Because I Have To

My morning routine:

  1. Make Bed
  2. Shower
  3. Brush & Floss
  4. Makeup
  5. Hair
  6. Clothes
  7. Walk Dogs
  8. Work

Doesn’t everyone have a morning routine?  I assume so.  The difference between myself & others, however, is that I can never allow mine to deviate.  Why?

Because I have to.

I’ve always had a routine but it never bothered me to change it up a bit depending on time constraints or the forever existent problem of ‘I have nothing to wear’.  Until recently, that is.  A few years ago, I began to notice that it would bother me if I missed a step.  If I did my hair before my makeup, I would stare at myself in confusion as if I didn’t know what to do next.  Later on, before flossing was included in my daily morning ritual, my dentist got on to me about adding it in to my routine.  The idea horrified me and not because I hate flossing.  The idea of changing my routine to include one simple task made me anxious.  It took over a year to finally incorporate it.  Nothing felt right.  I hated the change.  The feeling seemed ludicrous and irrational to me but I couldn’t seem to help it.

I’ve always joked that I have OCD.  No, I don’t have the obsessive side where I have to switch the lights on and off 67 times nor do I feel the need to open and close a door 12 times before I can leave or enter a room.  However, I do require cabinets and doors to be closed at all times if I think they should be.  Everything has a place in my house and office and I will take the time to fix anything out of place no matter what I have going on at the time.  If a door or cabinet is left ajar, I feel required to get up and close it.  If a trinket is not at the correct angle at which I had originally placed it, I am compelled to fix it.  Why?

Because I have to.

I don’t why I have to do these things and it doesn’t bother me to do them as it isn’t disruptive to my life.  My friends and family joke about it, leaving cabinets ajar when they leave a room, knowing I’ll have to get up to close them.  I am no Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men but it is worrisome to me that the compulsions seem to become more pronounced as I get older.  Will there become a time when I crumble into the throes of a panic attack if I suddenly skip a step in my routine?  Will I suddenly have to close doors multiple times just because they are left ajar in my home?  Will I be able to recognize the condition if it worsens?  I guess only time will tell.

  *        *        *        *        *

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.  Some people with OCD perform compulsive rituals because they inexplicably feel they have to, others act compulsively so as to mitigate the anxiety that stems from particular obsessive thoughts.

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43 Comments on “Because I Have To

  1. My understanding is that it becomes a diagnosable condition when it begins impinging on your daily routine in a negative way (e.g. obsessively washing hands until the skin comes off). And then the most effective treatment is controlled exposure to allow you to break through those panic triggers to discover that actually, nothing bad happens to you, and to begin to make you feel safe with the consequences.

    If you want to try to head it off before it becomes fully-blown, I’d suggest staging a few controlled exposures yourself and gradually step it up – leave a cupboard door ajar intentionally for ten minutes (just ten – nothing bad will happen, I promise, though it will be uncomfortable) and then close it. Then gradually increase your exposure to that and other things which you find are triggers for you.

    The fact that you added flossing (in spite of your discomfort) shows that you CAN adapt.

    All the best x

    • Thanks for the great response! It seems so silly to talk about it in a serious manner considering I’ve always made jokes about it. However, the fact that I’m anxious just thinking about leaving doors open or not fixing the things that I see askew probably means it’s a good thing to attempt to curb while I can 🙂

      • Well, I don’t know that it should be a major concern if it isn’t disrupting your life. If it is you could always speak to a counselor about it.

      • Yeah, it isn’t too disruptive. The worst part was when I lived in my old house and even at night, I could see everything in my room due to a street light outside my window. I would wake up, see things out of place, and get up at 3am to fix them.

        I have blackout curtains now 🙂

  2. I’m in the same boat, especially when it comes to where I put things. If I have a spot for something, it best be there when I go looking for it. This is something my wife doesn’t understand. Example; she’ll empty the dishwasher and just throw cups into the cupboard without thinking twice about where they are. Me? I have to make sure all the bigass white ones are to the left, the big clear ones are in the middle, and the small clear ones are on the right. I only use the little ones, and if I ever go to find one and it’s behind all the bigass cups, it gets under my skin! Every time I open the door and see them all mixed together I damn near have a heart attack and then have to rearrange them. I hope to god I don’t get worse, I couldn’t imagine.

    • Haha! Yeah, I’m that way with the dishes too! Drives me crazy if he doesn’t put them where they are supposed to go. We’ve been together 6 years. He should know this by now!

  3. What happens when the man friend starts rubbing your fanny in the morning for some morning sex? Is there a place for that or do you insist that it’d throw your whole schedule way out of whack and that you ain’t got time for dat?

