Confession of an OCD Writer

As a writer, I rely on experiences, both past and present, for fuel in writing my stories. In that light, I am a person that deeply contemplates life. I reflect on the characters and events that shaped my past, and I deliberate about the here and now. I can sometimes manifest thoughts about a near or distant tomorrow. I try not to visit the future for very long because when I do, I often lose track of the real today.

To be quite honest, I see these thoughts, these reflections, as being very natural and human. I study, observe, ruminate, and think; for this is my instinctive method for conjuring up my muse. As a writer, I choose to express my reflections on life through my writing. I imagine many other writers are similar – they are often profound in their daily reflection. For those writers, their musings are often realized in their works that stem from their own personal deliberations. Kind of cool, eh!

I am definitely a guy that over thinks things to death. During the past couple of years, I have been wondering if I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For the longest time, I’ve been hearing about it but never gave it serious thought as it applied to me. It’s only been since I came to Twitter 25 months ago, that I really gave OCD any stock in my life. I’ve read numerous tweets discussing it and visited many blogs where individuals were talking about it. It seems that numerous people exhibit various OCD traits in one way or another. For one individual, the action is more subtle. For another person, the action is greatly magnified.

The question I ask myself today, is Charlie Nitric a person with OCD? I answer yes, most likely I am. However, I don’t believe I have near the severity that many other OCD people suffer from. In my case, I think that I demonstrate OCD signs and tendencies, rather than being fully encased by the illness. I do obsess and I do dwell. I also believe when I look back on my life as a child, as a young adult, and now as a middle-aged man, I have learned to mitigate my mild case of OCD. At least I think I have, since my OCD seemed more acute in my childhood days.

The following examples of things I do is not meant to mock, poke fun at, or ridicule any people with OCD. It’s meant for one reason ONLY: to laugh and poke fun at how silly I am. OCD is no laughing matter to many of those individuals suffering from it. For me, laughter is one of my methods for mitigating it. I repeat; I am laughing at myself – only!

I might be OCD when:

1) PROBLEM: products on store shelves aren’t pulled forward, in the wrong location, have empty boxes in front of full ones, labels turned backwards or sideways, ect.

Tornado ShelfSOLUTION: “How can they expect to provide a good shopping experience with sales shelves in total disarray,” I silently talk-freak in my head! I become an honorary, unpaid merchandising manager. I will straighten the shelves at Walmart and other stores. I match the SKU numbers and tags to the correct products (facing forward and in a perfect line), pull product forward, and cash out empty boxes so the full ones can be shopped.

Sometimes I have to force myself to stop merchandising. Some days I can leave it all alone. I move along, just shaking my head in disbelief at the chaos. Other days, I cannot carry forward without addressing some or all of the issue(s). In some weird way, I feel it’s my duty, but not my job to correctly merchandise for the stores. And yeah, I believe I’m being totally anal for doing it.

2) PROBLEM: Saving computer documents, setting alarm, locking up

SOLUTION: I will save my work on the computer multiple times, in fear that the button didn’t record my command. I’ll save it five times over and over, which seems like 12 billion times more than necessary. I will triple and quadruple check my alarm settings, knowing that I did in fact set it a moment earlier. The same applies to locking my car door or home doors at night. I check again and again, even though I know they’re secured.

Save Save Save SaveThis is an obsession with fear, although my fear is not that I will be car jacked or burglarized or over slept. I’m not really afraid my document won’t be saved. My fear is in knowing or thinking that I knew (or thought I knew) everything was locked or my alarm was set, and the discovery later that my mind fooled me and they were not. I suppose this is fear of failure or fear of being schizophrenic. Of course, I am neither.

NOTE TO SELF: check zipper on the quarter-hour even though I’m wearing basketball shorts!

3) PROBLEM: I have a bit of an obsession with lining things up by color, height, weight, width, diameter, category, and frequency of usage. Any combination of the calculations could be applied, depending on the items.

NOTICE TO THE WORLD: Things need an order for storage and recall. We do it in our minds and most of you do it on your computers. Why not order in cabinets, closets, garages, or in the refrigerator?

SOLUTION: Line them up, pair them up, and color associate those items. The tall ones go behind shorter ones or all on their own side. The heavier items should be placed above supports at the edge where it is strongest. Not in the center. The most used items are arranged where they’re easily accessed on the side that’s closest to the opening (a quick grab-n-shut deal). When something is out-of-place, I notice it immediately and square it up. It’s frustrating trying to keep cows, lambs, chickens, ducks, possum, rabbit, and a variety of fishes organized. To mitigate this lunacy, I’ve drastically reduced the amount of “things” I have. I want my chickens all in row. The large roasting and BBQ types go in the back. The smaller nugget types should be up front.

