Tag Archives: obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Free Pass


Free PassI went to see my psychiatrist yesterday, and it turns out that the 20mg of Prozac I had been taking for the last month or so was nowhere near enough. Back then she had given me a second prescription for 40mg, and I was supposed to start taking that after a week of being on the 20mg dosage, but I forgot about that, and just continued taking the 20mg capsules. Oops.

I went home, and immediately took a second 20mg capsule, and I have to say I am feeling so much better today. It could be entirely unrelated, and perhaps it’s just the placebo effect of having the hope that an increased dosage will make me feel better. But who the fuck cares what it is. All I know is that when I woke up this morning, I didn’t have a horrible sinking feeling. I actually wanted to  get out of bed and do things. I actually feel hopeful! All the household chores that I have to do today don’t feel insurmountable. Unpleasant, yes, but not insurmountable.

When I first started meditating again, and going to the Zen center, I had been on Zoloft for a couple of months, and I didn’t think it was working because I was still struggling with a lot of perfectionism-related issues (which may or may not be a symptom of OCD or OCPD). However, I did notice that I was much better disposed towards my fellow human beings. I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of “us” and “them”, or judging other people in a black and white way. I felt more connected to other people, and less inclined to distance myself. At the time, I put this down to my newfound interest in Buddhism and meditation, but, in retrospect, I think the tiny buds of my “spiritual awakening” were only able to grow because I was on the Zoloft.

Now, I’m absolutely not saying that Zoloft (or any other antidepressant) can actually cause somebody to embark on a spiritual path completely out of the blue. What I am saying is that antidepressants can allow depressed people who are already spiritually inclined to find the motivation and energy to explore their spiritual side. Before taking Zoloft I was still interested in spiritual matters, but I would often lose interest after being unable to find a satisfying intellectual answer to certain issues that I would ruminate over obsessively e.g. “How can I put my trust in a God/Higher Power/whatever the fuck you want to call and believe that He/She/It has my best interest at heart when such terrible things happen to other people?!” These questions still interest me, but, right now, I don’t have an obsessive need to analyze them to death in the vain attempt to find an answer. I’m more comfortable with grey areas.

What the fuck has this got to do with the title of this blog post – “Free Pass” – you might ask? Well, yesterday I wrote about how people should stop hating on poor Amy Bouzaglo because she clearly has some serious mental health issues. Xul, who actually managed to drag herself away from watching Game of Thrones, posted this response in the comments section:

As someone who also has parent issues, it’s sometimes hard for me to sympathize with the negative behaviors. I find myself vacillating between the notion that they can’t help the behaviors because they are disordered and the fact that they are willful and deliberate in their actions and can damn well choose to behave the way they do.

I think that there comes a time when you have to make a conscious decision about your life. Yes, I had a screwed up childhood. Yes, I had my own disordered behavior. Yes, I reached the point in my life where I no longer wanted to be that person and I’ve done the introspection and self-work that it took to be better. It’s still a work in progress. It’s hard for me to give a pass to someone else when I’m proof positive that change is possible.

I’ve struggled with such thoughts myself because, like Xul, I grew up with a mother who was a controlling, critical bitch. My mother had an awful childhood, and so, intellectually, I understand why she is the way she is. She’s a victim of child abuse. She’s also a working-class woman who grew up in a time and place where mental health issues were never discussed, and where it would have been taboo for her to acknowledge she had an issue and to seek help, and take medication. Unlike me, she did not have access to the internet and the ability to google non-stop to try to find answers. Unlike me, she is also a mother, and it must be so hard for a mother to admit that her mental health issues made her, at times, that most unsocially-acceptable of all things – A Bad Mother. Because then it’s not just about admitting you have a mental health issue, it’s about having to re-construct your own identity and sense of self. Can you really blame her – or any mother like her – for just burying her head in the sand?

It’s easy for me to have compassion for my mother, though. When you haven’t seen or spoken to somebody for eight years, the jagged edges get worn down, and it’s easier for compassion to grow. I don’t think I would be so understanding if I had to deal with her criticisms and put-downs again . I’m pretty sure I would just react like a hurt child, who doesn’t understand how a person who’s supposed to offer unconditional love can be so fucking cruel.

