Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Epilogue

This post concludes with the Epilogue.

This series has looked at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.


Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.   ~
Mark Twain
In summary, the obsessive personality style is a system of many normal traits, all aiming toward a common goal: safety and security via alertness, reason, and mastery. In rational and flexible doses, obsessive traits usually favor not only survival, but success and admiration, as well.

The downside is that you can have too much of a good thing. You are bound for serious difficulties if your obsessive qualities serve not the simple goals of wise, competent, and enjoyable living, but an unrelenting need for fail-safe protection against the vulnerability inherent in being human. <snip>

<snip> The single most important step is one you can take right now: acknowledge that the source of much of your unhappiness may not be your boss, the state of the economy, your spouse's shortcomings, but something within you! Acknowledge that the main obstacles to feeling fulfilled in your relationships, work, or leisure (if you have any) may be such things as your perfectionism, workaholism, rigidity, and other overdeveloped obsessive characteristics.

<snip> ...please understand that this book [nor this blog] is not a substitute for therapy with a competent professional. <snip> With or without professional assistance, your most important means to progress will be, quite simply, sustained hard work. But then that's your strong suit, isn't it?

Is it difficult to find a therapist who understands OCPD/Anankastic Personality Disorder? Yes. Many, many mental health professionals have never even heard of such a beastie, or confuse it with OCD.  Here's one true story:

My DH was diagnosed by a neuro-psychiatrist. He had extensive bloodwork, CT scan, several days of urine collection, significant assessment type "tests", and even his mother had to respond to a lot of questions about what he was like as a child. Even with all of that, he was diagnosed with OCD. It wasn't until I joined his yearly psychiatrist visits that I raised the issue of OCPD and the doctor concurred.  

It seems very difficult to determine OCPD unless someone close to the patient (in his inner circle) is able to answer many questions regarding the treatment they receive and observe on a daily basis. My experience has been that DH thinks he is wonderful and would never consider himself an arrogant, nasty, obnoxious person (at times) with underlying anger with almost constant anxiety and intermittent depression.

An obsession with creating and enforcing order,
and being RIGHT, is more about OCPD than OCD.

It's frustrating, trying to find a professional who can help you, who understands that OCPD is not OCD, but it is worth the effort.  Even if the mental health professional doesn't know or understand the condition, yet, it is still possible that s/he may have some effective strategies that make life a little easier.  For the partner or child of an affected person - go, go go!

Now this? OCD all the way, baybee.

I think counseling saved my life, certainly my sanity, during a time when I was losing it.  I don't mean to denigrate the efforts of friends and family - they are invaluable as a support system.

Yet sometimes there are things we don't want to tell them, out of fear/shame, or just not wanting our (perhaps dysfunctional) family all up in our business.  We might tell less than is helpful - because we don't want to be judged and scolded, or because we don't want them to hate our partner.  Likewise our friends.  If our situation is so painful, they don't "get" why we don't leave.  Or they offer suggestions that might work  - when both people are "normal." Things like "Just be patient," or "Go ahead and let him/her have his way," which Does Not Work when one partner in the relationship is dysfunctional.

They also tend to take our side, whereas a good mental professional will call us on our sh-t - and sometimes, we need a neutral referee to tell us, "You blew it there." To help us through the exercises we need to become healthier in our interactions.

Let me reiterate - just because we might have an OCPD partner/parent/child/co-worker, does not mean that WE don't have our own hot messes that need attention.  So good therapy is essential for getting our own house(s) in order.

But if you are one of those people who is constantly irritated by an effed-up world that never does things The Right Way or up to your (extremely high and admirable) standards, if you believe your way of thinking is (always) a gift and you are surrounded by stupid, lazy people, you would be well served by seeking therapy with as open a mind as you can manage.

None of us have to live with constant emotional pain. Discomfort, sometimes, sure. Pain, no.

You deserve better. Go get it.
Your thoughts?