Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reading OCD does a disappearing act

I’m reading again.
That may sound like a small thing, but it’s huge for me.
I periodically have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder called reading OCD.
I wrote about reading OCD in this post. Basically, this form of OCD makes me obsess over whether or not I’ve “really” read a passage in a book or magazine and whether or not I’ve understood what I’ve read.
The compulsion, then, is to reread passages over and over until it feels “right.”
This makes reading laborious and sometimes unbearable. I find myself avoiding reading. It’s just not worth the effort.
Reading OCD first affected me when I was in the seventh grade. It made doing schoolwork a nightmare. I had a hard time finishing assignments because I took so much time to read the work.
Reading OCD followed me periodically through school and in the years after. I’ve gone through periods when I’ve zipped through books with no problem, not even thinking about reading.
Then I’ve had periods when I couldn’t finish one book for weeks at a time, and I’ve stopped trying.
My efforts to resolve this OCD ritual have had mixed results. I normally try to discipline myself not to go back and reread, no matter how badly I want to. Sometimes this works. Sometimes I end up unable to focus on what I’m reading because of the anxiety.
I have no explanation for why this form of OCD, or for that matter, any form of OCD, can wax and wane. I don’t know why I go into periods of not being able to read. I don’t know why those periods will end without warning.
I do have some suspicions. I think that the more anxious I am generally, and the more other OCD symptoms are flaring, the more the reading OCD acts up.
I went through such a period this past fall. For some weeks, I didn’t pick up a book for serious reading because of the pain of trying to keep myself from rereading.
I think part of the reason was because a medication I was on was ramping up my anxiety. I wrote about a change in medication that I made shortly before the holiday season began. With that change, my general anxiety level has dropped.
Maybe that’s why I was able to read and finish a book over Christmas. Then shortly after Christmas, I picked up a book that I had received as a gift and started reading. And read and read. I read it in about two days, then picked up another book and finished that in a few days. Considering that I had to go to work during that time, I was thrilled.
The reading is good now, and I’m thankful for it. I hope it lasts.
I hope the next time reading OCD strikes, I’ll be more successful at my attempts to derail it.
And what am I reading? I just finished A Wanted Man, by Lee Child and Flash and Bones, by Kathy Reichs. Now I’m reading a nonfiction book that I’ll probably review here.

Are you a reader? What kinds of books do you read? If you’re on Goodreads, you can find me under http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7185436-tina.

29 comments:

  1. I LOVE to read. Stephen King is my favorite. My favorite trilogy is The Hunger Games. I read all kinds of things. Not sci-fi. Not non-fiction.

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    1. Middle Child, we share a love of reading. Can you believe I've never read a Stephen King book? Maybe this year I will.

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  2. Awesome, Tina!!

    I too struggle with this...even in reading blogs or the newspaper or e-mails.

    My therapist is helping me slowly overcome reading OCD. I am doing well with actual books but I still have a very hard time with blogs and e-mails... especially work e-mail.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. I'm glad your reading OCD is improving. I have trouble with the newspaper, too.

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  3. It is really interesting how those things can wax and wane as your describe. Do the other OCD-related issues tend to wax and wane as well?

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    1. Keith, yes, my other OCD symptoms change over time, too. For example, checking OCD comes and goes, and the things I check change over time. It's strange. But when relief comes, it's wonderful.

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  4. Oh wow! those are some books, eh! lol, I think the only book that I've read that has some danger in it is- Dogwood by Chris Fabry. *I love how diverse we are as individuals, meaning here about our tastes in books, movies, etc... *Just recently I made a decision to TRY and like a tv series that my husband likes so that I can spend that extra time with him and would you believe I chose to watch TEEN WOLF !!!! It's on Netflix. It was a 'thing' for me to do this and keep on watching, but I was hooked on the story line:))

    I AM SO GLAD your are reading again!!!
    I love, love reading!
    Blessings & God's stregnth be yours:)

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    1. Thank you, Deanna. I love hearing about others' different tastes in books and movies, too. Sometimes it helps me try different things.

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  5. Tina, I'd never heard of reading OCD before ... but I can definitely see how that would be super stressful. I am so glad to hear it's not bothering you as much as before. Enjoy your books, friend!

