I grew out of my teenage OCD behaviour. Well, mostly.

As any woman can tell you, warding off danger is second nature to us.
As any woman can tell you, warding off danger is second nature to us. Photo: Stocksy

 I walked into the bedroom and cringed. He made the bed. I could tell because the kanji-themed patch of my Sudoku quilt was not in the top left-hand corner.

I immediately re-made the bed and put the homemade blanket where it belongs: kanji square in left corner, on my side of the bed. I don't know where this urge for order comes from (my dad is ex-Navy so that may be a clue) but I do remember when my compulsive behaviour began.

I was 11 years old. My family had just moved from the city to the country. I remember having to switch the light of my new bedroom on and off five times before I felt safe. I thought if I didn't flick five times, something bad would happen.

When I saw the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets for the first time, I felt relief when Jack Nicholson's character insisted on locking his front door and clicking the light switch five times. "Phew, I'm not alone," I thought.

Before that, the only time I had heard of this sort of behaviour was when my mother talked about Howard Hughes, the Hollywood tycoon who was more famous for his obsessive compulsive behaviour (mostly about hygiene) than his film portfolio. When Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed him in the biopic, The Aviator, it's said he embraced his own childhood obsessions to better play the role of Hughes. It may have been a bit of method acting but Leo's insistence on walking back and forth through doorways got tongues wagging.

I grew out of my light flicking but when I was a teenager (after another uprooting), I became concerned with making sure every piece of corn, peas or pasta (any food) in the bag was included in the cooking process. I felt bad if that lonely macaroni curl didn't fulfil his destiny by becoming part of my dinner. If I couldn't add him to the pot (because he fell on the floor or in the sink), I would sacrifice another noodle so he wouldn't be alone. Actually, I still do this.

It's not just the rejected food and bed cover that sends my eye twitching and heart flipping. I have a number of what I like to call "domestic discrepancies" that make me want to pull my eyelashes out.

The toilet roll

I am an 'over' toilet paper roller, which means I put the toilet roll on the holder so the paper hangs over the roll, not under. If I see an 'under' roll, even at a friend's house, I change it. I know I'm not alone here, toilet rolls are a widely discussed topic.

The bathroom towels

My husband loves this one (not). We used to have a brown bathroom and matching towels. Now, the colour scheme is turquoise, grey and green. I'm thrifty so I kept some of the brown towels for camping and guest use. My husband also goes to the gym, so he has a pile of gym-only towels: white and black. I'm sure you know where this is going.

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It took a while but husband now knows not to use anything but the green, grey or turquoise towels for everyday showering. I just cannot have a mismatched towel system in my bathroom. I pretty sure this is normal behaviour. Isn't it?

Mixing laundry

I just don't understand people who mix colours and textures in the laundry. When you do this, white becomes grey and dingy. Towel fibres infect cotton and lycra, forming a fabric disease so vile the garment must be re-washed or groomed with a sticky-tape roller to within an inch of its life. Whites and lights; brights, darks, towels and linen. Sort it out.

The shelf

Kelly Exeter, my favourite Australian influencer, inspired my latest obsession: an empty shelf. When she blogged about overwhelm and the empty shelf principle, I got so frothy that I nearly cleared a nearby shelf with a clean sweep of my forearm. I didn't do that though. I calmly put away the framed photos, candles, books and trinkets that lined the lounge room mantel piece. It all went. I re-homed some, packed some in boxes and chucked some in the bin.

Now, when I need a sense of clarity and serenity, I look at that empty shelf. It's now a household rule: nothing goes on "the shelf".

Look, it would be easy to say my domestic quirks are a form of OCD, a term often thrown around when someone has unwavering worries, relentless rituals or habitual habits. In truth, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious mental condition that is often misunderstood.

My idiosyncrasies (this is just a short list) don't concern me enough to seek professional help, but I do know it is something I could discuss with my psychologist.

Right now, it's not hurting anyone. I'm embracing it as part of my personality. It doesn't interfere with my daily life or my household. If anything, it's beneficial.

I'm meticulous. I'm orderly. I'm particular. I like the kanji quilt patch in the top left corner of the bed. And I'm okay with that. My husband doesn't understand it, but he's okay with it too.