Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spark's OCD for Dummies

Have you ever wanted to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but just didn't know where to start?

Spark's publishing brings you a simple, step-by step guide for enjoying this unique and colourful disorder, in nine easy steps.

1) No detail is too small to obsess about. Why not start with the status of your stove? This is very popular among beginners. Develop a habit of checking your stove to make sure it's off. This can be done on your way out of the house, before you go to bed, or anytime. Remember: if you check once and feel satisfied, you have not achieved OCD. The "magic number" of checks that allows you to leave the stove and carry on with your life must be at least two (2).

2) The "magic number" of checks for any of your compulsions should increase proportionately to the stress in your life. Once the number has increased, it will be very difficult to reduce it again. For example, if you usually check the stove four times before you leave the house, you may feel compelled to check a fifth time. Or, in severe circumstances, you may need to "take it from the top" and do another full round of four checks.

3) The checking should be done in a ritualistic fashion. It is not sufficient to give the stove a quick, visual once-over, and walk away. Point to each dial on the stove, and as you do so chant "Off, Off, Off, Off, Off" (that's once for each element and once for the oven). Vocalizing and using repetitious movements will reinforce your habit and deepen your experience.

4) Be prepared: the day will come when no amount of ritualized checking will scratch the itch. When you get stuck in front of the stove, checking and re-checking in an infinite loop, congratulate yourself! You have achieved a masterful level of OCD. If you have made yourself late for work or any other obligation, to which you otherwise would have been on time, pat yourself on the back. You have truly arrived.

5) Are you sure that the door to your home is closed and locked? Pull on it a bunch of times. Walk away from it. Turn back. Stare at it. Walk back and pull on it a bunch more times. Stare at it some more. It looks closed, but something in your mind isn't accepting that input. Fiddle with your door until no one could possibly rationalize the amount of time you're spending there. Now all your neighbours know that you have OCD! Good work.

6) If you'd like to spend a good deal of time convinced that your home is burning down while you're away, and the stove just isn't doing it for you, invest in a curling or straightening iron. If you can ever convince yourself to leave the house again, it'll be a miracle. Are you sure you turned it off? Or is your shower curtain catching fire as you read this?

7) You're just about to fall asleep. It's the end of the day. Time to just lie back and relax. Wait, are you sure you took out your contact lenses? Is your alarm set to the right time, turned on, and at an appropriate volume? Did you leave the tap running in the bathroom? There is such an abundance of things to jump out of bed and check, that sleeping pales in comparison.

8) For added fun, encourage your spouse to trigger your obsessions. When you've finally checked for your wallet enough times, and feel ready to walk out the door, s/he should take that as a cue to ask "Are you sure you have your wallet?" and then giggle insanely as you furiously undertake a fresh round of checking. (No, Ken doesn't do this. But my ex did. I don't think he really "got" how mean it was.)

9) Had enough of the OCD for now? Shake it off. Get angry. Say to yourself "I cannot spend all day standing and staring at my front door. So what if it is unlocked? So what if the stove is on? I can't live paralyzed by these thoughts. If the house is burgled or burns down, so be it." Then turn on your heel and march.

Ed. Note: Don't be concerned. Lately the OCD is averaging less than 5 minutes of my time per day, which is manageable. There are bad days, but they are not frequent at this stage in my life. All is well in Sparkville.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hmmm... interesting. I simply turn the fuse box off and keep rechecking that. That way I don't have to check a bunch of individual items. Oh and I simply haul the oven with me to work in the back of my truck so I can check every so often to make sure it hasnt started working on its own without power. Hmmm... I wonder if my dog would turn the power back on at me house, Damn!!

Nicole said...

Uh - I am glad that in most cases I can say, no, I don't have to do that :)

Sounds like it can be quite time consuming.

Leighann said...

I think I'll stick with my tourettes, I'm too lazy to keep checking the same crap LOL

R.E.H. said...

OCD has got to be the shits...

...I only have a minor case of checking and re-checking the front door when I go to bed. I even have a specific ritual, and it HAS to be the last thing I do before I walk into the bedroom.

If I leave the bedroom, I have to return to the front door and check it, even when I know for a fact that it's good and locked.

whathegotsofar said...

Hi, I'm friends with WhatIGotSoFar. He asked me to read your blog to him. He couldn't do it himself because he has been washing his hands for the past 35 minutes. He recently found out that somebody has touched his computer keyboard.

PixieVonAzia said...

Wow that was tiring just reading it =)

I would be bad at it. I don't even check on stuff much less start rechecking everything :D

unsigned said...

Have you checked your blog post for spelling mistakes? Perhaps you should... Just to make sure...

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: That's it - I can no longer read your comments while I'm eating my lunch, for fear of laugh-choking to death. You are a very silly man! ;-)

Nicole: And every minute spent on those compulsions is a long minute. :-p

Leighann: Good call! I'll have to work on cultivating more laziness.

R.E.H.: Your front door ritual is exactly what I'm talking about. That weird refusal of your brain to accept a fact that you just witnessed with your own eyes. Evolution has something to answer for!

whathegotsofar: A crate of Purell would be a lovely Easter gift for your friend. Alcohol swabs are useful too.

