EPISODE 15 TRANSCRIPT
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I’ll admit that I struggled with the concept of this video for a few days. I have months and months of content already planned out, but I’m not sure that I had thought to do this exact subject. But I’ve had consistent messages and comments asking for me to address the idea of talking to your family and friends about your OCPD.
The main reason I struggled with this is that I wasn’t sure what you guys were asking for. You would say that you needed ways to talk to your family about OCPD, and I thought initially you wanted a video with a simplified explanation of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. But in thinking about it, I’ve come to realize you were asking for something else entirely. You were asking “how do I ask for help”.
Now although I’m never wrong, on the once in a lifetime chance I am, I will include a couple of simple ways you can explain your OCPD. But the focus of this video will be on how to explain to loved ones how you’re feeling in order to start receiving the help that you might be needing.
So, although I’m three months into what is essentially a project entirely devoted to OCPD, I’m going to explain it again. This time we’re going to skip what the doctors and the websites and the books have to say, and break it down into what it means day to day. One of my viewers, Holly, left a comment on my OCPD vs OCD video I’d like to share with you. She states: “Since being diagnosed a few months ago, I’ve definitely struggled with explaining my disorder to others. It’s almost like they just block out the “P” and go straight to telling me how I’m not like the stereotypical person with OCD.”. Thanks for that comment by the way. The reason I’m starting with this comment is that for all of us with OCPD, this is the most typical response. So what you don’t want to do is to start explaining to them that it’s not OCD but it has some similarities. You need to steer them as far away from OCD as possible in this initial conversation. Yes, there can be some strong similarities in the way it presents with some symptoms, but that’s not what is important now. What is important is that you have decided to open up to someone and you don’t want to make this moment any more frustrating or complicated than it needs to be. I don’t want them thinking the P is for pain in the ass.
How I explain OCPD has worked for me in most situations, so I’m going to share with you how I go about it. Without a doubt the very first thing I say is that I see the world in black and white. Which means I’m right and you’re wrong. I say that for me things are either dirty or clean, right or wrong and good or bad. And when I don’t know something definitively, like whether or not I’m a Beatles or an Elvis guy, it’s absolute torture.
Now that has always worked as an ice breaker and it’s a really quick way of summarizing a lot in a little package. But what is lacking is the gravitas. Yes, most people are with you and are no longer thinking of OCD, but this explanation isn’t enough to illicit a true understanding of how incredibly difficult life with OCPD can be. I’ll do a future video in which I really break down the Millon’s subtypes into bite size pieces, because this part of explaining to people will really differ from person to person. But in order to illustrate the seriousness of this personality disorder I first explain that having a personality disorder means that what is wrong with me is intrinsically tied to who I am as a person. I don’t know which parts of me are the disorder and which parts of me are just me. And finally, to keep it short I explain that a lot of my symptoms keep me from accomplishing the things I would most like to do in life and that my controlling nature and rigid thoughts have kept me from maintaining a single relationship in my life and that this disorder can often lead to a life of isolation. If they don’t seem to be getting it, I may even mention that us with OCPD have on average much higher rates of divorce and suicide. It’s a total conversation buzzkill to be sure, but the idea here wasn’t to sugarcoat things or make the other person feel great about their life. We are trying to explain the seriousness of a mental illness. But I’ll usually finish with a joke anyway. Like, if I don’t like you it’s probably because you’re a bad person.
OK, now let’s move onto what I think this video should really be about. Personally, I did not go through this situation with my family when I was young. But I have gone through elements of it as an adult and I do go through similar experiences with people I may want to enter into a relationship with. The experience I’m talking about is opening up to someone about having OCPD, which is different than explaining what OCPD is. Yes, you may have to do that as well, but the trepidation people have messaged me about doesn’t come from worrying you’ll get the explanation wrong. It comes from the anxiety and nerves surrounding how you think the person receiving the news will feel.
When you are young, you have some really challenging additional feelings you need to navigate. Depending on your age, you can feel like a lot of your decisions are out of your control. That you have to rely on those older than you to make the best decisions for you, and you might be scared that they won’t. You also may have a desire to keep things to yourself and to not want to reveal too much to your parents. As you get older you crave more and more privacy. Please also keep in mind that if you are young and are watching these videos, doctors and professionals really advise against self diagnosing. I want you to know I understand that this puts you in a complicated spot. If you are unable to convince your parents or loved ones that you may be suffering from this, or if your parents aren’t in a position to find you a professional to talk to, you may have to wait a while before receiving a proper diagnosis or to find out if you may be suffering from something else entirely or maybe even if you’re just experiencing similar symptoms due to stress or a difficult time in your life. For those of you in this position, I’m including a link in the description to an article on the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors website. The second half of this article contains self-help strategies for those suffering from obsessive compulsive personality disorder. What’s great about this article is that I’ve read through it and even if you don’t have OCPD, applying these suggestions will not do you any harm and they are all things you can do on your own. These suggestions are actually really great for anyone suffering.
When approaching a parent or a loved one as a teen or even as an adult, it can be really scary not knowing the reaction you’re going to get. We can very easily build up the worst case scenario in our minds. Us with OCPD are even better at thinking about the worst thing that might happen. So let’s go through all of the scenarios and talk about how we can feel better about our ability to handle them.
