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Sick and tired of always being late! is this a PANS thing?


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I'm sick and tired of always being so LATE. Late coming down to breakfast, late to bed, late at various point in between. Really late, half an hour or an hour. And that holds up everyone else, too. It's not really that I'm disorganised. Most often, I know at the time that I ought to be stopping what I'm doing and making a move, and I'm very anxious not to end up holding everyone up yet again... but somehow, it doesn't happen. Result, same as always.

It's always been a bit of a running problem with me, but it does seem to me that the times it gets completely unmanageable are when I'm in a bad way in other, OCD-type ways. That could just be because I'm too tired to be workable, though, of course, rather than a direct connection.

I may just be selfish, of course. But it seems odd that it happens even though I really, really want to get back to doing things at normal times again myself. Because it's such a strange, almost-on-purpose-but-not-quite phenomenon, I've occasionally wondered whether it's a PANS thing. Do any of you recognise the same thing, or am I just lazy? (Sorry. I have to stop fishing like this. But it's a genuine question.) If you do recognise it, can any of you suggest what I can possibly do about it? I keep trying to make a great effort and get on top of it, and at the moment it's getting me nowhere at all!

Thanks very much,
Wombat140

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I doubt the selfish possibility just because I don't think that it is a diagnostic category.

Have you tried breaking up your task into parts? like, you have to do this and that before quarter hour passes?

breaking time and process down should help you do things on time.

I have a whole family, starting with my wife, doing the same thing. It's like living with the sheep -- they seem to be wondering aimlessly while time is ticking.

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Thank you very much, both of you.

It's not really the kind of thing I can break up - it's a question of stopping reading, or whatever, and actually starting to do anything (useful) at all. I know I should be making a start, but I don't! I'll try it, though, and see if I can make any improvement at all. Anything would be welcome. That's encouraging about your son, anyway, t_anna. Maybe there is hope!

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Don't want to speak for Quannie, but yes, it sounds like OCD to me, as well. Time management can be an issue for many of us, of course, but in the way that OCD can act like a "grand allergy," exaggerating just about anything it chooses to focus its lense upon, I have seen it play a very big role in my DS's time management struggles over the years.

 

When he was younger, and particularly when the OCD was ramped up, he could be completely oblivious to the passage of time; it was as though he truly expected that the clock would stop for him, and then start to tick away minutes again when he was "ready." He'd get highly indignant when he'd snap back into full consciousness only to realize that, yes, it was bedtime already. No, he couldn't stay up later because he'd lost track of the time, or because he'd spent a 1/2-hour in the bathtub instead of a more reasonable 15 minutes. And his loss of time tracking wasn't because he'd been engaging in any particular rituals, either.

 

For my DS, that OCD was (and can still be at times) about avoidance. He'd let the time tick away, he'd "hide" in a task or activity that felt safer to him, in order to avoid that which (usually a transition . . . leaving the house, starting homework, etc.) inherently contained more triggers for his anxiety. Procrastination at its finest, really . . . an art form. :P

 

So, maybe you drag your feet about moving on to the next thing . . . breakfast, bed, dinner . . . because the transition itself is less comfortable for you than continuing to engage in whatever activity it is you're currently doing? Ironic, I know, that in dragging your feet, you're actually causing yourself more anxiety in the end because, as you've said, you're not completely unaware that your actions (or inactions) can inconvenience and otherwise negatively impact others. But I think that's partially in the nature of OCD, as well. Ever had a scab after scraping your skin, and then you feel compelled to keep picking at it, just to see if it still hurts? Sorry to be a little gross, but my DS will admit to that compulsion, and similar ones, frequently. So by procrastinating, it's like picking at a scab . . . you know its likely to continue to "hurt" you, to cause you more anxiety, but you do it anyway, just to see if it still invokes anxiety. OCD can be a really sadistic booger!

