Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eyeing OCD From the Other Side

This week, a coworker moved cubicles and is now right next to me. I've worked with him for 3 years, but never closely. Something about the way he cleaned and vacuumed that cubicle before he moved in, and the way his water bottles were lined up on the desk made me go "hmmmm."

THEN yesterday I sat next to him at the annual holiday potluck. After he got his food, he pulled out a baggy of wet wipes and washed his hands. I didn't think that much of it, as I've known non-OCD friends who do that. But then, he went back for seconds and did it again. Went through the dessert line and did it again! I was fascinated. A lot of people with OCD (myself included) will do exposures without compulsions sometimes just to avoid the embarrassment of doing those compulsions in public. Apparently my coworker isn't one of them. This particular coworker is sick a lot, though, so I'd like to remind him that his compulsions are apparently not working that well, but I probably won't. :)

Statistically in an organization the size of mine, there should be more than 20 people with OCD. Obviously not all of them will be handwashers, but it's surprising to not have noticed this type of thing before. Of course, I cannot really diagnose him based on these incidents, but I will anyway. He'll never know.

It made me feel even better about going through the whole potluck with no handwashing. Of course later in the day, I became convinced that my white elephant contribution was going to food poison someone (and it was ground coffee beans, for goodness sake!), so I can't really get TOO proud of myself.


  1. Isn't it weird, seeing it from the other side?

    One of my compulsions is MAKING myself perform compulsions even if others are, in fact, around, which is when I often when I really really really don't want to do them. I could just "let" myself go without doing the compulsion, but that often turns into a great big ball of OCD self-hatred afterward. I'm getting better at it, though.

    Anyways, it's interesting seeing OCD from the other side. Seeing others' struggle with disorder in person has helped me fight my own OCD more.

  2. hehe, I think I used to drive my co-workers mad with my OCD - though my boss loved the perfect output of my toil. I ended up writing about it for a blog:

    Now that I'm no serious OCD case it's definitely something to see those who are just like I was!