Sunday, 3 June 2012

OCD vs OCPD - there is a difference.

Please note: This is a rant. Or at least, it's as close to a rant as I can manage. I'm told by Macky that I'm not angry or sweary enough to truly rant, but here goes...

Have a look at this link. I'll wait. If you don't click and look, the rest of this blog post won't make sense. So go ahead and click.


So, did you feel the urge to straighten the pencils? Did you want to twist that one biscuit around so they all faced the same way? Probably. Because you have OCD, right? It's no big deal. Everyone is a little bit OCD, aren't they?
Well actually, no. You're not. You're "a little bit OCD" like I'm "a little bit pregnant". And I'm not pregnant. But I do have OCD.

If it seems like I'm slightly manic about this, it's because I am. This pervasive misconception that preferring things to be alphabetical equals suffering from OCD drives me to desperation because, like I said, I do have OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, if you're out of the mental health loop. Both a psychologist and a psychiatrist have diagnosed me with OCD. And it's hard. It's a lot harder than many people would believe.

If you know me IRL, you'll know that I need to have volumes on an even number. I mean, I have to. I nearly killed my whole family leaping from the back seat to the front seat because my brother (who was driving) decided to test out just how badly I wanted the car stereo volume on an even number. In terms of compulsions, I am thankful that I have got off lightly. I do not have the debilitating need to wash my hands over and again or to open and close doors a set number of times. But even still, this aversion to odd numbers is not my OCD. This compulsion is simply the symptom that manifests on the outside and that you can see. No, OCD is much more than this and not many people understand. Some of my closest friends may not even understand.
You are all aware that I have thanatophobia (the fear of death). But having OCD as well means I am thinking about death constantly. I am not exaggerating when I say the only relief I get from thinking about my own mortality and the inevitable deaths of my loved ones is while on a football field. That's 90 minutes in the space of a week (a total of 10,080 minutes) that I don't think about death. And yes, I even think about death in my sleep. It is exhausting. It is so exhausting that last year I decided I couldn't take this life of constant fear and thinking about death anymore. I decided to kill myself. That is OCD. It is persistent, invasive, relentless. It is continuous thoughts that disturb the sufferer and ruins their life. It is not lining your pencils up on your desk.

There is another, little known, disorder called OCPD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and this is more akin to what people believe OCD is like. People with OCPD have "a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness" whereas people with OCD  have "an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry". OCPD manifests through "a chronic non-adaptive pattern of extreme perfectionism, preoccupation with neatness and detail" but OCD manifests through "repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing the associated anxiety... of thoughts that recur and persist despite efforts to ignore or confront them".

I am not trying to play "my pain is worse than your pain', I promise. My reason for writing this is because when I (or anyone else who is legitimately diagnosed) admit to having OCD, it is not as trivial as the general public believes it to be. While many people get funny about stereo volumes or like to have their pegs matching when hanging out clothes and they have this in common with some OCD sufferers, I assure you, these people don't understand the half of what living with OCD is like. And somebody saying "I am a little bit OCD about my pegs" is just insulting. You are finicky. You are a perfectionist. You are a control-freak. But you are not OCD. You are not even "a little bit OCD". Please don't presume to know the hell that an OCD sufferer lives in on a daily basis because you like your CD's to be in alphabetical order. It's like telling someone with a brain tumor that you have a little bit of a brain tumor too because you have a headache. Please stop. You are looking foolish.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions
  • Are you willing to admit to being guilty of claiming to be "a little bit OCD"?
  • What are some common misconceptions that annoy you?

117 comments:

  1. My personal belief (incorrect as it maybe given I'm not a trained psych by any means) is that everyone probably falls somewhere between "normal" (my dislike for this word non-withstanding) and completely compulsive, with a wide range of variation in-between.

    Myself I have jokingly been called 'fairly OCD' at times but I know that I don't sit at work getting annoyed/anxious that my books at home aren't all in the correct order, however I do know that sometimes I will notice something isn't in order/organised correctly and it will bother me... enough that I have to consciously stop myself from "correcting" it

    If that's OCD or OCPD or something else all together (hey we're all a little strange) is neither here nor there, everyone is a little different.

    PS remind me to turn off the radio if we ever go driving together :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do agree to a degree. I think it's human nature to want to control your environment & some feel this desire stronger than others - the scale of normal that you hinted at. The point of my post however is to point out that having OCD does not mean trying to control the order and neatness of my environment. I am literally compelled to act to distract myself from horrific, invasive thoughts. And these are very different things. :) xx

      Delete
    2. shadowofadream:If you want to know what ocd can feel like from a sufferer, read my post below. Jazhiaran.

      Delete
    3. To sum it up in case you can't be bothered :-P Doing tics and other things like samanthas volume thing makes you feel very dirty, filthy and tired. But if you don't do them, your family will die, you will die, or some thing well suffer badly. that is the belief. And you have to do it/perfectly/. Which means repeated,a lot.

      Delete
  2. As a severe sufferer if ocd myself,i agree completely with all samantha has said. People saying they are ocd gets to me too.
    Do they constantly believe that if they don't hum a song or cluck in their throat, whilst thinking specific phrases, whilst walking on the spot, whilst nodding their head violently, and blinking in time while touching the oven switch and stretching your arm out..all at the same time, because if you don't the house will burn down, you will die, or something else bad will happen? No, they don't. Does it take them an hour of checking and exhausting rituals before they can leave the house, otherwise something bad will happen? No. Do they have invasive thoughts of hurting themselves? Likely not. The turmoil this causes to an ocd sufferer is extreme.and then they gave to try and act "normal" in public, because they learned from an early age that people seeing it will cause them to make fun of them. I sat on a bus as a teenager and was hit on the head and teased relentlessly for am hour every day because i had a severe noddingtic. I have severe head pain every day because of the damage i did to myself, that they helped perpetuate. Doing tics makes you feel very dirty, filthy and tired.but if you don't, your family will die. And top be normal in public, you have your public tics, which were less notice...but often more damaging. My leg is currently in agony due to a leg tic I've had done i was young...one that involves over stretching the muscle.but it isn't add noticeable as others, so that and others including checking are in public instead ofturning eyes almost out of sockets, stretching arm like you're doing the chicken dance, flaring nostrils and a new one, bending my neck add far to the left add i can...making it grind. Im in a constant state of fear and have so much loathing for myself. I hate being me. And i hate those puerile throughout my life who have made me hurt myself for their entertainment...thus propogating my hate for myself for not being able to control it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your honesty, Jazhiaran! xx

      Delete
    2. I remember when my tourettes ticks were worst in middle and early high school but I cannot imagine having those combined with such crippling anxiety. Being able to control my environment and settle my mind (sunglasses in crows are a must) are tricks I am lucky and glad to have, I know that my girlfriend has some of these more severe anxiety issues and often obsesses over death and I'm just realizing that the way she acts may be closer to obsessive compulsive than the common 'joke' definition made it seem. What has anyone found that those around them can do to make anxiety easier? (as compulsions themselves don't seem to be what is treatable)

      Delete
    3. For my OCD, because it was leading to suicidal thoughts and behaviour, I was forced to go on medication (Zoloft) to alleviate my anxiety. Other things that can help are meditation, yoga & therapy (or just talking about things.) Finding someone patient enough to listen to me as thoughts go round and round and round in my head can be such a blessing.
      From your use of the word 'middle school' I assume you aren't in Australia. In Australia, a GP can prescribe a mental health plan which entitles you to twelve free sessions with a psychologist per year. Perhaps your country has something similar that you or your girlfriend could utilise? Good luck and thank you for reading! xx

      Delete
    4. Meh. :-/ Zoloft never helped me. Just made me very ill. I'm on Pristiq anti-dep (prev. Lexapro) now, but that's for some pain relief due to constant pain from injuries. Doesn't do much, takes me down to a 6/10 unless I'm stressed during exams. Doesn't do a thing for the OCD or anxiety I'm afraid. But I'm glad Zoloft helps you somewhat! I've actually developed one extra very visible tic since I moved back to Tas. I was getting so good at hiding them in public, too. :-(

