April 27, 2012

OCD and Emotions

I know that those of us who suffer from OCD know all too well what it’s like to experience extreme anxiety.  But are there any others out there who sometimes experience other overwhelming emotions?  Shame?  Guilt?  Anger? 

I am particularly curious about anger.  I’m curious because it is a feeling that has lead me to wonder if perhaps I have OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) in addition to OCD.  There are situations, people, and moments that can really set me off and boy-oh-boy – do I feel angry.  I don’t know if it’s my immense sense of justice, or that I tend to be an extremely emotional person.  OCPD is defined as someone who is preoccupied with rules, orderliness and control.  Would an incredible sense of justice correlate to someone who is preoccupied with rules?  Not sure. 

Feeling as though I have (or someone else has) been “wronged” definitely sets me off.  I immediately sense the anger welling up in my body.  I can feel it in my throat and at the back of my head.  My mind starts spinning, ruminating – a very similar reaction to when I am feeling extreme anxiety. 

An incident happened yesterday that upset me so much.  I received an email from someone that I am working with on a special project.  This person and I have never really spent a lot of time together, so we haven't established a personal relationship.  Most of our communication is via email and phone.  But for some reason, something about my personality has rubbed her the wrong way, and, well, let’s just say we are not “clicking”.  The email she sent me was incredibly condescending and downright rude.  And it made me VERY angry.  As an aside, this is the second time I have received an email like this from her. 

When this happens, OCD latches on.  You better resolve this situation because if you don’t something bad might happen and it will be all your fault.”.  “You must have done something wrong.  There’s something with YOU that made her dislike you.  It’s YOUR FAULT.” 

Not to mention some of the core beliefs that start screaming at me: “Feeling intense anger is bad and you better control these feelings.”  “If you express your anger, people will think you’re high maintenance (or crazy, or difficult to work with or whatever....the list goes on and on)” and the big one “Don’t express your feelings and needs because you’re already difficult to get along with.”

Luckily, immediately after I received the upsetting email, I had a Skype session with my therapist.  He helped me through my reactivity and compulsive urges to lash out and write a scathing email that I might regret.  I am proud of myself that I was able to sit with my anger without attempting to deny it or do something else to get rid of it.  In the past I would have needed reassurance from others in order to justify my angry feelings.  I know I’ve made progress because I no longer require that reassurance.  I’m pissed.  I don’t care if other’s don’t see my point of view. 

There is a definite issue here with this individual which will need to be addressed at some point.  But I am glad that I didn’t react and say or do something that might not have been productive (the reaction could have been anything from crying to lashing out in angry way).  The issue WILL be addressed, but it’s not urgent.  My OCD tries to tell me that it is – that if I don’t deal with this NOW something horrible will happen. 

I guess I just have to take that risk. 
I would love to hear how other’s cope with difficult feelings. 


  1. Sorry you had such a troubling incident yesterday. I hate stuff like that. Confrontation is very difficult for me. Actually, I think it is for a lot of people.

    I'm certainly no psychologist, but from what I understand about OCPD, I think people with OCPD don't really care what others think that much. I think they are set in their ways and the idea that THEY might be the problem doesn't really enter into their minds. I think you care too much about other people in general to be OCPD. But, what do I know? ha ha I just read a lot of stuff.

    Yes, I also struggled terribly with guilt, shame, and anger. As my OCD has gotten better, all three of those issues are much less problematic for me. A lot of times I would get angry when my anxiety was triggered. I would just become so anxious that I wouldn't know what to do with it and it would turn into anger.

    I also struggled a lot with the idea that I had to take care of things NOW. If I waited, it would just expand into a much worse problem. I realize now that it's often better to wait a bit until I'm no longer thinking emotionally. That sounds like what you have done here. Congratulations. Keep up the good work!

  2. I agree, you did great.
    And I think what Sunny said is smart: to wait a bit till I am no longer thinking emotionally. Sometimes in 24 hours I see a situation in an entirely different light and it's not even a big deal anymore.
    However, if it is a big deal : I hold in my anger and repress many of my feelings. I won't even attempt a conversation about the situation because I don't want to rock the boat and I don't think that is good for me. Personally I think I would not have OCD if I had developed a better coping mechanism to deal with my fear and anger.