Back to heartsupport

OCPD and me

Hi everyone.

I’m still pretty new here and have been trying to do my best to give advice and observe the community before I decided to really vent. I feel like everyone here has way worse issues than I do and it almost makes me feel bad for posting but oh well I guess.

I’ve been feeling pretty down and drained lately and I figured it was maybe stress from work or lack of sleep. Given my history, I decided to try out some of the dwarf planet exercises to see if maybe it’s my depression coming back and I think it is.

For those of you that didn’t read my introduction, I was diagnosed with Personality Disorder NOS (Avoidant and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder mix), Generalized Anxiety, Social Phobia and Transient Depression in 2012. The anxiety is fairly under control (I think, not as sure anymore since this bout of depression kind of snuck up on me.), but the depression is starting to get out of hand and I know the Personality Disorder has a big part to play in that.

When I did the Dwarf Planet exercises, I realized that a lot of my issues have a few things in common. Either I have no control over the situation and feel trapped, I feel like I’m trying and failing, and I have trouble communicating. Those two first things - those are a big part of OCPD. The mindset that I absolutely must have control and everything I do must be perfect or I’ve failed.

Lately it seems like everything has been out of control. There’s Covid of course, which I’ve been quarantining a month longer than everyone else because I quit my old job right before everything hit the fan in the world and I just stayed home because I wanted to relax before I started my new career (I wouldn’t have quit my job without having another one secured.).

Then there’s my new career. I absolutely love it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a tech job with a HUGE learning curve and I’m the first employee to train for the job entirely online and it’s starting to next really frustrating for me. To add to that, all my teammates are swamped with work so it makes me feel bad to ask for help. My manager assures me that I’m doing and amazing job and it scares her to death that I might leave. But again, that voice in my head says that I’m not actually doing that well, I’m actually screwing up and they just don’t want to make me feel bad. Add to that the fact that I can control how and when I train which makes me feel like eventually I just won’t be as impressive and could lose my job, which I worked so hard to get.

And I feel bad because my husband tries so hard to make me happy and I have problems expressing myself when I am experiencing intense emotion, because as I kid my emotions were never validated so I just started repressing them all and now whenever I am overwhelmed I can’t put a sentence together because I don’t know how. I wish I was better at talking to my husband. I have expressed my frustration at my inability to communicate and he says he understands and it’s ok - he has Asperger’s and acknowledges how difficult it is to communicate, and to be honest, sometimes I feel so bad about myself as a person that I’m glad he has Asperger’s because if he didn’t he probably wouldn’t pick up on how bad of a person I think I am and would leave me… I don’t know where that part of me came from but I don’t like it at all.

I know things could be worse. I have a loving husband who cares for me, my own apartment, 2 vehicles, no debt, a great job. I have a lot to be thankful for. But I just can’t get out of my head and get rid of those thoughts that tell me I’m not good enough, I’m not doing a perfect job, I’m not trying hard enough and if I don’t do better I’m just going to lose everything and it will all be my fault.

I might’ve found a therapist that my insurance will cover and now I’m trying to work up the courage to visit them. I know I need the help but I’ve been doing this on my own for years and suddenly I’m afraid to go through with this. Sorry for the long rant but I just needed to get all of this out, I’m tired of how badly I treat myself even when I feel like I can’t possibly try any harder but I don’t know how to silence that voice and I know personality disorders are hard to treat.

2 Likes

Sapphire,

A lot of this is super relatable…feeling like you’re not good enough in general, so feeling like you’re a burden for posting here, for talking to your husband, for even not feeling “Good” since your life seems on the outside to be solid…

What I know to be true in my own life is that when there’s this incongruence between what’s going on outside of my life and my experience internally is that there’s something in my mind – some belief that I’m holding – that typically is at the source of it.

For me, it’s this nagging feeling that I’m inferior, and no matter how good things get or how hard I try, that I’m always going to therefore be unworthy of love.

