Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confessions Of An OCD

I was in college when I discovered I was cursed. Every time I stood next to a bedside, my fingers would start twitching uncontrollably. It started with a tug here and a pull there and then it developed into a full blown obsession. One look at a crumpled bedsheet and I would be on all fours, wading through a sea of creases.

Believe me I tried my best to conceal this terrible secret of mine. Made sure no one was looking when I lunged towards the bed. But how long can you hide, how long can you cover-up your shameful deeds? My Mom was the first to notice it. That she was shocked, would be putting it mildly but later accepted it gracefully. It’s only a Mom who can say – tedhi hai par meri hai (she may be damaged but she is mine)

Unfortunately this was just the beginning. Soon I graduated to bigger things. Crouching under the table, shaking my head in disgust, arranging neat stacks and trying to bring some order in this chaotic world. It seemed I was the lone crusader, fighting a losing battle. Soon, the dusting cloth became my best friend.
Courtesy - Google Images

The exclusive club of the loonies had just acquired its newest, freshly minted OCD.

I had no idea that I had this coming. As a child I was terrible messy. My books always looked like a “mountain of knowledge”. My cupboard, as if a whirlwind had just passed through it. Each time my Dad tried to clean my study table, he would excavate hidden gems - naughty notes from my teachers, carefully hidden answer sheets, green furry green things that were once chapattis. .. A lot of drama would ensue with my parents launching into emotionally charged sermons and me blinking away tears of remorse.

The only thing I was particular about was my impeccably ironed clothes. I made sure, even my sweater had razor sharp creases.

Life was not this simple anymore. Dust had become my biggest enemy and creases a conspiracy, out to rob my peace of mind.

It became worse after I got married. Suddenly I had an entire house at my mercy. With missionary zeal I would launch myself at dusty windows, excavate ancient garbage from under the bed, and scrub the fridge with rivulets of sweat trickling down my back, till our barsati apartment started looking like the ultimate in orderliness. When relatives came visiting us, I was made to open cupboards and shelves, so that they could dissolve into orgasmic oohs and aahs!

I knew that I was doomed. Caught in a catch 22 situation, there was no way I could let my fans down. So I kept setting cleaner standards for myself.

The sad part is once you start, there is no end to it. As you lie on bed to take a breather, all you see is dust on the fan blades and window grills. While visiting your loved ones, you recoil at the sight of cobwebs hanging tantalizingly from dark corners. You can’t take your eyes off it even as you are devouring your fifth mutton chop, trying to make them vanish (the cobwebs) with your superpowers. When you are out shopping for home decor, most of them are rejected because they didn’t pass the Ray dust-detection vision! Naah...this is too white, too fragile, has too many carvings and you’ll spend most of the day trying to keep it dust free!

The terrible realization that the mess around you is capable of messing with your peace of mind...

Thankfully with realization comes revelation that everything including peace of mind has a price. All you have to do is outsource your worry to a willing, helping hand. The beauty of stumbling upon the inevitable - What you can do, your maid can do better.

It also helped that God with his twisted sense of humour, gifted me a daughter who thinks cleanliness is a state of mind. All you have to do is train yourself to think it doesn’t exist. So the mother and daughter don’t exactly see eye to eye! She hoards what I think is junk and is constantly accusing me when things go missing from her cupboard.

Like any thoughtful mother, I make sure she’s sleeping when I consign junk to its rightful place.

I can’t claim to have recovered. On the contrary, I have many more obsessions vying for my attention now. It does get tough having to juggle so many of them at the same time and I admit that I often end up ignoring my first love. But on days I get nostalgic about my OCD and find myself atop ladders or hanging from ceiling fans, I make sure I’m not home alone. After all I do need someone to rush me to the hospital, in case I have a mighty great fall.

Imagine the terrible damage to my impeccably clean image, if I am discovered under a heap of dust by some random stranger!

P.S The insanity of the protagonist is more imagined than real. Any resemblance to a living character is purely coincidental.



112 comments:

  1. There was a time i wondered whether OCD is real, until i became one of its biggest victims.

    Well as its name suggests its a disorder or rightly pointed out "A state of mind".

    As in my case one of the reasons i found out was that my mind was occupied with the mess around me all the time , so much that it became a part of my routine to worry about the mess.

    well my suggestion as in the case it worked with me was to start occupying myself with more useful things around.

    It took me 6 months to come out of this condition.