      Delete
    5. Jeez, I just noticed how many typos and missing word there are in my post, due to me doing it on my silly phone.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for posting. I too am suffering from OCD. I have good days and bad. I lost three whole years to the disease back in the middle 90's when I was paralyzed by fear and suicidal. I am doing much better now but will never be free.
    Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior
    by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Beverly Beyette
    This book changed my life for the better around 1997. If you have not heard of it I would suggest a purchase. Well worth the money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your story & for the suggested reading. I will try to get hold of that book. I'm glad to read you've escaped the worst of the clutches of OCD. xx

      Delete
  4. Things like this annoyingly hard to read font drives my OCD crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha. I'm sorry, I'm a writer, not a designer. I wanted it to look like my hadnwriting since these are all my thoughts. I've changed it to Times New Roman because surely nobody can have complaints about that. :) xx

      Delete
  5. I'm sorry about the OCD, but if you want to criticize others for misusing a term, you should be aware that every woman who has ever suffered a miscarriage or still birth knows that you can, in fact, be "a little bit pregnant."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, she was pregnant to a certain point. After the embryo or fetus died, she wasn't pregnant anymore.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, there is no such thing as "a little bit pregnant" and I would think someone who had suffered a miscarriage (and especially a stillbirth) would be offended if you told them they were simply "a little bit pregnant". xx

      Delete
  6. As someone who has suffered multiple miscarriages and a nnd I do not find the term "a little bit pregnant" insulting. You are pregnant or you are not pregnant. Just like Samantha is saying with OCD.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OCD - wow, here in Italy it's quite uncommon to be diagnosed with that. I mean, we might be having OCD, but no one knows since we don't take tests... not until it gets really bad, and then it's officially diagnosed. According to a test I'm 49% at risk - LOL. Does it mean that I'm "a little bit suffering OCD"? No and yes.
    The volume on even numbers or multiple of 5... yeah, I know it... nearly died because I was "controlling" the compulsion of moving the volume lever to 24 instead of 23 - the car was going on its own while my eyes were on the road but my mind on the volume: "is ok even on 23... listen, don't worry... 23 is quite-"-- "HEY, BRAKE DAMMIT!!- so close to meet Thanatos. Thanks God I was not alone in the car.

    Since then I simply put the volume on even numbers, and if sitting in someone else car... I don't watch the volume bar. It's not all about that I do have some others symptoms but I was never in danger because of them - like matching colours of my clothes.

    Ok, sorry for bad grammar, and making a short story long. Some of us might be suffering OCD but 90% of the times it doesn't affect our lives, and we don't get diagnosed at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel your pain with the volume & driving. Very distracting. I didn't seek medical help for my OCD, but the thanatophobia. In fact when my psychologist asked about my compulsion, when I described some of them to him, I actually said "But I'm not OCD. I know I just have weird habits." In fact, I was OCD. I would imagine that unless the compulsive behaviours were debilitating, one wouldn't seek medical help. It's too expensive. And than you for sharing! xx

      Delete
    2. I've been going through a bad period after my left lung collapsed; so I fully understand your thanatophobia. I've been lucky enough to fall in a deep but short depression - so I only spent a couple of years thinking about death 24/7. I still do, but now I can turn that off most of the time (paint, photography, soccer, fixing things, et cetera).
      But in my case it was post traumatic stress disorder, not a phobia, which is harder to manage.

      I wish you all the luck in the world! :^)

      Ciao,
      Pietro.

      Delete
    3. Hi again Pietro, it sounds like we have a lot in common. My thanatophobia is associated with C-PTSD stemming from my parent's divorce. I know that sounds like a lame trauma to suffer but I was 11 and it affected me deeply. I'm so sorry you are able to identify with so much of my pain as well as having all your own individual problems to deal with. Please keep in touch, it seems we could help each other with understanding. xx

      Delete
    4. Hi Samantha, I definitely will follow your blog. I've added you to one of my circle in google+.

      ciao,
      Pietro.

      Delete
    5. Fantastic! I've added you right back! xx

      Delete
    6. georgotos. Jeez, I wish I was only suffering your amount of "OCD".
      I quote "Some of us might be suffering OCD but 90% of the times it doesn't affect our lives, and we don't get diagnosed at all."

      Actually, if you have severe OCD, it takes you an hour to leave your house every day. I think that that is being affected in your daily life quite a bit. Having the invasive thoughts continually through your day IS invasive and affects ones life a great deal. I take great offence to you stating what I read as 'oh, yeah... you don't have to be diagnosed. and you can get by in your days without problems.' that sounds like you're telling me to "get over it".

      I wasn't diagnosed with the severe OCD I was very aware of having until I was 13 because I was being so badly teased about it. My parents were so scared I was going to kill myself due to my nodding tic which was very violent and caused me a lot of pain. I went to the psychiatrist twice and begged my mum not to take me back because it felt like I was being pigeonholed, all because other people teased me. They should have been at the psychiatrist, not me.
      I then didn't go to a psychiatrist again until 2006, when he made me feel like shit about myself. Then I didn't go back. I went to a psychologist for crippling injury pain in 2008 when medication just wasn't doing the trick. it was there I explained what I go through. She started to help me alongside my injury pain, then workers comp found out and cut me off.

      So, you see - a person does NOT have to be diagnosed to know that they've got a crippling mental disease like OCD. and the very fact that I'm over an hour late when going out anywhere is one reason I know that "99% of the time, my OCD affects my life BADLY".

      Delete
    7. Jazhiaran, hi. I didn't answer promptly because I missed your reply. Sorry for such a long delay in the conversation.

      Don't take it personally! There are different degrees of OCD, I am really sorry to read how badly it affects (and affected) your life. If I am still at the University at 30y.o. it's because I've lost a lot of classes because I got stuck at my place. I was not even able to get nearby the door without getting anxious.
      The idea of going outside killed me, I felt weak and vulnerable, not fit to live among others. I studied for exams for months, then the very day of the test I got fever due to the fear of doing something wrong or dying driving to the University. I saw mechanical failure behind any "strange" noise of the car, panicking behind the wheel.

      Guess what? I was not even aware that OCD existed. I didn't felt that my life was affected by anything. So no. I didn't get diagnosed OCD, until I went to speak to my doctor of those things. They said I was 49% at risk. So yes, there are different degrees of OCD - mine is post traumatic, and now it's different from 5 yours - as you said "if you have severe OCD"... I do not have severe OCD. I have what we might call, mild OCD. I suffers thanatophobia, and now acquired dyslexia... I once was a fine writer (in italian), now I can barely write decently.

      Occasionally I have to fight the depression back. I'm almost out of it... but when it comes back I feel more lost than ever, I start to spend a lot of time on chatrooms, social networks, etc. Probably I am creeping out someone on twitter lately, I apologize.

      Then to me is more debilitating the depressure than the mild OCD. It is not a race between who is "worst", we all have your sickness and fears.
      I really feel sorry that my comment hurt you.
      I wish you all the best :^)

      Ciao,
      Pietro.

      Delete
  8. So is there a proper term for when someone has what would be a very mild form of the ocpd? Like when there are only a couple specific things that bother them, or if there is just a comfort factor in knowing something is a certian way?

    Like myself, I cant stand if a picture is even slightly crooked, and I feel better if the volume is a multiple of 5, and I hate crooked lines of stuff, but none of it is to the point where I would constantly have to fix it if someone kept messing it up. Although I also have short attention span with my ADD/Aspergers... whole 'nother issue there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Flamewolf393, I'm not sure. I'm not a psychologist. I can only relate what I do know, which is my own experience with OCD. It may not be something that warrants a diagnosis but simply personality traits. Perhaps you could just be classed as a perfectionist? Sorry to hear you have your own troubles with ADD & Aspergers. :) xx

      Delete
    2. We Aspies can definitely be fanatical about certain types of orderliness, but at least for me, it a) is only a few things, like crooked furniture, and b) I feel uncomfortable when things are out of whack like that, but nothing anywhere near like what you described. I guess you could say that it's like an itch I can't ignore.

      Delete
    3. Try looking up Sensory Processing Disorder. OCD, ADD, ADHD, and some other disorder fall into that category on a wide spectrum. Occupational Therapy can be beneficial. There are also many books that can help.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for reading. I'm going to assume my post didn't elicit anything more than a yawn from you because you already know all the details I have shared about life with OCD. So good for you. xx

      Delete
  10. Would a mild case of OCD or ocpd simply be called "mild OCD" rather than "a little bit OCD" but as Samantha is saying, it's something to be diagnosed by a medical professional. Like someone saying "oh I'm depressed today" try living with depression and see how that feels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it was actually OCD or OCPD, then yes, I suppose so. But this is something that should be diagnosed by a trained medical professional and would require treatment to ease the suffering of the person in question. As to the depression comment, yes - I imagine people who legitimately suffer from depression get sick of hearing that too. xx

      Delete
    2. Subclinical OCD is a more accurate term, although if you don't meet criteria for diagnosis, you do not have the disorder. While in real life it is not black and white, in the DSM it is.

