Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A label for my crazy...

Sometimes when you finally have a term or label for something or some experience in your life it all suddenly makes sense.

My old buddy from high school Eric, being the smart, attractive guy that he is, has managed to finally give me a term for a bizarre behavioural problem I had through university.

The term, you ask? Procrasti-cleaning. And I think it's an affliction I've had for some time now. While still formally undiagnosed (I have no word about whether it will be included in DSM-V), but I think any doctor could confirm my layman's diagnosis.

During the seven years I spent at university, right before major exams or when major essays were due and it truly was crunch time and there weren't enough hours in the day to accomplish what I needed to accomplish, I would start to clean obsessively.

(As a side note, I realize lots of people would certify me crazy for going to university for seven years, but since most doctors spend eight I kinda figure that "crazy" diagnosis won't be forthcoming.)

Looking at my house now, you can see I have no major exams or essays due. At the time though, I would clean my residence room/ house with roommates/ apartment furiously. Not that I was especially messy to begin with, but when confronted with the prospect of "do these things you absolutely must do in order to pass your class" I would instead choose "clean obsessively like the queen is coming to visit and will be inspecting the premises AND you will be beheaded if she does not approve."

I would wash down every surface in the house (with some roommates I lived with this was probably a wise idea anyway), vacuum every nook, cranny and spot on the carpet, tidy, go through drawers, re- fold things in my dresser drawers into neater piles (I still have, and sadly use the plastic ones I bought while I was a broke student). I would re-organize the closet, vacuum every surface imaginable (a second time), clean out the fridge, wash the sheets, clean the mirror, dust the lights, EVERYTHING you can imagine to make the room spotless, all the while knowing I should have been putting that effort into the looming deadlines I had for school work.

My good friend had a similar affliction in first year university. In our first year of university, we were terrified when faced with our first set of exams and still adjusting to being the little fish in the big pond.

We had the great fortune of having our first three university (also spelled "S-C-A-R-Y") exams on the first two days the university scheduled exams. That's three exams in barely 48 hours, and we had essays due minutes before exams started.

It was crunch time like we'd never experienced before, and what did we do? We cleaned our residence rooms (right across the hall from each other) obsessively. Oh, and we labeled a "stress relief ball" that was in the shape of a brain with the various parts we needed to know for our upcoming psych exam. We thought we may end up having to take a different "psychological" exam than the Psych 1A03 one we were scheduled to take.

Luckily, though, we made it through, and when exams were finally finished we had clean rooms to party in, but sadly both of us consumed a great deal of alcohol in a short period of time and missed going to the bar. I should apologize to Jodi's roommate Ada, on whose bed I spilled Mike's Hard Lemonade because I was under the mistaken impression (this impression may have been created by the two bottles of said beverage only minutes before) that I could drink lying down. I have since learned that lands you with a great deal of booze on your face and on your friend's roommate's bed, but very little in your mouth as you had intended. (I have also since learned that Mike's Hard Lemonade is gross and have moved on to much better alcoholic beverages.)

So, I feel relieved to finally have a diagnosis for my affliction, and, while I have no present plans to return to university (or money with which I could do so), I have to say I imagine if I ever do go back, that procrasti-cleaning will undoubtedly be part of such an experience. At least I now have a label for it. Maybe we could start a group like "procasti-cleaners anonymous" to discuss the affliction. I think we'd have to meet right before final exams.

4 comments:

Eric said...

Wow. I never realized that my little label for my compulsion to know do my work would have such an affect on someone. Um, creative recognition is due to my best friend, Jenn who helped me to come up with a label for this affliction and to my boyfriend, Rob who helped me to recognize my own temptations to procrasti-clean.

DebbieDoesLife said...

I wonder if I can also call myself a proscrati-cleaner but what I do is compulsively invite people over for dinner or the weekend thus forcing myself to clean the house. I have to have some type of motivation to clean. Clean just to clean?? Now thats crazy.

Heather said...

I do the same "invite people over (mine tend to be crazy huge and complicated) for dinner" and be forced to desperately clean the entire house as well. Somehow "people seeing me live in filth" (with 4 animals we ALWAYS have dustbowls of hair rolling across our floors, no matter how frequently we sweep and scrub them) is a tremendous motivator to get me to clean.

wordgirl said...

I do that, too. It's not that I LIKE cleaing particularly, but I NEED things around me to be straightened. I get distracted when things are cluttered or dirty.