Monday, 23 September 2013 0 comments

Intensity



One key component of OCD appears to be that an OCD sufferer has a thought (the obsession) and then feels that there is some meaning to it, rather than it just being something that enters our mind and then dismiss it.

EVERYTHING HAS A MEANING (or so my brain would like to think)

I think this comes from the fact that our thoughts engage us with emotional responses. I was sitting in a meeting with a priesthood leader who told me that I was “pretty intense”. I laughed a bit at the time to try to take the edge off that statement that struck a little too close to home, not necessarily helped as I looked over at my wife who was furiously nodding her head and pulling a funny face.

I knew this to be true but didn’t expect it to be so apparent. I have tried so hard to be easier going and more relaxed. I obviously haven’t been trying hard enough.

Some of the intensity I can definitely attribute to OCD thoughts, but not everything I think is an obsessive thought. I seem to have intensity about other things as well. Here we have a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. Am I intense because that’s my personality, and this lends itself to OCD, or is it the OCD creeping in to my every day thoughts? In an effort to not turn my thoughts on intensity into a rather intense analysis, I’ll leave it there (believe me, I could go on). I have been trying of late to try and be happier and present myself in a more care-free way. What can I say…. it’s not working.

I get intense in ways such as intense concentration. I can think about something until my brain literally hurts. In fact I get lost in topics and subjects so much so that I become consumed mentally and emotionally in the topic. For example, I got so caught up in the topic of LDS Church History for a while that when I was at work I had to be listening to something or reading something about Church history because nothing else mattered in my little world. Needless to say I didn’t get very much work done. My brain pretty much just said that this was the most important thing and I almost shut down in relation to other tasks and life.

I can often be so mentally exhausted that I can’t take any more stimulation and just have to try and shutdown completely. Let me tell you that this is not possible at work or at home with two young kids and a wife who has a reasonable expectation of my engagement with them all while I’m at home.

I also get quite intense emotions. I very rarely just feel good, bad, tired, anxious etc. The emotions always have to be the pinnacle of the emotion being felt. From a church/gospel standpoint, this also relates to feeling the spirit. I must create for others or for myself feel the most profound experience with the spirit.

(This is what leads me to burn out and crash I think. I generally go through a pattern of something close to a breakdown every 18-24 months. I think I just get overloaded and my anxiety and mental wiring just go nuts.)

I can see in other people’s eyes when in conversation one of two things.

Firstly, and most rare, that people think I’m some kind of deep, thoughtful and inspired person because I seem to put in so much effort into thought and preparedness. Little do they know it’s almost not a pleasant experience and it is generally against my own will.

This one is a hard concept for me and actually seems like a reinforcement to the OCD behaviour. The very thing that is wrong with my thinking is being seen by others as a very positive personal, even spiritual trait. It almost blows my brain that something so destructive can be seen by others to be a great spiritual gift. Maybe that’s a whole different topic for a later blog post.

Secondly, and most common, people look at me like I’m either way overthinking something, trying way too hard or raising points/questions with my comments that don’t need to be made or asked. Who knows what they think actually, all I know is that I get a rather quizzical look from them or a sense of ‘shut up already’.

So my intensity level needs to drop down a notch or two, but how do I do that, especially when they are tied up in my anxiety, self image, personal characteristics and people’s positive impressions of me?
I find that this intensity leads into perfectionism. I struggle with that. The worst thing about it is that I am never perfect so it’s just a constant let down.

I have set myself a task, and trying to be as relaxed about it as possible, that I am going to read the scriptures, other positive teachings from the church and other sources about happiness, peace and faith (as I think this is lacking when we try to take things upon ourselves too much).

Like it says in the scriptures in many places “Be of good cheer”. This is the goal.

I do notice in the statement the sentiment that it is a choice. It is something I can choose to “Be”.

Let’s see how this works. If anyone has any thoughts or insight into how to be less intense, I could use all the help I can get.
Monday, 9 September 2013 6 comments

Paranoia, OCD and surely I must have schizophrenia!

