I’ve just returned from what seems to be becoming my annual business trip to China and this particular trip made me realise something about myself that I have suspected for a while.
I am a mild sufferer of OCD or Obsessive Compusive Disorder.
I looked up the definition of OCD to get a handle on what it actually means and I found this:
“An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person's mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.”
It’s something that I think is getting worse as I get older.
Here’s an example.
Yesterday, I left my hotel room in Shanghai for the final time and checked out at reception. I jumped into the shuttle bus to take me to the airport and then had a wild thought that I had left my flight boarding pass in my room and my passport in the room safe. These were the two things that would enable me to get home and, if my worst fears were true, would result in my having to return to the hotel making me potentially miss my flight. I actually panicked and opened my rucksack to double check that I had the required documents.
The truth is I did have them – of course I bloody well had them!
Also, because I am obsessed with the fear of being so late that I would miss the flight, I had checked out so early that I could have easily made the return trip to the hotel (possibly twice) and still had plenty of time to catch the flight.
And the stupid thing is that in the shuttle bus, I checked my passport and boarding passes three times! THREE BLOODY TIMES!
I actually scolded myself the final time, saying rather loudly "You bloody idiot!” which brought a stare of disapproval from another passenger who thought I was referring to him.
Worse, when I got to the airport, I was so early that I had to wait for the check in desks to open. When I finally got through security, I checked my documents a further few times even though I knew that they were there.
I’m the same when I leave the house, generally. I am convinced that there is a window left open, a door left unlocked or a burglar alarm still turned off and on one or two occasions, I have actually returned to the house to double check.
I blame two things for the evolution of this embarrassing peculiarity.
The first thing is my terrible memory. As I get older, I forget things. Everybody my age says the same thing. I look at a person I haven’t seen for a while and say to myself:
“What the bloody hell is that guy’s name???”
I suffer from all of the typical age-related memory-loss features, such as:
Walking into a room and having no idea why I went there.
Forgetting where I put things. This is particularly frustrating and I have developed a regime to counteract this infuriating problem. I always put things in the same place. However, Mrs PM sometimes decides to have a “tidy up” and moves them, which leads to me turning the house upside down looking for things, convinced that I have lost them.
Such things are affectionately called “senior moments” and many people I know around my age and older complain about this.
The second thing I have to blame is my beloved Mrs PM. She is the love of my life but she is one of the most scatter-brained people I have ever met. For example, she has driven all the way to work and left her laptop at home. That wouldn’t be so bad if the journey wasn’t about twenty miles, usually through heavy rush hour traffic. She has also left her laptop at work when she has to do some work at home and had to make the journey back. You may think that this is okay if it’s just a one-off but it isn’t; she has done it several times.
Also, I have come home and found windows open and doors unlocked. I find myself being OCD for her too.
“Have you got your laptop?”
“Where are your keys?”
She also drifts away into her own little world and on occasion has set off for a journey for the shops only to drift into what she and I both call “Mrs PM World” and find herself on her way to work.
This is something that she has had to put up with most of her life but, unlike me, she doesn’t beat herself up about it.
“I know,” she’ll say with a laugh. “It was another Mrs PM moment.”
When such things happen to me, I am furious with myself, which is why my evolving OCD has manifested itself to protect me against my own memory.
I also make lists of things to take with me on holiday and trips generally to make sure that I don’t infuriate myself with my poor memory. And Mrs PM does the same, so it helps her although she has still managed to become a victim of her herself. For example, no list could have stopped her from leaving a coat in Manchester airport or travelling all the way to Alaska, one of the coldest places in America, having left her winter coat hanging up in the bedroom next to her suitcase!
She has improved, mainly due to my own OCD. As she says, I have saved her on numerous occasions with just a couple of simple questions.
I’d rather make sure that everything is fine and make sure that I don’t have to enrage myself with my own shortcomings.
Perhaps mild OCD is a good thing.
I just hope that I remember to post this all on my blog.
At least my daily readership will go up as a result, even if it is only me making sure, four or five times today, that I submitted the post.
Oh crap – maybe that’s why most of my hits come from Manchester!