Throughout my struggles, and triumphs with anxiety I never considered the small things that I do to seem odd. Ever since I can remember I have been counting things in my head. I count my steps often, objects in a room, and how long certain activities take (I.e brushing my teeth or showering). The desire, or rather the need to do this counting has increased since my anxiety has gotten worse. I assumed this was a coping thing for me, to be sure of something (timing, amount of things etc) but I never thought is was a behaviour of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I will openly admit I have been told that the idea that someone with OCD is just a clean freak, however I am coming to terms with the notion I may suffer from the disorder, and let me tell you..I am not a clean freak in any capacity.
What is OCD though? OCD is defined as:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).
There are 4 types of OCD:
-Contamination & Washing.
-Doubt About Accidental Harm & Checking. …
-Just Right OCD: Symmetry, Arranging, & Counting.
-Unacceptable Taboo Thoughts & Mental Rituals.
According to PC, “obsessive compulsive disorder stems from a healthy type of anxiety and morphs into something all-consuming. OCD is a psychiatric disorder that involves repeated and unwanted intrusive thoughts, feelings, ideas, and behaviors that must be done over and over again. While checking to make sure the stove has been turned off is an important task for safety, repeatedly checking it several times before any other task can be accomplished, is not.”
They go on to state,”people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) also worry to extreme. They may become preoccupied with dread and a feeling of impending doom when thinking about the future. Unlike people with OCD, they do not typically engage in ritualistic behavior to deal with their fears.”
So while it may seem like OCD and anxiety are the same thing, they are not. Both can however be triggered by a traumatic event.
I have gone my whole life thinking that these things that everyone did. The counting, and the anxiety around not counting things. In fact, I have never told anyone this until this past week…and now I’m telling it to you.
But where does the counting come in you ask? Well after some extensive research…a simple Google search and a chat with my therapist I discovered I may suffer from this form in the 3rd type of OCD:
Arithmomania is a mental disorder that may be seen as an expression of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Individuals suffering from this disorder have a strong need to count their actions or objects in their surroundings.
Although there is no “cure” for OCD or arithmomania I do get some comfort from knowing there is a term for it. So I suppose I will continue to count away…
p.s I hope you all enjoyed last month’s guest writer Chelsea! I’m so excited to be collaborating with another female writer to talk about anxiety and depression. Stay tuned next month for another feature from her.