Note: This is an older post from my other blog ‘Rude Girl ~ Living In An Aspie World,’ but since I opened this blog is to talk more openly about my mental health/diagnoses etc I thought this post deserved a spot here. It was a very old post on my old blog too so there is a good chance the bloggers from over at my old blog have not seen it yet. Also partly because currently I have a lot of planned unfinished posts that I can’t bring myself to finish right now and want to add more content to my blog.
So for new readers, followers or if you missed reading it before…This will be all about OCD, it’s relation to autism and myself.
Autism and Asperger Syndrome have a lot of associated disorders. Some include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), anxiety disorders and others. One of the more common ones is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Since it is one of the more common ones associated with Autism and Aspeger Syndrome and because it effects me I wanted to share some brief insights and some ways it effects me.
For those of you who may not know what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is, OCD is basically a long lasting or life long condition where a person has uncontrollable and reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors. Meaning a person who is diagnosed or effected by OCD thinks the same thing, or repeats the same behavior over and over again rather it is rational or not.
Obsessions and Compulsions are the two main symptoms of OCD. A person with OCD may have just one of these or both. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges or mental images that cause anxiety. Where as, compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person urges to do in response to the obsession. Some examples include excessive hand washing/cleaning, ordering/arranging things in a particular order or repeatedly checking on things.
Before I continue with this post I would like to express that everyone has the need to double check things or likes to organize in some occasions in their life, but this does not mean everyone has OCD. OCD is not being able to control one’s thoughts or behaviors even once they recognize their actions are excessive. People effected by OCD will likely spend at least an hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors and experience significant problems in their daily lives because of it.
OCD and Autism really tend to overlap each other especially with the repeated behaviors such as counting, lining up, touching, tapping and so on. However the autism motive is still different from the OCD motive. The easiest way I can explain it is the OCD motive is where there is reason behind the need to correct or prevent something and the person does have motive behind it it, where as the Autism motive has really no thought behind what the person is doing and they are just going on instinct like they have an urge to do it.
My autism can make my OCD a lot worse. One of those reasons is I have more of a sensory input that others may not have. Such as, I am very sensitive to touch. For example, when I touch a metal surface it feels horrible and disgusting. Because the metal feels disgusting I automatically associate that feeling with being unsanitary. Since it gives me such an unclean feeling I automatically assume any kind of metal is unsanitary. Sometimes when I touch metal surfaces it can also give me this itchy feeling and like metal fragments are literally stuck in my skin. After I take my hand away, my hand still feels unclean and itchy. As a result I will go wash my hands 2-3 multiple times compulsively. Same thing happens when I get lotion on my hands, I absolutely HATE the feeling of lotion on my hands. I can handle it on my legs after I shave or on a sunburn, but after I apply it I have to wash my hands immediately afterwards. I am very sensitive to touch and it plays a huge factor in how OCD effects me. Autism and OCD really do feed each other and I think that is why my autism makes my OCD more extreme or worse.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder effects me in many different ways and can be very tiring/defeating especially when it plays a part in my day to day life. It can be the little things like listening to the same song on repeat (anywhere between 5-20 times in one or more sit downs) or other things that are harder to deal with or more annoying like my intrusive thoughts, my OCD routine and organization. One example is I have to constantly double check things like locking the door before I leave the house or at night even though I know damn well locking the door is part of my routine and never forget to do it. Sometimes I still have some unknown/irrational fear the door could still be unlocked after I checked it 2-3 times. Same thing happens with the coffee maker some mornings I fear I didn’t turn it on or it is over flowing and I have to go back and double check I put the coffee pot all the way in right. My need to organize is probably more extreme than most and relates to everything including stupid things like my music on itunes or my ipod. My need to organize it perfectly can become so bad that it actually ends up being a mess and not getting organized because even doing close to perfect isn’t good enough. I don’t know if that makes sense?
OCD is a huge annoyance in my life that I am constantly battling it and trying to find better ways to cope with to make it easier to live with. I don’t believe there is a cure for OCD or I will ever be OCD free but there are coping methods I can use to make it more manageable.
Instead of editing this post (which it probably needs an edit, but meh. I was over all satisfied with the original) I will post more about this topic in the future, how it effects me or how I live with it and coping mechanisms/tips that I use to help manage it.