Obsessing Over Having Compulsive Disorder | #MyFridayStory №328

Frans Nel
3 min readApr 12, 2024
Image | Aleksandar Pasaric

“I don’t have OCD, I have CDO. That’s OCD but in the right alphabetical order.”

~ Anonymous

In the 1997 movie, “As Good As It Gets,” the main character “Melvin Udall” is played by Jack Nicholson, a bigoted, obsessive-compulsive novelist. In one scene, Melvin bursts into his therapist’s office unannounced and without an appointment and screams, “Help!” The doctor calmly asks him to leave. Melvin’s response is priceless, Dr Green, how can you diagnose someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder and then act as if I had some choice about barging in?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterised by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions). People with OCD often feel compelled to perform certain rituals or routines in an attempt to alleviate distress caused by their obsessions. These behaviours can consume a significant amount of time and interfere with people’s daily activities and relationships. In Western civilisation, OCD is relatively common, with prevalence rates estimated to be around 2–3% of the population.

If you could compare the severity of the disorder between me and Melvin, I’d be OCD-Lite. To me, the presence of the disorder is not a mental condition to be ashamed of and is not an intrusion in my life. I feel fortunate to be passionate about great design and sensible order. From when I can remember, I have been straightening and aligning items, even Pythagoras would be impressed. I wouldn’t melt down if something was out of alignment or not in place. But it would irk me to see the obvious “flaw” until it gets too much for me, and I must correct the misaligned object.

It extends to other aspects of life. Having everything kept orderly and in place helps us to be more efficient and productive. The added trouble upfront alleviates wasted time later looking for something when you need it. Keys, wallets, cell phones, pens and other items we use daily, are all kept in the same place so that you can find them easily. Having a routine for repetitive functions also helps to save time and be more efficient. A tool shed where all the implements and gadgets are displayed and stored in an orderly manner is the sign of someone who understands the value of time, efficiency and productivity.

It appears the prevalence of the disorder is hereditary. Both my Son and my Daughter are compulsive about seeming order and tidiness, and this has extended to my Grandson. His ability to see patterns and geometric figures as a toddler was remarkable. He notices the rhythm of things that re-occur and uses that information to predict future events. Now at 5 years old, he can’t help himself if he sees something out of alignment in his eyes.

The need to be efficient in your tasks and highly productive with your time shouldn’t be ignored. When performing any repetitive task, the first thing I do is ask, “How can this be done easier, quicker, and more accurately than it currently is being done?” Can any part of it be automated through a more slick, innovative process or using technology to assist without impeding the need for humanness? My desire to find a way to make each task as effective as possible is also a form of obsessive-compulsive. There is a need for order and “flow” as you sense in a beautiful piece of art, a great composition of music, or a clever design.

I don’t avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement and I don’t wash my hands 10 times a day. I also don’t obsess about a world where order is the norm and all things align nicely. Rather, my compulsion is to obsess over a world where a desire for efficiency and productivity isn’t seen as a disorder but a vice for success.

Have a great weekend and please remember to be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading. 🙏

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