My TOP 10 Obsessive-Compulsive “Quirks”

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; well, more specifically, Pure “O” Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or Primarily OCD).  Simply, what that means, is that you wouldn’t even know I had OCD, unless I told you.  See, I have obsessive intrusive (horrible, irrational, emotionally painful fears) thoughts, but they don’t generally lead to compulsive behaviors.   I have experienced compulsive behaviors, but I find them much easier to work through than obsessive thoughts.

There is no cure for OCD, or so I am not aware of any cure.  But, we can for sure manage our OCD through cognitive practices, medications (if needed to better focus on cognitive practices), and anxiety management.   Unfortunately, there is no medicine we can take that will magically (or clinically) re-wire our brains back to normal.

Although I still have OCD, I have successfully overcome the emotional suffering of my OCD.  My OCD-bully brain doesn’t bother me anymore.  In fact, I knocked my OCD bully brain’s butt right off its tremendous high pedestal.  My thoughts and compulsive behaviors are now, what I call “OCD quirks.”  They just happen and they don’t carry any weight or meaning to them anymore.  I am in control of my own happiness.

With that said, I am willing to share with you my top 10 OCD quirks.  Some of which I still experience today and some of which I have overcome and are now just part of my OCD journey.

I believe, but not sure if true, that everyone’s OCD is uniquely themed.  For example, my OCD focuses around the fear of people getting hurt by my own negligence.  I mean, sure, accidents happen, but my fears are incredibly irrational.  Like, a close example would be like having a “what if” fear about forgetting to turn off the tub faucet, and the tub gets too heavy with water, and it crashes through the ceiling hurting someone.  Yeah, pretty irrational, considering most tubs have a second drain that prevents it from doing just that, but, it can be pretty dang tough to argue with an OCD-bully brain.

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I feel pretty embarrassed about this, but I also know, I am not alone.
So here are my top 10 OCD quirks…

TOP 10 OCD Quirks


10.  Plugs are the enemy: 
When leaving the house, I used to have to unplug everything!   All the appliances, clocks, computers, lamps, tv’s, everything.  Honestly, I am much better now, for that the only thing I unplug when I leave the house are the kitchen appliances; but that’s because it technically saves energy.  So, it’s really not too bad, having a bit of OCD.  

9. Counting Traffic Lights:  I used to count traffic lights.  I used to be able to tell you how many intersections were between point A and point B, even on long road trips.  I also used to memorize traffic patterns of each of those intersections.  But again, not a bad quirk to have, because it comes in super handy when giving your friends street directions.  

8. Rotating Furniture: I lie to myself and I call it Feng Shui.  I am constantly moving furniture around in the house.   My poor husband would go to bed with the living room set up one way and wake up with the living room completely rearranged another way.  The silly thing about it, is that I don’t  know why I do it.  I guess, I am releasing stale energy trapped in the house.   

7. So Organized, It’s Frustrating:  I don’t like clutter, including App clutter on my phone.  Everyone I know has a least a zillion apps on their phone, 3-4 pages full of apps.  I have my homepage and all the apps I like to use are moved into a folder.  Yes, if I want to access my apps, I have to click on a folder.  I used to organize all my apps into several different folders, but then my phone was cluttered with folders rather than apps.  I’ve actually gotten better, for that there is now a rational reason why I have all my apps in one folder, which is my kids.  Yup, all my apps are in a folder, while the rest of the phone is cluttered in kid apps.  I might as well, just give them my phone! 

6. Stove Worries:  I used to check the stove like crazy!  I mean, leave the house, walk all the way to my car, get in the car, start the car, back out, drive around the block, come back home, check it again.  Yeah, it was bad.  Today, being a busy mom, I don’t have time for that.

5. Upside Down Candle:  Candles make me nervous.  Not only do I have an irrational fear of accidentally catching the house on fire, but I also have a rational parental fear that my kids will want to discover fire and get burned.  Although I do enjoy candles, I don’t like to leave the house after using them.  My OCD gets to me and for extra measure, in case, it re-ignites itself (impressively, with the lid on), I turn the candle upside down.  Yup, I don’t get it either.

