Someone said the above to me the other day. It isn’t the first time I’ve heard this and I doubt it will be the last either. I’ve stopped responding now and just pull the Willy Wonka face.
OCD doesn’t always take the form of cleaning. Programmes like Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners don’t help with this misconception. There are lots of ways it can manifest itself. There are far too many to list as it is generally a different experience for everyone. It is categorised by two ‘parts’:
- Obsessions – these are unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images or urges that are persistent and difficult to control. They may make the person feel ashamed or anxious. Examples of obsessions could include violent, sexual, or blasphemous thoughts, fear of causing harm to others, or fear of contamination. I think it’s important to highlight that the person is very unlikely to act on these thoughts or urges as they are often disgusted and frightened by them.
- Compulsions – the undeniable need to carry out a repetitive action to ease the anxiety caused by the obsession. That can include mental rituals (such as counting, repeating words, or replacing thoughts with other thoughts), checking (commonly doors, cookers, plug sockets), or repeatedly asking others for reassurance.
Avoidance is common in OCD, which can impact hugely on an individuals mental health. Other effects may lead to disruption to general day to day life and damage to relationships.
Mind have some great info on OCD, the treatments, causes and symptoms. Take a look.
For me, I have times when I am relatively symptom free. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been great for reducing symptoms. When I am particularly anxious or stressed, however, OCD can reek havoc on my day to day functioning as it is harder to rationalise obsessions. I don’t cry because someone has moved the remote control a 1/4 of a cm to the left and I don’t get distressed because there’s a speck of dust on my skirting board. OCD is a shapeshifter and does as it pleases.
Using OCD as an adjective makes me so cross. ‘Omg I’m so OCD’ only adds to the stigma. Buzzfeed quizzes ‘diagnosing’ people and pictures of perfectly aligned pencils don’t help. “If this makes you angry then you definitely have OCD”. The way OCD is portrayed in TV shows and the media stops people seeking help when they are actually suffering from an anxiety disorder. OCD Action UK state that 1-2% of the UK population suffer from OCD, yet we continue to throw around terms that do awareness no favours. On average, people with OCD wait 12 years before seeking help, often because they’re told it’s their personality or a ‘quirk’, but what people don’t understand is that work days are lost, social events are sabotaged, and leaving the house becomes near on impossible.
Stop using OCD as an adjective. Stop saying ‘oh it’s my OCD’ cos you straightened a wonky picture on the wall, or because you spent an hour cleaning your bathroom. We are still caught up in misconceptions and stereotypes and quite frankly, this needs to end. We need to talk and we need to be open.
The more we know, the less we, as a society, feel the need to make assumptions and judge. Knowledge is power.