4) PROBLEM: This is a challenge to explain because it gets complicated. One (1) is a lonely number but it’s also a champion’s number. I like the number one as it applies to accomplishment. However, if one (1 thing) is left from a grouping of the same item (a thing), it bothers me that there is only one left. For example, when I see one hamburger or hot dog left over in the fridge, I have to eat it pronto. The item seems out of place in my weird view.

Further more, when I see someone eat 99% of their meal but cannot stomach that one more bite left on their plate, it get perturbed. “Huh, one more French fry or one tiny noodle, and you’re leaving it there alone?” If I were a noodle, I would think “You ate the other 40 but not me. You made me think you’re saving the best until last. What’s wrong with me?” Get that darn noodle out of there and give it some peace of mind!

One Big IssueMy mom used to save one chicken leg, a half a sandwich, one meatball, one slice of bacon, or like one measly little broccoli cluster. It drove me crazy to see a gazillion containers with one little thing in each.

SOLUTION: My mind screamed, “Eat it, eat it, eat it NOW!” I did and do, always. Mom used to say I helped her clear out the fridge. Yes, I was always hungry but it drove me berserk to see one little something in plastic, alone and seemingly unappreciated.

In closing, the actions I mentioned above were real issues when I was a youngster. Through time and growth, I’ve learned that my obsessions are foolish. Some people can mitigate them. Other people cannot. I know most of my obsessions really are silly. Again, most of MY OBSESSIONS are rather goofy. LOL.

While I still do some of the things mentioned, I have managed to reduce the effect it has on me emotionally. I’ve learned that these are my issues, my “wants.” Today, I’m not nearly as anal as I once was. Today in my post, I’m laughing about me. ONLY ME!

Oops. What’s this? There’s a chicken with a feather that’s not lining up with the rest of the crew feathers. Gotta fix it now (tornado siren blares out) or it will be another sleepless night.


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  1. #1 by Jennifer on September 18, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    I so very much enjoy your writing and am quite impressed with your artistic ability as well. Celebrating another winner of yours with a little happy dance to Weird Al Yankovic’s Eat It! Will be chicken up on you soon! 😜

    • #2 by charlie nitric on September 18, 2013 - 9:00 pm

      Hi Jenni –

      I can envision you and Weird Al, break-dancing in your kitchen…singing, “Eat It” (good one). LOL. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Happy Wednesday evening to you. 🙂

  2. #3 by Nancy Creech on September 18, 2013 - 9:35 pm

    Very funny, I love reading your blogs they bring joy to my day and make me laugh and I always think of what I would do in those situations, probably something very similar to what you do.

    Meryl S.

    • #4 by charlie nitric on September 18, 2013 - 10:09 pm

      Hi Nancy –

      What you should do??? You need to get your house in order: closets, fridge, pantry, ALL. LOL. Thank you for reading and for commenting. 🙂

  3. #5 by Lori Schafer on October 6, 2013 - 11:08 am

    I know exactly what you mean about being mildly OCD. Although I defintely prefer order to disorder (my desk is always neat), I’m not usually compelled to rearrange other people’s messes. My big thing is the lock-up procedure – I can’t leave the house without checking to be sure I haven’t left water running or the stove on or anything like that. I used to have a boyfriend who had one of those electric stoves with the flat burners and it drove me crazy because he would come home with plastic grocery bags and set them down on the stove. “But what if you accidentally leave the stove on?” I’d say. “Oh, that’ll never happen.” Of course, one day we’re sitting in the living room and I smell fire. Sure enough, he’d left the burner on and the plastic was burning. So sometimes worrying about this kind of thing is totally justified!

    I also tend to check things repeatedly, and for the same reason – not because I don’t think I locked the door properly, but because otherwise I might not remember that I locked it, and I don’t want to get halfway down the street and have to wonder about it. So nowadays I give it an extra little jiggle as I’m leaving – putting that conscious effort into it makes me certain that I did it. And maybe other people don’t get it, but so what? MY house isn’t going to burn down because I left the cooktop on!

    • #6 by charlie nitric on October 7, 2013 - 11:54 am

      Hi Lori –

      I don’t understand why some people think the top of the stove is a good place to set paper or plastic grocery bags. I’ve seen a lot of that also and don’t like the flat top electric range for that reason.

      I so agree with you about “easing your mind.” I have to check (double check) so I don’t think endlessly about it later on.

      Thank you for stopping by and for commenting. 🙂

  4. #7 by Emma Sarah Tennant on February 20, 2014 - 6:43 am

    What a great post, thanks for sharing.

    • #8 by charlie nitric on February 26, 2014 - 11:08 am

      Hi Emma –

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

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