I had experiences with peers and with my family at an early age where I didn’t understand why things were the way they were, and that was the belief I inserted to make sense of the pain I experienced, the embarrassment, the shame. I guess I’m just inferior, and so I’m not worthy of being loved.

What I’m curious about is – what belief is driving you to experience these feelings, even though your life circumstances seem to be going well?

Here’s a few quotes that I’m curious about:

Where do all of these thoughts come from? Can you trace them to experiences earlier in your life when you did something and felt ashamed for how well you did it? Like you were going to or actually did lose things because you weren’t “perfect” or “good enough”?

Maybe try listing 1-2 of those experiences here.

I honestly think that a lot of those negative thoughts are a reflection of how my step-dad treated me while I was growing up. For example, when I was 15 I decided I wanted to graduate early because the school I went to was prone to violence among the students and I wasn’t enjoying my experience there, so me and a friend of mine decided to go to summer school together so we could graduate during our Junior year in high school. That went great and when I went to enroll for Junior/Senior year, my step dad pressured me into enrolling in all of the Advanced Placement classes and I told him that I didn’t want to be in Advanced English because that class had had summer assignments and I would essentially go into the class a semester behind. When I told him he flew off the handle started breaking things and shouting about how he should just remove me from all of my classes and enroll me in LD (Learning Disabled) classes.

He also made me enroll in an advanced math class in high school late in the semester and since they hadn’t yet gone in and removed the assignments that I wasn’t present for, I ended up getting an F on my report card even though it was actually a B when those assignments were removed. But I got lectured for that. Basically the entire attitude surrounding anything when I was growing up was, Well, why aren’t you doing better?

I graduated when I was 16 but he was upset that I didn’t want to take an AP math class. Or I got a B, but it wasn’t an A, so it wasn’t good enough. Or hey, that’s a low A, why isn’t it a high A?

More recently, when I decided I was tired of working in a grocery story I worked and when through tech school with a 4.0 GPA and he asked me why I didn’t just leave my store job halfway through to look for an IT job. On the surface this doesn’t seem so bad, but with my social phobia and anxiety, I thought it would be best to stick to the job I knew which was relatively stress free with a manger I liked rather than go through school and also struggle to start a new career and build new raport with a new manager. But that wasn’t good enough either. That ended with a screaming match between he and I (I have become a lot more outspoken then I was under his care.) because me not wanting to do it should have been a good enough answer and it wasn’t.

I also (my brother as well) didn’t ever really get any feedback from them as parents unless we were doing something wrong so I at least, I don’t know about my brother, never really had a firm grasp of what was really enough in any aspect of my life. I push myself way too hard because if I haven’t done literally everything fastest, nicest, most perfect, I haven’t done it well enough because I have no idea what is realistically good enough.

I feel like it’s not fair to my husband that I can’t talk to him because people are supposed to talk in relationships. But for me it’s almost like selective mutism, the words just won’t come out. And this has been a problem for me for decades, it isn’t something that just came about as I’ve been married. But I don’t know how to receive compliments because I never got any so it never occurs to me to thank him for everything he does for me or anything and I was never told I love you either, so I know I don’t say it as much as I should and that makes me feel bad too.

And when I was about 18 I was living with my grama (I was not in a good place mentally at this time, to be honest I don’t even remember most of it, I don’t know if this was some sort of dissociation or what.) and ended up visiting my brother when my nephew was born and I was told not to bother coming back because she didn’t want me back. In hindsight I don’t blame her but I can’t even count the amount of times this has happened to me throughout my life so I have a real fear of having everything pulled out from under me when I least expect it.

1 Like

Uhhhhh…just reading this dude explains like 90%+ of what you are talking about.

