Obsessive and Compulsive

Eric Lim/New University

By Zachary Risinger
Staff Writer

My first year at UC Irvine, I lived in Loma. At the end of the year, the entire hall voted on superlative awards; that is, “Most Likely to This” or “Most Likely to That.” What did I win? “Most Likely to Have the Cleanest Room West of the Mississippi.”

If you search Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) on Wikipedia, some of the primary “symptoms” are extremely cleanliness, attention to minute details, a constant need for organization, a need for cleanliness, etc. I’ve always considered myself a sort of a neat freak, but I never considered the possibility of being anything more than that.

I know enough about OCD (minus the P) to know that I didn’t have that. I mean, I haven’t been going around my whole life locking doors repeatedly or making sure that I do everything in even numbers or else my mother is going to die.

I wasn’t entirely aware that the sort of habits I had were a bit strange to other people until my first year here when I was more consistently in contact with others coming into my room, and sharing my room with a roommate. I had shared a room my entire life with my two brothers, but we were all brought up to keep our rooms clean and organized so the difference hadn’t really been apparent to me.

What hadn’t been apparent to me as well was that other people I was meeting seemed so amazed at how clean and organized I kept my room, and showed at least a semi-genuine interest in the little things I do that they considered odd but still somehow interesting enough for them to ask me questions all the time about it.

I can tell you that I have 35 shirts hanging in my closet alongside five pairs of jeans, and that I have 10 jackets and hoodies as well. As you might be able to tell, I feel more comfortable having things in increments of five, for no real reason in particular.

They are, of course, organized by color in the order of the rainbow from right to left. Within each color, I have the colors running from darkest to lightest, and colors that are the same are organized alphabetically by brand name.

For example, my Panic Apparel shirt comes before my peta2 one in the black section of the shirts in my closet. If I didn’t have a system for even the smallest nuances, it would bug me to no end — things as small as not making my bed before I leave for class in the mornings are enough to occupy my mind for an entire day until I can do something to remedy the situation.

In addition to micro-organizing every little thing I own, another part of OCPD is creating a highly routinized schedule. Anyone that’s ever seen my iCal calendars on my laptop could testify for me here. I plan my class/work schedules so that my week is nigh-symmetrical.

One of the things that I don’t follow is the tendency for those with OCPD to hoard their material possessions. What’s interesting, though, is that I tend to do the exact opposite. I’ve moved over 13 times in my life, and because of that I’ve had to keep all my belongings to a bare minimum. For example, whenever I get a new shirt (or pair of jeans, or whatever else) I replace an old one and donate it to charity. That way, I keep my tally of 35 shirts in my closet and also feel good about helping out a cause.

Probably the last significant thing that I do is keep a list for everything that one could possibly keep a list for. I have one for all the video games I own, all the music I’ve purchased (yes, I actually buy music — you should too), all the movies I’ve bought, etc. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose such lists are actually unnecessary, but the act of keeping them and updating them helps me keep my mind organized.

For me, I think the big difference between OCD and OCPD is that OCD has a more direct and influential impact on everyday life for those who have it — we’ve all seen the reality spots on television where the lives of those with it are extremely hampered because of it. For OCPD however, I gather that it doesn’t have a necessarily negative impact on day-to-day life; instead, it’s more of an extreme case of being a clean/organizational freak, more or less because I can’t help but be that way.

Maybe I’ll grow out of it one day (if that’s even possible), but until then I’m going to keep obsessively dusting my laptop screen, which is completely free of fingerprints or other marks.

You know, because I like it that way.