    • Hahaha I love that you call him ‘the man friend’. 6 years together and all I’ve got is a man friend. To answer your question, as long as it’s before I’ve started the routine, it’s fine.

    • Doesn’t he?! I know I most likely won’t turn out much crazier than I already am. At least I always have a tide home!

  4. When I read this sentence, “If a trinket is not at the correct angle at which I had originally placed it, I am compelled to fix it” I thought of the scene in Misery when Annie Wilkes realizes Paul has been out of the bedroom because a figurine was askew. I think morning routines enable one to emerge from the house fully clothed and almost ready to face the day. Who really wants to think before coffee? Is that even possible? (As a side note, I like the new design/color scheme!)

    • Hah! Oh shit! I hope I don’t turn into her 🙂

      I agree on the morning routine. I cannot function before caffeine so the routine definitely helps in that situation.

      And thanks! I’ve been tinkering with it for a while. I think this is my favorite!

  5. My hubs has OCD. He has to stack bowls in alternating colors and will leave one out sitting on the counter if it is the same color as the one on top. He also has to check things compulsively. It takes us forever to get out of the house, because he is running around the house checking the stove, are the lights off, is this or that thing how it should be? I know he can’t help it. And I know he tries to hide most of the crazy. My concern is that now I see these traits manifesting in my kids. Pretty sure it’s a genetic trait. I’m surrounded by a house ful of “because I have to’s.”

  6. i think that everyone has a bit of ocd. my son has it more than most at his age, but we try to get him to control it a bit or try work it as a different game in his head. my mom can’t handle if a fork has the prongs facing her. can’t have it. we mess with her a bit. and uh, you need to some how work in coffee to your morning routine. 😉

    • Hah! Oh there is definitely coffee! I couldn’t survive without it. Interesting fork habit. I haven’t heard that one before!

  7. My boss has OCD. He fixes papers on everybody’s desk, randomly and gets really irritated if your desk is messy. He even comes in the office on weekends to clean up.

    • I would love to be responsible for tidying up my coworker’s desks! I just have to make sure not to look at the desks when I see them. Just keep on walking!

    • My best friend is a therapist to autistic children and has told me the same thing! She is very big into routines for them!

  8. Um, I have the same thing with the morning routine, and being newly unemployed has really thrown this off…
    Coffee. Breakfast. Book. Makeup. Clothes. Hair. Pack lunch.
    NO DEVIATION.
    Except now I stop at “book.”

  9. I think we all have traits that seem to connect us to mental illness/mental disorders. The whole thing can be scary. We don’t want to have anything “wrong” with us. But, then again, having my particular mental illness diagnosed (bipolar disorder) became a huge blessing because then I could face it head on.

    Do you worry about the potential of having OCD? Do you believe it’s negatively impacting your life? There’s a lot of great help out there if you find you need it. Good luck!

    • Thanks! I definitely worry about the potential. It isn’t hugely impacting my life … yet. I hope that being aware of my tics is a good thing and will help me recognize if it gets worse.

  10. Pingback: Feeling a bit anxious of late… | Baby Mama's Blog

  11. When I clean house I start with dishes, the counter tops, then laundry..a specific routine, even if I am cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen comes first. I don’t have OCD but was raised by a parent with OCD and autism so certain “quirks” rubbed off on me.

    • My mom has some of the same quirks as I do but they aren’t as ‘extreme’. She has routines but doesn’t ‘freak out’ if something interrupts them like I do.

  12. Being organized and living (most of) your life according to a schedule is a great thing. It makes you more productive, helps free your mind up for more creative tasks (because you’re not distracted by mess or what’s left to do), and helps you be ready when the unexpected arrives on your doorstep. Embrace the need to schedule, I say! Embrace it! 🙂

    • Oh I’m a huge scheduler so the routine doesn’t bother me a bit! I would be lost without schedules 🙂

  13. Sometimes I think it would make my morning so much easier if I had an actual routine, and fabulous if I put some decent stuff (like flossing and exercise) in it…but I can see where an inner struggle when deviating from a set routine would be trying.

    • Haha! I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m able to make it to places on time is due to my routine so I appreciate it!

  14. I am the exact same way. And my family does the same thing to me. I’ll find pictures purposely crooked, rugs all a jumble and the cabinets – always open! Drives me nuts! And they’ll all be waiting outside in the car ready to go somewhere while I’m running around fixing everything. Lets start a support group! 😉

  15. As someone with my own issues, the advice given to do small hurdles (baby steps) is definitely the way to go. And it is okay to make jokes about it as long as you continue to own it and work on it. 🙂
    {{{hugs}}}

    • It makes me feel better that I’m able to laugh at myself at times. Baby steps is definitely how I’m handling it 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing!

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