      Delete
    3. There we go! We are all learning! :) Thanks, anonymous! xx

      Delete
  11. In this post where you vent about the phrase "a little OCD," I am curious what you meant when you wrote, "I'm slightly manic about this." I don't want to assume that you were using "manic" (which has been another way of referring to bipolar disorder) in the same way that non-OCD people use "a little OCD." Hence, my question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do understand what you are saying but manic has its uses in writing.
      man·ic/ˈmanik/
      Adjective:
      Showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy: "manic enthusiasm".
      Frenetically busy; frantic: "the pace is manic as we near our deadline".
      I can see the similarities for somebody who suffers, for example, 'manic depression' but manic is an adjective in its own right. xx

      Delete
    2. Actually Manic Depression, is Manic Depressive, which is another class of bi polar disorder.

      Delete
  12. Samantha thank you. I have suffered from severe OCD from whole life. None of those pictures bothered me. My OCD involves other issues. I, too, hate it when someone says "I'm so OCD." No, you're neurotic or anal. You are not crying or shaking or panicking because of intrusive behaviors or thoughts. You cannot be OCD. You can be obsessive. You can have OCD but you can't be OCD. I am glad I am not the only one who felt this way about this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for understanding my point. I am, however, sorry you understand. *hugs* xx

      Delete
  13. I lost a job because while my boss was giving me an important tasking, I was trying to adjust his sentences in my head to add up to seven (or a multiple of seven) syllables, and missed the direction. If I hear a phone number in a movie, I waste a lot of time not listening to the rest of the movie trying to use division, multiplication, addition, subtraction, fractions, exponents, roots and any other math I know to get the final product to seven. Those are just a few examples of my uncontrollable need, and shutdown (not preference) until I can get things worked out to my obsession. I have a strong germ aversion, too, but it has not worked itself up to the disaster of those with compulsions. What few compulsions I have are not nearly as invasive as my number obsession, though I will not touch raw cotton - even the thought of it is driving my anxiety much higher right now. I have suffered with a headache for two days because my wife was away, and nobody was around to remove the cotton plug at the top of a new aspirin bottle. All of this because of a weird, unexplained basal ganglia infarct I suffered when I was nineteen years old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's at times like these I again understand how easy I get off with my compulsions. My thoughts of death are all too pervasive but I am highly functioning enough to hold down a job and for that I am grateful. *hugs* xx

      Delete
  14. For those people who have OCPD or love somebody with it, this mixup is just as frustrating. Hardly anyone, even mental health professionals even KNOWS about OCPD.

    It's a very real, disabling condition, strongly linked with perfectionism. People with OCPD often ruin relationships because they are constantly "fixing" their partners. They lose jobs because they turn in projects late (can't turn 'em in till they're perfect!) or telling their bosses all the things they are doing wrong. They can devastate the self-esteem of any children because they are constantly telling them they are too noisy, messy, and their grades and athletic performances aren't "perfect."

    Whichever disorder people might have (in some cases, it's co-morbid and the person has BOTH), except in the lightest cases, it's not cute, not funny, but horribly painful for the person who has it and his/her loved ones alike.

    Thanks for helping to bring to light this common misunderstanding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello The Writing Goddess,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope I have helped, in some very small way, make people aware of the differences with OCD, OCPD & just being a bit finicky about things. xx

      Delete
  15. Thanks, Samantha. Got to your blog from Buzzfeed. I, too, am diagnosed with OCD and also a medical student- so you can imagine how many times a day one of my colleagues says something about "being so OCD". It drives me insane. Everyone thinks about OCD as needing things to be straight or alphabetical, and NO one knows about the dark side of OCD- the intrusive thoughts and dark feelings you can't get rid of. I'm in a good place now, but I've been in crippling places where my brain has convinced me I'm a horrendous person not worthy of being alive, all because I can't shake off a simple thought like most people can. Thanks for your post, and I wish more out there would realize what those with true OCD are going through, because I cannot think of anything worse than your own mind betraying you every day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi friend, even medical students do this? I thought they would be educated enough to know how NOT actually OCD the behaviour in this blog is. That must be double frustrating for you, knowing that they should know better. I hope they never have to deal with someone with OCD in a medical sense because I would be gobsmacked if my doctor lined up his papers before saying to me "Sorry, I'm just a bit OCD about these things." I'm sorry to hear of your struggles but happy that you are in a good place now! xx

      Delete
    2. Even psychology students do this unfortunately.

      Delete
    3. Oh, really?! Wow... I would assume it doesn't come from a place of ignorance about what the disorder entails and more "joining in the joke". And like I've said, the joke doesn't offend me. It's the ignorance regarding the truth. This still perpetuates the myth though. :( xx

      Delete
  16. As a cognitive neuroscientist, I have to say the arguments you yourself you are making are somewhat "foolish" and show a profound lack of understanding of mental illness and how the brain works.

    Your analogies to pregnancy and brain tumors are just plain wrong. There is a test for both of those conditions, and the test is is either positive or negative because the thing (fetus or tumor) is either there or it isn't. This is not the case with mental illness. Mental illnesses are almost always a spectrum of severity of symptoms. Mental illness is diagnosed by matching your symptoms with a pre-defined list (in the US the DSM-IV), which was determined by a committee of scientists. This list gets updated and changed over the years to reflect ongoing research and improved understanding of the brain. So unlike most medical test, the answer and a diagnosis is almost never black and white. Ask 20 doctors if you have a brain tumor, they'll all say yes. Ask 20 psychiatrists/psychologists for a mental health diagnosis, and you'll probably get at least 5 different answers.

    And as you can see from the comments so far on this post, there is certainly a wide range of the severity of symptoms in mental illness. There is even a term for those with "tendencies" or symptoms that match a mental illness diagnosis but are not severe: sub-clinical. Thus some people might very well have some symptoms of OCD (or depression, or anxiety), but they do not reach a "clinical" level, usually meaning they are not so severe as to significantly disrupt your life. The line between "having" OCD or any other mental illness is fuzzy, and is set by people like me. You might have crossed the line to get a diagnosis of OCD, but as you said, you can still function and hold a job. Others (some of whom have posted here), have such severe OCD they can barely function. It is entirely possible that the "line" could even be moved by scientists so that only those who's symptoms are so severe they cannot function officially have OCD. (This really is a possibility, mental illnesses are redefined all the time.) But I think you'd agree that if this happened, you would still think you had OCD and you would be right, because it is a spectrum.

    I hope you are getting my point. The brain is extraordinarily complicated, and mental illnesses are overall very poorly understood. There is very little that is black and white, and "you have it or you don't", in the way that is true in most of the rest of medicine.

    So actually, people can be a "little" OCD, just like people can be a little depressed, and on the autism spectrum disorder but be overall perfectly functional, and be slightly dyslexic. If these things rise to the level they severely impact your life, people seek treatment and get diagnosed. But that diagnosis is not so clear cut.

    I'm also not sure why you are ranting about this post and OCD? I'm sorry for your difficulties and I certainly do not mean anything that I'm saying to be mean or hurtful. But I'm trying to understand why you are upset? Is it that you want others to feel sorry for you and what you go through? Or do you want people to better understand mental health problems? Certainly people should be more educated on mental illness. But I don't think people feeling sorry for others does a whole lot of good in the end, nor does going on about comparisons of conditions and "I have it so much worse, you don't even understand". There will always be someone worse off than you: cancer patient, severe schizophrenic; and someone better off than you. I also think being overly sensitive to people making light of medical conditions doesn't do much good either. On the contrary, if you work with people with severe medical issues I think perspective and humor are extremely important in actually helping people to get better. I'm not sure what a lot of handwringing over perceived slights does to actually help people?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a cognitive neuroscientist, you are definitely more qualified to comment on the medical side of OCD. And if you read my post and subsequent comments you will see that I have limited all medical talk to what I know to be true in my case. That is all. But as a cognitive neuroscientist, surely you know the dangers and frustrations when people 'self-diagnose' themselves? I do know that the quantifying factors of a mental illness are constantly changing and moving, better than you have given me credit for.
      Also, as to your question of why I am ranting, please know I am deeply offended by your implication that I wrote this post to elicit sympathy or to declare "I have it so much worse" as if you paid any attention, you will see that I expressed how grateful I am that my compulsions - and it is the compulsions that people see - do not limit me from carrying out normal daily activities. I am extremely thankful that the manifestations of my OCD are so mild and I said that explicitly. I am NOT overly-sensitive. I was diagnosed two years ago and this is the first time I've said anything and it's only because, as people here have confirmed, the general public is actually not well informed as to what OCD actually entails. I wrote this to correct some misconceptions and to raise awareness of an issue. What is the harm in educating a few people?
      If you happened to read anymore of my blog you would see I am a very positive, honest and easily self-deprecating person.
      Having said all that, I do appreciate you taking the time to read my post, comment and open up a discussion. xx

      Delete
    2. If you're a professional, you should think carefully about diagnosing, or commenting on people who you have not met and observed in person. Shame on you.