    - The real confession

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    1. I think acceptance is the first step towards recovery. And from what I've read OCD can reach dangerous levels and truly mess up your life.
      So glad that you managed to get out of it.

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  2. The obsession of cleanliness has a price tag! One place clean implies a few missing things for another person at home giving a smacking of some insidious design! Well crafted , Purba:)

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    1. My Dad is even worse! He manages to make entire stacks of clothes disappear :D

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  3. I cant agree more with your daughter :D 'Cleanliness is a state of mind" :D And looking at your descriptions I now feel that my mom has OCD :D :D

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    1. My sympathies to you and your Mom :-)

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  4. Your remind me of my mummy. She irons hankies and undergraments too! She takes the brush and cleans between the window sill. She washes the bathroom n number of times in the day. She even dusts the shoes to remove the traces of mud from the sole. No, I am not making up all this! She does that! And about the 'junk' vanishing from your daughter's cupboards, well that happens to me too!

    For the 21 years I lived with my parents, I too had relatives and friends making those noises :-) So I know how is it :-) I like her OCD, but now I must ask her if she deals with the same kind of thoughts like you do.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Dear God! that must be such a lot of work!

      And look what you did, managed to give me a mega sized complex :p

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  5. Ok............not coming to your home ever :P, not unless I dry clean myself.....now you sound like my mom..!!!

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    1. All you have to do is take off your shoes, the rest of you I'll gladly accept :D

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  6. "It also helped that God with his twisted sense of humour, gifted me a daughter who thinks cleanliness is a state of mind. All you have to do is train yourself to think it doesn’t exist."

    oh how my mother agrees....

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    1. I seem to have built a bond with all the mummies of the world!

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  7. ah! mine is exactly opposite. I used to even try and clean attic every month (yes, you heard it right). I was a clean freak. My mother used to send angry spats at her late father who was princlipal in Kolar gold Fields and he seemed very strict and very clean and spotless and who wanted my mother and her siblings to be spotless as well. She used to say " ah, he taught us this disease of being spotlessly clean and I cannot take it when i see dust, nor I have mind to clean nor I can sit quite when i see dust".
    Very recently my hubby impressed me that "he does not wish to live in a spotless museum, but rather wishes to live in a home which is lived in" .Now I am getting used to being relaxed and taking it easy. But still sometimes I ask him " but still, dont you think we need to vacuum the foyer again? we just came back from the dusty weather outside"?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. All of you are now giving a serious complex. The attic! now why didn't I ever think of that :p

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  8. My mother was like that. I agree with the commentator who said Ok............not coming to your home ever :P, not unless I dry clean myself.....now you sound like my mom..!!!

    Yikes!

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    1. Thanks! I feel really good about myself :D

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  9. The mess around surely can mess with the peace of mind...

    OCD hits me only when my son's friends spend the night at home..cans, wrappers, socks, wires....ughh..its a mess.

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    1. Most of our kids treat the house like a fully serviced apartment :)

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  10. LOL ha ha :) If it wasn't for the disclaimer I would have thought it was someone I know :)

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    1. Just don't tell her that you know her secret :p

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  11. I agree. Every shirt must have razor sharp creases, otherwise it's just not good enough.

    It's high time we started an OCD club. Let's call it - OCDC!

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    1. So who's wearing the shorts?

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  12. I have a long list of OCDs. I had written a post on it too, and now I have realized that I can write part 2 of the post as well.

    I have weird OCDs. I need to follow a pattern while doing something. And I have heard so many OCD stories too. Especially about arranging wardrobes. A friend is not only neat and perfect there, she has to arrange the wardrobe in the colour-coordinated manner - same colours together going from light to dark.

    I hate too clean rooms. There has to be some mess out there. Then it feels like my room. Who wants to live in a hotel when you are home? :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There comes a time when you realize the futility of it all. That's when your OCD finally decides to release you :-)

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  13. Haha.. I must admit, I have an OCD too. I like keeping my room clean. The only problem is, I seem to think that as long as its out of sight, its perfect. Don't ever make the mistake of looking into my cupboards, because that's where all the junk goes.

    My family is cleanliness obsessed to the point, where dad carries the dust cloth across the house _everyday_ and wipes everything off the layer of dust accumulated that day (which is probably not much). He retired a month ago, and the standing joke in the family is - He is going to stay home for a couple of months, turn out the cupboards, wipe out the fans, and then probably look for a job.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Let him enjoy this phase. I'm sure he'll get tired of it soon. Why don't you encourage him to cook instead :-)

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  14. Have you actually been tested for it? Because I have. It's terrible.

