Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is a widely heard of and spoken about disorder. Yet the true characteristics of OCD often get misunderstood. I myself was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the age of sixteen. Some of its stereotypical characteristics are indeed similar, but most of the true characteristics are quite different.
When people hear that I have been diagnosed with OCD many are somewhat surprised that I’m not (generally) tidy or fussy in an excessive way. In truth my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder makes me overly concerned about my health, safety and daily problems.So I am prone to hypochondria when I get minor ailments such as nosebleeds, freckles, coughs or headaches. Whenever I experience any of those (or similar) ailments I will become very panicked about the possibility of it being an early symptom of a terminal disease. Rather than this being a fear of imperfection, it’s essentially a fear of dying. So I’ll be excessively worried that I may only have a few more days to live.
There is a reason why Obsessive Compulsive Disorder begins with the word Obsessive. Those of us with OCD are 100% obsessed about everything that relates to our life experience. This makes us overly sensitive to the slightest word that could possibly be an insult, unable to let go of issues, and unable to get fears of worst case scenarios out of our mind.
Compulsions do exist for us. For example many times I will lock a door and have to keep double checking again and again, with the thought of “I remember locking the door, but I may have just mistakenly thought that I had locked it”. However I will only ever experience compulsions like these if there is a fear (or obsession) attached.
In addition to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder there is something else which is called Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (or OCPD). OCPD has many differences as well as similarities to classic OCD. Both conditions have the potential to be severely debilitating upon a person’s life. Sometimes they can even occur simultaneously within the same person. Yet there are some very clear differences between the two that I will briefly mention.
Generally people with OCPD don’t have the same level of fear (even to the degree of paranoia at times) attached to their compulsions as those of us with OCD have. Their compulsions tend to be more focused on needing perfection and for everything to be in order. As mentioned above, both OCD and OCPD have the potential to be debilitating, and in severe cases psychotherapy is needed.
A person with OCPD may be so fixated on the smallest details that they cannot complete their daily tasks. They’re also often so strict on themselves to be perfect that it causes them great distress when they can’t perform everything to the highest possible standard. From there they’ll experience anxiety, which may even multiply once the realisation comes that anxiety is a debilitation that makes a person unable to achieve perfection.
As was also mentioned before, characteristics of OCD and OCPD can cross over with each other, and I myself occasionally experience what I discussed in the previous paragraph. Yet the two conditions are just as seperate as anxiety and depression are. Personally I look at OCD as being a case of extreme pessimism, and OCPD as being a case of extreme perfectionism.