      Delete
    3. I posted before but I don't want my two posts to be able to be linked. I have a degree in cognitive neuroscience from an institution in which part of the field was founded, as well as work in the medical field. This "cognitive neuroscientist" is hopefully not a therapist in any way because he/she is incredibly insensitive. Yes, mental illness is a spectrum. I understand that. However, there is a VERY firm line between people truly suffering the horrifying nature of the disorder and those who think its funny to call themselves "OCD" because they need to straighten out a pencil. And that can be very frustrating for someone really suffering, because OCD by nature is a disease in which you already feel alone and misunderstood- you know you're not thinking logically yet have to do these things- and feel that no one can understand. So to hear people who truly don't understand using your disease to talk about behaviors that they find funny or that maybe are a mild annoyance to them is incredibly hurtful. The fact that you claim to be a professional in neuroscience but are actually seemingly arguing against treating mental illness as a medical disorder scares me. That is the kind of realm of thought that most of us in the medical field are trying to eradicate so that people who are suffering don't feel as if they can't come forward and seek help, or don't feel marginalized as if what they are suffering is not real, or they are simply "not dealing with it" as well as others. It is a line. It is a diagnosis. There are plenty of biological diseases NOT like pregnancy (yes, we all agree, you're pregnant or you're not) where actually it is NOT understood exactly how the process takes place. Ever heard of idiopathic diseases? These are medical disorders that are diagnosed "clinically"- as in through fitting into a pattern of physical exam findings and laboratory tests in which you may have some but not all of the findings- but enough to diagnose and begin to treat the disease. This is exactly the same as mental illness. And there is a clear line between who has it and who does not. And it marginalizes and frustrates those suffering when others casually lament about their "OCD"- and makes them feel as if perhaps they need to handle it better. No one would ever argue that it would be insulting to compare feeling tired one day to someone struggling everyday with something like narcolepsy or diagnosed idiopathic hypersomnia- many people have to be on disability because of the horrible somnolence that comes with these diseases. We all feel tired sometimes, but those who really have these diseases feel it on a completely different, uncontrollable level. Much like mental health diseases. I'm rather shocked by the "professional" neuroscientist's comments above.

      Delete
    4. Thank you so much for providing another viewpoint from such a similar medical standpoint. I welcome discussion (but I am secretly relieved to read you sticking up for me). xx

      Delete
    5. It seems like my replies are now just being deleted? I thought this was a constructive discussion on how to improve and educate about mental health issues. But for some reason I guess not? Oh well.

      Delete
    6. I have absolutely not deleted ANY replies. Please feel free to try again but do NOT accuse me of deleting anything that is contributing to a discussion. I WILL delete comments that are hurtful or triggering for readers but I am thankful to not have had to do that as yet. So if your comments are not showing, it is not because I have deleted them. Thank you. xx

      Delete
    7. Hi Samantha,

      I'm very sorry if you weren't deleting the posts. I'm not sure what's happening then since it's happened twice, strange. I'll try again. Thanks for you comment. Appreciated.

      Delete
    8. I feel like I have to defend myself because the other Anonymous poster appears to be completely misreading what I've said.



      Where did I say or "seemingly argue" that we should not be treating mental illness?? I completely think we should be both treating mental illness and educating people on the brain and mental health issues. I don't think anywhere I said otherwise and that was my purpose in posting. People should always seek help if they need it.


      
I also did not try to specifically diagnosis anyone. Why would I do that?

      

Part of my point in saying that mental illness and diagnosis of mental illness is not black and white is to try to remove some of the stigma mental illness through education about the brain: we all have the potential to develop mental illness. In a reply post that seemed to have been deleted or not get posted for some reason I point out that the brain is an incredibly complex system involving many many different processes, loops, and reactions, etc. that are in a delicate balance in everyone. We diagnosis someone as mentally ill when something gets out of whack enough or "breaks" so as for it to have a negative impact on their life that they want to resolve. But these processes are present in all of us and thus we all have the potential for something to go wrong. And the process(es) that might cause a person to make a possibly insensitive comment that "that was very OCD of me" is probably related in the end to what goes very wrong with those with clinically diagnosed OCD.


      
And I certainly agree that there are very obvious differences between the flippant "that was an OCD thing I did" person and someone with debilitating mental illness. But as you agreed it is a spectrum, and thus if it's a spectrum any line of diagnosis is in some sense arbitrary.



      I would actually hope that the points I've made would be reassuring to someone suffering mental health issues. There is NOT always a clear line between who has a mental illness and who does not. If it were black and white there would not be psychiatrists giving contradictory diagnoses in court cases, and there would not be some of the other comments from people on this blog about stories of delayed or changed diagnoses. Thus, if psychologist/psychiatrist X doesn't clinically diagnose you with a mental illness, that doesn't mean what you are experiencing is not real and that you should not seek treatment.

      

The line of diagnosis in mental illness is not always clear, and both clinicians and patients should recognize it as such and understand that it is almost necessarily that way given how complex the brain is. Doing so should make it easier for the clinician to treat the patient, and should encourage the patient to seek help. In mental health (and likely all medicine), you are more than simply your diagnosis. And because you do or do not cross some line agreed upon by committee should not really change the treatment of your problems.

      Delete
    9. The points you made are not reassuring.
      For the most part you're just being obtuse.

      Having the media constantly misrepresent and downplay a disorder you have can be a frustrating thing, and if you haven't noticed, Samantha's article has bred a lot of brave sharing.
      If you can't understand that frustration, then try relating it back to something more relavent to yourself. Imagine if everyone thought that cognitive neuroscience was a joke.
      Thankfully we don't, and I would be grateful to people like the second person with a cognitive neuroscience degree for the way they represent themselves, countering your own destructive posts.

      Delete
  17. Hi Samantha. I love your post.
    I have severe OCD that is partially controlled by medication and therapy. Most of my symptoms involve thought rituals, which means people rarely see me doing something compulsive.
    When I was in high school I spent 8 hours a day writing and rewriting stories that came from my anxieties and nightmares. One of my past therapists said "You had a full-time job in high school!" My family and several adolescent therapists did not know what to do with me because I did not display the normal signs of severe mental illness. That only started happening when I moved out on my own after college.
    Even then, I had a new therapist who, whenever I started talking about my OCD, refused to believe I had it and would say, "What does that have to do with the depression?" She had the gall to ask me whether I really wanted to get better! It took 12 years to get the OCD diagnosis and only after I threatened to fire my psychiatrist if she didn't test me. I hit on 80% of the obsessive thought processes! So obviously not everyone working in the social work/counseling/psychology/psychiatry field knows what they are doing.
    These days I have been in remission from the OCD-related depression for a little over a year and I am getting a better grip on the OCD through a different approach to therapy that was developed for people with a specific personality disorder (which I have too, but would rather not reveal here.) I have better coping skills, I am working part-time and I am finally able to addressing physical illnesses that I couldn't deal with when my mind wasn't clear.
    Some of the photographs in the "19 things..." do make me uneasy, mostly the ones in which one tile is misplaced. I actually had that in my home when I was a teenager. My parents recently sold that house and I told them I had wanted to pry up and switch the two tiles that were misplaced. These days my compulsions are mostly related to cooking (terrified of getting food poisoning), when my hands get dirty (MUST get all of the dirt off, although I don't wash until my hands are raw), and the same as you, fear of death. My fear of death used to be so bad that during certain panic attacks I would write "anti-suicide notes" to my family telling them I didn't kill myself. These days my growing faith in a higher power has allowed me to have much more peace with the death issue.
    I do hope that you are able to live well with OCD. I'm getting there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Anonymous! This is what I was trying to get at! The person who actually does suffer (in the very true sense of the word) from OCD and few people realise what a living nightmare it actually can be.
      I also do the mental patterns in an attempt to appease my anxiety. I make complicated deals and barter things in my head to convince myself that bad things will not happen. I also have numbers associated with different people I love.
      I absolutely agree that some of the images would cause anxiety for particular sufferers of OCD but only if that was related to the compulsion you have latched on as a coping mechanism for the relentless thoughts or anxiety. For example, I would have felt physically ill if one of the images had of been as a stereo or TV volume on an odd number.
      Thank you and I'm so pleased to read you are on your way to finding peace in yourself. I wish you nothing but the best! xx