As I said above, I’m not a mother, so I’ve never been a Bad Mother. But, oh, I have been a Bad Wife, and this is something I also struggle to understand in terms of the “free pass” I’ve been discussing. I don’t think that I’m a “bad” person, but I did a lot of bad things to my ex-husband: hit him; kicked him; spat on him; smashed his things and told him he was a worthless piece of shit. How much of this was “me”, and how much of this was mental illness – and does it even matter at the end of the day when then cause of the harm doesn’t lesson its effects?

Am I trying to let myself off the hook when I mention that I do feel more capable of being calm, rational and loving when taking an antidepressant? Is this just me saying: “It weren’t me, guv. Honest! It was my brain chemistry!”

I do feel terribly sorry for the things I did to MM but, sometimes, honestly it’s really hard to feel remorse when he sends me mean texts telling me that I am “barely human”, “a demon”, ” a fucking monster” and “I’m sad, because you’ll drown in that”. He told me all the time during the relationship that I was a “bad person”, and, even though I don’t blame him for having that reaction, how on earth did this make it possible for me to change? And, you know what, I didn’t want to change then because I was sick of being the crazy one, the “identified patient” who was to blame for everything. Why didn’t he have to change his drinking? Why was it apparently my fault that he’d started drinking more? When he started being violent towards me, and I pointed out that it was only a matter of time before he broke one of my bones, why didn’t he care and why was it me who had “provoked” him? When I told him that he scared me when he got drunk, why did he say that I was such a bully that being drunk was the only time he had the courage to say what he really thought? People have told me that MM was abusive to me, too, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around this because I am deathly afraid of giving myself one of those “free passes”.

When the relationship was over, I felt horrific pain, but there was also this little tiny voice deep inside me that said excitedly “You can change now!”. If I was still married, I would still be stuck in the role of the “bad person” and I don’t think I would now be meditating and interested in finding out more about Buddhism. It’s like there was a terrible hurricane, which stripped all the trees of their leaves, but there’s one tiny bud sprouting hopefully on a branch.

I’m sad, though. Whatever happened to “Until Death Do Us Part”? Maybe the pain I caused was just too much, I get that, but I don’t feel that MM ever wanted to help me change or support me through it. It was me who bought him the book Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Love Has Borderline Personality Disorder. He read it, and his attitude appeared to be “OK, cool. Now off you go and – change!”. He never did any internet research about how to cope with having a partner who was mentally ill. In fact, the only research he ever did appeared to be after the break-up when he “diagnosed” me with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Oh, how things could have been different. We loved each other, and it didn’t need to turn to shit. I could spend a lifetime regretting this, and obsessing over what went wrong. But I’m not going to. I just need to accept that neither one of us was ready or right for the other. He wasn’t “the one” and I wasn’t “the one” for him. It’s that simple.

All I can do is remember that, and work hard to be a better, kinder person in the future. And I don’t think that’s giving myself a free pass.

Is it?

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It’s your fault, John.


tumblr_miweukc9Ck1rikbdbo1_1280I went out on a limb last night and actually bought my very first ever iBook to read on my iPad. I have always been very against the notion of e-books, and iPads and Kindles. The only reason I even have an iPad is because I got it ridiculously cheap, so it would have been stupid not to get it. But I promised myself I would never buy an e-book or cancel my daily delivery of the paper version of the New York Times to get the digital edition instead. I love real newspapers and real books. I love the smell of them, and I love the feel of them. I love walking into somebody’s house, and seeing books everywhere. I love being able to get a sense of that person’s personality and interests from the books on their shelves. An iPad makes all of the above impossible. E-books are so fucking unromantic!

Nonetheless, I think I am about to cancel my delivery of the New York Times (except for the Sunday edition – there is no way I am reading that on an iPad!) in favour of the digital edition. I am getting tired of having to clear up all the old newspapers every week. It’s an added chore that obsessive/perfectionistic me just does not need.

Speaking of perfectionism, the iBook I bought last night was “Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control” by Allen Malinger and Jeannette Dewyze. I decided that I can handle buying the e-book version of self-help books because, let’s face it, I don’t exactly need people to come into my house and see my embarrassingly extensive library of self-help books. I’m quite happy to hide those away on my iPad, thank you very much.

Yesterday I wrote about how I want a guarantee that working the SLAA steps and meditation will “cure” me, and that I’m afraid to start doing either of those in case they don’t. I thought that sentiment was interesting in the light of the following paragraph from “Too Perfect”:

Unfortunately, obsessives, perhaps more than any other group of patients, have a need to believe that there is a specific and clear answer to every question; an ambiguous, conflict-free solution to every problem. In therapy, obsessive patients often believe at some level that I have the answers, and that if only they give me enough accurate information I’ll eventually be able to produce a sort of prescription for happiness, detailing exactly what needs to be done – something they might follow as one would a road map. Usually they are disappointed to learn the truth: that the pathway to positive change is anything but clear, especially in the beginning.

