He’s not OCD. He’s just like me.

In discussing SOMETHING MISSING with a book club last night, the subject of my protagonist’s obsessive compulsive disorder arose, as it tends to do.  I was asked if Martin’s OCD was difficult to sustain throughout the novel and if any research into the condition was required.

As I often tell people, I didn’t know that Martin had OCD until much later on, after people began reading the book and saying, “Wow.  That poor guy has a serious case of OCD.  Huh?”

“No,” I would think.  “Martin doesn’t have OCD.  He’s just methodical and organized.  He’s acting like me.”

Granted, I do not think I suffer from OCD, and many people have told me that they do not think that Martin suffers from the condition.  But I’ve also received emails from more than a dozen readers who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder thanking  me for portraying Martin’s condition with such dignity.

So what gives?

When I set out to write SOMETHING MISSING, I did not envision a protagonist with obsessive compulsive disorder.  Instead, I saw a man whose career choice would require him to be methodical, rule-oriented and unwavering in his meticulous approach to life.  And while I certainly don’t posses these qualities to the degree that Martin does, they are all a part of my life to one degree or another.

I tend to be meticulous and methodical in what I do.  I establish patterns, rituals, and rules in order to improve my efficiency and speed in completing tasks.  I, too, am hyper-organized and a minimalist, constantly eliminating unnecessary things from my life in order to simplify my existence.  Parents often ask me why I was given the biggest classroom in my school, and I have to point out that all the classrooms are the same size. 

Mine is just a lot emptier than most.          

But ask my friends and family if I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and I think they would say no.  They might tell you that I possess some obsessive compulsive  traits, but not nearly enough to rise to the level of a disorder.  And that’s who I think about Martin.  If he’s obsessive compulsive, it’s only because his career demands it.  It’s a help and not a hindrance to his life, and therefore I have never viewed his condition as a genuine disorder.  

Ironically, the protagonist in my second book, UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO, undoubtedly suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, the debilitating version that can consume one’s life.

I wonder what people will think of Martin after getting to know Milo?