Everyone has a pattern of individual behaviours unique to them. Every single person out there. Whether it’s an odd eating habit, a specific way of doing things or a habit like saluting magpies. These define us and often lead people to question our weirdness, despite the fact that they probably have their own set of little rituals or habits just as strange.
Mild OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is something that many people experience at least once in their lives, often not even realizing it themselves. Having a lucky number and trying to find that number in everyday life is a form of mild OCD. So is washing your hands more times than necessary due to germs, or feeling like you have to compulsively do something (i.e check the hair straighteners are switched off 3 times before leaving the house). Superstitions are often simply forms of slight OCD. It comes in many manifestations and in actual fact goes hand in hand with habits we adopt for ourselves. It’s really quite difficult to draw the line between the two and decide what is a reflection of mild OCD and what is actually just a quirky behaviour which may seem unique to us. I’m far from a psychologist but I personally believe that we all have our own little habits, rituals and routines which define us as individuals and are relatively harmless comforts in our lives.
Here are some of my personal ones:
- I sleep with a fan on beside my bed at night. Always. It can be the dead of Winter and absolutely freezing but I’ll have the fan on regardless because I’m so addicted to the noise of it. For some reason I’ve always found that whirring white noise relaxing and comforting. If someone in the house is hovering, the noise makes me so sleepy that I could just curl up in a ball and fall asleep in seconds. The concept of dead silence when trying to fall asleep makes me uncomfortable.
- I salute magpies. If I am in public I try to do this really discreetly by pretending to scratch my eyebrow or something. Luckily I car-share to work with a friend who is an equally avid Magpie worshipper as I am. We will often help each other catch missed Magpies – The minute one sees the other raising hand to brow we will then frantically look around for the culprit until we can salute it ourselves. I don’t consider myself a superstitious person but, for some reason, I have a gnawing fear that if I leave a magpie un-saluted something terrible will happen.
- The number 9. Most people’s lucky number is something nice and rounded, like 12. Mine isn’t so much a lucky number, but one I try to find in everything. I’ll go out of my way to notice words with 9 letters or groups of 9 things. I don’t know when this started or why I do it but I always find some smug sense of satisfaction whenever I find ‘my’ number in anything. (And by anything, I mean anything at all. Like on the back of a shampoo bottle in the shower.)
- Everything has its place – In my wardrobe, anyway. I have an obsessive habit of organizing my wardrobe. This is no easy task. My wardrobe is an expanse of 3 wide mirrored doors big enough for me to climb into (if I duck. Not quite a walk-in wardrobe. A duck-in wardrobe, if you will.) It has a shoe rack and shelves inside it at each end and, if you’ve ever read my post on online shopping, you’ll know I am constantly restocking myself with new clothes. I clear our and organise my wardrobe at least once every 3 weeks, ensuring everything is in its place. This means jeans all together, white crop tops all together (I own almost 15 of these), bikinis lined up neatly on a shelf. My cat tries to sabotage my obsession of keeping my wardrobe tidy – He likes to jump onto the shelves, knocking everything off and covering it in cat hair while he makes a nest with my clothes. As you can probably imagine this causes mild anxiety for me, made even worse by the fact that he is now learning to use his paw to slide the wardrobe open himself. If I come home to find the door slightly ajar I feel a sense of dread at the mess I might discover inside.
So there are 4 of my personal little OCD habits. And I personally don’t believe that any of these things make me uptight, paranoid, superstitious or crazy – It’s normal to have quirks and deviations from ‘standard’ conventional behaviour. I think they make us human.