      Delete
    2. Yes, making deals and barters... I've been there, too. I was born with multiple physical problems and have had 12 surgeries in my life (facing at least two more in the future) and had traumatic episodes related to them when my care was neglected... This led me to think that I would die the next time I had surgery so I would make deals with God about it. Of course I have come through pretty well, and before my last surgery I was actually in good spirits and joyfully prayerful before I was put under anesthesia. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I've come to realize OCD is "a disease of reversed probability." I spend 90% of my time worrying about the 10% chance something bad will happen. Yes, you can copy that!

      Delete
  18. This post lead me to your blogs on death in October and November of 2011. I commented on a couple of them, but I don't know if you see comments on old posts so I just wanted to thank you for sharing your fear. I am also afraid of dying because I start thinking of not existing, which leads to panic attacks. If my mind stops working, it's like I'm erased, and I don't want to be erased. I would be okay with it if I could dream about my life after I die or look down on the world, but that's unfortunately not something I believe in. I haven't found anyone else who is disturbed by this in the way that I am until reading your blog. Writing this is upsetting me, so I really appreciate what you've written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi SB,
      Thank you so much for reading & I am so thankful that I have achieved what I set out to do when I started this blog. One person feels less alone. My job is done. Thank you for your other comments, of course I found and read each one. I am so sorry you are dealing with the same fears and pain. If you haven't already, please feel welcome to join my thanatophobia support group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thanatophobia-Fear-of-death/260482840647034
      I wish you peace and happiness! If you ever want to talk more or ask questions, please get in contact. xx

      Delete
  19. I had a quesion about one of your first replies about waning to control your environment. I have major depression and PTSD, and I obsess/ruminate about things a lot. My brain goes in circles. But I feel like it prevents me from actually being neat and orderly (along with some physical ailments, chronic pain problems, etc although I know that wouldn't stop a person with OCD." I've joked that I have reverse OCD because my apartment is a huge mess and I have friends who have OCD and say they don't feel comfortable in my apartment. I have stuff somewhat organized but they don't like that everything is out where I can see it. They think my apartment is "dirty" because everything isn't put away but if I put everything in a cabinet or drawer I'm so busy worrying about other stuff that I can't remember where I put anything and make a worse mess.

    I don't think my apartment means my life is out of control. I was raised by a person with OCD and when I was a kid I had the traits- there are pictures of me lining up my stuffed animals in a row, by color and stuff. But the person who raised me wouldn't let me clean anything because she said I Did it wrong. She even redoes the dishes after her husband. Now i get so anxious about having to clean and stuff that I get overwhemed and can't do anything and people make fun of and look down on me. What do you think is wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear anonymous,
      I really wish I could help you. Unfortunately I'm trained in any medical field and only have the diagnosis and information given to me by psychologists and psychiatrists - but all the information I have is tailored specifically to me. I have OCD but outside of my bedroom (which is usually very straight and ordered) I am rather messy. So you can't discount OCD because of that. Cleanliness or neatness is not always what OCD entails.
      In differentiating between OCD and OCPD, it's more to do with the thought process, as I understand it. I have clearly identifiable thoughts that I can't control and the compulsions (volumes on even numbers, mentally assigning numbers to things) are ways to cope with these thoughts. OCPD is more of a perfectionist attitude towards many things. It is the order, symmetry and patterns that maintain calm.
      But in all actuality, I could never pretend to diagnose you or even hazard a guess. If you are in Australia, please see a GP as mental health plan affords you twelve free sessions with a psychologist per year. That is where I started my journey. It is only as I got suicidal that I had to fork out the big bucks to see more professionals. But a few sessions of therapy can benefit even the sanest amongst us, I feel! Thank you for reading and good luck! Please keep me posted, however you can! xx

      Delete
    2. I live in the US. I found you through the buzzfeed post.

      I'm sorry that you had to deal with being suicidal too. It's so painful and so many people don't get it.

      I have thoughts I can't control but they are more either flashbacks or worrying about something that could happen (like being broken up with- which did really happen, an elderly relatve dying, etc.) But I don't have any way to calm myself down. My aparment freaks some people out but being neat and orderly doesn't calm me down or help stop me from freaking out and having panic attacks.

      Delete
    3. Hi, I'm sorry to hear of your battles with anxiety and (if I read your post properly) your thoughts of suicide. Have you tried meditation? It's not for everyone but sitting & putting some music on & focusing on that music gives me a minute or two of peace from my own thoughts. it's like letting my brain take a quick nap before getting back into the incessant worrying. Thanks for reading & taking the time to comment. xx

      Delete
  20. I came across your article through a Buzzfeed post. You know, one of my very close friends has OCD, and its damn annoying when people think it's kinda cool to say they're SO OCD.

    I have seen my friend suffer for hours at a go...locking and unlocking the door until the handle broke...worrying that everyone in his family was going to get infected and die....not being able to fill out one of the most important exams of his life because it was a multiple choice question paper, and all circles had to be perfectly filled in with his pencil....I've seen his world turn upside down in a matter of a few years.

    I wish people would understand things before they said it.

    It's insulting when they do, really.

    When I came across the buzzfeed article I felt angry. Really angry. Research your crap before putting it down on words people!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shreya,
      thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I debated including a comment in my psot similar to yours, "people think it's kinda cool to say they're SO OCD." I couldn't bring myself to accuse some people of saying that, thought it would be too much of a contentious point for argument but I agree 100%. Your friend sounds like one of those sufferers I am thankful not to be. He's lucky to have a friend like you though!
      Thank you so much for your comment. xx

      Delete
  21. Samantha, thank you for your post! I agree with you that the term OCD is thrown around too much these days. I've suffered from OCD for as long as I can remember - going back over 20 years to my pre-teen days. It's surfaced in many forms - harmless compulsions, compulsions that cause physical pain out of some form of violent curiosity, violent repeating thoughts involving death, and inappropriate thoughts that refuse to go away. When I was younger it manifested in my bulimia, as I grew older I became very depressed and suicidal, but now I'm in my thirties and have learned to just deal with it. I have no intense need for things to be perfect, but I will admit that a lot of those pictures made me feel uneasy. I do have annoying compulsions of locking doors, checking locks, and shutting car doors, but I can trace that back to a car accident I had when I was little. It's something that only becomes a problem during periods of extreme stress and depression. Truly suffering from OCD is extremely painful and it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't. I feel lucky that it doesn't still have a strong grip on me, but I know that could change any second. Thanks for your post - its nice however unfortunate it may be to see that at least one person understands this painful reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Miss Tina Marie,
      thanks for your comment & I'm glad I could make you feel a little bit better after that article. OCD is a tremendously difficult thing to deal with and when the general consensus is that OCD simply consists of wanting your pencils to be lined up, it makes being taken seriously rather difficult. I'm happy to hear you're on the way to recovering. xx

      Delete
  22. Samantha you seem like such a lovely person. My heart goes out to you and the others who posted with such honesty. I just wanted to thank you for the information you've posted on OCD (I found your post through pinterest/buzzfeed). I am guilty of making flippant remarks about having OCD and I am certainly guilty of laughing at a friend when they have jokingly referred to their behavior as OCD and for that, I am sorry. Clearly, this is not something to joke about. I actually found it fascinating reading through your post and all the comments as I really had no previous understanding of OCD/OCPD and was quite shocked to have found myself relating to a couple of the things readers posted. I am in no way trying to self-diagnose but it's just been a real eye-opener for me to read this on many levels. At the very least, you've made me a more considerate person. So thank you again for putting it out there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so, so much! I wasn't trying to guilt people at all, just to make them more aware that when someone does have OCD, it is a lot more than being uncomfortable with crooked tiles. Thank you so much for reading this with such an open mind and heart. That takes a real special person, which you obviously are! And thank you for your kind words. xx

      Delete
  23. I can empathize with some of your experiences and feelings, and I think it's important that we get the word out to clarify the realities of such disorders like OCD. You're a brave soul for publicly fighting this battle, and I admire you greatly.