4. Handwriting Tourette syndrome:  Writing cards or letters gives me anxiety.  First, you never know what to write in the first place, it takes an origami skill to put it into an envelope, you have to pay for an entire booklet of stamps that will last a lifetime (if you don’t lose it), and considering it is now the 21st century, we still haven’t made envelope seals taste any better!

So, yeah, I hate handwriting and mailing anything.  But, I have this irrational OCD-fear, that I would have some kind of handwriting Tourette Syndrome, where I would write some pretty nasty mean or inappropriate things without knowing it (something totally completely out of my character).  I either end up rewriting my letters and cards a million times, spend 20 minutes convincing myself all is fine before sealing it, or I have the need for someone to do it for me.

3. Door knobs:  I’ve broken my fair share of door knobs during my OCD journey.  Apparently, checking the door knob as if you are trying to open the door as if it were jammed, totally wrecks the mechanisms in the door knob.

I am much better today.  I just lock and check once now, with very little force.  I have come to realize that there really isn’t much worth stealing in my house.   I mean, everything I own is old and outdated, including the coffee pot.

2. Spitting After Cleaning:  I don’t like chemicals.   I used to fear cleaning products so much, I kept all of them outside in storage.  I wouldn’t allow anything inside the house.
Today, I have a few cleaning products in the house, but they must be eco-friendly / non-toxic ones.

But, I will share with you a compulsive quirk I used to have when using cleaning products… For whatever reason, after using a cleaning product, I had to spit into the sink.  Which was by far, the most bizarre compulsive-behavior I have ever experienced. Whether it be loading the dishwasher with detergent, pouring a scoop of detergent into the washer machine, or wiping down a counter with a Clorox wipe: I had to spit into the sink.

I don’t do that anymore.  I don’t think I replaced it with any other OCD quirks, for that I am pretty chill with using cleaning products now.

1.  Dash Cam Crutch:  As some of you may already know, majority of my OCD episodes occur while driving.  I have an irrational fear of hitting something without knowing it.

I was doing great, until we had bought a dash camera for long distant trips into the city.  Since then, all my OCD-driving fears flooded back.  My OCD-brain convinced me that I needed a dash-camera every time I was driving.  If I don’t have it, I end up driving around in circles double checking everything, which is a waste of time, energy, and gas.

I think I am doing better, because I don’t check the videos anymore.  Honestly, it’s just too much work to check the videos.  I can’t check them on the camera anymore, because I broke a button.  So, I have to disconnect it from the car, bring it inside, and upload the videos to my computer.   Even my OCD-bully brain thinks its not worth it.  So now, I just have a need to have the dash camera in the car while driving, like, just in case, I have an OCD episode.

Do you have any bizarre OCD quirks?

OCD can be embarrassing and emotionally difficult to talk about; however, getting those OCD thoughts and emotions out of your head, whether it be sharing them with a friend who supports you or writing them in a journal, is one of the first important steps to freeing yourself from your OCD-bully brain.  🙂

Even though OCD is apart of you, your OCD does not define you.  

 

The Power Of Self Confidence: No More OCD Crutches

The OCD brain loves to devour self-confidence; so much so, that it can leave one drooling with self-doubt.

In my opinion, I believe self-doubt to be the ultimate objective of an Obsessive-Compulsive bully brain.  Self-doubt can cloud judgement, distort reality, and make us feel weak, insecure, and sometimes questioning our sanity.  The OCD bully brain feels pretty good about kicking our self-esteem in the gonads, leaving us to feel like, well, totally not in control and less like our wonderful selves.  Once you begin to doubt yourself, game over, the OCD bully brain has won!

Cannot Beat OCD With Crutches

Unfortuantely, you cannot defeat an OCD bully brain with crutches.  You might be able to wave them around like a dork, swinging at your OCD like crazy, but eventually, you’ll lose your balance and fall hard on your butt.  Crutches are not good at fighting back against OCD.

