THE BLOG

Learning to Love the Quirky OCD Nature of Others

06/05/2014 14:38 BST | Updated 03/07/2014 10:59 BST
Getty Images

My sister has acquired a rather dreamy new flatmate - all sparkly eyes, chiseled arms and surfer hair with musical kudos to boot. The bedeviled fact that this fetching new addition to her household is only 23 years of age didn't however prevent myself and three other similarly aged (read considerably older than 23!) girl pals from gazing on zealously as he laid his youthful heart bare by playing a song he wrote on his guitar inspired by his Grandad (or Dad? Forgive me, the details are a little fuzzy in my lust-filled memory haze!). Before launching into song he paused to fix his guitar strap noting that he can't play with a twisted strap to which his buddy-in-attendance added 'Oh God, this will take 10 minutes'. As it happens this delectable boy-man has OCD and so perfection is key.

Now, we're all privy to the odd little quirk and tic, from racing down the stairs to beat the toilet flush to bidding farewell aloud to your house as you walk out the front door, but to the OCD sufferer it's taking these endearing habits to the extreme. A good friend of mine, Laura, has suffered at the mercy of this depleting condition for as long as I have known her but unlike many others at the mercy of OCD, she doesn't make a secret of it by trying to hide it from family and friends (hence my name-checking her here). She simply accepts it as part of who she is. Although she will admit to feeling utterly frustrated, embarrassed and downright exacerbated by it at times. Anyone who has ever experienced or witnessed OCD in action can see straight of the bat how time consuming and pernickety these little rituals tend to be. It's a vicious circle that is fed into constantly and any relief achieved by carrying out a particular impulse is only temporarily abated and sooner or later the obsessive thought will have its tiresome clutches on the weary victim again, forcing them to abandon all known logic and succumb to its whims.

Laura is aware her kooky behaviour gets her noticed. Who hasn't been startled into silence or nervous laughter at sudden outbursts or random antics from a stranger on your morning commute? In a society where we learn very early on to respect public places and appreciate our fellow man's basic right and need for space, we naturally react visibly to anything untoward or a little unsettling. Laura refers to her OCD as the Tip Tapping Tics thereby indicating her particular obsession, mainly tapping surfaces a certain number of times when her thoughts turn ugly and in her attempt to feel, as she would say, "balanced".

I've clocked the sidelong looks she gets and the full-on stares from children but these episodes pass between us and neither of us makes any reference to them. They sometimes happen more frequently than others and the intensity with which she carries them out tends to reflect the level of stress or concerns weighing on her mind at the time. She can go for days without so much as a single tap but she has dealt with it for so long that she's aware that it is only a matter of time before she's back to banging a daily beat. And therein lies my point. We all live our lives to a particular, unique beat...some may thrash out their angst in the kitchen whipping up a sweet feast while others might don their wetsuit and take to the waves. It keeps things interesting and life colourful. No one rule applies to all in getting through our daily grind and trying to make sense of our mental cavities has been the lifelong work of many a great mind and yet it still manages to elude us.

So I say we embrace the quirky traits in each other. Laugh at them, feel free to express them and learn to revel in them. Seeing a little girl dance like a certified lunatic on the restaurant floor where I work last week brought smiles and jollity from the adult contingency seated quietly around her.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could just stand up and throw shapes like that?" I overheard one woman say to her friend who replied: "We do, only it takes a bottle of Tequila to get us going."

On that boozy note I'm beginning to think it wise to introduce more alcohol where this 23-year-old enchanter is concerned. I suspect the age gap won't matter as much when we're all reduced to the same giddy, frantic, flirty mess!