    I'll only take issue with your stance that OCD cannot be diagnosed within degree ("You're "a little bit OCD" like I'm "a little bit pregnant"). Multiple attending & resident physicians at Harvard Medical School's teaching hospital in Boston, Massachusetts USA did in fact diagnose me with "Mild OCD."

    My guess is, like many issues within medicine, there are numerous definitions and disagreements amongst highly respected professionals regarding OCD. Just something to keep in mind.

    However, I do think it is important for others not to marginalize a crippling illness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Thank you also for your kind words. I definitely agree that there are 'degrees of illness' including, of course, OCD. What I take issue is with a random person on the street self-diagnosing and professing to all and sundry that they are "a little bit OCD". So I think in essence, we completely agree. Thank you again for commenting! xx

      Delete
  24. Sorry for commenting anonymously, but I'm not comfortable putting myself out there with my name...

    Anyways, I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist when I was 13 with what she called 'mild OCD'. She wanted me to use medication, but through therapy with a wonderful psychologist, I was able to learn to use coping and meditation techniques to help with my compulsions. I've had my compulsions (mostly) under control ever since, though I do have bad days!

    But seeing your link to OCPD is making me wonder if that diagnosis was even correct. It seems like OCPD fits my behavior patterns more accurately -- the only thing is, I do know that my thinking and my compulsions are irrational. I'm lucky enough that they're not severe, but they do affect my life negatively on a consistent basis -- I am often late for work because I can't leave my apartment until things are put in a specific way, and I often stay up for days at a time because I can't sleep until everything is 'right'. But I don't have a clearly identifiable fear related to these compulsions -- I don't feel that I will die or my family will get sick, for example, if I don't do them. I just feel this overwhelming sense of dread that I can't explain or pinpoint or articulate. So I don't know where that leaves me... What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should add that I had never even HEARD of OCPD until this post!

      Delete
    2. Hi, like I've said before, I couldn't even pretend to be a medical professional. But to me, your symptoms could indicate either. As far as I know, not everyone was OCD has an identifiable fear. Some have, like you said, an indeterminable dread. But I also thought most people with OCD had rituals and habits that are the same every time, not a cover-all need for things to be right. But I very well may be wrong because, like I said, I'm just a layperson. My information is all correct bubt relevant to my own diagnosis and every OCD sufferer is different - and I imagine the same is true for every OCPD sufferer. If you have it under control, perhaps it would be best to perhaps become a champion for OCPD since, like you said, you've never heard of it. You could say "I have OCD but I wonnder if it's misdiagnosed OCPD because they are rather similar". And this should prompt a discussion about OCPD and OCD. Sorry I wasn't able to help you much more than that! xx

      Delete
  25. I appreciate this post. I think that the problem is most likely just a lack of the proper vocabulary, rather than an attempt to trivialize the sufferings of people who deal with OCD on a daily basis. For example, my husband has a mild form of whatever it's really called -- he is strongly irritated by things that aren't just-so, but it doesn't rule his life. At times, though, he can get somewhat compulsive about things like vacuuming every inch of carpet or cutting every blade of grass with the push mower. We have said he is "a little OCD" just because this is the closest vocabulary we have to explain it. It doesn't mean we think his irritation is equal to what people experience when they feel a compulsion to wash their hands until they bleed. I think it really is just about not knowing the right words to use, rather than any kind of intended disrespect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. I don't believe anybody intends to cause offence & I am not really offended anyway. My issue with the casual use of the term is that when I (or another sufferer) admits to being OCD, it is not taken quite as seriously as it should be. It's it's treated as a mildly inconvenient quirk and I am just being difficult. That is the perception I would like to change. I think perfectionists are more than welcome to claim they are obsessive about something or compulsive about something, but to claim the disorder makes a mockery of the real pain an OCD sufferer has to deal with, you know? Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. xx

      Delete
  26. I was diagnosed, by a medical professional, with a mild form of an obsessive compulsive disorder, and even my clinical social worker. refers to me as 'a little OCD.'
    it doesn't bother me really at all when he does. My symptoms are much more severe than OCPD, but not severe enough to completely qualify under the handle of OCD either. . .
    so you can be a little OCD without trying to trivialize the disease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but you were diagnosed. "Mild OCD" is your diagnosis. I hope your diagnosis of "mild" is relating to the compulsions that manifest and not the obsessive thoughts, because if the thoughts are rampant, they need to be addressed. I understand your clinical social worker is (I hope) not trying to trivialise the disorder, like you said. But your case is completely different to the people who simply profess to be "a little bit OCD" because they like neat rows. Thanks for reading & taking the time to comment! xx

      Delete
  27. I'm curious...I don't have OCD but I have an EXTREMELY obsessive mind...I could literally be thinking about something 24/7 for YEARS. The longest thought going on for about a decade til I finally learned to get over it. Of course I was capable of thinking of other things but it was always still pretty loud in my head and it would somehow relate to whatever else I was thinking. I just want to escape from my head sometimes because I'll randomly start thinking about some trivial thing I did wrong 8 years ago and I can't stop until I find some other intrusive thought to dwell on. I'm also an extreme perfectionist but where it differs from OCD is that I drove myself so crazy that I just had to stop caring completely because I couldn't stand it. I mean I still cared, but it was kind of an all or nothing situation in my mind; I was basically dead. It would be like if you chose between all your OCD tendencies, or nothing. But you couldn't have anything in between, so you'd just force yourself to not care about anything at all so that you wouldn't stir up anxiety. This caused me a lot of serious depression and I'm wondering if you know if this is related? Or how you overcome intrusive, obsessive thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alyson,
      I'm so sorry for all your troubles. That sounds awful. Have you spoken to a medical professional? If you haven't, I'm afraid you may be ruling out a diagnosis that could be apt or maybe you need help with all this. If there's a simple step to alleviate your suffering, wouldn't you want to try it? I couldn't begin to guess what it is you're suffering from, I'm not qualified. But please speak to somebody if you haven't already. You never know what sort of help is at hand! Thanks for reading & taking the time to share your story! xx

      Delete
  28. I was playing the game Assassin's Creed, when in combat with several guards, one of them grabbed my character and threw him to the ground causing him to roll. Naturally I had to turn myself around in combat to cancel out the roll causing myself to take damage and until I received the Grab Counter ability, every fight in the game is this. I also do this outside of games in addition to forcing out a breath in a certain way (sometimes preventing myself from breathing to do so) and popping my neck, if I do either wrong I'll retry until I feel I've done it right. Of course there are more things, but I do these for no reason other than if I don't it annoys me. A lot.
    I know none of this is necessary, because I know gremlins aren't real and neither is magic, no amount of silly rituals will prevent disaster.

    I have Asperger's Syndrome, which my obsessive behavior has has been attributed to. So no OCD, or OCPD, just a list of things that make me thankful I don't wash my hands 100 times after touching anything. And oh boy, am I thankful? I just hope I can keep the amount of things that bug me to a manageable level.

    Lastly there's a perfectly good even number that is also a multiple of five if you just increased the volume by 2 points.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear! Your compulsions hit you in games? Awww... I'm the same. I get off very lightly with my outward compulsions and for that, I'm thankful!
      My friend (who isn't OCD) prefers her numbers to be on muliples of 5 so when we're both in the car, it has to be on a multiple of 10.
      Thanks for reading & taking the time to comment. xx

      Delete
    2. It's nice to sometimes outgrow one obsession, but usually they end up just getting replaced or becoming more intense. One of the worst times an obsession can hit isn't actually in games, it's easy enough to control there if you've played long enough. The worst place for me at least, is on a plate.

      I just did specific habits with a couple of foods and make sure my tray/plate would face "the right way", but since people have started messing with my food, it's become worse.

      Though anyone incapable of forcing themselves to eat a meal that hits most of their food obsessions, is in the worst mental situation I could imagine.

