Understanding OCD & anxiety

I wanted to start this topic to get more understanding of OCD. I am an OCD sufferer, mainly order and symmetry, but other things also trigger it.

Now, It may not be the case here but before anyone says OCD is not just order and symmetry, know that it’s also not just frequent hand washing and checking things, I’ve gone through that phase of OCD and I know what it feels like having to check that the door is closed 10 times, but also know it can change over time and varies per person. Also, YES, I’ve BEEN DIAGNOSED with OCD by my personal psychologist.

So back to topic: what I wanted to know is if these things I feel are due to OCD/anxiety and other OCD/anxiety sufferers feel them or if it’s just a me thing.

Thing 1: being impatient with daily activities. For example, whenever I work out I can’t lift dumbbells for more than a few sets because I start getting really annoyed and want to go do something else instead. Also happens when talking to people, I can talk for a few moments but I start getting annoyed. Going shopping with my parents is very irritating because they have to make decisions before buying each thing and it’s just hell, I can’t stand being in the store for too long. And lots of other things that require time put into them.

Thing 2: taking instructions too literally. This is a very upsetting one. I often find myself taking things too literally, sometimes people are being sarcastic and I take it literally and it really upsets me because it’s not my intention to do it. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that I do programming, I don’t really know. This image is a good example of what often happens to me:

Thing 3: Unable to have smooth conversations. I cannot have a smooth conversation with people because my OCD is just telling me to explain things in a chronological or symmetrical order; following a certain pattern, instead of just explaining it in a natural way. This is mostly only a problem when storytelling or giving instructions.

I would like to explain a lot more of these issues but I think I’ve already said enough for a single topic.

I’m open to tips, advice or suggestions to cope with these things.

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Hey @xBeastMode,

Thank you so much for sharing all of this and being here. I have absolutely no idea if what I’m going to respond will help you in any way, but I hope this can at least help you to push the reflection further.

I’m not used to talk about it, but I do struggle with OCD/anxiety. Generally, I just say anxiety, but I’ve been struggling with OCD since I was at least 6-7 yrs old. Reasons why I usually don’t talk about it is: 1/ I never addressed this specific issue, as I already feel crushed by other struggles; 2/ I can’t shake the shame that comes with it and the feeling of being just weird. So THANK YOU, first and foremost, because your post is really inspiring and an opportunity for me to open a door I’ve been afraid of until now.

The way it manifests for me is different than yours though. I’ll try my best to put words on it, but for me it’s about touching rituals, repetitive actions and magical thinking, to really summarize it. It manifests in familiar places (and sometimes less familial ones) and when it’s about events or things that really matter to me. Sometimes the three of them are mixed together: I’ll have to touch an object a certain way, in a certain order, a certain amount of time with the belief that doing this will produce a specific outcome about a specific situation.

At this point, my knowledge about OCD mostly rely on what a doctor told me a long time ago and my personal experience. But for what it’s worth, I totally get how it feels to struggle with that on a daily basis. Now, and I might be totally wrong, obviously those rituals/habits are a way to ease our anxiety by doing something that is meaningful to us. Which makes me believe that those three things you shared are not necessarily related to your anxiety/OCD directly.

Thing 1: It sounds to me that this might be an attention/sensory issue, which can be indeed the result of your OCD or something else. Honestly, I’m super sensitive to sounds, noises, smells, touch, etc. (like, extremely sensitive) and shopping is the definition of hell on earth to me. Too much activity, too many distractions - my tolerance there is usually very low and I can’t stay in shops for a long time because my attention is impacted by all the information I receive physically, if that makes sense. I don’t feel necessarily anxious or stressed (well it makes me feel anxious as a result, but I’m not anxious beforehand), but just very overwhelmed and I only crave for a bit of calm and going somewhere else. Same for talking to someone - sometimes I realize that 5 minutes of interaction with someone is a lot more draining than 30 with someone else. It really depends on my level of energy at first, my mood, also the subject of the conversation, etc. So for this thing specifically, I’d like to ask: how do you feel in those moments? Mentally, but also physically. Like what’s your own experience at the moment and is there a need you can identify that would be common to those situations? (what’s the need that your body/your mind are expressing when they say “okay, it’s enough now”?)

Thing 2: taking things literally is a common characteristic of people under the autism spectrum (just like OCD and sensory processing) BUT it can also just be you taking instructions too literally, without any specific condition behind. Lots of adult have communication/understanding issues, sometimes for just one or two specific things in their life, without it being the manifestation of anything else but a communication issue. Eventually in your situation, maybe it’s about a fear to fail/a need to perform? In any case, if there is a delimitation to find between your OCDs and something else, it will be definitely interesting for you to navigate that with a professional because the limit can be very tight. Ultimately, we are more complex than a list of conditions, and those always interact in ways that can be difficult to identify.

The way you interpret those informations is very analytic, a little bit like receiving the content without the form (or the tone that someone uses). Though I can understand why this is frustrating. Fortunately, that is something you can surely learn to improve by learning to ask questions, so from your first guessing you can get more informations about what someone is trying to explain to you. If it’s only when you receive instructions, then you know already that it’s likely to happen and you might need to take a small break between the moment when someone tell you something and when you jump into action. Example with the cup of coffee, and without any context, the person could have said: “I’m not sure to understand. could you spell it for me please?” if they had a doubt. The more you’ll practice to pause a little and dare to ask questions without feeling ashamed of it, the more it will come naturally. That’s certainly something you can learn to practice with the help of your psychologist as well.

Thing 3: To me (and again, not a therapist) this is more likely to be a direct a manifestation of your OCD/anxiety. At least, I don’t struggle with that specifically, but I can surely relate to the urge of doing something by following a certain pattern. You have this kind of system in your mind that makes sense to you and you feel the need to follow this pattern but it results in being an interference in some situations. Maybe a thing you could ask yourself to answer your first question would be, again: what is the need you try to fulfill when you do that? And if you don’t do it (or just imagine not doing it), how would you feel?

You mentioned your psychologist - is that something you shared with them/did they give you some feedback about this? Just to know if you had some food for thought already.

Sorry if this isn’t very helpful. :frowning: Just a few thoughts. Thank you again for being honest and sharing all of this. I hope you’ll reach, at your own pace, a better understanding of yourself that will help you, in the long run, to progress in the areas you’d like to improve.

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