An OCD crutch is something we can lean on to help us bounce back quickly from a bad OCD thought, feeling, and/or compulsive behavior.

  • It can be a person who can reassure us verbally that all is okay in the world, instead of working through our OCD episodes ourselves, convincing ourselves all is okay in the world.
  • It can be a dash-camera used to rewind and check back on an anxious drive, instead of compulsively wasting time and gas to drive back to redo the drive over again.
  • It can be checking a security camera to make sure the stove is in fact turned off, instead of having the compulsive need to drive all the way back home to check the stove.
  • It can be wearing gloves 24-7 to ease the mind from having to worry about germs.
  • It could also be using medication that was meant to be short-term while learning how to cope with OCD, yet it eventually became a long-term solution instead, because it was easier.

OCD crutches are things that typically accommodate our OCD needs, making it easier and faster to move on with life without having to really work through our OCD problems.  They come in all different varieties, it just largely depends on how you use them and for how long.

Although OCD crutches help us better cope with our OCD, they are not very effective against overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  OCD crutches, by themselves,  just makes us feel a little less “OCD.

Having an OCD crutch isn’t terrible though.  In fact, it is a step forward towards overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  They are great to use as a short-term solution, easing your mind long enough to develop and practice a better, more effective, long-term game plan in conquering OCD; such as allowing yourself to focus on practicing CBT techniques, anxiety and stress management, recognizing and understanding OCD triggers, and working on a bit of mindfulness- all things required to overcome emotional suffering of OCD.

Taking A Leap Of Faith Away From OCD

To truly free yourself from the emotional suffering caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you must first drop the crutches and take a leap of faith into uncertainty.

Think of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, where Indiana Jones ends up at the temple of the “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan, seeking out the Holy Grail.

Remember the scene where Indiana Jones must take a leap of faith across a bottomless pit to save his father. (Clip of this scene is below)  He really has to just dive right in and take a step into thin air (uncertainty), in which to his surprise, after minor heart failure over the fear of the unknown, realizes there is in fact a solid “invisible” bridge across the bottomless pit.

This entire scene, from the moment of extreme uncertainty to the heavy sigh of relief, is exactly what it is like dropping the OCD crutches and overcoming the emotional suffering caused by the OCD bully brain.  In fact, Harrison Ford expresses the exact emotions (just look at his facial expressions), that I feel when I finally muster up enough confidence to take a leap of faith to overcome self-doubt from my OCD.  I am the Indiana Jones of my own OCD! 

Stopping Compulsive Behavior 

It’s an odd sensation; resisting a compulsive behavior.

At first, when the mind is overwhelmed with emotions and OCD thoughts, it is difficult to even imagine resisting against the OCD bully brain and so, it is just easier to give in, following through with the compulsive behaviors.

Interestingly, through trial and error, we find things (OCD crutches) that allow us to sort of “compromise” with the OCD bully brain, by giving in to compulsive behavior or making ridiculous accommodations to avoid compulsive behavior, as best as we can, to better ease our experience with OCD.   However, OCD still wins.  The only way to successfully overcome the emotional suffering caused by OCD is by not giving in to OCD; however, I will be honest, the mere thought of taking back control can be really scary.

For me, resisting compulsive behavior is like fighting back against an invisible force field.  BUT,  like in every sci-fi movie, there is always a giant red shut-off button every villain doesn’t want you to find, but also seems to be in a dumb place for the hero to find anyway.

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OCD Bully Brain with a Self-Doubt Ray-gun

Yeah, the OCD bully brain is manipulative, not smart, just like a sci-fi movie villain.  🙂  It is amazing what a little self-confidence can do!

TAKING BACK CONTROL: Give it a Try

It never hurts to try to overcome our OCD.  Below is how I take back control from my OCD brain.