      Delete
  29. Thank you for sharing! This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, and I see it all the time. People call themselves "OCD" because they're uptight or perfectionist. It completely trivializes the ACTUAL condition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm glad you understand my point. Thanks for reading & commenting! xx

      Delete
  30. Thanks for explaining the difference between OCD and OCPD. I never knew that and found it enlightening. However I must say that your gripe about people incorrectly using "OCD" to me is just another form of Political Correctness to which I am vehemently opposed. Although I do not suffer from OCD, I do suffer from a mental illness which I also often hear others incorrectly claim to have - alcoholism. Does this bother me? Not in the least. Do I think that someone incorrecly claiming to be an alcoholic is insulting to those of us who do suffer from it? Not at all. Any mental illness can be horrible to live with for those who suffer and I wouldn't wish OCD or mine on anyone. I love your intention of trying to educate us on the definitions, but assuming others are being hurtful or even untruthful because they may not suffer as gravely as you might I don't feel is right either. It is not my place to diagnose others problems nor can I ever infer another's intentions. I also find it ironic that all the people on here who seem ot have a problem with it suffer from OCD themselves! Remember, when you have a problem with something someone says or does - it's YOUR problem, not theirs! Best Wishes Sam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, firstly, thank you for taking the time to read and to post such a thoughtful, well thought out comment. I'm sorry to hear of your battles with alcoholism.
      I think the main reason I get put out when people incorrectly claim to have OCD is because they literally do not understand that OCD is not the compulsions that you see on the outside. There are people (and you can read them commenting here) who had no idea what sort of thoughts go on inside the head of an OCD sufferer. It's the misconceptions that surround OCD that upset me. I don't think there is any malice or intention to hurt when someone claims to have OCD, but it still (usually) comes from a place of ignorance. It is that attitude that I am trying to change. I know this is MY problem, as you've said, but I still have the option of using my blog to stand on my soapbox and shout "There is more to OCD than many of you realise!" So I did! And I appreciate you taking the time to read (as have well nearly 3,000 people at the time of writing this comment) and especially for commenting. xx

      Delete
    2. Well put Samantha.

      To the comment by the person who identified themselves as an alcoholic:
      It's not ironic that all the people that have a problem with it suffer from OCD. Not by definition, or even how you meant it.
      You say that it's not your place to diagnose someone's problems or infer intentions, and I would ask that you keep that degree of separation when commenting on a condition that you don't have.
      And in regards to your last comment, "when you have a problem with something says or does it is your problem, not theirs," that's a pretty irresponsible catch-all statement. I'd also like to point out that you have enough of a problem with political correctness to write that post.

      I'm surprised by a few of the comments on here. I understand why people might react a certain way but I would still like to reiterate some things.
      What Samantha has done here is admirable. Over the last few years I have heard an exponentially larger number of people refer to their "OCD" without knowledge of what that really means. Some say it as a point of pride, some talk of it like it's an adorable quirk, and many more use the term to justify actions that they believe in the motives behind (which is the surest indication that they are speaking incorrectly). I am not holding anyone here accountable for this trend, but I would certainly ask that when someone who truly suffers from OCD bears their heart to explain how it makes them feel, that you understand her basic message. And certainly not criticize her on the bigger point, that this is a misunderstood disorder.

      To the people on here who are suffering right now, I'd like to say some more briefly, and forgive me if I'm repeating some points from other posts.
      I was diagnosed at 11 years old before OCD was as understood or recognized as it is today, with still much room for growth.
      I've dealt with physical ticks, rituals, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, forbidden thoughts, etc. I tell you that, to tell you this:
      There is much much much hope for you.
      Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective and lasting weapons in defeating OCD. Medications can be an incredibly helpful tool in treatment as well.
      Brain Lock is indeed a great book, and I'd encourage you to explore other sources as well. If you have not yet, I would really hope that you seek help, and learn from people who dedicate their lives to these issues, and who can offer you a new perspective, and listen, and in the best cases, really change your life for the better.
      Speaking candidly, I have felt confused, broken, and defeated by OCD before. I have felt utterly helpless and debilitated.
      And there have been portions of my life when I have literally forgotten I have it. I have felt empowered and strong, and peaceful, and whole.
      OCD shouldn't be underestimated or trivialized but I wanted to make sure that you all knew that if you're strong enough to come on here and speak about what you're going through, then I am impressed with you. And in the terrible fight against false messages and horrible feelings, and intrusive distractions, I would bet on you. All day.

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much for commenting. You are so insightful and your friends & family are privileged to know you! Thank you for saying this: "Some say it as a point of pride, some talk of it like it's an adorable quirk". It was something I wanted to say but I couldn't bring myself to be in the firing line for the backlash I was sure I'd face. But know that I agree with you 100%.
      You have made me feel pride in my words and I am touched that I have given people the forum to express their agreeance and to share their own stories.
      I wish I had a way to find you. If you had a blog or a Twitter account, I would love to follow it.
      Thank you for your sincerity, your eloquence and your kindness. xx

      Delete
  31. Thank you for this very interesting post. I found it very helpful especially since people are constantly telling me "you are SO OCD" even though I know I don't because I am not plagued by thoughts and rituals that constantly disturb my life. But at the same time I get a lot of stress and anxiety from OCD-like symptoms. After some digging it seems like I have some form of OCPD instead, and that is very good to know.

    This is just me rambling now, but I wonder if it's possible to have some mild form of OCD while having OCPD? A lot of times when I find myself in a cycle of repeatedly doing something until I no longer feel stressed looking at it, I can manage to get myself to just stop and I wouldn't be plagued by thoughts of it. But other times I keep going back or can't stop until I am so anxious that I just straight up destroy what I was working on and then panic about it in regret. Something else I really don't even know how to categorize is whenever any thought process goes on in my head (thinking, speaking, listening, etc.), I have to visualize all the sentences being typed out on a computer keyboard, and I can even see the fingers typing. When I get anxious over trying to get it to stop, all that happens is the fingers typing S-T-O-P-!-! What exactly is this, anyway?

    Anyway, I am glad you are bothered by how trivialized OCD (and many other mental illnesses) has become. Especially in some foreign cultures where all mental illnesses are looked on as "craziness", and people say this is a laugh. But even here I've been told that OCD (this is someone who thinks I have OCD) is a fault that people just need to be called out for because people need to better use their time than doing some meaningless time consuming task and realize there are more important things in life. This was so offensive that I just sat there gaping like a fish out of water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm, actually something else I just read that makes me wonder about mild OCD is that I am aware a lot of my obsessive behaviors are bad and trying but unable to stop them gives me a lot of anxiety. But these bursts of anxiety are short and do not interfere with life at large. The mind is a strange thing.

      Delete
    2. Hi and thanks for reading & commenting. With the obsessive level of thoughts you are having, I would suggest speaking to a medical professional if that is at all possible. I'm sorry you seem to be suffering - and at the hands of others who aren't taking your pain seriously. I hope you can find some relief soon! xx

      Delete
  32. I just wanted to comment to say there is hope for a future without obsessions and compulsions. I suffered from PTSD and saw a therapist, who treated the symptoms rather than the cause. So I replaced one anxiety disorder with another, OCD. I had horrible checking, locking, and counting behaviors. Everything that happened on my right side, had to happen on my left to keep things symmetrical and even. When I see words, I have to read them even if I'm driving. When I saw dots, I have to count them, even if I am in the middle of something else.
    However, after seeing another therapist, and doing a lot of self-work, I have been able to reduce my obsessions and compulsions. They only occur when I am feeling extremely anxious or worried about a specific event (or if I just have a "random" episode).
    So do not ever give up hope because I believe that all of you may find a solution that reduces your symptoms!
    And I of course, am not saying that in an attacking way, but really just want to give some hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course not! Thank you for sharing your story! Finding the right therapist can make or break your efforts for good mental health. Anyone who has a mental illness should remember to never give up on getting better! xx

      Delete
  33. I think you draw a very much needed difference here between OCD and OCPD.

    Whilst I am in agreement that compulsive tendencies are apparent in many people, ranging in their so-called 'severities', the boundary that lies between preference towards orderliness (even to an extreme level) and OCD still remains. Anyone who has suffered the anxieties which stem from the relentless and obsessive patterns of thinking, particularly when prevented from compulsion, will attest to that. As you cite in your post, the negative effects of OCD can be just as dangerous as those of depression or bipolar disorder.

