How far does it have to go until it becomes a problem? Perfectionist or OCD?Watch
So I am currently doing my first year of A levels. I have always been a person who takes great care and pride in my work, as I am generally neat in every aspect of life. However, recently I have felt things change slightly. Every piece of work I do has to be perfect. I don't mean, is 100% correct, but on the page it has to look perfect. Everything the right colour/ spread out correctly/ no smudges or mistakes etc. My teachers always used to joke that I spent too much time making my handwriting perfect but it isn't so much of a joke anymore. If something goes slightly wrong it makes me feel very anxious and I start to panic that someone will pick up on it, for example if I spell a word incorrectly I will start the whole piece of work again as crossing it out looks messy. This is not the only aspect which makes me feel this way. When planning on doing revision, I must stick exactly to the timetable I have made and if I am a minute over it gets me very worked up. I take biology and chemistry which both involve practical work and this is one of my biggest fears. Due to it being an experiment sometimes there are not a full set of instructions to follow and this stresses me out because the whole time my brain is working over time saying that I am doing things wrong. I constantly require reassurance that I am doing things correctly whether it be an experiment, in a dance class or even just dishing out tea for my family.
Am I just a perfectionist or have I got OCD? I don't know what to think anymore and I would love for someone to offer me some advice on how to deal with this.
What I found most helpful when I first went to the doctor was to write everything down and that way I wouldn't forget/get flustered and not explain right.
I think there is a continuum between mental health and mental ill-health, which I think you yourself have also alluded to when asking at what point something becomes a problem. For example someone can have many oddities / eccentricities for want of a better turn of phrase, yet still manage their life and their day to day activities ok. (I would include myself in this - many people would see bits of me and my life as odd, yet I cope with it just fine) I think something becomes a problem in the sense of it becoming mental ill-health / something to act on, is when it impacts on and interferes with your day to day ability to go about your life. And it sounds, from the way that you are describing things, that they are now impacting in a way that you would rather they didn't.
Also I'm curious, is this degree of perfectionism present in other aspects of your life?
Depressed perfectionist here btw. My issue is that I try to achieve "perfection" in my grades and my appearance. Perfectionism becomes an issue when it impairs your daily life, and can manifest as or contribute to depression/ anxiety etc. My perfectionism can cause me to overwork, to the point of near exhaustion or procrastinate like crazy. It makes me self-critical and self-loathing, so much so that I frequently isolate myself or seek out cosmetic work. Perfectionism is sometimes a defence mechanism people have learned to manage their low-self esteem. It can quickly become a toxic mechanism and lead to poor mental health.
I don't know too much about OCD. But it's when you get obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours (http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obsessi...roduction.aspx). Doing these compulsive behaviours temporarily relieves the obsessive thoughts. Perhaps you should go and see your GP if you are worried.
What you've written about rigid schedules (feeling fraught when you go even one minute over), and disliking lack of instructions (re chem and bio) may actually point towards autism. Again, autism is on a spectrum.