For those who struggle with Bipolar disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is developed as a means of survival.
Living with Bip, the bipolar dragon, is not conducive to a quiet and organized mind. The constant and sudden mood swings, the whisperings of sadness and fear and failure, the smothering darkness of depression and the inability to control any of it creates feelings of overwhelming chaos within the mind. A chaos that threatens to take over your life.
Feelings of helplessness and anger grow within this chaos. It is out of a desperate need or order that I became obsessive about schedules, routines and organization. Follow through became a compulsion as I struggled to meet the goals I had set when I was in a manic phase. Disorder was what my house looked like as my five little tornadoes ran and played and laughed.
Compulsive Closet Organizer
My closest friends were kind and tolerant of the cluttered disorder of my home. They offered tips and even came to help upon occasion. It was on a day that we had gathered at my home so that our children could play that my secret came out. My friend asked for a glass and I pointed out the cupboard. Upon opening said cupboard she gasped in surprise. Every dish was neatly stacked by color, use and size. She looked at me and smiled. She then proceeded to go through every cupboard and closet in my house.
With each new discovery she laughed. Pots and pans were organized by usage and size. My small appliances were strategically placed for easy access. My spice cupboard was sorted by use and size. My pantry was categorized, alphabetized, dated and rotated. My linen closet was sorted into sheets, blankets and towels. Each category was organized by size, color, ownership and use. My supplies were organized by category, use, size and amount. My closets were sorted by clothing type, length and color.
After completing her review she turned and looked at me. “You are a closet organizer. I would have never known.”
Obsessive Scheduling and Routines
Because I could rarely follow one thought from beginning to end, let alone remember a list of things to do, I became a compulsive scheduler and list maker. Every night I would sit down and cross off my list everything that I had accomplished. I then would review my calendar and make a new list for the next day. I stuck to these like glue knowing that if I got off, even just a little bit, my entire day would fall apart. Unfortunately, I often fell apart too.Weekly Schedule:
MONDAY: Shopping, errands and pantry organization
TUESDAY: Volunteer at kid’s school and Baseball
WEDNESDAY: Laundry and ballet
FRIDAY: Bills and balance checkbook
SATURDAY: laundry, deep cleaning, yard work
6:30 a.m. – Get up and get dressed
6:40 a.m. – Get kids up and start them getting ready for school
6:45 a.m. – change and dress baby while directing children to get dressed, make beds, gather homework
7:15 a.m. – put all the children in the car and drive husband to work – 50 miles round trip
girls would brush hair – boys would put on shoes and socks – homework would be reviewed
8:20 a.m. – get children out of car and feed breakfast (bus comes and goes)
8:50 a.m. – put children in car and take older kids to school
9:00 a.m. – 3:20 p.m.
daily scheduled activities (see weekly schedule) – pickup, vacuum, sweep, mop, dishes
play with little ones, read to little ones, feed little ones
3:20 p.m. – Children home from school – snacks – homework – chores – clean kitchen – prep dinner
4:30 p.m. – put children in car and go pick up husband (50 miles round trip)
kids read to each other and played – homework was finished – each child talked about day
5:30 p.m. – get children out of car, finish dinner
6:00 p.m. – feed family
6:30 p.m. – clean up dinner – bathe children
7:00 p.m. – put children to bed
I would spend my evenings catching up on what I didn’t get done and spending time with my husband. I would get to bed around midnight.
This is a schedule that I haven’t kept in over 16 years but it was so ingrained into my life that I can remember it almost to the exact minute. Dinner, by-the-way, was made from scratch every night. I did bake cookies and treats regularly. I also did a lot of sewing to clothe myself and my children. There were variations due to life happening and a change in my husbands work schedule, but the schedule basically stayed the same.
OCS – Obsessive, Compulsive Survival
Many people who develop OCD let it take over their lives to the point that they cannot get anything done. I developed OCD as a way to survive each day. It wasn’t so much a disorder as it was a survival mechanism. I became a compulsive organizer and lived by my lists and schedules. I was obsessive about routines because they got me through the day.
I developed obsessive, compulsive tendencies as a means of lessening the disorder caused by living with a dragon. It was all about survival and the overwhelming need to create the life I wanted for my family.
Organizing compulsively isnt the same as having OCD. Suggesting a horrible disorder is something you want to developed is awful.
I know that compulsive organization is not the same as OCD. However, the obsessive need to repeat behaviors, motions, and phrases is. When you cannot not do something it can be a hindrance or an saving grace. Under certain circumstances OCD is not a horrible disorder but a survival mechanism.
When a doctor asks why you are still alive when others in the same circumstances are dead, you understand why what you did was important.
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Very few people refer to OCD as a coping mechanism…I’ve said the same thing for a long time. (I think many ‘disorders’ are also coping mechanisms. It doesn’t mean they aren’t real or extremely difficult to live with, but I think they are developed so we can cope with our lives.)
How refreshing to read your post. I’m looking forward to browsing your blog more.
There are as many coping methods as there are people. I agree that many “disorders” are just symptoms of the challenges we face. Life is filled with learning experiences. Some more overwhelming than others. Welcome to the crazy fun that is my life.