Email OCD

I send 15-30 emails on a work day. Not much, but email OCD adds to the workload.

I have a constant fear that I am going to send something highly inappropriate to someone.

I proof-read my emails at least five to ten times to look for anything that may have me fired or cancelled.

So far this hasn’t happened. But the worry persists.

Typing is fine, it’s the reading over

I’m actually chilled when typing.

I like to get it out the way, just get as many words out onto the screen whilst I have that wave of motivation. This is my go-to technique with blogging too.

Type now, edit later.

A dog with glasses on sits by a laptop
Me in work mode

I find those squiggly red lines and correct the errors. I give the email a good read through.

And I read through again.

And again…

My anxiety kicks in as my cursor looms over the ‘send’ button. I’m convinced I’m going to find some really offensive words in there that I don’t want people to see, even though I would never add anything intentionally.

Paper airplane art on a brick wall

I’m worried intrusive thoughts will spill into my writings

My intrusive thoughts fuel my email-OCD.

Thoughts that manifest due to OCD and affect me daily. The specific thoughts aren’t too relevant here although I do touch on them in My Experiences with Mental Contamination.

It could be thoughts about my family being hurt or questioning if I am a bad person.

I also worry about accidentally copying and pasting things into an email. Especially if I am emailing from my phone. Things like a private message I sent to a loved or some private information I don’t want to get out.

Autocorrect makes this a realistic nightmare

I rarely email from my phone for this reason. But this has also made me refrain from doing too much research on OCD on my phone either. I much prefer it from a laptop.

I don’t want my phone auto-correcting to phrases such as ‘intrusive’, ‘obsessive’, ‘therapy’, ‘fear’ etc… how would that look in an email if these kept making accidental appearances? Or worse, if the specific details of my intrusive thoughts occasionally slip into sentences? Not good.

I don’t mind so much if this happens with friends, but not in a professional environment.

A man appears stressed in a chair with head in hands

The frustrating thing is knowing this is an actual possibility, and this makes me check so much more.

But also checking more increases the chance of going back and making a mistake.

The more I check the more I doubt myself

It seems with every check my focus gets hazy. My memory fades to nothing.

I stare at each letter of the word, so intensely that I have forgotten what the beginning of the sentence even says.

Did I even check?

I remember being told in therapy that this is the case with OCD in general. The more we check the more we doubt ourselves. There may have even been a study that demonstrated people that did more checking had a worse memory of those checks, compared to someone that checked only once.

I guess the brain loses faith in the credibility of the check if we have to do it more than once.

Obsessively checking using a magnifying glass

So that’s my aim to escape email-OCD. To give my emails one read-over, and hit send. No panic, no worse case scenarios, just onto the next.

But I feel I still have a long way to go before then.


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