 

During the school year, DS will rise probably an extra hour earlier than most of his classmates so that he has more leisure time and can take his time before he has to leave for school. Never mind that he's been told many, many times that if he'd just speed up a bit, stay focused, he could sleep in another 1/2-hour or hour and still get to school on time. And even so, there are days in which the avoidance of that transition will still trip him up, and despite having risen early and stayed on pace right up to the last 20 minutes or so, he will drag his feet in the last few tasks before walking out the door (choosing clothes, brushing his hair, etc.) to the point at which he and everyone else in the house is on edge because he's about to be late for the first bell. Completely avoidable, but the transition itself was more anxiety-producing than the reality of being late, I guess, so he made that choice a few times last year.

 

I would suggest the following. 1) Take a look at the events/tasks for which you are habitually late and ask yourself, what am I avoiding? Then set about some ERP, "exposing" yourself to those things you've been avoiding repeatedly until the urge to avoid them lessens or dissipates completely. 2) Set yourself a timer, on your smart phone or with a conventional kitchen timer, and obey it. It's objective, it's mechanical. It isn't prompting you because it has a dog in the fight; it's just there to tell you that the passing of time is fact, not malleable fiction, and that you've got to move on. 3) Practice "moving on" in general . . . letting things go, moving from one task to another, or one event to another, without hemming, hawing or dragging things out. 4) Reward yourself for being timely, and for avoiding the compulsion to avoid! Use that "found" time to do something of value to yourself and/or to others.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Momwithocdson -

Sorry, I meant to reply sooner, but I was tired and kept putting it off - you know how it is - until I forgot all about it!

I was cross when I first read your answer, but you're right, actually. At least, you're right about the reason. I think it is, at least partly, that I don't want to face the next lot of OCD compulsions. And that applies, irrationally enough, even if I'm already having some kind of OCD difficulties with what I'm currently doing (say, if I'm just sitting there rethinking something over and over again in my head, which happens a lot at the moment). I just instinctively want to stay safely in the frying pan :-(

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as "work out what bit of OCD you're afraid of then do ERP and get rid of it." If you look at my signature, you'll see I've had OCD for eleven years now... if "getting rid of it" was an option, it'd have been gone years ago, and heaven knows I've tried.

As for "getting into the habit of getting straight on with things", if I could do that, I wouldn't have a problem, would I? I've been trying hard enough to do exactly that for the last few months (especially). Or was that not what you meant?

I've found I'm capable of ignoring any amount of timers and alarms. The trouble is, it's rarely possible to stop what I'm doing instantly. I usually have to at least (say) save my work, if I'm on the computer, and that gives me time to get distracted again.

One thing that does seem to help, though, I've found lately, is to write out what things I want to get up to do next morning (say, "Copy out assignment draw cat read Oakleaf Bearers"), and prop it up beside my bed. That way I can see clearly what the point is, and also I have something ready to start on, so I know I'm not just going to be left alone with my OCD thoughts when I get up.

Also, there are some things I take much longer to uproot myself from than others... the computer, for instance, and also I tend to sit on my bed wrapped in a blanket in the morning while I'm waiting for Mum to come downstairs (I can't come down until she does and has finished messing about in the kitchen, for various OCD and practical reasons). So I've started never using the computer after tea (dinner, whatever you like to call it), and that Mum going downstairs in the morning is the signal for me to gather up my things and get up off the bed so I'm ready to come down as soon as the coast's clear. That seems to work so far, too... It's often pretty inconvenient about the computer, always something comes up that really ought to be dealt with now instead of tomorrow, but it's worth it!

 

Whoops, got carried away. Thanks for the reply, and I hope you and your son are doing OK.

Wombat140

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Wombat --

 

I very much like your idea of making a list the night before to prepare yourself for the next day's activities/tasks. I suppose that, once you're finished with school, and/or you're not scheduled to arrive for a job at a particular time, a list like that would be pretty essential in driving a person with this form of OCD forward; without a routine or schedule, I'm certain my DS would tend to "linger" indefinitely on some things himself. That's largely why even his summers have been scheduled with camps, classes or "to-do lists," so that he doesn't feel at sea and therefore more inclined to distract or compulsion his way through the day!

