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Does anybody else not exactly count but try to find out if the number of letters in a word is divisible by any number ? Like I always have to see if the number of letters in a word or sentence is divisible by 2 or 3, it started out with just seeing if they were divisible by two but then if they weren't I'd go up to three and if it still wasn't I'd have to find a way to make it work like for w's I'll split into 2 letters u and u and like h (and I know this is dumb) I'll spell it out ache, it just has to be divisible by 2 or 3, is anyone else like that?

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Hi sbechtel and welcome to Latitudes/ACN   what you describe does sound like OCD It can be treated with medications, but these sadly bring many potential side effects. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I'm 38 from the UK and found out that the fact I could count letters in words extremely fast was unusual when I was 13. As lots of others have mentioned, ever since it has been used as a party trick

I used to do that in the past, but was more of an odd/even thing.  Would move my tongue back and forth along my bottom teeth to count. Weird, I  know. LOL   My daughter, when probably 10 years old, could alphabetize letters in a word before we could get started - another OCD  thing, I'm sure.  She's 17 now and when we ask her to try it now, she claims she doesn't do it anymore.  She got tired of us quizzing her, I'm sure. 

Edited by Kay33
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  • 4 weeks later...

I have had a few things that I have to do or I feel "incomplete" and physically uncomfortable.  If I step on the edge of a stair, a rock, an uneven path, I have to do it with over foot. The most annoying one is I count number of letters in words and for me even # are good, odd # aren't. Also, Left better than right. If I count the letters in a word and they are odd numbers, in my mind I play a free card (extra # or punctuation)to make it even. The last thing I do is when I use the microwave, everything has to be 38 sec or a certain number of min ending with 38 secs. I have bipolar, anxiety (especially during mania) and PTSD.  I was diagnosed PTSD about ten yrs ago but have been doing the counting since I was six or so. I am tired and exhausted ,not to mention comoletely humiliated and embarrassed by all of this. I used to work 3 jobs and now, I am either running around crazy starting projects all over house and never finishing them while feeling like my insides are shaking or I can' get out of bed and think the world would be better without me. Seems like every year my symptoms are worse even after meds and therapy. I am tired of being called crazy, psycho etc. I didn' ask for this. I am exhausted from dealing with it. I go days without sleeping and the less I sleep, the less I need sleep. Days after, I could sleep 4 days straight thru. I feel like I am cursed and am frustrated how I am treated. If I was blind or had cancer, I wouldn' be treated like this. I know this isint my fault but I am so close to giving up. I have tried to committ suicide 2x and actually succeeded both times but they brought me back. I cried and told them to let me go back when I came to. I am not suicidal now but I am just so tired of this. I feel like I am cursed or it is only for bad people like me(even though I know it' not true). Everything escalated when my dad drowned (took 3 weeks to find body), I was raped by a family member (was adopted and happened when met bio family) and then my brother was murdered (Girl who did it was arrested 4 times but they didn't have enough proof to keep her)I think my mind is trying to protect me. I refuse to give up but dang it, I AM TIRED. Also, when depressed, my whole body aches horribly. Anybody have any of these issues? I know these are extreme issues but I dont know what to do and I am tired of being alone in this. I give the shirt off my own back to always make people happy but I am the most miserable persoin I know. I always keep a smile on face and am very outgoing because I want people to look ast the real me. Who I am inside, n it my disability.  Any advice? I just need some support because right now I am down and being kicked at same time. Sorry so ling but today was especially bad day. Just need a kind word

 

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Hi EmilyGirl, welcome to the forums, and I'm glad you wrote. You have been through so much. It says a lot that you are willing to reach out.  You have classic OCD symptoms and then on top of that, such traumatic incidents to deal wtih. No wonder you are exhausted.

We would love to hear more about where you live, and what options you have for getting help so you don't have to continue to struggle with all of this. We are glad you do not intend to give up! Hang in there. It could be that a medical problem causes some of your fatigue and there is help for that. Please write back and tell us more.  We care and want to do what we can for you.  Sheila

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Wow!  I have been doing a similar thing since I was 12 (and now I'm 47). I am able to instantaneously alphabetize AND assign each letter a number (a=1, b=2, etc). So for example, cat is 1,3,20. Dog is 4,7, 15.  Obviously I do it with much larger words. I am able to do it almost faster than I can say it. People have always had me do it for entertainment. Have seen similar on Oprah and David Letterman but have never thought to google it until today. Just recently saw someone on Ellen who could count letters in words. Also realized I do that but always thought everyone else could too. I am a teacher and I also find it interesting that almost everyone on this forum spells correctly and uses correct grammar, something it is rare to see on the internet nowadays. I also find it interesting that most people said they started doing this at ages 12 or 13. I never knew so many others did similar things!  Amazing. 

