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How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

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Old 12-03-2007, 03:06 PM   #1
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simplyj HB User
How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

I'll do my best to try to explain my question since I really need the feedback. I had sort of an anxiety attack earlier today. It took me completely by surprise and ever since, I've been obsessing over this AGAIN so here goes...

Does anyone ever wonder how the people around you who don;t know you have OCD perceive your behavior? Do you ever wonder if they are jumping to the wrong conclusions becuase your behavior/reactions don't seem quite right. Here's my example, A few years back my cousin came to pick up his fiance from the station. Since she and I worked together, he offered me a ride home. Right before I got into the car, I noticed that his fiance (the person I worked with) said something in his ear that clearly she did not want me to hear. It immediatly made me self-concience about being in his car. A million and one things ran through my head about what she may have possibly said about me such as "hurry up, get her home" or "keep an eye on her she might steal something" and other things of that nature. I know it would be impossible for me to ever know exactly what she said, but to this day I have anxiety attacks over what she may have said about me or thought to my cousin. I'm sort of known for my OCD quirks but the family really doesn;t know it's OCD so I sometimes react funny when an OCD type trigger happens and I can sense their curiosity. For example, I CANNOT take someone putting their shoes on me. One time, she and I were in a cab going home and there was a kid sitting beside us who kept putting his sneakers on me. I nearly FREAKED OUT. My cousin's fiance noticed my reaction and looked puzzled. I immediately asked her if we could get out of the car and take another cab but then the cab started to pull away and I was trapped!!!I felt embarassed to tell her that I was having a full blown attack over having someones shoes on me, so my guess is that she thinks I hate kids or something like that. Truth is, I would have freaked out regardless of who was wearing the shoes.

That's the best explaination I can offer. Ever since that ride home, I've made it a point to stay clear away from that cousin and his fiance. She and I no longer work together "thank God" and I moved to another state so we don't see each other at all but he and I are family and we do keep in contact through other family members. I just feel that they think some horrible things about me and I keep obsessing about it and I want to just shrink and die. Most people would say "who cares that they think" but only fellow OCDers know why it sticks in my head.

Please anyone with feedback out there?


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Old 12-03-2007, 04:45 PM   #2
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Christian73 HB User
Re: How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

what about just being honest? It can be a challenge to educate the people in your life about what you're going through but I've done it more or less. Even at work, I explain to my colleagues, boss, and staff that I have OCD and occasionally I might need a day off or I may be a bit freaked out over something. I don't always share the content of my obsessions since they can be hard to explain but otherwise, I try to be honest.
"Don't believe everything you think."

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Old 12-03-2007, 04:57 PM   #3
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BadMalibu HB UserBadMalibu HB UserBadMalibu HB UserBadMalibu HB User
Re: How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

Originally Posted by simplyj View Post
I know it would be impossible for me to ever know exactly what she said, but to this day I have anxiety attacks over what she may have said about me or thought to my cousin.
Ms. J-

Well, you do know there's one way you could tell what was said, and that would be to simply ask your cousin or his finace what what said. There are, however, a few problems with that. First off, I highly doubt that your cousin or his fiance would even remember saying anything. Secondly, what was said might not even had to do with you, it could have been totally unrelated. Thirdly, asking your cousin or his fiance what was actually said is basically just giving in to your compulsion to ask, and for those of us that have OCD, we have to learn to resist those compulsions. If you're not already in CBT for your OCD, I would ask your PCP to refer you to a good CBT.
Originally Posted by simplyj View Post
I just feel that they think some horrible things about me and I keep obsessing about it and I want to just shrink and die.
Let me ask you a question. Even if your cousin, or your cousins fiance didn't like you, for whatever reason, what would be the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? Would the world stop revolving? I doubt it. =) What about all the other people that you've known in your lifetime that have not liked you? Do you obsess about them? Probably not. Remember, the fear that we experience is far worse than the actual event, if it ever even occurs.

