Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heal Thyself

One of the super fun aspects of being a part of the Med School experience is the constant self-diagnosis that occurs. With almost every new class comes the declaration of a new condition, syndrome, or state.

We're currently in the midst of Psychiatry.

This has been extra fun, as so many of the signs & symptoms are generic enough that if you reflect long enough, you'll convince yourself you have that particular condition. This week, I've been 'diagnosed' with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Not to be confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Per Wikipedia: Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder which involves an obsession with perfection, rules, and organization. A person with OCPD may feel anxious when they perceive that things are not "right." This can lead to routines and "rules" for ways of doing things, whether for themselves or their families.

While that's not an all-encompassing definition of the criteria for OCPD, it's a pretty solid condensed definition.

I laughed when Big Daddy first started 'diagnosing' me. But the more I read, the more I identified with certain parts. These are highlighted in red.

Per Wikipedia: There are five primary areas that cause anxiety for OCPD individuals: time, personal and social relationships, cleanliness, tidiness, and money. Time becomes a problem when they dwell for so long on getting something "right" that they stand the chance of not finishing in time. Personal and social relationships are often under serious strain because the OCPD individual insists on being in charge and the only one who knows what is "right". Uncleanliness is, in the eyes of some OCPD individuals, a form of lack of perfection, as is untidiness. They may spend considerable time each day putting everything in precisely the right place in precisely the right manner. Money is of concern because many OCPD sufferers are anxious about the potential for things to go wrong in their lives. They may hoard items for a 'rainy day'.


I reflect back on my childhood & can see some of these tendencies from a young age. But it's hard to know what is inherent (OCPD can run in families - Dad, I am looking at you), and what was shaped by childhood experiences.

I tend to be preoccupied with the rules, and doing things the right way. If I perceive that someone else is having the rules bent or broken for them & feel like I can't have the same done for me, I OBSESS. I know - unhealthy, right?

I also have an unhealthy desire to do things "right". Right doesn't necessarily mean the best or easiest way - it means the way I want it done. I hate creating presentations at work because I will literally never be done, no matter what the deadline is. There's always the desire to look at it "one more time" and make "one last tweak".

I have control freak tendencies. Again, I think I am learning to ratchet it back, but I definitely like things done my way. Having kids and being married has forced me to re-prioritize, and I think I am getting better. I think we can all agree that no marriage will have both happiness and longevity without compromise. I still have a long road to travel towards learning to lighten up & let go a little more.

If you've seen my house, you'll know that I don't have the clean gene. My house is not disgusting (but please don't look at my kitchen floors), but it's not spotless either. Part of me wishes I were a little more compulsive about cleaning, but with a husband who truly doesn't care & two young kids strewing chaos wherever they go, a part of me has just given up. Am I more at ease in a clean house? Yes. But I know I don't want to be a Molly Maid, and I'd rather go to the park than steam clean the carpets in my rented apartment.

Money. Oh yes. As much as I do like to spend money, and prefer to deny myself nothing which my heart desires, I have TREMENDOUS anxiety over money. This was born from the fires of childhood experience, none of which we need to explore here. Let's just say that to me, money=stability. I don't think I need a million dollars in the bank to feel secure, but I do long for the day when I don't need to fret over whether or not I can buy diapers AND formula in the same week.

Keep it or toss it? Again, I think I'm making progress. My home was never filled with stacks of crumbling newspapers and 5,000 balls of dryer lint, but I do lean towards keeping items of sentimental value long after that sentiment has dissolved. I like nice things, but often talk myself out of using them because that moment isn't 'special' enough. There must be hope for me. I'm starting to feel that every day is a special day. Why shouldn't I wear perfume to the grocery store or my pearl bracelets to church? Stuff is meant to be used, and this year I fully intend to bust out my Christmas china on December 1 and use it the WHOLE MONTH. NOTE: I did not purchase said Christmas china. It was a hand-me-down from my Mother, who has a whole set of her own issues. And an even larger set of china.

I guess the whole point of this post is to say that it's been a fun week around our casa. Whether this condition actually applies to me or not, it's been thought provoking. And the first step towards improvement is acknowledging that there's an issue. Self-awareness is good, and of course: Knowing is Half the Battle.

Did I just date myself with that cartoon slogan? I think I did.....

1 comment:

Rosie said...

Oh, man, I LOVED the psychiatry rotations/classes. I was always begging Robert for diagnoses of myself and my family.

My favorite part of this post was "It was a handmedown from my mother, who has a whole set of her own issues. And an even larger set of china."

hehe