***I don't know how I feel about this post anymore. Having re-read it I don't think I have explained myself very well. I seem to be trying to separate schizophrenia and OCD based on the idea that thoughts can always be seen as irrational with OCD, and that is a generalisation that doesn't always hold true, even for me. I feel I may have spoken out of turn a bit due to my lack of knowledge of schizophrenia, but I will leave this post up however, as this appears to be the most visited one on my blog. I just wanted to add this update because I am less sure of my presentation and assertions now. I just put down what I think at the time, and I am not infallible that's for sure. If it's any consolation I have previously felt I was schizophrenic, but have come to realise I am not, and it really was OCD all along.




If you or I can say ‘I am going crazy right now’, are we actually going crazy?

Surely a crazy person does whatever crazy people do, but think they are normal.

Can a crazy person identify their own craziness?

To me that suggests they are not crazy at all, but actually very perceptively stating that their behaviour or thoughts are not what is considered ‘normal’.

This is an important point. I’ve felt, and have heard others with OCD say that they have often thought they were Schizophrenic, or have a paranoid personality disorder, but one key distinction is that with OCD you can still see the irrationality in your thoughts, even when you can’t stop them.

They may seem and even feel believable, but there is still something in the background that says ‘I don’t want to think this’ and ‘I don’t want it to be true’. This idea that we can think something and then at the same time disagree with it is what leads OCD sufferers to think they are schizophrenic. It's like there are two people in there fighting out an idea. In reality it's not another personality but simply an intrusive and unwanted thought.

Paranoid disorders lead to delusion, and OCD people are not deluded.

Infact in my experience they fully know that what is going on in their head is wrong and this is what creates the anxiety. We don’t like having thoughts that we aren’t in control of. We therefore think there must be some hidden meaning to them.

Here’s a definition I’ve been thinking for where paranoia and OCD meet –

Paranoia – is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion.

OCD - is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, yet is recognised as irrational as we ask if we are delusional.

An OCD sufferer can still sense the irrationality even if they can’t stop having the thought. OCD sufferers don’t wholeheartedly accept the thought but we fight it or try to neutralise it with a compulsion.

We kind of feel paranoid thoughts but also know that we are being paranoid, despite the fact that doesn’t immediately help us with the paranoia. A personal example here is that I have previously felt that everyone is out to get me and everyone talks negatively about me. This thought causes some pretty intense anxiety and fear of doing the wrong thing in front of others, because I don’t want to give them any fuel for the fire of hate, but rather than become convinced of the thought, despite the anxiety I can have intermittent thoughts of “That’s unlikely. Not everybody can be talking about me behind my back.” And “What does it matter what other people are saying anyway!” This is a clear sign that it is kind of OCD rather than a paranoid disorder of some kind.

This should be of some comfort that you are not crazy as you can see your 'craziness'. That shows a real connection, however small, with reality.

I hate hearing that I’ve been mentioned in someone’s conversation, even if it’s been good comments. If I do something wrong or make a mistake I have thoughts that people will not forgive me and I will be labelled by my mistake for life. I seek for re-assurance from people after I do things that are publicly seen, such as teaching at church or speaking in work meetings, to make sure I did it ok, but can’t seem to accept it when they say I had done a good job. I can see that all of these thoughts are irrational but OCD is essentially the game of second guessing yourself, and the symptoms are the evidence of the need to second guess.

I used to have a problem when watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. If I ever watched one I would think it was the most evil programme out there. I mean they are hitting each other, cutting each other in half and more generally just being extremely nasty to each other. I used to think there must be a conspiracy behind these cartoons. People are trying to desensitize us by making us laugh at violence. Right after this thought, I’d be asking myself why I was having such a ludicrous thought? There’s far worse out there than Tom and Jerry cartoons. So this was a paranoid thought of sorts, but I could see the paranoia rather than being convinced by it.

I’ve recently had a change in calling at church. I am now in a position where I am more visible and have to spend more time in counsel with others. I have found myself in the last week or so asking people if I’m doing ok and checking incase someone thinks I’ve done a terrible job. I’m struggling to not seek this reassurance, and it is reassurance in an OCD sense because I know I have done ok so far and I also know that people have more important things to do than to be constantly discussing my success in fulfilling my new responsibility.

I have to get on top of this type of reassurance seeking as it’s almost like I am looking for people to say nice things about me, which is essentially what I’m doing, but not for the reasons they may think. It’s my compulsion and not my narcissism or ego taking over.
 
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