The palette of OCD-related symptoms in any single patient usually is not limited to one, and precisely one, form of thought and a single resulting compulsion. Numerous thought patterns, and methods to find a bit of peace of mind can be at work, not necessarily on a given day. I myself found that when my medication took away some of the sharp edges of my compulsions, other, relatively new behavioural strategies presented themselves – I mean: I also had them earlier on in life, but now they became more prominent, appeared on the surface.
The trouble with these things is (and the reason why this brief text is titled as it is, is) that one mainly realizes only afterwards that one ‘fell into the trap’, so to speak.
Examples: after having a new PC, I could spend quite some time on frequently researching if there already were newer models on the market, what their price point was, and if my PC was still competitive. This is not really weird behaviour, it’s known to occur with people who recently purchased a new car (always men…); but if one doesn’t really need a glitzy new machine for one’s tasks, and if one’s not remotely interested in buying one, and if one spends too much time on that activity, it is troubling.
Also, I had a fascination with ‘starting things anew and fresh’. Is an attractive proposal, often. But not when you’re in the middle of a review article on a scientific topic, and you’re really moving ahead. I fear that this is a side of mine that has given me much trouble: perfectionism, up to the point that you place totally unrealistic demands on yourself. The main result of stopping in the middle, and starting again, is that it is time consuming, the storyline got interrupted, it is frustrating, one tends to forget new knowledge just acquired (the old stuff must be treated all over again), boredom sets in, and the improvements attained are of a very minor nature.
These are, for me, prime examples of the ‘oops, I did it again!’ side of OCD. At the point I fell into the traps I set for myself, it seemed very natural, positive, and logic behaviour. However, after having spent some time on the new routine, the repeated endeavour had lost all of its charm, and I felt just like muddling through, and very frustrated.
Not good, this.
But, in the long run, I am working on these aspects now. Before medication, they were more or less hidden under the extreme compulsions I had to fulfill. Now I can see them for what they are. And that makes them identifiable.