“I don’t know you can watch this, Sarah. It’s sad. And disgusting. And these people are selfish.”
I shrug. “I’ll bet you money that they have OCD.”
He looks at me. “What?”
“I could get this way. I fight it. Every day.”
Hoarders is something I TiVo every week, but we inevitably watch it live. There’s nothing else on, really, during that time slot, and I have to watch it. If I don’t, I feel like I’ll forget and I won’t ever find time for it later. And I need to remember.
See, every time I see one of those shows, I realize just how easily that could be me. We all joke about my OCD, about how it keeps my house clean, probably obnoxiously so, and how it’s such a blessing to have.
Sure, it is. Sorta. I mean, you don’t know the exhaustion of never being able to relax because your house is dirty. Especially when your version of “dirty” really just means “slightly messy .. lived in” to most other people. I mean, sure, I’m sure my family is so glad that I have this compulsion, but they don’t understand that I fight resenting them when they don’t have the same compulsion. That when Bryan leaves dishes out or when Jack doesn’t clean his room that I take it personally. How can they live like that? that part of my brain asks itself. They’re just NORMAL, the other part responds.
OCD and perfectionism is, at its core, something that we can’t always control. We may be able to keep the symptoms to a minimum (without medication), but if it spirals out of our control .. and it does, and mind-blowingly quickly .. the result becomes despair. Depression.
A dirty house? Really, severely dirties our minds. We don’t function, we can’t sleep, and we’re overwhelmed by the clutter.
Bryan and I have had these buttons for years: the buttons where he’ll put stuff down for some hypothetical later date and I can’t deal with the clutter and just toss it. This is constantly an issue. It’s part of why I’m so detail-oriented; the organization is a coping mechanism. He puts up with it, forgives me, and the cycle continues. Cause it’s who we are, and it’s how we deal.
Every Sunday, I take this quiet, boastful stand that I WILL NOT PICK UP AFTER ANYONE THIS WEEK. Inevitably, by Sunday night, I’m doing some whirlwind cleaning because I just can’t deal with it. If it means I’m the maid, so be it. I have to have it clean. “Messy” is not an option in this house; it is very black and white. It is either clean, or it’s dirty.
You know how a skein of yarn looks when you get it? An OCD person will have a hard time unraveling that first string. Because the pattern, the consistency, the mental clarity will be lost. And will never be had again.
Or when you open a fresh, clean notebook? An OCD person will have a hard time making that first mark. Nothing will ever be as good as that clean sheet of paper.
And when the house loses the “clean”, it’s sink or swim. It’s far too easy to be overwhelmed and lost in the sinking mess. I firmly believe that that’s how hoarders start.
Or how I would.
If A&E didn’t remind me once a week not to get that way.