    That isn't to say that I believe some people don't come close to stepping over that boundary, rather that a boundary still exists, be that as dictated by ICD or DSM dictated, or otherwise..

    OCD, alike some types of phobia (usually of the unusual or less commonplace varieties), is a condition that society regularly fails to treat with the kind of respect that it commands. Often 'symptoms' are reported either as OCD when no diagnosable condition is present, or misinterpreted as OCD.

    Until we as a society commit ourselves to a better, and more 'appreciative' (if that is the correct word) understanding of mental health and its implications, we will be all far better off for it.

    ReplyDelete
  34. well, I started to comment before I realized I was going to have way to much to say, so I decided to turn it into a post on my own blog and put in a link to this post. You can see it here if you'd like http://demonknightsmusings.blogspot.com/2012/06/omg-im-soo-ocdor-not.html Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  35. (This is just to make the number of comments an even 100.)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I appreciate your post, but I'm going to throw another side to the story. First, I do not have OCD. I have quirky tendencies, like most people. I do have ADHD and anxiety, so I understand a lot of the frustrations that have been shared. But when people describe themselves as being "so ADD right now", I do not take offense. For the most part, people are ignorant. What they say isn't coming from a malicious place with a goal of belittling the actual condition, but from what they have heard/seen in the media and possibly a desire to be unique and stand out in the world. So if someone describes themselves as being OCD about things, don't assume that is an attack on the disorder, but rather a misunderstanding and possible hope to be recognized. People are silly. I have learned to stop worrying about how other people perceive things and just work on making myself the best I can be. It is a lot easier and less frustrating.

    So, moral of my story, while I understand the frustrations and the feeling like you're not understood, it is not worth the aggravation of trying to correct everyones perspective. Just worry about understanding yourself and becoming the best you can.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi anonymous,
    I understand nobody is setting out to deliberately belittle OCD and on almost any given day, I let the innocuous comments slide right on by. But the reality of the situation, and many comments here have proved it, is that a great number of people genuinely don't understand what OCD actually is. I imagine the same could be true for ADHD (I have friends who suffer this condition). But like you said, they are ignorant. There is simply no harm in providing a viewpoint and educating anybody who happens to stumble on this post (And to date there have been about 5,000) of them! I am absolutely aware there is no malicious intent behind these comments and I never implied there is. And believe me, I don't rant like this is real life. This is my forum - my soapbox if you will - and I keep the sanity for real life! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for this post! It's great to know that I'm not the only one who gets bugged when people talk about 'being OCD' or say they're OCD about something. I've been seeing a psychologist, and she thinks my OCD originated from PTSD, as a result of childhood trauma. As a kid, my obsessions revolved around troubles with one of my parents, and avoiding them, leading me to do completely irrational blinking, stepping, placements, and other things. Now, I've been on prozac for a few months, and my compulsions have almost turned into what I perceive as habits; eg. the numbers, except for a few things. I was wondering if you'd be able to help me a little with this confusion I'm feeling now. What if what I had, or have, isn't OCD? Or what if it really is able to be overcome? What I feel now is that my compulsions are triggered by sources of anxiety such as social situations, but they mostly stay cooped up in my head, and release themselves as excessive worrying. Another thing, I have these thoughts of being attracted to people, like my dad and tutor or boss, and I don't know if they're intrusive thoughts, or really me, but they really worry me. However, I don't have strong compulsions from them, they just debilitate me with the worrying. Sorry for the the length and unnecessary info, which is already worrying me hahaha

    Ps. I really think it's amazing how brave and thoughtful you are to have a blog like this. Good luck with everything!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Anonymous, thanks for reading. If what you have isn't OCD, I think the therapy your psychologist would be helping you with won't go astray. It can only really lead to better mental health.
    Also, in regards to your thoughts of being attracted to people, it depends how you feel about it. Do you feel they are wrong - does it disturb you that you have thoughts of being attracted to these people (I'm going to assume you are disturbed at the thoughts of being attracted to your father). If you are, that is OCD. People don't have OCD about happy, fun things. It's a persistent pattern of thinking about things that disturb you. You don't want to think these things, but you do. That is what categorises as OCD. And like I've said in my post, most of OCD is what goes on inside your head - not the compulsions that people can see. If the compulsions don't momentarily alleviate the disturbing thoughts, you won't continue with them. THe compulsions only manifest when it provides that small distraction from the thoughts, or feels like they can prevent the bad things from happening. It's rather tricky to describe,
    I understand how you feel, second guessing yourself as to what is jet "you" and what is mental illness. It is a tough line to draw and full of grey areas. Keep strong. If you'd like to talk more, feel free to reply here or follow me on Twitter: @Princess_Sassy as I am more than happy to discuss these types of things. Alternatively, you can always talk to your psychologist. Please don't be afraid to ask questions or share thoughts with them. They are trained to help!
    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. xx

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thank you for this. I have OCD, have had it since I was a kid, and it is hell on earth. I'd do anything to not have it, so when people teasingly say, "Oh, I'm so OCD!" I kind of want to shake them.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I suffer from PTSD and anxiety, and one of the ways I cope is by being extremely organized. When everything is properly squared, categorized (I tend to color-code rather than alphabetize), and put away I feel more in control of my environment and able to focus on other things. People often comment on my "OCD," sometimes jokingly and sometimes out of apparent concern. I know that I don't have OCD, but I've mostly stopped correcting them. I generally don't care to get into a discussion about my actual mental health issues so it's easier to just let people peg me as OCD. It lets them file me safely away without requiring me to explain my behavior. If I say that I have PTSD, people invariably want to know why, which is terribly personal, and I feel as though anxiety has a particular stigma attached to it - in my experience people generally seem to accept that some mental illnesses are a sickness that is beyond the control of the individual suffering from it, while others still seem to be perceived as being the sort of thing you should just get over. In summary, it's just easier to let people call me OCD, laugh it off with "yeah, I'm a little bit OCD," and move on with my life.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I recently watched a sort of documentary about OCD, called "Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD" exploring people who were said to suffer from it and whether or not he could be a sufferer. The "expert" (it's on tv) who saw him, judged that while he was an extremely obsessive individual, he wasn't affected enough by them to class as OCD.
    Important points from it however, come from the last OCD sufferer he visited, so before his own examination.
    She had a son who ended up with OCD as well, he studied to be a doctor, but eventually took his own life.
    The risk of OCD tendencies and autism* being hereditary has lead me to seriously think about never having children of my own.


    *An autistic sperm donor was once sued for being autistic, after the child ended up with autism. (most likely bs, but the risk is there)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've had OCD since I was around seven years old. It's disturbing and the thoughts of anxiety drive me nuts. I would tap a door seven times because I was thinking that if I won't do it, some misfortune would come my way. It's quite absurd actually. Right now, I'm trying to my best to erase it from my system by channeling my thoughts. It's a bit challenging but my experiences in life, both pain an joy,seemed to bring out my inner courage to overcome my anxiety.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I have the same condition as you do! I need to turn on my volume on every multiple of 5: 5, 10, 15, 20 because I don't feel comfortable inside me if I don't.

    ReplyDelete
  45. OCPD is much, much worse than the "preoccupation" was mentioned. I have lost several friends because they don't understand why I cry when I get an A- on a test or why I spend hours working on a project because something is wrong with it. I've developed hand tremors purely as a result of getting 91s and 92s on my tests. I can't work in groups because I know that somebody will try to do something wrong and it will affect me. OCPD is much more than just having things "right". It's either perfectly right or world-shatteringly wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Whatever. It's semantics. When you say you HAVE it, then it's the disorder, when you say you ARE it, then it's an adjective synonymous to finicky. I have and am OCD.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you! It offends me to death every time my friends say 'She has OCD. Oh no she had CDO, because it has to be alphabetical order, haha.' NO. It is not funny at all, they have no idea how sometimes I even cry because it gets too stressful.

    ReplyDelete
  48. @Samantha. I have the same obsession but in my case the compulsion are odd numbers. Can you imagine us sitting in the same car ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  49. I am thankful for your post. I too am diagnosed with OCD and although I have gotten used to people making jokes about this disorder, I am quite offended with people who diagnose themselves and say to me (quite seriously, and not as a joke), 'I'm always have to put my papers straight or I'll die, I definitely have OCD.'

    ReplyDelete