OCD Action News…

Other potential titles for today’s post include “Progressively OCD” and “Candle Ban,” which together tell the whole story–minus the embarrassing details. But what fun is that?

I fear I am progressing toward an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder diagnosis. Last week, for example, in attempting to ease my daughter and her new husband from their magical honeymoon into the day-to-day grind, I chose to clean their apartment (of the chaos left behind when bride and bridesmaids dropped everything and headed to the church for the ceremony.) When I finished, I grabbed a bag of trash, turned the key, got into my van, and started to leave.

And then the self-doubt began.

“Did I lock the door? I think I locked the door. Hmmm… I remembered turning the key. .. I wonder if they had a deadbolt I should have locked? Of course, I locked the door.”

At which I re-parked the vehicle, went to the door and tried the knob–just to be sure.Locked.

Mentally at ease, I once again got into my vehicle and left the apartment behind.

When I took a psychology class in college, I learned about “driving without awareness” and the various activities that are so routine we often do them without mentally attending them. I find now that I have to force myself to think about the mundane details and conscientiously complete actions–so I won’t agonize over whether I’ve completed them or not.

For instance, I not only shut off my hair straightener, I unplug it and look at it while I do. When driving through an intersection with a traffic light, I often say the color out loud (“green, green, green, yellow, yellow, ha!”). (I know that may seem strange, but after being pulled over for running a red light I am still convinced was green, I try to make a conscience effort to note my supreme citizenship in case I have to defend myself. I’m sure that would be quite a persuasive defense in a court of law: “Yes, I was calling out the color of the light as I passed through the intersection, sir, and I never once said ‘red.'”)

Generally, I am fine. (Weird, but fine.) But yesterday, while I was burning candles (shh!) at a school (which Shall Not Be Named), I got called away to a meeting and then frantically left right after to pick up boys from ball practice. I methodically hid my laptop (because I didn’t have time to take it with me) and closed the blinds before racing away. Hours later (precisely 9:52 p.m.), I left my bed, unable to sleep because I couldn’t remember if I had blown out said candle.

With visions of the school burning down through the night and insurance companies refusing to pay because the cause was my candle, I threw on my clothes, drove to school, went into the dark building, saw no candlelight coming from my room (or smoke or flame) but unlocked the door to check up close. Put the lid on said candle to suffocate it should it try to light itself. Locked the doors. Double-checked that I locked them.

And almost made it home before my husband realized I had left.

Sigh. I’m sure it was concern for me, but within the scolding was his evident frustration for my love of candles (did I mention I was OCD about smells and that I burn candles in my classroom to hide the Hamburger Helper smells emitted from the neighboring pre-school’s kitchen starting at 9 a.m.?).

The result? No more candles. (I think he just means at school…)

4 thoughts on “OCD Action News…

  1. Yes! That would offer some ambiance and offer some scent. Yesterday I brought my trusty Yankee Candle electric tart warmer and added pleasantries to my room without flames. (And then I burned a candle at home for the evening.) 🙂

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  2. Hi Sara, I found this blog through your Facebook page and have really enjoyed reading it! My husband has tolerated my OCD for twenty years. I was taught by my Mom to unplug things such as the tv, toaster, iron, etc…before we left for Publix or other daily errand. It took us ten minutes to leave the house. When I got married, my husband wondered why the toaster didn’t toast in the morning and other such everyday niceties. My “burst into flames” theory was tempered by his probability stats. So, here I am leaving the house with everything plugged in. I knew he loved me when he purchased a new iron that turns off after one-half hour of non-activity. Keep writing!

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  3. Thanks so much, Susan! I’m so glad someone can relate to my experiences. Thank you for your encouragement. It’s a scary thing putting myself “out there” as I spill my guts and share all these embarrassing tidbits from my life. It sounds as if you have the perfect husband! Keep reading!

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