Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not your average bear: My strange quirks.

For my entire life, I've lived with a few constant quirks that I think could probably be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My actions fit what I've read about the disorder, but that being said, these actions don't really interfere with me living a normal life, so I'm certainly not going to be featured on any shows on The Learning Channel.

I'd posted a Facebook status update a week or two ago about how I'd finally come to terms with my quirks, and that I enjoy having them. I got lots of great responses from friends, although I had to laugh at some of their own diagnoses of OCD, like alphabetizing their CD collection, or double checking the locks, or making sure the stove element is off. While those things may be OCD, in my opinion they are actually very useful behaviours to have!

Conversely, mine serve absolutely no purpose in every day life. They're not destructive, like compulsive hand washing. They're just... odd.

Well? Are you ready for me to divulge my secret quirks?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

I'll start with the least bizarre of them, and we'll move forward. I'll warn you, the last one gets me the weirdest looks.

1. Foods shouldn't touch, and should be eaten in order 
I really don't think this one is that strange, but everyone who sees it in action (mostly my wife) thinks it's nuts. So for the record, I don't consider this quirky, I think I'm just picky. I like to segregate my tastes, so I make sure when I put food on my plate that it doesn't touch. Nothing drives me crazier finding peas and carrots in my mashed potatoes. If I go to a buffet and the people behind the sneeze guard just throw my food onto a big pile on my plate, I pretty much tell them to keep it.

Some people like to try a bit of each food on their plate, but not me. I don't move on to my green beans until my carrots are done. And the meat always comes last.

2. Body symmetry 
This is a little odd, but again, I don't think it's all that strange. If something happens on the left side of my body, I immediately feel the need to do it to my right. Especially when eating. I'll subliminally keep a mental count of how many times I've chewed a mouthful of food or gum on the left, and will have to do the same on my right. I don't even consciously think about it, or keep track of the bites numerically. I just have to do it.

The only time I get 'relief' from this is when drumming. Music seems to distract the part of my brain that requires this symmetry enough, that when I'm behind a kit, I'm able to be free. Wanting to play music forces me out of this behaviour - my right hand needs to keep time on the high hat, while my left hand and right foot are doing completely different things. The first time I was able to play along to a piece of music, I felt the 'symmetry itch' in my brain get scratched. It was incredible.

But, as soon as the music has stopped, I can't control the impulse, and it's back to touching my left arm if my right arm brushes up against a wall, just to 'even things out'.

3. I can't step on invisible lines that only I can see
This is by far the oddest behaviour, and every time I've tried to demonstrate what goes on in my brain to people, I get looked at like I'm from another planet.

And let me preface this by saying this is not conscious behaviour - I'm not deciding to do this.

It. Just. Happens.

My brain draws lines from objects around me.

And these lines cannot be stepped on.


See the image below. The white lines have been added by me in Photoshop. This is literally what I see when I look down at a sidewalk - every door, jut, pillar, betch, etc extends out an invisible grid line. While I walk, my brain adjusts my gait accordingly, so that my feet stay in between these lines, which exist only in my head.
Now, that doesn't seem so bad, at least not in this instance. There are places where it does become a bit challenging though.. See below..
This is how my brain interprets the spaces around me. Long ago, I just grew to accept it. Why change it? It doesn't prevent me from living a full life, or cause damage to my body. It's just... weird.

Or it's a great icebreaker at cocktail parties.

One last thing, because everyone I ever told this to has asked "What happens if you step on these imaginary lines?". Well, if I accidentally step on an imaginary line with my left foot (see #1 below), my need for symmetry kicks in and I need to purposely step on another line in the exact same area on my other foot (#2 below).
Hey, I've never claimed to be normal! Cut me some slack!

So, let me know what you think? Weird? Or what?

Currently playing: Steve Perry & Kenny Loggins - Don't Fight It
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork!
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

1 comment:

BG Honeycult said...

I agree. You show definite signs of OCD. But I wonder if the imaginary line thing is a form of synesthesia. Many artists experience some form of this fascinating condition (the ability to taste shapes, or see sound). At any rate, you sir are a freak.