Hard to get the “I’m not good enough” thoughts out of your head because that’s all you were told.
Hard to celebrate because you were never celebrated…you don’t really know how.
The only thing you know how to do is to try harder for this impossible standard. And at times you get exhausted, and irritable, or choose to isolate, etc.
Makes sense you don’t want to talk about things because your voice was always overruled (I don’t think I should do this; WELL DO IT ANYWAY)

At the very least, understanding your past ought to offer you some compassion for the problems that you face…and potentially some interpretation and understanding that you’ll be able to communicate with yourself and with your husband. It’s something that you can begin to reverse engineer…for instance, if you’re struggling to communicate something with your husband, instead of not saying anything because you’re locked up in your emotions, you can say, “I’m having a hard time communicating what I’m feeling because I feel like if I share my thoughts with you, you’ll completely invalidate them and overpower me. I know that’s not true, but that’s just the sense that I’m getting right now, and I’d love for you to help me through it.”

It gives you the ability to name what blocks you, and in naming it, there is so much power. I actually do this with my wife a lot…just the other day, I told her in our argument, “I want to respond, but I just feel like my ego is telling me not to.” That’s the way that I was wounded – I was afraid to be inferior, and when I was afraid, I would hide and not say anything. I was locked up, and because I know what causes me to lock up, I was at least able to say /something/ to invite my wife into my pain and processing. Even though it was imperfect.

Perhaps there’s more opportunity for excavation and curiosity here. This would be a fantastic topic to bring up in counseling. I just got done with a year of counseling through BetterHelp (betterhelp.com/heartsupport offers 7 days for free, which is enough time to get onboarded and schedule one meeting with a counselor). It is fantastically valuable to have someone work through a lot of these deeper issues with you…to help you maek sense out of you…to come to a place of udnerstanding and acceptance…and yes eventually change, but even just KNOWING, stepping out of confusion and into understanding is one of the most powerful shifts a person can make.

I hope that you take the leap! You are worth it.

-Nate

1 Like

That seems like a good communication tactic. Right now what we do is I will write down how I feel since I am still able to express myself that way if I do lock up.

The weird thing for me is the logical side of my brain tells me that my husband wants to hear how I feel and won’t judge me, as he has always been receptive to my feelings and encourages me to communicate, but that negative voice always overshadows and makes me feel like what I feel isn’t worthy of saying. And initially I wanted to say I don’t fear how my husband would respond, but it hasn’t really occurred to me how that inner voice makes me feel about communication. It’s hard to explain. I guess my logical side is just having a lot of trouble overriding my inner voice and that is what I hope to fix in therapy, because it is to my detriment in many aspects of my life.

1 Like

yup, completely get that. I am learning myself how to overcome that “inner voice”…I had a moment yesterday where it was leading me down a negative path, and I thought to myself – wait a second, that’s not what I want at all! For these seven reasons! What the heck! Go away! Haha. It was a rare moment of clarity in the midst of that voice. Slowly but surely, we can gain strength over it to push back and believe the truth about ourselves and those we love. Counseling will definitely help (it has for me!), and I wish you the best on that journey should you choose to go down it.

1 Like

I have an appointment with a trauma therapist on Monday, who specializes in anxiety and depression. We’re doing video appointments.

It felt kind of weird for her to introduce herself as a trauma therapist. I mean obviously I experienced some traumatic things and I want the help. I guess it’s the weight, you know? Trauma is a heavy word, especially when someone else uses it. Almost like an acknowledgement.

Kind of like when I was attacked by a swarm of wasps when I was 3 or 4 but nobody corroborated my story until I was 30 so I thought I surely must have imagined it. It’s just weird.

But I was very excited to hear from her. In fact I’ve been much happier just knowing I’m on the right track. Hopefully my therapist is able to help me in the way I imagine.

1 Like

I mean it sounds like even the acknowledgement of your pain is already on the right track. It is good to name the depth of pain. You have experienced trauma. Trauma comes in two main forms – one is the “big T Trauma” which is probably what you imagine as the big whoppers; but the other type of trauma is “little t trauma”, which is like a thousand cuts. You and I have experienced the second kind of trauma with a thousand forms of invalidation, a thousand forms of inadequacy, a thousand forms of ammo for self-hatred. Just because your pain didn’t happen all at once means that your pain isn’t important or doesn’t deserve attention and care and healing.

1 Like