What Condition My Condition Is In

DISCLAIMER: The following has been written by a man with no medical expertise or knowledge of mental or physical disorders. All “knowledge” about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes only from watching a few episodes of Monk.

I have a condition.

It is undiagnosed, but that's not to say that it isn't real.

I have, what I call, LOCD. Lackadaisical Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Lackadaisical Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it just isn’t as sever, though it isn’t any less serious.

For example, a person with OCD cannot walk along a row of parking meters without feeling compelled to reach out and touch each one, counting them as they walk.

Similarly, a person with LOCD cannot walk along a row of parking meters without feeling compelled to reach out and touch each one, counting them as they walk.

The difference is that while the person with OCD will usually touch and count all the parking meters, the person with LOCD will only do the same if the mood strikes them. The person with LOCD will still feel the same compulsion that the person with OCD does, they just won’t go out of their way to touch and count the parking meters.

So what’s the big deal in that?

I’ll give you a personal example.

I’ve lived with LOCD all of my life and it tears me up inside. I’ll sit at my desk at work and look on in horror at the chaos that is strewn about it. I want to, no, I need to clean the desk. I need to put everything in its proper place. I need to bring order out of chaos. The problem is that I just can’t be bothered to actually do it. My lazy side kicks in and overpowers my obsessive compulsive side, and usually wins.

So I feel this compulsion, this desire, this simple need to organize my desk, but I can't find the energy to tackle such an ambitious project.

Therein lies the crux of LOCD. You feel the obsession, you feel the compulsion. It’s always there, tugging at you, nagging at you, giving you the jitters and the twitches. Scratching away at the back of your head. Yet, it isn’t so powerful that it actually forces you to get up off of your butt to actually do something about it.

It’s like living with a slight buzzing in your ears that’s always there, but you can only really hear it when everything else around you is quiet.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Laziness isn’t the sole reason I’m unwilling to attack my desk. There is an emotional stress that also comes into play.

For example, what if I can’t find a proper place for everything? Then what do I do? Do I throw those items away that don’t have a place at my desk? Do I try to force them into the harmony that I may create by straightening up? Should I construct something to put these “lost” items into? Because I have to tell you, that sounds like a lot of work and I don’t think I’m up to the task. No, I think it might be easier to just try to ignore the chaos and live with it. But there will always be that itching there at the back of my head telling me that something isn’t right with the world.

My LOCD manifests itself in odd ways, too. For example, if I’m washing my hands at work and I grab a paper towel from the dispenser to dry my hands, the paper towel has to be in one piece. If I grab one and it tears, I grab another. If that one tears, I grab another. If the third one tears, I grab a fourth. I wind up using them all, but I can’t have the last paper towel I grab to be torn. I can’t stand that.

At my night job, I work in a photo lab. When folks drop off rolls of film we create a label for the order and stick it to a photo envelope. Then we pull out about an inch of the film from the canister and, using adhesive tape, attach the end of the film to a plastic card. The card, with the film, then goes into the processor. The card is fed into the processor and it pulls the film from the canister and all through the processor. Before we put the film into the processor however, we need to have a way of matching up that roll of film with the envelope so that we put the correct pictures with the correct order. We do this by attaching a numbered sticker to the film, and a duplicate of the numbered sticker to the envelope. At the end of the process we also write the number of pictures, as well as the price of the order, on the label we have attached to the envelope.

What does this have to LOCD?

I’ll get to that now.

When I am processing film I attach the label to the lower left hand corner of the envelope. I put the numbered sticker on the upper right hand corner of the envelope. I write the number of pictures on the upper left hand corner of the label. And I write the price on the lower right hand corner of the label. But sometimes, when I start my shift, there may already be envelopes sitting there waiting while the film is in the processor. That means that someone else took the order. They’ve already attached the label and the numbered sticker to the envelope.

While this shouldn’t be any big deal, sometimes they put the label in the center of the envelope. That makes it difficult to work with. Not because I can’t put the photos in the envelope or anything. I mean, there isn’t anything physical that actually stops me from processing the order, but I just get that itchy feeling in the back of my head because the label isn’t in the lower left hand corner. But I can power through that.

Sometimes they put the numbered sticker on the upper left hand corner of the label, meaning that I have to write the number of pictures on the upper right hand corner. That gets the back of my head itching something fierce.

I could always throw the envelope away and start over so that everything is where it needs to be, but again . . . . it sounds like a lot of work. So instead I deal with the itching until the order is out of my sight.

Sometimes, and this is a big one, sometimes the person before me will put the label on the envelope so haphazardly that a crease forms in the label, a crease that goes right down from the top of the label to the bottom. That’s something I won’t stand for and will have to throw the envelope and label away and start a new one myself. So there are times when the LOCD does turn to OCD, but not often.

This is my life.

I’m the one who has to live it.

I’d like to try and make some big changes in my life. Changes that will that itch out from the back of my head.

I’d like to, I really would … but it sounds like a lot of work.


  1. Damn Doc, you have officially diagnosed not only me, but about 90% of the people I work with and know. ;)

    This is good!

  2. Yeah, I'm thinking this is a universal problem!

  3. I'm looking at my desk just now. My messy desk. With the random gauze pads, leftover from a burn that healed at Thanksgiving, a bowl from some pretzels yesterday, a mountain of random pieces of paper, an old wallet another old bowl.... you get the idea.

    I feel that itch.
    And I'm soo not doing anything about it either.

  4. Have you been peeking in my windows?