I find it frustrating when people expect there to be a rational reason behind my compulsions. If it was rational it wouldn’t be OCD. I do it because my brain says so. And I pick my battles. If it isn’t something that gets in the way, I let it be. It doesn’t matter that I tap light switches or turn spoons down or change my socks several times a day or check the clock a hundred times a day (yes, literally). These things don’t impair my day to day function. So, I let them be. There is no point investing energy in fighting these compulsions when they cause no harm and don’t get in the way of anything.
What ones do I fight? The ones that cause problems. I’ve pretty well conquered the nail biting, but not the skin picking. These are worth fighting against because they cause problems. The hair pulling is less of an issue, but it is something that I try to avoid. Why? Because it can cause problems. I try to treat my body well. It’s the only one I get. Repeating what I say can be annoying to the people around me and I try to limit this one because it can impair how well I socially engage with others. But on a bad day, I let it go. Because it really doesn’t hurt anything.
Who makes the rules? I dunno. Sometimes they come externally. Things that people prefer that I do and then I become habituated into doing them which then can become something that I have to do. Why do some things become compulsions and not others? I dunno. No one does. There is no logic to this. There is no way of predicting it. Other times these rules come from inside my head. Some are life long obsessions (like checking the time) and others come and go (like tapping light switches which is fairly new). Some are things that you can see me doing (like changing my socks) while others are things that just happen in my head (like counting, I do a lot of that). Some times it’s about the order in which things are done. Doing things out of order or missing a step requires starting over.
And it gets more complex when you throw in ADHD because there are some things that I do with purpose. I frequently check things because I often get distracted and misplace or forget things. Pausing at the door before I leave the house to go through a mental check list is a way of making sure that I have everything I need for the day. This isn’t a compulsion. It’s a way of staying functional with a disorganized brain. Keeping things in the same place is a way to keep myself from loosing things. Not a compulsion. These are things that I do to help me be more functional during my day. They have purpose and a rational function.
I try to remind myself that from the outside, these things probably don’t look different. In that context, I suppose it makes sense for people to ask me why I do things. But what frustrates me is when I say “Because I do” or “Because I have OCD” they expect more. Sorry, there isn’t any more. Nope. That’s all there is. Please, don’t keep asking me and don’t expect anything else. That really is all there is to it. Unless you’d like me to go into a long explanation of how OCD works. And that’s just exhausting for everyone.