A couple of things to keep in mind when approaching someone you know about this. First, if you’re in your teens, you’re miles ahead of a lot of us with OCPD. It’s not that common for someone young to recognize this disorder in themselves. So congratulations on having that level of self recognition and maturity. Please understand as well that if your symptoms tend to be the more severe side, the person you’re talking to probably already understands that you’re going through a hard time and they may feel relieved and glad that you’ve chosen to talk to them about this.
The first thought that is going to go through our heads is that we really don’t know how the other person is going to react. That can cause a tremendous amount of fear. It’s comforting to feel in control even when we’re not, and the thought of the unknown can be one of the first things that prevents us from opening up about our feelings. The longer we worry the longer the list of bad outcomes we will create in our head. So there’s no time like the present to confront this head on. What are some of the negative reactions you might encounter?
An easy first one to discuss is the idea that we are concerned our parents already have a lot to worry about and we don’t want to add to their stresses. Well as an adult with parents that worry constantly about me, I can assure you that even if you haven’t talked to them yet about this, they are already worried. It’s the number one job of a loving parent to worry. They can’t help it. They’re going to worry about you so much you’ll find it annoying at times. But it’s an expression of love. Albeit a weird one, but an expression of love nonetheless. So by you approaching them and explaining how you feel, yes, they’ll have a specific thing to pin their worry to, but they will be overjoyed you felt comfortable telling them and that together you can work on getting hep for this. It won’t be perfect. Nothing is. But you will have them in your corner and they will do everything they are capable of in order to make sure you don’t have to keep suffering.
Next, maybe you’re concerned that they will be sad or disappointed. This ties into the last one. At least the sad part does. But think about this, if you have a friend and you know they are sad or that they need help but they won’t tell you why, think about how it makes you sad to feel helpless. Now think about how good it would feel if they came to you for help and you were able to help them with their problems. It’s no different with your parents or loved ones. They’ll be sad to see you suffering, but they will get to share in your joy as you receive help for how you’re feeling. As far as disappointment goes, that’s something every child worries about and is something that very rarely comes true. Parents love their children unconditionally. That’s basically what they signed up for when they had you. They’re going to love you no matter what. Keep in mind as well that it is 2017 and globally we as human beings have come so far in understanding and showing compassion to those with emotional disorders. Everyone wants to help. Nobody wants to contribute to the problem.
Some of you may be nervous that your parents will react angrily. Again, this is beyond highly unlikely. Having an emotional disorder is not something you have any control over. It’s like being mad at the sun for being yellow. Yeah I know it’s really white. You can calm down in the comments. Or it’s like being mad that Oreos turn your teeth black. They just do. There’s nothing you can do about it. Parents tend to get mad about things you keep from them, not the things you tell them.
This next one is actually one I can relate to. Being anxious that your parents will ask you too many questions. Again, as an adult, I have conversations with my parents about my OCPD. I like to retain a fairly high level of privacy, even if it would not appear so with these videos I’m making. My parents ask a lot of questions and I don’t always feel like answering them. You will need to sit down and think about what things you are willing to share and which things for now feel too private. I have no control over what questions your parents decide to ask you no more than I can control which ones you want to answer. Be aware that they are asking these questions out of love and a desire to help and that the more questions you’re able to answer, the better the help they’ll be able to give you will be. Having said that, you have the right to politely tell your parents that you aren’t comfortable talking to them about everything and that some things feel private. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable talking to them about these things later, or maybe these are things best saved for a friend or a therapist or school counselor. They will understand. We all have things that we want to keep to ourselves and we all have a right to privacy.
Another possibility is that we may be genuinely frightened that they don’t believe us or that they won’t take us seriously. This is where I’m going to really empathize with you. I’m not going out of my way to be controversial, but part of having OCPD for me is having to speak the truth or speak what’s on my mind. For most of you, this concern is not something you should even be thinking about. But I’m not going to pretend that everything in this world is perfect and that there are no lousy parents. Maybe this is what brought you to this video. You truly feel as though you have nobody to turn to. Even if you feel this way it’s still possible you might be wrong and that your parents might really step up and get you the help that you need so please talk to them. But if you don’t get the response you were hoping for and you don’t start receiving the help you need, please take a look around you and see if there is someone else you trust that you can confide in. Keeping these things inside is not healthy and although it may be longer than you’d like until you can get some professional treatment, having someone in your life that understands what you’re going through and is willing to listen will help more than you can imagine. I’m also going to put some links in the description to online help that is directly for you. The one thing I can promise you is that you are not alone and that there is someone out there that genuinely wants to help you. I’m just some random person on the internet, but you can also leave me a comment if you really are in a hard spot and need some more help finding a place to turn to.
Lastly, and this one can be tricky, maybe one or both of your parents are part of why you feel the way you do. Really, in this situation the advice I just talked about applies here as well. But I do understand the complication here. More so because doctors are unsure if OCPD is genetic or if maybe it’s the result of some sort of trauma at a young age or even if it’s learned behavior from a parent with OCPD. It doesn’t really matter as either way, it’s sort of coming from your folks. If for this reason you don’t get a good reaction, please find someone that you CAN talk to. In my case it went the other way. My parents experienced guilt in thinking that they caused my OCPD. My pragmatic way of discussing this with them means I just tell them if I’d have had different parents I probably would have just ended up with ADHD or OCD or even worse, I might not be around because someone else wouldn’t have got me my vaccinations. I tell them that just like they love me unconditionally, I love them unconditionally and I know they did everything to the best of their abilities and the thing that matters the most is that they tried always to do the right thing.