I hope I’m just a perfectionist, but sometimes I feel like my behavior is too bizarre. I like order, routine, and organization, but I am not sure if I’m going too far with this. If fail anything I gave effort to I will not except it. I will beat myself up over it until I get it. One very unhealthy example of this would be my eating behavior. I want the perfect body and I don’t care how much mental exhaustion I have to deal with to get it. I fast for days and I refuse to eat foods that I deem as “bad”. If I do end up breaking this, which happens during breaks or family reunion dinners, I make up by extreme dieting next few days. Another example would be in school. I will study until I can no longer see words clearly on the paper or the screen, which some people might think is a good habit, so I am not exactly sure about this particular case. Another thing my friend thought was weird about a specific habit I have is washing my hands for exactly 30 seconds. I read about it somewhere that it takes 30 seconds for germs to actually come off, so again I’m not sure if not is actually abnormal. I just feel like people tell me my behavior is abnormal but I just think they’re exaggerating, because most people want to meet the average expectations. But I also do understand that many people close to me point out my obsessions in a negative way so I am just wondering if I am the one not seeing clearly or is everyone else in my life average achievers (sorry I don’t know any other term to use).
One other mental process I want to point out about myself is that I see behavior in black and white terms. What I mean by this is that you’re either “perfect” or a “failure”. Clean or dirty. I don’t see topics such as politics in black and white, but behavior and characteristics that describe humans.
One way to describe your thinking and behavior may be mental rigidity. In other words, you are inflexible in your thinking and behavior. You force yourself to think and behave in a particular way based on artificial, self-imposed standards. That type of “all or nothing” thinking and inflexibility, breeds feelings of negativity and disappointment.
For instance, you wrote that you will do something until you are mentally exhausted. That seems unnecessary and extreme. Working until mental exhaustion seems like an inefficient way to do things. Take studying for instance. There are good ways to study and there are “not so” good ways to study. Though it may seem counterintuitive, cramming for a test is a poor way to prepare because it sacrifices the sleep your brain needs to perform adequately. Thus, it would be unwise to cram until mental exhaustion.
I can never offer a diagnosis over the internet, thus it would be wise to consult a local therapist about the possibility of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). An in-person evaluation would be best to determine if a disorder is present. No matter your diagnosis, counseling could assist in refining your thinking and behavior. Ideally, it’s best to be flexible in your thinking and behavior. You want to be smart and efficient with your time and energy. You don’t want to over- or under-do things. It’s admirable to have life goals but it could be that your self-imposed rules are causing unnecessary stress in your life. Should that be true, counseling is the ideal remedy. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle