Please stop telling me I have OCD

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Why does everyone have to have a label?

It’s not just a label either – today it seems that everyone should have a ‘disorder’.

With me, I’m told, it’s OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder. Truly, I have been told this by many people and I think that their ‘diagnosis’ is totally wrong.

Apparently one of my ‘symptoms ‘is that I arrange my books in colour order in the way you see in the image on the right. That’s not obsessive or compulsive – it’s simply wanting things to look good.

(Although I have to say that if the room you see here was mine,I’d have to straighten the lampshade and hide that electrical wire. Obsessive?)

My clothes are stored in the same way -it just seems sense to have all your grey clothes together; all your pink clothes together etc.

And yes, I admit that this colour-coding extends to the pantry – as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with cupboards looking neat.

The latest person to tell me I have OCD was a neighbour who was watching me taking the laundry out of the washing machine in our communal laundry. He studied me for a while (he was waiting for the washer) and said “do you realise that you are taking those items out of the machine in colour order?”

“Of course,” I replied “I hang them on the line in colour order and taking them out of the washer this way makes it easier.”

He shook his head “OCD’ he murmured.

Not at all.I just like things to look nice. I like things to please the eye.

So why do I shake the duvet exactly six times when I’m making the bed? Well, because that’s just enough to fluff it up and to get it aired nicely. There’s no point in doing it seven times – that’s more than is needed – and five doesn’t quite do the job well enough.

And why, after I’ve made the bed, do I make a point of looking for any loose change that might be around and putting it in a jar? Well, apart from the fact that this can amount to a $500 a year bonus, it’s tidy. It’s just good housekeeping. So is the fact that immediately after the loose change hunt, I light an incense stick. It makes the house smell good. It’s my morning routine. If it wasn’t a routine – something I do without thinking – then I’d forget.

Is that compulsive or obsessive? It just seems sensible to me. So does insisting that I have a spotlessly clean kitchen before I cook. That’s good hygiene.

ODC on the other hand, is a real syndrome that can affect people deeply. People suffering from the condition need treatment, therapy and help. The condition shouldn’t be minimised by calling any person who has their routines, or simply likes things to look pleasing, as the throwaway term ‘OCD’.

I like my little routines and my ‘OCD’. They keep me organised. If anyone desperately wants to label me, then call me a neat-freak or even an organised person but please don’t give me a syndrome.

But maybe you’re the one with the syndrome. Maybe you have OLS – obsessive labeling syndrome?






Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. I’m afraid I’m similar Jackie, though my ordering isn’t colour-coded but a tendency to order and alphabetise! It’s not about it looking nice but about being able to find things in a logical way – though checking the detail always helps! I’ve not been labelled ‘OCD’ (yet!) though I do know someone who has been medically diagnosed with a ‘leaning’ towards this. I’ve been called other things though! Great page. :0)

  2. Love this! I have some similar habits and have to smile at myself occasionally for behaving in a way that might get me labeled. I totally agree with your point, though, that it seems everyone must have a label these days. Not sure what that says about our society, but I think we’ve lost track of other things that are much more important.

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