 

I'm sorry if I came across as perfunctory or lacking in empathy; believe me, I know that it's not in any way easy to shed OCD behaviors in any form! My DS was diagnosed with OCD at 6 and he's now 17, so we've been dealing with it . . . in varying degrees and forms . . . for 11 years ourselves. And though PANDAS treatment certainly positively impacted the most severe behavior sets and made him functional again when he experienced his most dramatic "wax" at the age of 12, he's not "rid" of OCD, either. What I intended to suggest to you, really, is a way of either containing/controlling that OCD avoidance behavior, or channeling it into something that's more productive and beneficial for you and the other people in your life. I know it won't be easy, and it very well may be that if you're successful in beating it back in this particular area, it may pop up in another form, somewhere else in your life, to pester you. I've often heard OCD described as one giant game of Whack-a-Mole! <_< But since you brought it up in a topic post, I assumed this particular manifestation is really interfering with your life.

 

I hear you on ignoring the timers and getting hung up at your computer, etc. We've seen that in our house, too. I guess I see my job as a mom, in the time I have left before my DS hopefully goes off to college and then to his adult life, is to indoctrinate him as much as possible with the "non-OCD perspective," aka, what would the non-OCD person do in this situation? So, if he ignors his timer, repeatedly, I step in and give him the non-OCD perspective in order to break his reverie or help him corral his mind back on the task at hand. Or if can see him avoiding something in particular, call him on it and let him know how a non-OCD person would likely break that imposing task into smaller pieces to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming, etc. I know I have limited time to impact him, and I'm not certain that, without our support at home, he'll be as successful in breaking out of OCD habits entirely on his own. But he went away for three weeks this summer and managed, in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people, so my hopes are high. Since you're living with your mum, do you have her or someone else at home who can support you as you work at some of this stuff? That would be tremendously helpful, I'm sure!

 

I see in your signature that you're exploring PANDAS/PANs and trying some interventions, so those may help you. And if the effects seem to be transitory and not lasting, don't lose the faith; sometimes we would think one of our DS's interventions had lost its effectiveness, too, but by sticking with it nonetheless and continuing to journal about his progress, we were able to see that he was still gaining ground on his health (mental and physical), even though the gains became more subtle over time. Do you keep a journal or a diary? Maybe on your computer? If not, it's another idea I might suggest; it could help you keep track of how you're responding to various interventions, and over the long term, you might be able to see patterns and/or benefits that are harder to view objectively when you're in the midst of everything. That's what we found, anyway . . . that when we thought our son had plateaued and wasn't continuing to heal, we could go back through the journal for a couple of months and recall the odd or severe OCD things he used to do that he'd stopped doing, or the more "normal," everyday behaviors he'd given up during his illness but since reclaimed.

 

Sorry this is such a battle! Try to hang in there and celebrate every achievement, however subtle. All the best to you!

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Just wanted to say thanks very much for the encouragement. Helps. I hadn't actually re-read your posting before replying so I think I was remembering it not quite like it actually was.

I know what you mean about the "non-OCD perspective"... it's easy sometimes to lose track of what normal life actually looks like!

I do do my best to keep a diary of symptoms, but they're so chaotic, it's often hard to be very specific about it. With a lot of things, especially just at the moment, I don't really know what'll set them off until it happens. There are very few specific things I definitely can or can't do! Thinking about this gives me some ideas of how I could make the diary more specific than it is now, though.

I'm pretty sure, from what notes I do have, that the homoeopathy really isn't helping, though. This last remedy - 9 days ago - seems to have made things worse if anything, and there's no sign of them getting better. I think he just doesn't really know what he's doing.

Thanks once again for the support!

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