Pixie Von Azia: That's it, young lady. If you don't start doing your checking as assigned, you're going to fail OCD class! ;-)

Unsigned: Did I mention that I re-read all my posts around six times before publishing them? You can't be too careful...
(or maybe you can)

Wyldth1ng said...

You could always join the Marines.

Aurora said...

It sounds so difficult. Difficult to do, and difficult to quit.

jameil1922 said...

good gracious!! that was scary!! the door locking is the only thing i'm a bit crazy abt. i won't necessarily go back and check it but as i walk away i think abt whether i locked my door regularly. usually tho it's b/c i actually didn't lock my door! so far everything was still there. gotta get better but NOT ocd abt it!

mex (aka Syb) said...

the news is worse.. as i aint no +real+ doc, i am basing this on a lot of experience.. mine and BFFs.. and THAT bean.. as we age.. it gets mucho WORSE.. IE.. I COUNT.. especially steps.. as in how many steps the hall is, the daily beach walk... and thaz jes the tip of the 1,234, 456, 745 step iceberg


PS.. and off topic.. I STEPPED on my laptop 2 days ago.. ist thang in the AM.. and .. BACK on topic.. that put a REAL wrench in my OCD morning,,,, not bean able to READ my blawgs of CHOICE in their proverbial CORRECT order.. so here I sit, on the desktop, already outta sorts .. cuz I had to GOOGLE for my blog list to read and the ORDER is all WRONG.. plus I FORGOT at last 5 blogs that I frequent..

Where are my meds.. Hell, jes gimme the pain pills.. that should cure it

mex (aka Syb) said...

PS.. in addition to OCD.. am also AH=DHA.. and my writing is as jumbly as my thoughts.. so I forgot to add that when I stepped on the (closed) laptop.. I heard a crrrrrrack.. anf yup.. it is history.. a screen that looks like LSD

Was glad, tho, to see a comment from "warped ron" as he was on my OCD blawg list

Now,, if I could jes recall the udders

Karen said...

After reading that I can proudly say that I am too lazy for any kind of OCD. It is not that I don't think about the stove being on or whatever - but I am just lazy to get off my butt to check it out.

1218Blog said...

And I thought I had it bad with my Megalophobia -fear of large objects. Everything has to have a name!

Sparkling Red said...

Wyldth1ng: I'm too wimpy and sensitive for the marines. But OCD does make for excellent employees. We're always thorough and methodical. Hire one of us today!

Aurora: I doubt that I could ever completely get free of it without medication. Of those two options, right now OCD is the lesser of the evils.

Jameil: Every once in a while I find that I actually did forget to lock the door or turn on my alarm clock, and that just reinforces the "necessity" of checking all the time.
I'm glad nothing bad happened when your door was left unlocked!

Mex (aka Syb): Too bad about your laptop. That's a drag. I feel your pain on not being able to check your blogs properly. :-p
I guess we'll see about whether or not the OCD gets worse as I age. I know for sure that it gets worse with stress. I also find myself counting, sometimes without even realizing that I'm doing it. I count my own swallows when I'm drinking, for example.

When I was a kid I used to have to touch things several times in a particular way, until they "felt right". Thankfully I don't do that anymore. Although I am very particular about the way the bed is made. I can't abide a single wrinkle in the sheets, some days.

Karen: It's for the best, I'm sure!

1218blog: Even though it's not the same exactly, I think that all of us with odd brain quirks can understand each other. It's the experience of being unusual in a way that seems to be within our control, but we really are somewhat helpless to change it, that we have in common.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Hrm. Can I borrow your husband to check my wallet/keys/coffee pot umpteen times before I leave the house? Actually, stuff like that doesn't bother me. I'm organized about that. It's running errands and shopping that trip me up. I always forget one thing. Always. It's almost a compulsion...

Sparkling Red said...

Keera: Yeah, no problem. I'll have him on a plane to Norway as soon as possible. ;-)

Stewie said...




Reading that post made me positive you are watching me.

I'm ripping this completely off when I get home tonight.

(Don't worry, I give credit.)

San said...

Does checking your blog for comments count?

Sparkling Red said...

Stewie: Oh, did you think I was talking about myself? I based this all on footage I gathered from the hidden cameras in your home. ;-)

San: Hmmm... good question. I think that's on the blurry line between compulsion and addiction.

Jenski said...

I just got tired reading that! I try to read my posts over, then read them when I hit "post", then find mistakes and go back and forth a few times. That's all I've got.

OOooo...But then there's this undergrad in my lab who has some sort of D, often it seems like the OC type. He comes back 2+ times to make sure he shut the lab door tight to lock it and shakes the handle and then the handle gets loose every couple of weeks and we have to fix it.

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Undergrad Guy definitely has some OCD going on. It's wild that he shakes the door handle until it comes loose! When the power of the compulsion outweighs public embarrassment, you know it's serious.

Dr. Charles Elliott said...

Very funny. It's so important to be able to laugh at issues like these. Not the people who struggle with it, but the issues themselves.