29 April 2013

There's method in the madness (sometimes)

There are some positive aspects to my OCD, one being that most of the time I can find what I'm looking for. Whether keys, mobile phone or socks, everything has its place, and I know exactly where that place is. 

It seems only logical to me that I should know where my belongings are. In fact, much OCD has its basis in logical behaviour.

Most people lock their cars and front doors to keep out thieves. The person with checking OCD will repeatedly verify that they're locked, because they never feel quite sure, and are likely to have a heightened sense of responsibility for protecting others.

Most people wash their hands after using the toilet, or before preparing food, to avoid picking up or spreading germs. The person with contamination OCD will scrub themselves repeatedly, because they never feel completely clean, and may, again, feel a greater degree of responsibility than most.

My OCD takes a different form, but still has its roots in 'normal' behaviour. Most people store their belongings in a logical fashion: tins in kitchen cupboards; clothes in wardrobes and drawers; and books on shelves. The difference is that my storage system is a lot more precise.

So, back to the socks I mentioned last week. I don't just throw them into the drawer in a jumble, I sort them into categories: long and short; summer weight and winter woolly; walking and sports etc. As I'll have already arranged them in pairs on the clothes' airer - did you expect anything less? - it's a simple matter of transferring them to the right section of the drawer. 

It saves time looking for the right pair, or, indeed, any pair. You won't catch me rootling through drawers with windmilling arms and rising levels of irritation, or having to resort to one black sock and one navy. No, siree.
Photo: Peter Gettins Photography

And I'm not the only one. You can actually buy drawer dividers for your socks: just check Amazon. On the sliding scale between method and madness, I'm still firmly in the method camp.

Except, actually, I'm not. There would be method, and it would be a 'simple matter', if all I did was throw the pairs of socks into their respective piles in the drawer, but I don't. No, I have to lay them on top of each other, smoothing all the bumps and wrinkles out of the fabric as I put each sock down on top of its partner. It's a kind of fingertip ironing, which takes ages, and is where my approach tips slowly, but surely, back towards madness. 

It's a very fine line - be careful how you tread, because anyone can cross it without even realising.


Lindsay said...

How many sock drawers are fit to be photographed? My socks are bundled into pairs and every now and again laid in neatly(ish)but after a while it ends up a tangle mess and a sock or two has disappeared for ever. I think yours demonstrates far more method than madness. Rather envious and must investigate dividers.

Helen Barbour said...

I'm slightly worried by the number of people admiring my habits! - I don't want to give you all ideas... The 'bundled pairs' approach makes much more sense - it sounds like a very happy medium between a 'tangled mess' and something that resembles a shop display.

Null said...

When we censor our tendencies to be our fabulous, perfectionist selves, we go against the grain. There’s no right or wrong, no hard and fast rules. Do what feels right for you! I am an unapologetic minimalist and see nothing wrong with being neat and organized, especially when it comes to closets and drawers.

Helen Barbour said...

Null, I agree that there is a lot to be said for maintaining order - how lovely not to be the kind of people who are forever looking for things, because we know just where everything is!