ocd much?

I went through a psychiatric evaluation during graduate school at my primary care physician’s request. He was certain I was depressed; I said I was not. Now that I’m in a much happier place, I wonder about my ability to assess. That aside, the psychiatrist spent a good amount of time trying to assess if I had OCD. I like my belongings to be kept a certain way, even when they’re messy. The psychiatrist concluded I had been through a lot but that I was not depressed or riddled with other psychiatric illnesses. She did say we could continue treatment if I would like to deal with my anxiety. I declined.

Last night I commented to D. that I’m really having trouble with my desire to have things in a certain place, but it’s all confined to our sleeping space. I have been getting up 2 to 3 times from bed each night to readjust the curtains. There’s a logic to the madness: I don’t want the sun to come in through the gaps. But still, I should be able to rest without worrying if there’s a wee little crack of light coming in at 4:30 a.m.

This has had me thinking about my HP and his odd but apparently cImageharacteristic fear of germs and contamination. At the worst point in my life with him, he would stand by the dish drainer and inspect each dish washed, handing me back each item with an invisible speck. More than once he demanded I rewash every dish because I had left them too long in the drying rack. He believed we would get dysentery if the dishes were not immediately dried. The house, when my brother and I lived with him, was immaculate. Any sight of lint on the carpet was cause for yelling. We spent endless hours cleaning the house during our summer vacations. Bathroom grout was scrubbed with a toothbrush until it glistened, floors were always perfectly vacuumed, preferably with the lines showing the path, drawers were neatly ordered. Our own rooms, as I previously blogged, were somewhat more liberally organized but still regularly inspected. I still make my daughter’s bed with “hospital corners” while my own is pleasantly rumply with a duvet that doesn’t require tucking.

My concern is that I’m starting to grip a little tightly to the patterns and now S. also wants things a certain way. She breaks down into tears when her socks won’t pull up just right from toe to heel. Am I passing on a neurotic behavior, or is it engrained in the genes?

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One response to “ocd much?

  1. I think it can be both – it’s definitely at least partly genetic, you can see how it runs in families – but also what we learn as kids has a lot to do with how we cope with our genetics.

    My son is on the autism spectrum, which looking at our families is CLEARLY genetic. But we spend a lot of time teaching him social skills and thought tactics to change some of his behaviors. There ought to be similar things available for OCD, and I know there are for sensory issues, if that’s what’s making her care so much about her socks.

    People don’t like the diagnosis/treatment language, and I agree with that, but a lot of stuff we do with kids is teaching skills. As a parent I’ve learned a lot of these skills right along with my kid and really wished I’d learned them earlier. If what looks like OCD to you is a way of dealing with anxiety, teaching your daughter general anxiety coping skills (meditation, self-soothing, interrupting thought loops, etc) will help with it and also just be generally useful in her life.

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