Cathy's Blog

Got OCD?


Deet-deedee-deet,deetidee-deetidee, deet-de-deedeedeet-dee-dee-deet. Patterns of notes–mindless, meaningless, rhythmical, irritating, silent, nonstop finger-tapping, foot-jerking–up the scale, down the scale, and do it again. Perpetually. For as along as I can remember. Wake up in the middle of the night and I’m still doing it, apparently even in my sleep. Obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD) it’s called, and it’s happening right now. Am I nuts? I don’t think so. Does it interfere with my ability to function? Not really. So it’s not the clinical definition of OCD, not like a compulsion to wash my hands fifty times a day. Can I stop? Nope. And the more I focus on the behavior the more insistent it becomes.

But, you’re saying, isn’t it annoying? Well, not like a car alarm, I would wager, because it’s silent, but oh yes, oh yes, oh, yes, it is most annoying. There are times when, feeling somewhat desperate and confused, I have described it to a few psychiatrists, but they wouldn’t even recommend medication for such a minor (albeit unusual) problem. In fact, they seemed amused by it. Wasn’t I a musician? Yes, but this is not music! I replied.

This perpetual ditty-making of mine is also something I’ve not been willing to share with others. What friend or loved one wants to know that while we are having a conversation I am otherwise engaged in making mindless, nonstop non-music, and have been thus preoccupied for as long as they have known me? I have, however, shared my secret with like-minded, mildly obsessive-compulsive people, and they have told me about things they do repeatedly that seem to have no purpose: that the first step in climbing the stairs must begin with a certain foot, or the need to count every slice when slicing a cucumber. Every cucumber. Or the urge to realign a pair of shoes, anyone’s shoes, that have been put away toes-out.

Are there others out there who harbor these secret compulsions, this unstoppable need to repeat tasks that are harmless but rather pathetic and that serve no earthly function other than to annoy ourselves? I suspect our numbers are larger than will ever be known, which is why I’m going public with mine as a kind of unasked for community service. If you’re one of us, take comfort. You’re not alone. And I feel for you. Really, I do. Dee-dee-dee, de-dit, dee-dee.

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