    I have this furious habit of counting the number of bristles on my toothbrush, or any new toothbrush before I buy it. And it has to be 1,720 bristles precisely. Don't ask why. This sort of stuff never has legitimate reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Twitpic or it didn't happen :D

      And 1,720 sounds like a lot of bristles, are you sure it's a toothbrush and not something else?

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  15. Well my grandmom was like this! We always had fights over the way how my wardrobe was arranged. But she never made an attempt to arrange my wardrobe for fear things would fall on head ;)

    I had tried explaining her that life was simpler when you could just move the clothes to one end of the bed and sleep on the other end :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hahaha... Why complicate things unnecessarily!

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  16. Looks like you should meet my wife soon! She also suffers from a terrible form of "cleanliness is close to godliness" syndrome. I suffered in silence till she started keeping my office papers also at some unfathomably complex location, which, as per her, is the most logical place.

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    1. So why do you do now, hide them at some "unfathomably complex" location?

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  17. I would have been divorced by now, had it not been for the combined efforts of my kids and Hobbs who made sure that I got cured of my ocds .Their persistence paid off and now I am not bothered as much as I used to be.They just love me and the clutter a wee bit more than me.Now I can deal with clutter but I have MAJOR issues when it comes to hygiene.I go berserk shopping for antibacterial wipes and sprays.
    Another thing that bothers me to no end is a wet bathroom.I come back from work and head straight to the bathroom,more to check the dryness than to actually use it.And guess which one out of the three bathrooms in the house acts as a magnet for the kids.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I HATE wet bathrooms. And every time I have to use my daughter's bathroom, I end up spending more time cleaning it!

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  18. you needed to have studied in a hostel.. all this ocd over cleanliness goes for six for sure .. :)

    I am now thinking what sort of OCD do i have , of many be I ma abnormal and dont have any for i am sure every sane person will have one there is something that irks everyone ..

    I guess the wonders of living alone over a long time makes one immune to ocd's .. OH I found one I have a OCD of checking blogs and what sane people write he he heh e

    Bikram's

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    1. I worry about having locked the house, especially when I am thousands of miles away!

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    2. Haha..me too.I have called my neighbor a few times just to push our main door and check.

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    3. purba you only worry , I have left my home doors wide open and gone to india for 3 weeks :) thanks to the lovely aunty next door ..

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  19. Hope the imaginary protagonist finds solace :-)

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    1. Thank God! You refrained from saying - may she rest in peace!

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  20. Imaginary protagonist ? Really? I sense something fishy ;-)
    Btw, I have a few of those qualities as well, I can identify with Monica Geller from FRIENDS like none other!

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    1. HAHAHA! really? I think I have improved, especially after I started spending more time at home. There so many exciting things to do than keeping the house clean!

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  21. Melvin in As good as it gets is perhaps the epitome of OCD depiction onscreen. For those who realise it as a problem are perhaps better off than those (majority) who dont even think of it as a problem.

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    1. Thank God for family. They are always more than willing to point out your follies.

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  22. Purba,

    Now I know why dust storms have started avoiding certain area of a NCR city. God know very well how to balance in everything, so your loving daughter arrived on the scene. LOL all the way.

    Take care

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    1. On the contrary, dust storms have a special proclivity to my neighbourhood! I have trained myself not to look at dusty doors and windows.

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  23. Oh god, I can never invite you home. You might kill me for the mess I live in :D

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    1. For the sake of your safety, don't ever let me in :D

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  24. I am the worst homemaker ever. Can you loan yourself to me for a few days :).

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    1. Yea! sure. I am pretty good at giving directions :p

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  25. MY mom has this OCD. And gosh am I dying everyday :P
    you'd probably never step into my room :P

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    1. Nope, I value my peace of mind :-)

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  26. Hahaha! The last line was brilliant!
    //Imagine the terrible damage to my impeccably clean image, if I am discovered under a heap of dust by some random stranger! //

    My mom used to be OCD and then she gave up. Im scared I've taken after her, but one look at my room or cupboard is reassuring enough that I'm not :D

    I absolutely loved this post!