 

Wow. That describes me to a T. I’ve had countless therapists over the years, and yet I’ve never really felt that I got anything out of therapy. I think that this was probably because I was expecting each therapist to give me a detailed roadmap to that place called “Happiness”, and I was frustrated when they couldn’t. I don’t think it’s a question of laziness, of not wanting to do the work that SLAA step work and meditation require. Rather, I’m just very uncomfortable with ambiguity and stepping into the unknown. When I was taking my seven-week long Zen meditation class, I was the happiest I’ve been in a long time because I liked turning up at a set time and having a teacher teach me about Buddhism and meditation within a specific timeframe. This was nice, and neat, and tidy. And then the class was over, and, well, I was still interested in Zen and Buddhism, but now it was no longer contained in a classroom, but this was this huge, scary field that I would now have to explore all on my own. Where to start? What to read? How to get “better” at meditation?

It’s the same thing with the SLAA steps, although I must admit that I do love the fact that there are steps. How terribly organized and efficient! I know that everybody should work through the steps at their own pace, but, oh, how I wish that there was some sort of timeline, and some sort of “prize” at the end of every step e.g. You will complete Step One in one month by doing (a), (b) and (c) and, upon graduation, you will never again be attracted to unavailable douchebags.

I’ve always wondered how I could be such a successful undergraduate student (4.0 GPA) and yet have my life falls to pieces after graduation. Given what I’ve just written, it should be no surprise at all that this happened. I was a very good school girl. I was very good at being told what to do, and knowing exactly what was going to happen once I did it. Life was structured and clear. I’m not going to say that I was happy (I still struggled with procrastination and perfectionism back then) but things were far more in control because I had a lot more time, and far fewer responsibilities, so I was able to cover up my issues more easily.

I decided to go to graduate school because I desperately wanted to lead that nice, structured, schoolgirl life again, but, by that point, I was nearly twenty-seven, and I knew deep-down that wasn’t what I truly wanted, so the whole thing was a disaster. I procrastinated all the way through my Master’s, and only graduated by the skin of my teeth.

And what do I want? I want to be me. Just me. I don’t think that this rigid person, obsessed with structure and perfection, is really me. I want to be free – free to relax and enjoy life. And I want to write and sing, not because I “should” or because I want “glory” and “success” but because I enjoy these things so much, and they’re fun. Yes, “fun!”. That word that so many people in my family have absolutely no understanding of, thanks to you Mr. John Knox, you fucking cunt.

I’m crying right now but I’m also kinda happy because reading that paragraph above from “Too Perfect” was a bit of an eye-opener. It showed me once and for all that I am just going to have to deal with the ambiguity of meditation and SLAA (and, um, life in general) and just accept that there’s no ready-made, fast, “cure” for what ails me.

Past Perfect


It has been a very hard week. After some more obsessive, hypochondriac googling, I have undiagnosed myself with ADD, and I have decided that I probably have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) instead. The last time I saw her, my psychiatrist hinted that this might be the case. Procrastination can be caused by ADD, but I think mine is more likely a result of OCPD. I probably also have a bit of comorbid depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder (BPD) thrown into the mix.

Can I just apologize in advance for my obsessive navel-gazing about my mental health? If I was a first-time reader of this blog, I would fucking hate it. There is nothing I dislike more than self-absorbed people waffling on about their mental health issues on a blog or forum. “Get a grip!”, I feel like yelling. “Stop being so fucking self-obsessed!”. But, hey, I guess what we hate most in others is just a projection of what we hate in ourselves.

In my defence, I think I’ve been spending so much time trying to diagnose myself online because I desperately just want to know what the fuck is wrong with me. My psychiatrist has only really committed herself to saying a “mood disorder” which could be anything really. She has also made vague noises about OCPD and BPD, which is great because who wants to think that they have a personality disorder?! That just makes me feel like there is something innately and irredeemably fucked-up about me because, ultimately, how the fuck do you change your personality?!

