One of my all-time favorite TV shows is “Monk.” In one episode, Monk, a detective with O.C.D. is hurrying into a burning building to save a child, and while running through a smoke-filled room he spots a stack of several books. The books are out of alignment, so he stops to straighten them into a neater pile, before continuing to rescue the kid.
According to WebMD, 3.3 million adults in the U.S. have O.C.D., Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s possible millions more cases are never reported. I have never felt the need to seek professional help for my mild case of O.C.D. However, I have figured out some ways to deal with it. There are lots of places on the internet to get detailed information about O.C.D. so I won’t bother to cut and paste any of that.
I’ll share a couple of ideas which might help you or someone you know who has a mild case of O.C.D. (Note: If I had a severe case you probably wouldn’t be reading this…I’d still be on about my 600th rewrite.) I have learned to deal with O.C.D. using the memory technique of association. Tie the word in with a graphic image, make it as bizarre as you can. For example, you might remember Mrs. Burnside’s name by picturing, not just something burning, but something weird like a water buffalo but, burning on only one side of the creature. Picture it, a water buffalo…burning, just on one side. Burnside. Get it? This method would be particularly useful if Mrs. Burnside happens to look like a water buffalo.
One of my biggest nuisances with O.C.D. is making sure I’ve closed the door when taking the dog out. While my dog, Paco, waits patiently wondering what the heck I’m doing, I firmly grip the door handle, pushing it gently against the latch, and create a mental picture of, for example, a green elephant pushing the door closed with his trunk. I repeat the mental process. Halfway down the street, when I’m asking myself, “Did I close the door?” the green elephant responds, “I’ve got it. Don’t worry.” Next day, different picture. Same dog. Another thing I sometimes do is use my “Departure Double Check.” For example, before I get in the car to go somewhere, I pat my pockets one-by-one and say, out loud, “wallet, cell phone, glasses, keys…” Saying it out loud makes it easier to convince your brain that you have accounted for these things. I use the same “say it out loud” method to remember that I closed the garage door. Only I say it louder, “Door IS down!” (repeat if necessary.)
Disclaimer: What works for me may not work for someone else. As the commercials say, “results may vary.” If you think you have a severe case of O.C.D., please consider seeking professional advice.