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This really bothers me, I watch a lot of TV that needs subtitles. Like anime and k-dramas. And I find myself distracted from the show because I feel the intense need to count how many letters there are and which one I'd the center point, or if it's even or not. And letters like "l" bother me because it's like half the size of a normal letter.

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I can agree 100% with this. Ever since I was young I had to count every letter in every word I read or heard. I will make every word end in the letter 9 or it's variations (18, 27, 36, 45 etc.) Even if that means starting the word on a negative number to make it equal 9 every time I repeat it in my head. The vowels take a huge part in how I count as in they have to be odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9) It's weird to explain but I have learned to live with it no matter how much I begged it to go away. It is persistent and goes all hours of the day even when I try to block it iut. It has made me seem slow when in conversation due to the need to count every word the other person is saying. Hope everyone here has luck woth their situations, I now cherish ot and can't see myself without counting everything I hear.

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I'm so glad to find this forum.   I have being been compulsively alphabetizing/counting for over 50 years, and never found anyone else who does.  As most of you already know, people are frequently astounded by the ability,  but it can be tiring.   I recently started taking a small dose of abilify to help treat SAD and have realized that the compulsion to do both have decreased considerably.   I look forward to following everyone's stories.  

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  • 2 months later...

I was thrilled to find this forum and realize that I'm not the only one that does this.

I've been counting the number of letters in sentences and phrases for as long as I can remember. I don't count spaces or punctuation and will add words to make the total number of letters end in a 4 or an 8. I'm not sure what's so special about 4 and 8 except that they are even numbers and 8 has always been my favorite number.

I agree that it's a fun party trick and people are  amazed at how quickly I can tell them the number of letters that were in a sentence. I'm now 56 years old and for me, the party trick has grown old. I wonder what I've missed out on because my brain is constantly counting. I find it difficult to read a book, listen to a lecture, or even watch a movie because my brain won't stop counting. I can literally watch an entire movie and not remember what it was even about the next day. Has anyone successfully been able to stop this behavior? I began reading a self help book, but can't seem to get through it. LOL

I had a counselor once tell me that I developed it as a young child as a coping mechanism. Possibly to disconnect from arguments going on in my household. Instead of listening to the argument, I would count the letters. While I understand that I probably did need this at one time in my life, I don't believe I need it any longer. I have had a fairly successful life and career, so I don't think it's really held me back, but I often wonder what I could do if I had that brain power back.

 

 

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  • 6 months later...

Okay. I decided to look up what I do and found this website. 

What I like to do is to take a word that sticks on my mind and I'll see if it's odd or even. I will mentally count each letter side by side _ _ and pile them up on top of each one to see if it's odd or even...for no reason at all. Most words of course you can just see they are even but I still find myself doing it. I'll tap with two fingers to "pile" each letter on top of them. 

What is this about?

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I am thrilled to find this forum. I’ve never met anyone else who counts letters. My family and friends try really hard to understand, but they just can’t. 
I’m 52 years old and I’ve been aware of my letter/word/syllable counting for 22 years. I don’t know how long ago I started counting - I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t count. My number is 6. When I hear or read, I count the number of words, then syllables, then letters in sentences. If the number of words, syllables, and letters doesn’t equal 6 or a multiple of 6, I have to change the sentence to make everything a multiple of 6 without changing the meaning of the sentence. Like, if the sentence has 5 words and one word is a contraction - i.e. “don’t” - I’ll change “don’t” to the “do not.” Or I’ll find a synonym for a word, like using “yucky” instead of “gross.” I do all of this in my head, kind of in a sing-songy way. And while 6 is my number, I can accept multiples of 3 or 9 if I need to keep reading or listening. I hate the number 4. I have to change any sentence where the number of words/syllables/letters is 4, or a multiple of 4 but not a multiple of 6. 
I used to work as a proofreader. I started doing it before I was aware of my counting. I’d have to read things 5 - 6 times to count, check grammar, find typos, and understand what I was reading. 
It was absolutely exhausting. 

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I’m so late! It’s 2020, lol! But I’m 18 and I have this letter/word counting thing too!! It’s SUCH A RELIEF to know that I’m not alone!! If any of y’all still check this thread, I’d love to hear from you.... I’m specifically wondering, is there any way to at least quiet these thoughts and habits? It’s been going on for like 3 or 4 years for me, and I haven’t been able to stop it. Or can it naturally go away over time?

