Maybe I just like things clean.

“I have to keep my surroundings clean and organized. I am very OCD about these things.”

I have heard this often and have come to the conclusion that it has become conventional to assume that a person who likes their surroundings clean suffers from OCD. I have often come across people who proudly state that they have OCD, like it’s a trait that everyone must inculcate.

OCD – Obsessive compulsive disorder, a chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

I am a person who likes their surroundings clean and organized. I make to-do lists at the start of each day and for each week. I make to-do lists for my long term and short term life goals. Checklists when I go grocery shopping. A reminder that states ‘Check to-do list’ is always present on my laptop screen. I sometimes take a few minutes off each day to organize and classify my lists. Stepping out of the house is a task. I have to do the ritual check of purse, keys and cellphone at least 3 times before being convinced that I have taken them. As a designer, I try to ensure that everything works in a grid. It is a pain because I tend not to use curves or angles, since they don’t fit in the imaginary grid. Everything on my desk is organized into a grid. Cleaning and organizing took up a major part of my time and brain.

I don’t know if I have OCD. I don’t know if it’s a trait I have inherited from my excessively clean and organized mother. But a huge chunk of my time and energy is distributed into these little obsessions I have and I have been stressed and upset because of this. I get upset when my desk turns a little messy or if the sheets aren’t folded or if every item in the numerous checklists aren’t crossed out. I stress over the fact that I have to get every item in the checklists crossed out. Writing about this, I wonder if I do have a mild case of OCD.

OCD is mental disorder that is common and affects a large part of our population. Some of the habits OCD generates have no logical explanation behind it and most adults suffering from it know that. Suffering, yes. Because OCD often results in an irritable mood, anxiety, depression and anger issues. It interferes in all aspects of life such as work and personal relationships.

I often hear a lot of mental disorders being casually mentioned as a personality trait and it saddens me that many of us use it without comprehending what it really means to live with a disorder such as that. It diminishes the problem and people who are actually suffering from it, aren’t taken seriously. It becomes an emotion that people assume “will pass”.

Think before claiming to be depressed, bipolar, OCD, anxiety etc etc. Maybe you are sad. Maybe you are going through a transition in your life that is molding your personality. Maybe you just like things clean.

Featured above is an artwork by me. 🙂


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