Maybe you’re wondering why it should matter what the diagnosis is. After all, I’m on an antidepressant (Prozac), and that can help target any number of mental health issues regardless of the official diagnosis. Sure, Prozac might not “cure” me of a personality disorder, but it should help with the comorbid anxiety and depression. I think the reason a diagnosis matters to me is because I’m tired of struggling on alone. I want to find a support group for my specific issue, and a therapist who has training in helping people like me (whatever “me” is). It hasn’t been enough to just go to therapy and talk about my issues. I feel like I need a game plan. I’m drowning, and I just don’t know what the hell to do to save myself.

When it comes to the crunch, all of my suffering comes down to perfectionism. It is ruining my life. There is no doubt about it. I know it is, and yet I am powerless to stop it. That probably sounds overly-dramatic, but I am honestly not kidding. Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself starting absent-mindedly at the wooden beams supporting the roof on the patio. It occurred to me that I could hang a rope from there and kill myself. Oh, don’t worry, I won’t actually do it but, yes, I do think about suicide because I have reached breaking point. I am so, so, so tired of being me and trying to be perfect.

My perfectionism touches every single aspect of my life, no matter how important or banal. As an example of the banal, let me tell you what happened when I walked into my SLAA women’s meeting today. Nearly everybody was wearing cute summer clothes and sandals. I had been too depressed and disorganized to do any washing, so I turn up wearing the only things that were clean – jeans, a turtleneck and trainers (“sneakers” to you Americans). So what? No big deal, right? Yeah, of course not. But except that this happens:

OhmygodwhyamItoomuchofalosertodothewashing?

Whatkindoflosercantgetittogetherenoughtodothewashing?

WhydontIhavenanycleanclothes?Whatthefuckiswrongwithme?

ImaloserImaloserImaloserImaloserImaloser

Iwantbeautifulsummerclothesandsandals

IwantIwantIwantIwantIwant

ImustbebeautifulImustbetheprettiestImusthavethenicestclothesthenicestsandals

ImustImustImustImustbethemostbeautiful

Imustbeperfect

Whatkindofaloserwastestimethinkingaboutclothesandshoes?!

IamsofuckingshallowImpatheticImstupid

My head is filled with such nonsense all day long. I cannot take it anymore.

As I read more about Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder this week, I learned that people with this disorder often have trouble with relationships. Nah….you don’t say!!! I made life unbearable for MM because I expected perfection from him, too. There were times when I would come home from work, and he wouldn’t have done the dishes, so I would just smash them all on the kitchen floor in a temper because I couldn’t stand the chaos of it all. Oh, I am my mother’s daughter. This is how I grew up. There were no smashed dishes but there were impossible standards of cleanliness to meet, and all hell would break loose if I failed. I was also supposed to be beautiful and smart, and I was. I was. I was. I was. I still am. But it was/is never enough.

I can’t believe that I would put another person through the same hell that my mother put me through. MM wasn’t innocent by any stretch of the imagination (he has his own demons) but there can be no doubt that I was incredibly emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive, and that I broke his spirit. I needed him, and yet I hated him for being too weak to leave me, and I made him pay – for my father’s sins, I guess, of being too weak to protect both himself and me from my mother’s tirades.

Now that he is gone I sometimes miss him dreadfully, which is ironic given that I spent the last half of our relationship plotting my escape. He is understandably angry about some of the things I did in the marriage, but I, in turn, feel angry and betrayed because I-did-not-do-any-of-them-on-purpose! I don’t want a “Get Out of Jail Free” card because I know what I did wrong. I’m not making excuses. But, still, nearly ten months after the break-up, he calls me “a monster”, “evil” and blames me for his drinking, and his abusive treatment of me, which apparently only ever happened because he was “provoked” by me.

I don’t think it’s fair that he blames me for everything but, despite feeling this, I can’t help but obsessively analyze my personality to find evidence that maybe (God forbid!) I am a really bad person, after all. That was what he told me for a large part of the relationship. And I believed and accepted it because, well, I was very, very mean to him, and who else but a bad person would be mean?!

Despite this, I wish he was here to give me a cuddle and tell me that everything will be alright. I wish I had somebody in my life, I wish I had a family. I feel so desperately alone, and, although reaching out to my SLAA sponsor and friends/acquaintances helps, it’s not the same thing. I want somebody there who really cares about me; who would stay with me through thick and thin.

I am so sad that I don’t have that.

You’re So Vain (Part 3)


adhd

Yup, yet another self-absorbed blog post. 🙂

It’s funny the way you can’t escape genetics. Both my mother and my aunt were complete hypochondriacs. If they had a brief headache, they would think it was a brain tumour. Unlike them, I’m not terribly concerned about dying of some dreadful disease, but I do spend an inordinate amount of time online trying to come up with a diagnosis for my mental health issues.

