Tracing the Patterns of an Obsessive Mind

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To The Best Of Our Knowledge producer Doug Gordon explains what it’s like to live with obsessive compulsions.

Hi. my name's Doug and I have OCD. Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Wait. Can I do that again? I stumbled a bit. Okay. Never mind.

I check things. Over, and over again. For example: I make sure that the burners on the stove are all turned off. Even if I never turned them on.

When I park the car, I make sure that I turned the car headlights off.

Sometimes I'll even go right in front of the car, bend down, and stare directly into the headlights. Just a few inches away. What if someone sees me? Don't worry. I thought that covered.

"Oh hey didn't see ya. Ha-ha. I'm just checking out the plastic covers on my headlights. Looks like there's a small crack in this one, doesn't there. I guess I better get that fixed. Okay. Have a good one!"

Do I wash my hands over and over again? Check.

Do I sometimes wash them again a few minutes later for no good reason? Double check.

Do I make sure the sliding glass door is locked before I go to bed? Yes. And so on.

Repeat when necessary. And when my OCD is at its worst, the compulsions are always necessary.

Why do I do it? It would be easy to say it has something to do with the fact that my dad was 50 years old when I was born. But blaming 50-year-old Scottish spermatozoa is too easy.

So why do I continue to do these irrational rituals? The obvious answer is that it's a compulsion. It also has to do with the way that my brain is wired — or should I say miswired — but I can't afford to hire a neuro-electrician. Do you know how much they charge?

On a subconscious level, it probably has to do with control. We live in a world in which we have very little control over our lives. By washing my hands over and over, and making sure that the clock radio alarm is set for AM and not PM, it's my small way of sticking it to the universe. I'm saying that I do have a small bit of control, some little bit of agency to smack down my angst, for at least a little while. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I left the kitchen tap running.