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Archive for the tag “obsessive compulsive disorder”

The disorder of having everything in order

http://wallpapercave.com/wp/3SmQ4wC.jpgThere is a thing with overthinkers – they usually feel everything too intensely too. And worse – perhaps – of all, they need everything to be in order. They are people who like to have a programme and as much as possible stick to it. They need to know how they want their day to pan out, so that they can try to do as many of those things they can. They are the people who fill their desks with post-its and when they strike out one task add another two.

But these are also the people who can’t stand the uncertainty of not knowing. Of not having a schedule and of being victim to a “wait and see” mentality. They might even panic in the face of this ambiguity.

They are people who usually suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) of needing to have an order in their life for calm to prevail.

At the same time, these are those who have the deepest emotions. The ones who tear up from a line in a movie, from a surprise of a loved one, from a simple thank you for something they did well. In fact, this latter is what touches them the most – the demonstration of acknowledgement, appreciation and gratification that they are, they do, and they try, at the best of their abilities. It’s nice to tell those that matter that they do, and to these specific people, sometimes the simplest of words may mean the world.

Overthinkers may seem insane, but the world was never changed by sanity.

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Ten chairs of same size but of different quirks

There were ten chairs arranged in a perfect circle right in the middle of the room, exactly twenty metres from the door and with a diameter of precisely four metres. Abigail herself measured it all every Tuesday ten minutes before the clock on the wall struck 4pm. The other seven members of the group usually began entering at five minutes to four, with only Kaitlin coming in at 4:02pm every time.

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was a drag. But going to a support group meeting in the hope of being able to alleviate the symptoms was something close to unimaginable. How could you accommodate the Obsessiveness of eight different people, especially when some of their OCDs actually conflicted?

For example, Arnold had to sit exactly in the centre of the group, something that had to change each time a group member was absent; but it would also have to accommodate Justin’s need for him to have an almost equal distribution of male and female “colleagues” on either side. And then, Mika always had to be the one to speak last, while Isaac wanted to have the word seventh in line. It was chaos for their coordinator Patrick. But what was worse was the fact that the OCD support group was not really helping anyone improve. If anything, it seemed to make things worse.

Abigail now began going in fifteen minutes earlier to measure the distances of the chairs and doors, irritated that Samuel came in a few minutes later and moved his chair ever so slightly, but enough for her to be compelled to take out her measuring tape and begin all over again.

Caleb had to tap his hand on the back of his chair three times before doing anything – literally, anything – before sitting down, before speaking, before getting up. Ray had to wait for absolute silence before he began to talk and even the slightest sneeze could get him off-course, so that he would have to restart his speech.

Patrick himself didn’t really have any obsessive traits. Well, at least not before he started the group sessions.

Now, three months later, he started noticing things he didn’t use to – the distance between chairs, the whiteness of paper, silence and noise, the order of lists, promptness of time, colours, decorations, the organization of a room; those little things that to any regular person might not seem important.

He feared that soon he too would need counselling. So he decided to follow a new method.

He took the OCD group on a field trip to the park. He laid down a brown plaid blanket and called them all to sit. There was no measuring, no time delays, no tapping, no counting whose turn it was, no total silence. It was just a group of people during a weekly gathering in the park.

Surprisingly it worked. For that one hour, everyone forgot about their OCDs and were just friends having fun in the park.

Until they left. And it all started again. The insomnia from not counting enough sheep, the measuring of the furniture, the tapping, the order of the lists.

Patrick decided to change the location of the meeting every now and again and hope something would work.

By now, he too had began looking at his phone screen more often than usual, swiping all screens back and forth twice before he would put the phone away. He used to think OCD meant something else, like Overtly Characteristic Denial or Other Central Differences or even Ominous Covert Detective. Now, he had learned exactly what it meant and what it felt like. If only he could now shake it off. Maybe even twice.

This title has been hoarded too

Hoarding1Roger decided it was time he attended an H.A. meeting when he reached the point when he could not even find his bed anymore. He was one of the lucky few who had a home in one of the biggest trees in the forest so the situation he was now in was more than just “a pickle”.

He had heard about Hoarders Anonymous (H.A.) from his Aunt Sara who in turn had heard it from a cousin of a friend of someone else and it just got too complicated for him after that to follow the timeline of who found out about it first. The point was, however, that they existed and they promised to help.

Roger was a compulsive hoarder, but not a severely obsessed one. He could restrain himself, something that could not be said about some of the other participants of H.A. One of them had even gathered all the teaspoons that were set out with the coffee and tea that was offered during the meeting. And when wooden sticks were brought out to replace the vanished spoons, he even gathered those too!

Roger began hoarding as a baby squirrel. He was born in a drought and his family was always afraid they would never have enough acorns to survive the winter. So he too was infiltrated with the mentality that more is never enough: it was better to have the option of having something, than not having it at all in the first place. Having grown up this way, he couldn’t help himself now. He, like many other of his H.A. ‘co-sufferers’, assigned too much value to all of his possessions, seeing things in them that other people didn’t, and thus making it difficult for him to get rid of them. He believed that things may prove useful in the future or they simply reminded him of something, some moment or some person and thus he became emotionally attached. So, slowly, Roger’s nest began accumulating stuff of all sorts. He was very organized so he did manage to keep his home quite tidy. You couldn’t even tell he was hoarding so many things. Until that week when he became too busy, too tired and too lazy to arrange things. So they just kept piling up. And piling up. And covering furniture. To the extent that one day he couldn’t even find his bed, and that is when he decided radical action was necessary.

At H.A. all participants struggled with their hoarding obsessions. They knew it was unhealthy and very often costly in many ways other than money. But at this point it was something out of their control. Listening to the other participants speak, Roger knew he was better off.

One of them stated that she couldn’t sleep at all, not only because she couldn’t find the bed, or the bedroom for that matter, because everything was covered under heaps of stuff, but because whenever she closed her eyes she saw nightmares that she was stranded in the fourth circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno. This was the one reserved for the “hoarders and the wasters”, where hoarders spend their lives acquiring wealth and material possessions—represented as giant boulders—and are forever doomed to push the crushing weight of the rocks against the opposing force of wasters. She thus had panic attacks added to her list of obsessive-compulsive traits. Another of the H.A. participants said that he became a hoarder when he found out that his idol, Andy Warhol, was also a hoarder and that his four-story Upper East Side town house was so jammed with items that the only rooms with paths through them were the kitchen and the bedroom. In fact, when Warhol died, in 1987, he left behind 610 cardboard boxes that he called time capsules and this fan wanted to live up to that.

Roger was now certain he was not the nutter anymore. When it was his turn to speak, he got up and said “I’m a hoarder and I know it”. They all gasped at his certainty and self-confidence. Roger had something these others didn’t. Self-restraint. He knew what he had to do. He just had to decide what was truly worth keeping and what was not. And if that didn’t work, he would just find another tree bark he could use as a storage room!

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done!

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