. It’s probably the only one I have. When I was working as a charge nurse on the wards I insisted on an orderly ward. I was always of the belief that a messy ward is a disorganised ward. It was kind of tricky to apply my rules to the patients. Illness isn’t always decorous, sadly. There’s clutter and sweatiness and lolling in unusual positions involved. I did have a few personal foibles about how things should be and would always come on duty and flick off the night lights that were still on in the day time and make sure the curtains were pulled right back and neat. Naturally, I liked the beds lined up straight, the lockers tidy and the pillows facing the same way but I call that having standards.
I do like a tidy home too but it’s not out of control. I’ll always wait till you’re not looking before I plump up the cushions which you’ve crushed by sitting down and line the t.v. remote controls back up when you’ve carelessly left them at an angle. I don’t mind too much if you move a tin in my cupboard and the label faces inwards; I can even leave it a good hour before I have to put it back the right way round. It’s definitely not a problem. I always wait till Paul has gone before I remake the bed he’s so helpfully made; I wouldn’t want to offend him when he’s being helpful. That would be rude.
My CDs are in alphabetical order but surely that’s just practical and sensible? If I’m in the mood for Barbra Streisand I don’t want to be rooting through Madonna and Eric Satie, wasting time. My books aren’t in order though, although they are colour and size coordinated. They need to look nice.
I don’t clean all the time, I just spend a lot of time doing it when the mood takes me and get through a hell of a lot of bleach. That’s just good hygiene, not OCD. I actually don’t like cleaning. It’s a bind. I’ve considered getting a cleaner but their work would probably be slapdash. Maybe I overdo it sometimes and the time I collapsed on the bathroom floor through inhaling too many cleaning products was perhaps an issue but I survived. I learnt my lesson too. I don’t use any less bleach but I do open the windows wider. Two bottles of bleach a week isn’t an unusual amount to get through. Please don’t lecture me about its effect on the environment; I haven’t had children so I’m exempt from worrying about all that. I may have once cleaned the new cooker so thoroughly that the numbers all washed off but we’ve all done that, right? Everyone must have had the odd electric shock washing a light switch too, I reckon.
It can’t be a bad thing to colour coordinate your washing on the line and have a filing system for your clothes in the wardrobe. That’s just a way of making the washing look prettier and the clothes easier to find on a bleary morning.
As for the tapping, I’m almost over that. I used to tap the stair banister nine times before bed so that I wouldn’t die in my sleep but I managed to outgrow that one. Not till I was 34 but nonetheless, I outgrew it. Aren’t modern psychiatric drugs amazing? I do love the SSRIs.
I still follow the rule of threes. The nine banister taps were the ultimate safe measure, 3 times 3, of course. I always check my front door is locked with three yanks on the handle. I wash myself three times in the shower. It’s not weird. At least I know the door is firmly locked and my bits and bobs are clean. Correction, apart from the times I run back and check the door is locked; I know the door is locked. I often run back and check the door is locked.
My superstitions have got better with age though. I tread on cracks now. I still salute magpies and wouldn’t ignore a penny on the floor but I would walk under a ladder and have given up shouting “White Rabbits” on the first of most months. I once got shouted at by my driving instructor for taking my hands of the wheel during a lesson but I was saluting a particularly mean looking magpie with evil in his intentions. I don’t regret doing it, it was a balanced risk. If I hadn’t taken my hands off the wheel to salute him then the doom invoked would have caused a crash anyway. Logical, I think you’ll find.
Naturally, I like to give things a lot of thought. It’s not necessarily obsessive. I just think about the same thing a lot, over and over again.
In conclusion, I don’t have OCD, I don’t have OCD and I don’t have OCD. Maybe the drugs aren’t so good, after all.