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    1. Delighted that you enjoyed reading the post :-)

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  27. Lol! nice post! I can co-exist happily amongst dust and cobwebs till one fine day I get into a cleanliness overdrive. But not on a daily basis. hats off to you!!

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    1. Neither do I. Why waste time on a tough and a thankless job!

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  28. You should take lessons from my son – he often wondered sorrowfully what the poor, harmless T-shirt on the floor 2 days after he’d taken it off ever did to hurt me.

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    1. HAHAHAHA! If only his tee could talk :D

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  29. Excellent post !! As I was reading this story, I couldn't help but think about how familiar .... I was nodding my head reading through the whole thing:)) Have been a victim myself!

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    1. I think as newly minted homemakers, we have a point to prove. And I've observed cleanliness freaks stay a mile away from kitchen :-)

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  30. I am a ex-OCD. I got cured when Vidur came along and Mom needed constant care. :D I am glad - because I wasn't even aware when the transition took place; life was so hectic and it was all I could do to just eat, sleep, take care of home, baby, Mom :-)

    Today, I am quite okay with Vidur's mess because I know he'll clean it up himself. :D Still, I have to confess I get OCD attacks every now and then.

    I could so see me in this post!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Time and inclination does not permit OCD but I do suffer relapses from time to time :D

      And Vidya, you are an incredibly positive woman!

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  31. hehe nice one. I have selective OCD, can stand dirt everywhere except my books :D

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    1. That's a good OCD. And I'm dead sure you are possessive about your books.

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  32. I could just visualize you scanning corners and grills :) My house will never pass muster with you then :( I believe in live and let live -- with clutter.

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    1. Ah No! My house has a lot of glass and no grills. And it's not always possible to keep them sparkling clean :-)

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  33. That's how my mom was a few yrs back. I'v episodic obsession to extreme cleanliness. And during the episides, you'll find me on the ladder cleaning the celing fan/dusting the window/ mopping the house atleast 3ice daily. Rest of the days, you'll find me snoring in between the pile of knowledge and green chapthis in a dusty room with lose papers and junks lying every where on the floor.

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    1. My daughter gets annual fits! And that's some consolation for me :-)

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  34. Ha ! You sound like my dadi, I used to drive her nuts :P

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    1. Chalo! now I've graduated from Mummy to Dadi :D

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  35. When we are kids/teens, we love our junk and our secret stowaways..as we grow older and have homes of our own...the genes inherited from our parents get out of deep hibernation and kick in to turn us into them :)
    - Aashica

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    1. My Maa is far from cleanliness obsessed. It's my Dad I take after :D

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  36. I used to keep my house clean until the birth of my daughter. Now whatever cleaning me and my wife does, it remains clean only for a few minutes!! Now I lost interest.

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    1. With a small kid around, you kind of get accustomed to the mess.

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  37. lol!!!! Does the OCD extend to editing your writings too? Do you write, re-write and then re-write till every grammar crease is ironed out, till every word falls into perfect symmetry and every phrase shines pure?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yesssssssssss...how did you guess?

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  38. My friends, cousins and husband calls me 'Psycho Monica' (Monica from Friends).. So you're not the only one suffering from this disease and as I there are a lot of us in common.

    Wait for the day, the junk is discovered.. and when your kid becomes the grown up cleanliness freak! :P
    Well Written!

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    1. By the time our kids become responsible and capable of taking care of themselves, they fly the coop :-)

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  39. Your article is very useful for those who are suffering or suffered too. I just added your blog in my g+. I added your link also in my blog. Kindly add mine too. thanks

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    1. I only add links of blogs I read regularly.

      Delete
  40. But my Mother does it all the time, it isn't that fictional. Though she isn't as obsessed as a Nazi :P


    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. As long as it's not a full blown obsession.

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  41. OCD? what you have are Refined Sensibilities and there's nothing to be ashamed of having higher standards than the average person

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    1. Whoa! I just loved your logic :D

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  42. interesting to see how widely and how seriously this resonates with so many of us. i have been witness to people who have really lost control over this cleanliness ocd, including coming and cleaning your coaster while you are still on your cup of coffee, or using bleach for kitchen utensils. i must admit the bleach for utensils was a neat one though. i hop your imaginary protagonist gets well soon, purba. like the daughter says, it is a state of mind. like the government of india. no reason why it cannot be overcome.

