Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder #SOL24

March 31, 2024

My plan was to write a reflection post today, but I realized that doing so would avoid writing about the thing I most need to write about, which is that I got diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) at my last therapy appointment.

I’ve posted about therapy a lot these past few days because it’s been on my mind, but I am not angry about the diagnosis. What’s funny is that I thought every time my therapist referred to my obsessive compulsive behavior, I thought she meant OCD so I would look up the definition and be like, ‘Yeah, I definitely don’t have that.”

But this past time we had this exchange:

Her: Blah blah therapy blah. We’ve talked about your OCPD before–
Me: Uh, what’s the P for?
Her: Personality.
Me: Oh, yeah, I never heard the P before. Continue.
Her: Blah blah therapy blah etc

ocpd memeSo, Wednesday night, after our session, I looked up OCPD and realized that she was, in fact, not talking about OCD. So that was interesting.

(Also, I guess here is also where I point out that she had clearly already diagnosed me. I was diagnosed on Wednesday in that I finally knew the obsessive compulsive meant OCPD.)

I read a bunch of stuff about it, so I could understand what exactly the disorder is and why/how I fit the criteria. I think the lists that made me understand it the most are the ones from this NIH article:

Symptoms must originate in late adolescence or early adulthood, be observable in various settings, lead to notable life distress, and be characterized by at least four of the following numbered criteria.

  1. Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the central point of the activity is lost.*

  2. Perfectionism that interferes with task completion.*

  3. Excessive devotion to work and productivity, excluding leisure activities and friendships.

  4. Over-conscientiousness and inflexibility about morality, ethics, or values.*

  5. Difficulty in discarding worn-out or worthless objects with no sentimental value.

  6. Reluctance to delegate tasks or work.*

  7. Adoption of a miserly spending style toward self and others.

  8. Demonstration of rigidity and stubbornness.*

* = ones I know I have

Regular readers of the blog will know that I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, so I put a star next to it even though I don’t usually have problems with follow through. (As soon as I typed that, I remembered that I have literally said I wouldn’t start things if I wasn’t sure I could finish, so never mind.)

So, you know, that’s all fine and good, but it was what comes before it in the article (because I had seen that list already and was like, yeah, sure I do those things, but whatever), you know, the specific elements. (I have only copy/pasted the ones that made me go, “Oh, so that explains it.”):

  • Appearance and Behavior: Patients with OCPD typically exhibit a stiff, formal, and rigid demeanor that reflects their intrinsic need for control and order. […] Patients with OCPD are usually cooperative but can quickly become anxious and irritable if their sense of order and control is challenged.

  • Speech: The speech patterns of patients with OCPD will vary with context. They may opt for brief, fact-based dialogue devoid of extraneous detail…

  • Affect: The affect of patients with OCPD is neither blunted nor flat but generally constricted, mirroring their limited emotional expressiveness.

My daughter and I talk about the speech pattern thing all the time.

Me: People don’t ask me questions about my life.
Her: They do, but you give them nothing. It’s hard to get to know you because you just give one-word answers.
Me: That’s ridiculous.

And we had just talked about the affect thing the other day. In fact, my friend asked me a few months ago why I don’t bring my personality when we meet new people, and I’m like, “Girl, I don’t know those people.”

So anyway, I read my daughter this list and she started laughing. So there’s that.

I also found this definition from The OCPD Foundation helpful:

The key characteristic of OCPD is rigidity. Also perfectionism, orderliness, over-attention to minor details, difficulty with spontaneity and flexibility, inflexible morality, discomfort with changing plans, being unaware of their own emotions or the emotions of others, a need for control, and valuing accomplishment over fun or interpersonal relationships.

i can be spontaneous but first i must carefully plan everything and imagine all that could go wrong 3abcaSo, the rigidity piece is the part my therapist and I talk about all the time, and we have recently been talking about my inflexible morality. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t do well with spontaneity and/or changing plans, so. And you’ll remember that in my last post about therapy, I said I hated it because it’s unpredictable hahaha.

Anyway, processing this information has been up and down. The up is finding tidbits like the one above that explain things. The down is knowing that it’s caused by, of course, childhood trauma. A lot of the traits I have I associate with being an adult child of alcoholics, but this diagnosis does shine a different light on things. I have always been a Good Girl and Rule Follower so was probably already oriented toward the disorder. The fact that it develops (usually) in late teens/early 20s also tells me that all of the b.s. I had to deal with re: my daughter’s father during my pregnancy probably really and truly tipped the scales on it developing, so thinking about all of that stuff is not fun.

I have no real conclusion since I’m still in process, but you know, I just spent more than a little time looking for memes to go with this post, so I guess it’s time to actually hit publish.

(Oh, and I’ll do my reflection post as part of Tuesday’s SOL link up.)

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  1. Carol Varsalona

    It is good to meet you and chat for a few minutes. I read this slice and I believe last night’s slice but I fall asleep many times after reading. Tonight, I attempted to stay up late to read slices. After all it is my quiet time to read. I believe therapy helps.

  2. Lynn

    I’m up late cause I can’t sleep (so rare) and so I’m finally checking out your blog. I love it! I feel like I’m talking to you:)


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