Here’s what it’s like for me. I don’t really do the alphabetizing thing or certain other stuff y’all described. One of my tics is something I didn’t see anybody else mention. I’m obsessed with the heights of lowercase letters. High, medium, and low. Example: h, a, y. So I love finding words that form patterns that I find visually appealing in this way, like “yelling”. See how the letters’ heights flow from left to right? I dunno, I just like that. And “Nintendo”. I like splitting words in two groups of 4 and making them kinda mirror each other visually (still with the letter heights). If there aren’t enough or are too many letters in the word, I’ll just add/take away some and change the spelling. I also change the heights of certain letters as needed to fit my desired patterns. I do all this in my head. And sometimes I subtly nod my head along to the pattern as well. Not a noticeable motion, just a very slight head movement that indicates the up-or-down direction my pattern of letters is going in.... I feel like I’m not making any sense, lol.

Another weird thing I do that I think only one other person mentioned, is counting the “pen strokes” in the letters of a word and then adding them up. Example: “wow” is 9 pen strokes, or lines as I usually call them. Then I take the number of letters in the word (“wow” has 3) and add it to the number of pen strokes. 9 + 3 = 12, and I like that number. Usually I use all lowercase letters for this, but for pronouns I typically keep the first letter capitalized. Sometimes I capitalize all the letters and do the same routine to see how that changes things (because capital letters often have more pen strokes).

Speaking of numbers I like, my favorites are usually 4 and 3 to divide with, and 10, 15, and 20 to add up to.

It’s not just letters for me. I also count words in sentences. In things people say, in music lyrics, in tests at school, in text messages, etc. Even as I’m writing this, I’m counting my words. I crave a balanced amount of words, meaning I want to have a “good” number of words like 10 or 20. For example if somebody sends me a text that’s like 7 words long, that really freaks me out and I have to scroll up to find the last message so I can add 3 more words to the first snippet.

The letter-counting habit isn’t as distracting as it used to be because I’ve gotten faster at it over time. But the word and sentence counting thing can be very distracting when I need to pay attention to something I’m reading or listening to.... Reorganizing sentences kinda makes it hard to keep track of them, y’know? At least for me.

Anyway, those are just some of my main habits that I currently deal with. Here are some other things about me that might be related, I dunno? I have mild misophonia, which is where you’re bothered by very specific sounds (for me it’s chewing noises), but more so than a normal pet peeve, like, you can’t concentrate at all when you’re around the sound and it even makes you have more extreme reactions (sometimes it makes me wanna cry, shout, retaliate in anger, etc). I also have epilepsy. I’m also considered pretty smart. Between those three things and the counting thing, what the heck is going on with my brain?? Oh, and I also love English and grammar and am pretty skilled in it, so maybe that contributes to this letter counting thing? And I’m very socially awkward and I talk to myself a lot when I’m alone.... So yeah, I don’t know if any of that could be related somehow but I thought I’d share it just in case.

Another counting habit that I have is where I’ll count my steps, but I have to step the same number of times with one foot as with the other. I also do this when I’m drumming a beat with my hands.

I just told my mom about all this today. I’ve kept it to myself for all these years because I didn’t know how I could possibly explain it to anyone, and I thought I must be the only one.... I’m so glad I found this forum!! I really wanna meet someone who shares my habits!!

Edited by Hayhay
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  • 6 months later...

I’m so happy to have found this forum! I’m only 13, but it really encourages me to see that there are people who do very similar things to me.

Like many people on the forum, I can instinctively count the number of letters in a word or in a sentence. (Although I don’t count spaces or punctuation, I do usually count apostrophes?) Particularly for shorter words or phrases, I can do this practically without thinking. I have been doing this since as long as I can remember, but I never thought it was something unique to me. I only realised that it was quite rare when I was doing crosswords with my sister a couple of years ago and she was shocked at how quickly I could tell her the lengths of words. Whilst I know other people who can kind of do the same thing, such as my dad and one of my friends, they can’t do it anywhere near as fast as I can. I knew that there must be other people who could do it like me, but I’ve never met anyone who can so it’s great to hear about other people with the same skill! Everyone who finds out about it thinks it’s really cool, and it’s great for entertainment, but it can often get frustrating when I’m trying to read or when someone is talking to me, and I can’t help but do it. 

My method for working it out is a bit confusing. I sort the letters into number bonds to 10. For example, if the sentence was ‘The cat sat on the mat’. For ‘the cat sat’, I can tell straight away that it has nine letters. Then, with the word ‘on’, I take the O, add that on to the nine letters, put that ten aside, and carry over the letter N and keep going. I can do this in less than two seconds. It’s complicated, but I’d be really interested to know if anyone does a similar thing. 
My spelling has always been very good, as has my grammar, and English is one of my favourite subjects. I’m also generally considered quite smart? I don’t know if that has anything to do with it...

