Monday, May 18, 2009

Obsessive Compulsive? That's Me -- Sorta'!

I have no claim to clinical or academic knowledge of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or its near relative, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). However, even a quick peek at what Wikipedia says about these conditions indicates that whereas I probably don’t have either of them as a diagnosable condition, I do exhibit certain characteristics that I suspect may be considered obsessive by some folk, plus maybe one or two traits that some might reckon are compulsive. (Please don’t take this as a self-absorbed navel-gazing exercise on my part – it only looks and sounds like it!)

One simple example: After drying a sinkful of coffee mugs I insist on stowing them back in the cupboard with all the handles set in the same direction and angle as each other. My wife, however, usually sets them in a rather random manner. I think, That doesn’t make any sense! and if I think I can get away with it, I’ll spin those handles round ‘to where they should be’. Pretty bad – if not plain dangerous, eh?

Oh there’s more–a whole lot more. But surely you’ll know what I mean. I don’t feel right about the job unless I have those handles aligned uniformly. And believe me, I have what to me is a logical rationale for that little penchant; but others would read the action as obsessive. Do you obsess about certain matters, or approach some activities compulsively? As a student of human nature, I think that many of us do.

What precipitated my writing about this at the present time is that I enjoy reading my TWG colleagues’ offerings on this blog. Generally, I look for something positive in people and most things in life, and believe in the power of encouragement, and so it was natural for me to leave a comment from time to time. And then I did it more often, and eventually I was leaving a comment about everyone’s post. But then I didn’t feel right unless I did – even when busy and backed up with work! Ah, but Yours Truly went cold turkey – pulled the plug, and heroically broke the cycle. (And that’s the reason, my fellow TWG authors blogspot friends, why this guy hasn’t left any comments about your wonderful articles for a couple of weeks or more. Nothing personal, O.K.?)

Interestingly, the apostle Paul (in 1 Corinthians 1:15 NIV) commended Stephanas’ household because “they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints [believers in Christ].” The KJV renders this, “... they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (emphasis added). They had a sense of compulsion about practical, hands-on ministry, and just felt they had to do it. My guess is that they thrived on serving others with joy in Jesus’ name.

Those of us who love to write languish – some even with a bit of a fret – when we can’t get around to doing it. We don’t feel right when long periods pass and we don’t create pictures and stir thoughts and feelings with words. We feel fit to burst, and like the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 20:9b NIV), we lament, “... [the Lord God’s] word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Whether obsessively, compulsively, or both, we who contribute towards this blog are in some measure addicted to doing what we do. Please don’t pity us – it’s O.K., honest! We are bound to write, and we do it with great liberty and joy in our souls.

Peter writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, and is author of "Parables from the Pond" – a finalist in Word Alive's 2007 publishing contest. He enjoys writing short fiction and biographical sketches, worship/praise songs, and poetry, and has presented readings along with vocal / instrumental music in various venues.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Dear Peter,
Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering why you were no longer writing comments. You do have the gift of encouragement and I really appreciate it, as I am sure other fellow bloggers do.
However, I would not want you to feel that you must comment. We are just delighted when you have the opportunity to do so, or at least I am. I should only speak for myself.
PS: I commented on your comment on my blog.

Peter Black said...

I'm smiling, both wryly and joyfully, Eleanor.
It was just an afterthought following my reading several recent posts, that I scrolled down and discovered your gracious comment.
Yes,I certainly plan to pick up on leaving a note -- at least from time to time.
May you continually be blessed and strengthened in every aspect of your life and ministry.

Charlote said...

I have many of the same habits that you have Peter. I don't let my family do the dishes because I just go through the cabinets once they are done and reorganize everything. I have to check every room in the house four times to make sure all the fans and lights are turned off. The list goes on and on. I have found a lot of useful information about dealing OCD at I hope this is helpful for others out there dealing with OCD. Anyway, I just want to say that your post was very nice to read!

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