My next question to you is, what if you were walking down the street and a stranger bumped into you and yelled an obscenity at you? Most likely you'd be a little upset and continue on your way and not think anymore about it, so why do we obsess over a family member instead of a stranger? Well, in my opinion, family is obviously different than a stranger because we have ties to our family and would like to think that every member of our family likes us, but what happens when they don't, or we PERCIEVE that they don't? For those of us that have OCD, perfectonism and trying to be what I call a "caregiver" or "nuterer" is paramount because we try to please everyone. We want everyone to be happy, we want everyone to like us, we want to keep the peace, and we don't like confrontation. So what happens when we percieve that someone doesn't like us? We go out of our way to please them, make peace, or track our brains, just like you do, trying to figure out what we've done wrong. In many cases, we've never done anything wrong.

One thing I'd like you to remember is that no one can make you feel bad without your permission.

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Old 12-04-2007, 11:19 AM   #4
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Re: How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

Thank you both for your replies. There's nothing wrong being honest, it just doesn't work for everyone when it comes to OCD. I tend to be a very private person. I've learned in life that when you show people your "achilles heel" they tend to go right to it when the chips are down. As for my cousin and his fiance not liking me, that's not at all what I think. What I think is that thy don't quite understand who I am. People have a terrible tendency of jumping to conclusions (often the wrong ones) when things don't seem quite to fit the "norm". I suffer with social awkwardness because of my OCD so I've been labeled things like a "loner" or "antisocial" when in fact, it's the OCD that makes me retrieve into my own world. Then I have the OCD related anxieties which can spike when I least expect it, so my knee jerk reaction is often misinterpreted. Yes, I guess I could have asked them what was said, but that in itself would have been perceived as "weird". This incident that I mentioned took place about 6 + years ago. Even if I asked them now, I am sure they would not remember, and if they did, they would not be honest anyway. Every now and then, this "fear" of what people think creeps up on me. Yesterday it happened while I was eating dinner. I suddenly feel like the family thinks I'm some kind of "freak" that they need to be careful of.
Anyway, thanks again for your replies. As stupid as some OCD issues sound, I know on this board, it all makes sense. I'm just trying to create a rational in my mind that I can tap in to whenever this particular OCD spike hits.


Old 12-05-2007, 03:01 PM   #5
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dksea HB Userdksea HB Userdksea HB User
Re: How do other people "interpret" OCD reactions?

Simplyj, for years i kept my OCD to myself, my parents, and a couple of close friends. After my latest OCD spike I changed tactics. I started telling people about it, and what I was going through. Any friend who asked how i was doing or what had beejn going on i kind of explained it to. I told some of my coworkers too because they are also my friends and it may manifest sometimes in my work. And to tell you the truth its been very liberating.

As for your worry about what your cousins fiance might or might not have said, well thats pretty normal, i think we all, OCD and non-OCD worry about what people say about us. Obsessing over it, of course, isn't as normal, but then when you have OCD its not your fault. A few things i have learned dealing with my OCD over the years. When my evaluations and conclusions are based on my worries and my OCD they are pretty much ALWAYS wrong.
Second, going it alone is a bad approach. Its like being your own lawyer, you just aren't objective enough to give yourself a fair evaluation.

OCD can be very effecitvely managed using therapy, medication, or both. I can't encourage you enough to talk to your doctor about one or both approaches. The change in your quality of life can be dramatic. After the first onset of my OCD and before we realized what it was, things were pretty rough for me, i went from being an energetic and outgoing twelve year old to being very quiet and introverted. When a psychiatrist we saw diagnosed me and started me on my medication, even within a few days my mom said it was like I was myself again. And now that I'm spending time with therapy too I feel like things are really improving because i'm gaining the tools so that when i have an OCD spike, its more of an OCD molehill than an OCD mountain!

Be very careful about trying to out logic your OCD, it seldom if ever works. Definitely think about therapy and/or medication, you don't and you shouldn't have to do this on your own!

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