So far, I think I’ve come up with borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, purely obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (and, no, this last one is not the same as OCD. It’s an entirely different thing). I don’t believe that I’m bipolar or that I have OCD, but if you google enough you can convince yourself of anything. Sadly, the diagnoses that seem the most accurate are borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Combine those two, and I think you get “Rigid, emotionally unstable mega-bitch disorder”. Um, seems pretty accurate.

When I was visiting my friend last week, she told me that she had been recently diagnosed with having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This came as quite a surprise because my friend has two Master’s degrees, is just about to finish off her PhD at a very prestigious university, and somehow has also found the time to teach herself how to play multiple instruments and music production. She does so many things, and seems highly efficient and organized. She said she ended up getting that diagnosis because she had gone to the doctor when she realized that she had trouble remembering things. She would read a book, and almost immediately forget what was in it. She was concerned that she had early onset Alzheimer’s. Now I know that forgetfulness is one of the symptoms of ADHD, but I honestly cannot see anything else about my friend that suggests she has this disorder. She is one of the most successful people I know, and I know for a fact that she has never had to struggle academically. True, she has lots of energy, and has her fingers in lots of pies, but, well, so what? So do a lot of people.

I was kinda irritated that she just accepted the diagnosis of ADHD so breezily, almost as an explanation of why she is so brilliant, and so much more of a “go-getter” than the average person. You might be wondering why I was so irritated by this because, I mean, who cares what diagnosis a friend gets, right? Well, several years ago, I also explored the possibility of having ADHD because I was desperately trying to find an explanation for why a smart, well-educated person like myself could be such a fucked-up underachiever. Yes, a fucked-up underachiever, not a highly efficient PhD candidate. I have a complete inability to prioritize important tasks, or to understand how much time I will need for a task; if you looked up “procrastination” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me because the only way I can get things done is to wait until the last minute when fear forces me to; if a task bores me it is literally painful (and I truly do mean painful – I feel like my brain is dying) to concentrate on it, and I will check my email every five minutes to distract myself from the awfulness of it; on the other hand, if something appeals to me creatively and emotionally (like writing this blog post, for example) I could spend ten hours doing it, forgetting to eat or take a break.

All of the above things I’ve mentioned are some lesser-known symptoms of ADHD that really resonated with me when I read about them years ago. A lot of the more common symptoms made sense to me, too. Despite this, I dismissed the idea of getting tested for it because I am somewhat suspicious of this diagnosis. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry has ADHD these days. As much as I desperately want to believe that there is a valid medical reason for my problems, I am concerned that this is just a cop-out. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with me. Is it possible that my issues are just character flaws? I really don’t want them to be, but maybe they are. They do say that one of the main characteristics of ADHD is carelessness, and sloppy work, but this is not the case for me at all. I have an almost obsessive and debilitating attention to detail. Can you have ADHD if this is the case?

I grew up in a household where I was only validated through my external achievements. Maybe my perfectionism, procrastination and inability to get myself organized are just a reaction to that? I’ve been trained to want to excel in everything I do, but another part of me thinks “Fuck you, mother! I will not obey you!”, so could I be sabotaging myself on purpose?! But if that is the case, why the fuck can’t I seem to help myself? I don’t want to self-sabotage, and I’ve read self-help book after self-help book about how to overcome perfectionism and procrastination, and I know all the tips and tricks. But nothing ever works. I just keep on setting unrealistic goals, and failing, and hating myself, setting unrealistic goals, failing and hating myself ad nauseum.

The only thing I know for sure is that my perfectionism and procrastination are ruining my life, and I don’t know how to change. You might think I’m being overly-dramatic here, but I’m not. I think I’m a really talented, smart person, but I have no idea how to channel any of my creative talents. I work in a dead-end cubicle job, and I want more than that from my life. I want a job that challenges me and interests me.

So, what do you think? Does it sound like I have ADHD, or am I just deluding myself because maybe I’m just a loser and can’t accept that fact?

I would like to go get tested, but part of me thinks “Oh, for God’s sake! Pull yourself together, woman! And stop being such a hypochondriac!”. If I am just a weak, flawed personality who cannot get it together enough to make a change in her life, then how pathetic to try to get a ADHD diagnosis to make myself feel better.