Something that really irritates me when I’m counting letters in sentences, particularly when reading, is when a sentence doesn’t have an even number of letters, or particularly if it isn’t a round number (like 10, 20, 30 etc.) A lot of the time, I change around words or add extra characters (even though this sometimes doesn’t make the sentence grammatically correct) just so that it ends in an even number or in a round number.

Another counting habit that I have is the number of stairs in a staircase. I always need to start with my right foot and finish with my right foot as well (therefore an even number of steps.) If the staircase doesn’t have an even number of steps and I have to finish with my left foot, I always change them around so that I finish with my right. At my primary school, I memorised the number of steps in every single staircase so that I would know where I would need to change foot.

This is nowhere near as serious as the compulsions and obsessions of many other people on this forum, but I just thought I’d share it because it’s great to be able to talk about it to people who do similar things and who can actually understand :)

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1 hour ago, Cristina_FCB said:

I’m so happy to have found this forum! I’m only 13, but it really encourages me to see that there are people who do very similar things to me.

Like many people on the forum, I can instinctively count the number of letters in a word or in a sentence. (Although I don’t count spaces or punctuation, I do usually count apostrophes?) Particularly for shorter words or phrases, I can do this practically without thinking. I have been doing this since as long as I can remember, but I never thought it was something unique to me. I only realised that it was quite rare when I was doing crosswords with my sister a couple of years ago and she was shocked at how quickly I could tell her the lengths of words. Whilst I know other people who can kind of do the same thing, such as my dad and one of my friends, they can’t do it anywhere near as fast as I can. I knew that there must be other people who could do it like me, but I’ve never met anyone who can so it’s great to hear about other people with the same skill! Everyone who finds out about it thinks it’s really cool, and it’s great for entertainment, but it can often get frustrating when I’m trying to read or when someone is talking to me, and I can’t help but do it. 

My method for working it out is a bit confusing. I sort the letters into number bonds to 10. For example, if the sentence was ‘The cat sat on the mat’. For ‘the cat sat’, I can tell straight away that it has nine letters. Then, with the word ‘on’, I take the O, add that on to the nine letters, put that ten aside, and carry over the letter N and keep going. I can do this in less than two seconds. It’s complicated, but I’d be really interested to know if anyone does a similar thing. 
My spelling has always been very good, as has my grammar, and English is one of my favourite subjects. I’m also generally considered quite smart? I don’t know if that has anything to do with it...

Something that really irritates me when I’m counting letters in sentences, particularly when reading, is when a sentence doesn’t have an even number of letters, or particularly if it isn’t a round number (like 10, 20, 30 etc.) A lot of the time, I change around words or add extra characters (even though this sometimes doesn’t make the sentence grammatically correct) just so that it ends in an even number or in a round number.

Another counting habit that I have is the number of stairs in a staircase. I always need to start with my right foot and finish with my right foot as well (therefore an even number of steps.) If the staircase doesn’t have an even number of steps and I have to finish with my left foot, I always change them around so that I finish with my right. At my primary school, I memorised the number of steps in every single staircase so that I would know where I would need to change foot.

This is nowhere near as serious as the compulsions and obsessions of many other people on this forum, but I just thought I’d share it because it’s great to be able to talk about it to people who do similar things and who can actually understand :)

Hey! Nice to meet someone else who does this in 2020! 'Cause most of these posts are from a long time ago. So I'm very happy to see your comment. :) So uh, I posted on this thread already. It's the one right above yours. That was back in March. Since then I've started therapy, but my therapist thinks it's a cool talent.... I agree, but it's also very annoying sometimes, like you said. Like when I'm trying to read, fall asleep, listen to someone talk, pay attention in class, etc. It makes me feel like my head is very busy and noisy, and like I'm spending extra energy on the counting so it's exhausting sometimes too.

By the way, I change words around as well. I add/remove letters to get the length I want. Another thing I do is that I'll take a sentence, and try to shorten it to 10 words exactly. Either that, or I try to make it as short as possible without losing its original meaning. I also count pen strokes, like the letter f has 2, the letter o has one, etc. Yet another thing I do is looking for visual/aesthetic patterns in words, using the shapes of the letters. Often I'll change the shape of letters to fit a pattern I want. Examples: "sAndwich", "Carpool", "bookMark"

I dunno if that makes sense.... I probably explained it more in-depth in my original post. But yeah. Umm, again, it's cool to hear from you and I hope you're doing well

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