Different manifestations of OCD require a different approach…
There’s much more to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder than just colour co-ordination.
CBBT is dedicated to debunking the myths around OCD that have been perpetuated by popular culture and television so that we can raise awareness for OCD as it actually is, a challenging mental condition that required perseverance and support to be overcome. In our last post we took the lid off some of the more common manifestations of OCD, today we’ll be looking at a few little known forms of OCD and how they effect a person’s day-to-day life.
Symmetry and Orderliness
Although it might be the one manifestation of OCD that is portrayed the most in movies, the need to have everything line up or ‘just right’ is not that common of a compulsion. Those who have not lived with this troublesome condition often see it as a ‘blessing in disguise’, after all, who wouldn’t want their house in a perfectly organised state? As much as this level of order might sound appealing, the reality is far from it. Those with this compulsion might spend hours making minute adjustments to meaningless items in their home, missing appointments or social occasions in the mean time. They might also avoid inviting anyone to their home for fear of upsetting the fine balance they’ve managed to achieve.
As with many health conditions some manifestations of OCD are completely internal, making them much harder to diagnose and be treated. Ruminations is the term given for a compulsion to dwell on a particular thought or idea for a long amount of time. This is more than just ‘going off in your head’ for a half hour, a rumination is a theme or question that a person obsessively thinks about for hours or even days at a time. There are rarely ever any satisfying conclusions to a rumination, leading the person thinking about them to be pre-occupied and detached for a long period of time.
We all have our own little rituals which we accumulate over our lives. Whether it’s our bathroom routine, the order we eat our lunch in or patting our pockets before we leave the house, small rituals such as this are part of the pattern of our lives, helping us to achieve the everyday small tasks with little or no mental effort. For obsessive compulsives rituals can become the opposite of this. Often an obsessive ritual will have no clear logic from an outside perspective, it will exist only to calm the anxiety of the performer and will usually have a defined start and end point. Often if the ritual is interrupted, then the whole process will have to be restarted in order for the compulsion to be eased.
Many obsessive compulsives live in fear of their own condition, they are aware of their ‘triggers’ and often actively seek to avoid these where possible. Someone with a contamination compulsion might avoid areas they deem to be unclean such as bars or restaurants, whereas someone with a fear of homosexuality might avoid areas in a city that they relate with gay people. Avoidance is the very pinnacle of anxiety and might lead to a person completely withdrawing themselves from the world so that they can maintain the illusion of stability.