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    1. Don't worry Subho. My current OCD revolves around words :-)

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  43. I wouldn't say that the protagonist doesn't sound like you :P

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    1. Nah...just a figment of my imagination.

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  44. funny and insightful post on OCD..

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  45. Hahaha...nice post, why do visitors always get to watch the cobwebs in dark corners rather than the shining crockery?:P Tough luck;)

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    1. Just when I was thinking, what's wrong with Cloud Nine, she appears like magic !

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  46. that was crackling :D
    you're surely the queen of humor blogs.
    "true OCDs never die, they just transcend" ;)

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    1. What an epic line Mohit. And true, it now revolves around translating my thoughts into words.

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  47. My Mom had OCD when I was young and doing art n craft with colored paper and ribbons...! She'd go into a frenzy seeing the bits of papers flying around my room. Well now I have a doubt whether I have OCD... I am literally walking pillar to post to see whether there is anything to be cleaned or thrown away. I think its hereditary :-|

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    1. Sighs! the things we inherit from our parents. Wish it could stop at love.

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  48. Thank god i have no OCD, i can go about my business without the worry of crease lines or if there are cobwebs hanging about or not.

    Random

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    1. It's never too early or too late to acquire an OCD.

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  49. I think each one of us has an OCD. Probably OCD's are that trait that transform a human into an individual. I am the joke of the family when it comes to tall glasses filled with water. At restaurants all I can focus is on elbows and the glasses, and not at the food. I wonder how I can get rid of this peculiarity of mine:-)
    Any suggestions, from an OCD veteran?

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    Replies
    1. What about tall glasses with water? Is there a method to it? Your OCD sounds verrrry intriguing.

      And the only way out is to occupy yourself with a newer obsession :D

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  50. so these OCDs are of types? i guess i too have one...i need my kitchen tools to be in their place before i need them...i have to keep the knife in the stand even though i need it the next minute!

    its fun reading u again!

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    1. It stems from the innate need to unclutter which somehow ends up uncluttering your mind as well!

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  51. OMG !! I am so like you :)) if there's one thing I cant stand, its an unmade bed, or creases in the bedsheet...!! A place for everything, and everything in its place! Loved the post :))

    A.
    http://e-pinion.blogspot.com

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    1. And the joy of walking into a house that's so spic and span!

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  52. You know, some degree of OCD is good in any person's life. At least it keeps us on our toes to make sure some order is achieved. Unfortunately, in my case laziness has conquered my mind and as a result everything around me gets messier and messier by the day and I wouldn't even consider cleaning at least 5% of the mess.
    I would be glad to be hit by a very large dose of OCD at times like these!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To each her own. I"ll say do what makes you happy and not what others think.

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  53. I am at peace with the mess around me. I can sleep on a bed that has dirty clothes from 5 days ago, 3 mobile phones, a baseball bat, an air rifle, 3 bags and a laptop on it. And my room is heaven for a archeologist. You can find antique chocolate wrappers that date back to 1998. And yesterday I found a yellowish-greenish disk about 1 cm in dia, tucked in a corner of my boook shelf. That, my dear Auntius, was a piece of egg, I had kept 6 months ago and had forgotten all about it.
    But seriously, all the mess(and smell) does not bother me at all.....
    Auntius? Aunius! Wake up, Auntius! *sprinkles water over her face* Someone call and Ambulance

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    1. I am feeling too queazy to reply to this comment.
      *Pukes in a corner*

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  54. I am an obsessive compulsive myself and I don't think it is a curse. On the contrary I think that it is boon, it is better to be neat and tidy than having to sleep on a dirty bed. If staying extremely clean is OCD, then I am proud to have it in me. My mother has always supported my cleanliness streak. When I am cleaning, I always listen to this song: http://bit.ly/J9RVh8. I somehow get strength from this song because it is also dedicated to my mother, just like how I became such a cleanliness freak looking at my mother who is always spic and span and her surrounding is even more clean.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As long as your OCD doesn't take over your life, I guess it's ok :-)

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  55. "The sad part is once you start, there is no end to it." so true! good read it was and could be related easily to one's life!! :) yeah, it took me a while to comment due to some tech issues!

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  56. OOOOK! So that's what it is! Both the hubby and I have OCDs. Now it all makes sense!

    He likes things spotlessly clean and everything in its place like a hotel room. And I couldn't care less! I hate super clean places, I find it difficult to breathe lest something should get contaminated! See where I am going with this? Sigh!

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