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. It is stressful and it impacts something that I love doing so much. But I'm enjoying reading now!

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  6. YAY!!!!! I'm so happy for you. As an avid reader, I can imagine the pain and frustration involved in reading OCD. I'm thrilled you have been able to enjoy it again.

    Right now I'm reading Gone Girl for my book group, which I must admit, leaves me mystified why it's on the NYT best-seller list. Not my cup of tea at all. The best book I've read recently (actually re-read) is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Another is Alex Haley's epic masterpiece, Roots. I love any book rich in details and texture, and most of all characters I care about.

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    1. Thank you, Becky. It is very frustrating when something I love to do so much is affected.

      I haven't read Gone Girl, but I've read about it. Not sure if I'll try it or not. I love re-reading loved books--some books I never get tired of.

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  7. Reading your post, I feel even more grateful for the time you would take to read and comment on my blog. I'm so glad that you're enjoying reading again. Perhaps all the work you're doing is paying off in unexpected ways. Congrats!

    I love to read all kinds of books. These days I'm reading books about the Pacific Northwest or by Washington authors. I'm reading a history of oysters -- a gorgeous book! I also just finished a novel called A Dream on Two Wheels, written by a local friend of mine who binds her books by hand. I'm also reading Taking the Bully by the Horns by Sam Horn, which is helping me cope with a bully neighbor.

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    1. Thank you, Nadine. I always enjoy your blog.

      I like the idea that maybe the overall work I'm doing on my OCD and anxiety is paying off in ways I didn't realize.

      I love your reading variety!

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  8. I'm on shelfari instead of Goodreads. Been on there forever, and was too lazy to make the switch when Goodreads came around.

    I am SO happy you're reading again! That's excellent news. I do like Kathy Reichs, but have only read a couple of her books. I'm reading The Eighty Dollar Champion right now.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa, I'm happy, too! I've been on Goodreads for a while, but I haven't done much with it. I'm trying to use it more now to track what I read and find ideas for more books to read. I love Kathy Reichs--always an intelligent and suspenseful read.

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  9. I don't do this except when I'm reading contracts and things like that.

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    1. Kristina, contracts make me particularly anxious!

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  10. Hi Tina, I think we're "friends" on Goodreads, aren't we? I read nonfiction, usually memoir. Lately I've been reading on my Kindle exclusively which is surprisingly enjoyable. I didn't think it would be. I had a lot of trouble reading while growing up and just thought I was stupid. Of course now I know it had something to do with OCD, probably ADD and anxiety as well.

    Congrats on that major accomplishment! Reading is such a blessing.

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    1. Grace, thank you. Yes, reading is a real blessing. I've loved to read since I was a child, so it is particularly hurtful when OCD plays around with it.

      I don't think we're friends on Goodreads, but I'll check and look for you.

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  11. Hi Tina, Yes I do read and also write books! My book is on Good Reads. It's called Lessons from the Monk I Married! Currently I'm writing a new book, so not much time for reading ^_^!!!

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    1. Katherine, that's wonderful that you're a writer. I look forward to reading your book.

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  12. Oh, I'm so glad you have been able to read again, Tina. As a constant reader myself, I can only imagine the frustration this causes you. Ugh. Reading is such a gift and it's really sad to me that your OCD takes it away from you at times.

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    1. Thanks, Sunny. It is very frustrating. I'm glad I'm in a good period with the reading now.

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  13. I just hate it when OCD intrudes on something I love, it is especially irritating. So glad you can read Tina with OCD rearing it's head. I love to read and I read everything and anything I can get my hand on. I am currently reading countless books and articles on Kilims and Persian Rugs as it is a new interest of mine. I would like to buy a Kilim and I want to know what I am doing. :)

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    1. Thanks, Krystal Lynn. I love reading and researching topics that I'm interested in, especially new topics.

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  14. Tina, I also had never heard of or imagined reading OCD. Am so glad that the medication change is giving you relief. How frustrating to struggle with this. I have a selfish interest in your reading interests, including a whole shelf of Mary Oliver poetry on my nook.

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    1. Carolyn, It is frustrating, and I'm glad for the current respite from it. I am so glad that you love Mary Oliver as much as I do!

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