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Bipolar and OCD - Symptom or Co-Morbidity?


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hello everyone,

I've been away for a while but now I feel the need to share and ask for some insight.

Thank you for listening.

Well, I've been diagnosed Bipolar Type II rapid cycling a while back (well actually many years ago)

I've never really had issues with OCD before. Of course i've always been concerned with time and used to check my watch several times a day and be pissed off or frantic if I am late (which I never really am - but in my head I am ALWAYS going to be late). When I was in college I remember having to get out of bed with my right foot every morning otherwise it didn't feel right and I felt my day would be a bust. Also, when I eat a sandwich it HAS TO BE CUT IN HALF and food can never mix on a plate.

Apart from that, I've never had any issues. I only considered those to be more on the side of eccentricities than symptoms or full blown OCD.

NOW HERE'S MY CURRENT ISSUE,

Lately I've been obsessed with checking time more and more often each day. I look at my watch every five minutes. so if it is 7PM, I look again at 7:05, 7:10 and so on and if it is 7:03 when I look at it, I HAVE to look again til it is a multiple of 5.

Numbers are starting to "feel" right. I've never had this issue before. I don't even like numbers or math!

Odd numbers seem strange and cause anxiety specially 1. The only odd number that feels good is 5.

I also started looking at every number I see around me, such as signs, phone numbers and license plates. I tend to look at them and add them up till I get an even number. So, if I see the number 7809 , I add 7+8+0+9 = 26 and 2+6 = 8 so that's good. Now if it is 7+8+0+6 = 21 and 2+1=3 that's not good. It's not that I think something bad is going to happen or that I have to perform a ritual to stop it. I just feel compelled to do it. And it feels good or not depending on the number . That is starting to really bother me when I drive because I can't help looking at license plates and adding them up. It's like I'm seeing the world through a different pair of glasses and realizing I am surrounded by numbers.

Now if I am at an environment without printed numbers, I don't think about them I only check my watch.

I also started adding the number of letters in certain words and people's names to get to odd or even numbers.

It is exhausting and I am getting really concerned .

Now - Is this a late manifestation of light OCD (I'm 36) as itself or is this a symptom of my Bipolar ??

Thank you for listening.

P.

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I'd get that checked out. Sounds more OCDish.

AD's are frequently used for OCD, but AP's are used also (a bit less common). I'm not sure how well you tolerate AD's, but just a warning.

Meds take the edge off the anxiety, but therapy can get to the root of it. CBT is your friend.

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How's your sleep? Is your mind going fast? Any signs of hypomania?

I only have OCD issues when manic. This is not unique to me, either. A fair number of people experience the same.

If all your hypo signs are quiet, then yeah, probably an OCD thing you should talk over with your pdoc. If you are going hypo, well, you need to talk to your doc then, too. So, pretty much, you should talk to your doc.

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Sounds a lot like OCD to me, but it also could be your bipolar - if you're not sleeping and spending huge amounts of money and making grand plans while these OCD symptoms are going on, there's a good chance that it's hypomania. But if you feel normal otherwise, some OCD might be emerging.

Thank you for your input.

The only correlation that I find with mania is that I am extremely irritable and very paranoid, otherwise things are somewhat the same as usual. But, I am extremely anxious and the rituals and obsessions are growing stronger and more difficult to resist.

The license plate counting has escalated to counting letters of every word I catch a glimpse of. I feel the need to count them and them add them up. If the result is 9, 7 or 3...it annoys me. I am always trying to get different calculations in order to get to an even number.

I also started doing some rituals like rubbing my hands together ten times when rinsing them and tapping my foot 10 times.

My huge concern is - IS IT POSSIBLE TO ALL OF A SUDDEN START SHOWING SYMPTOMS OF OCD IN ADULTHOOD?

By the way, i take lamictal - could that be a side effect?

Thank you so much. i am scared

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Hypo/mania can be all about irritability, agitation and paranoia. Have these been increasing? The escalation in OCD symptoms that you describe would be consistent with an escalating bipolar episode. Regardless, I would call your pdoc asap. What you are dealing with does not sound fun.

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I have had OCD problems with my BP. I was actually diagnosed as having OCD before we finally figured out it was BP with OCPD traits. I used to have to spell words out as if I were typing them, had to do things the same way every time...

Yeah, talk to your doctor. It does sound like it is getting a little worse. But keep in mind that you might get the diagnosis, but it doesn't necessarily have to get worse. Ask her or your therapist about "exposure therapy." Basically it is actively not performing the compulsion and seeing the anxiety ebb you realize that it isn't going to kill you if you don't do the compulsion. There has been a lot of success with it.

One thing that you might try is to resist the urges a little at a bit. You might pick one compulsion you are doing now that you can safely experiment with. Like checking your watch. Skip a time...sit with the anxiety and wait til it passes--what happens is that you get used to a little anxiety--and see that you aren't going to die. It frees up your head and you dont' have that horrible "I'm chanied to this for the rest of my life!!" feeling that OCD symptoms can end you up with.. You might get a trusted friend to sit quietly with you while you are not looking at your watch. she can time how long you can go. And I do NOT meant to go whole hog on your own. I DO think you should talk to someone about the worsening of symptoms.

But I know that I have had to work on things myself. Our approach (me and my "team") is to try to shoo away anything that can make my BP symptoms worse. (Long list!! lol) So in this case my goal would be to get those symptoms under control so they don't make me unstable. I am really big on treating symptoms and not worrying too much about racking up diagnoses. Hopefully you can work with someone who has a goal like that--to get the OCD under control--meds, therapy--so it doesn't snowball with your BP.

You can do it. It is not hopeless if you get the right kind of help!

Good luck, HANG IN THERE!

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Thank you all for your replies.

I am calmer now, the OCD symptoms sudsided for the most part, but some still persist. I am getting to the conclusion that they are related to a manic/hypomanic episode. But this is the first time my hypomania manifests itself as OCD, I'm concerned and quite confused.

After they passed, I had a brief elated day and right away started feeling really depressed and then very irritable and anxious again...

I guess my dosage of Lamictal is NOT cotroling my mood...which SUCKS!

Thank you again

P.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can relate to wgat you are saying, I initally got a dignosis of bipolar 1 along with other things. I always had OCD syptoms that would become better or worse depending on what was going on at the time. My pyschatirest thinks the Ritalin may have set it of. I am on Zoloft now and that is helping. My social worker kept an eye on it for a while and gave me a test and diagnoised me. I am doing a lot better now but kind of lost track of it because I had a depressed episode. The medicne helps a lot. I really hope things work out for you. You have my empathy.

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My mother used to get what I would call "guilt fantasies" (prolonged periods where she was convinced she had hurt someone).

I have wondered where that phenomenon fit on the mood spectrum. I seem to recall in retrospect that she would get extra-happy for a few days

and then sink into one of these guilt trips.

Some of my worst periods have been related to obsessions over making some imagined error at work. I would imagine an error,

climb a mountain of fear to resolve it, and then imagine another error. That hasn't happened in a few years, but I no longer do work that I have to account for either.

So this interests me because I don't know where OCD fits on the spectrum of BPD.

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