  1. I let OCD triggers happen.  Avoiding them is often futile.
  2. It is important that I recognize the moment I start to have an OCD episode.  It’s much easier to work through an episode when I understand my brain is just being, well, OCD.
  3. I then allow the OCD thoughts and feelings to linger like a stinky breeze on trash day.
  4. I learned to never dwell on “why” these thoughts have come to mind.  I am going to think about all the “why” questions anyway,  but I know I must not start a debate with the OCD bully brain, because the OCD bully brain LOVES to debate with the logical brain.  I cannot let this happen, because the OCD bully brain often wins by using ruthless manipulative tactics to create self-doubt.
  5. I hold my confidence.  I know I am smarter than my OCD bully brain.
  6. I always take in a deep breath (or two or three); however many deep breathes it takes to keep me calm and bring myself closer to clarity.  I am not looking to reach clarity, just enough clarity to keep my understanding that this is just my brain being OCD.
  7. Then, the heavy need to perform a compulsive behavior comes…
    At this point, it is important to remember that I cannot control my thoughts or feelings, but I CAN control my physical actions.  I can control how I chose to respond to my OCD bully brain.
  8. As the thoughts swirl and the emotions build, pushing me to perform a compulsive behavior….I slam down on that imaginary red shut-off button instead!   I take a leap of faith by confidently telling myself:
    This is ridiculous!  Nothing will change if I waste time and energy by performing a compulsive behavior.  I have good faith in myself that all is well.  Everything was fine before this OCD thought came along and everything will be fine long after this thought leaves.  I am in control.”
  9. AND I REFUSE TO GIVE IN!  Instead of performing a compulsive behavior, I look for a distraction to flush that lingering stench of a bad thought out of my brain!
  10. Then, at the end, I wait until the bad OCD thought(s) are gone and my emotions have subsided before picking at my brain cells about “why” I had an OCD episode.  I reflect on how I felt when I refused to perform a compulsive behavior.  I also take note on how long I had to work through my OCD episode.  Did I learn anything?  How can I do better next time?

 

Everyone’s OCD is different, so what works for me, may not work for everyone else.  But, it never hurts to try something new.  In the beginning, refusing to perform a compulsive behavior was difficult, but with practice, it got a lot easier.  Trial and Error is a huge part of overcoming the OCD bully brain.

Distractions Are Good For The Brain

I use to think distracting my OCD bully brain was just another OCD crutch, but it’s not.  Distracting the brain is a healthy way to push lingering thoughts away.  Our brains (so-called normal brains too) do it all the time.

It’s part of normal brain function.  Our brains are constantly collecting input and we only take notice when something of interest sparks our brain and causes us to focus and think more deeply about it.  If the thought doesn’t have a deep emotional attachment to it, we can easily let the thought go.  However, when our OCD brains our anxious, our “Fight or Flight” Response System goes a bit haywire (frayed wiring I’ve talked about before) and our OCD bully brain tends to be extremely sensitive to thoughts and latches on emotionally, especially, to intrusive bad thoughts creating an OCD episode.

The Dash-Cam Is Back, But It’s Not For OCD 

In the beginning, before I started to find ways to overcome my OCD, I used a dash-cam to record all my drives.  I often wasted time and gas to drive all the way back to work or school, just to make sure I didn’t cause any accidents.  The dash-cam, saved me time and gas, but it was still an OCD crutch.  I relied on it for reassurance when self-doubt from my OCD consumed me.

It’s been 6+ years since I last used a dash-cam in my car.  As of two months ago, the dash-cam is back in my life, but this time, it is not for my OCD.  I bought a new dash-cam for my husband to use during his long trips to the big city.  I was hesitant at first to buy a dash-cam, for that I was afraid I would become dependent on a dash-cam again for my OCD.

I have not used the dash-cam for my OCD, yet.  In fact, the dash-cam has been sitting on my desk since last week.  I’ve been driving without having the need to have it in the car.  I don’t want it in the car!  To be honest, I want to conquer my OCD all by myself and thus far, I’ve been doing pretty good at overcoming my driving anxiety.  It just takes confidence and practice.  🙂

Take Away From This Post

In case there was too much blah-blah-blah talk, I just want to say, no matter what point you are at on your OCD journey….

  • Stay strong
  • Be confident in yourself
  • Have faith that all is well in the world
  • Lastly, you got this!!