OCD Awareness Week: OCD isn’t a ‘quirk’ or a good thing

I'm Supporting OCD Awareness Week

This is a very personal post for me. It’s something I considered posting about before but felt very nervous about it, however as this week is OCD Awareness Week I’m going to go for it. 

I’ve suffered with OCD since I was about seven years old and for the most part now it’s very mild and under control. It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud for writing about it now, but there have been times where it’s been terrible and taken over my life.

If I could tell you what changed and why my OCD is mild now, I would.  I’d bottle it and give it away, but unfortunately I can’t. All I can tell you is that if you’re a sufferer, I understand.

According to OCD-UK, OCD may affect as many as 12 people in every 1000. That’s nearly 1.2% of the population.

What I wanted to address is what I consider to be the biggest myth or misconception about OCD, and that is that OCD is seen and portrayed as a character quirk or a positive trait.

As someone who suffers from OCD hearing people say ‘I’m a bit OCD about how my pens are lined up’ frustrates me. I know people don’t say it out of spite, they just don’t know what it’s really like to live with the condition.

For some reason the media love to portray OCD as a positive trait or a funny character quirk and this just isn’t the case.

It’s a condition, not someone being ‘quirky’, ‘uptight’ or ‘anal’.

It isn’t just about being neat, there’s so much more to it than that and I doubt people would view it as a positive trait if they understood it. You’d never hear someone say ‘I’m OCD about clicking the lights on and off four times, because if I don’t someone I love may get hurt and that will be MY fault’.

Being clean is a good trait sure, but scrubbing your hands until they’re red raw because you’re scared of germs or what might happen if you don’t, isn’t fun.

We aren’t all ‘obsessed with cleanliness’. There are four ‘main’ categories of OCD; ruminations and intrusive thoughts, hoarding, contamination and checking things.

The way people perceive and talk about OCD is just so bizarre to me. I’ve never heard people speak like that about any other mental illness. It makes it seem like a non-problem, a minor issue that isn’t really worth worrying about.

Hearing someone say that when you’re going through a dark time makes you feel ridiculous, like you’re blowing the whole thing out of proportion. The reality is that for some people OCD consumes their every waking minute and ruins their relationships with family and friends.

If you’ve ever said ‘I’m a bit OCD like that’, please visit the OCD-UK website and read up about it. Also, if you feel you need help, get in touch with them.

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  • Well said. I’m glad things got better for you!

  • Thank you 🙂 I’d love to know how or why, not that I’m complaining.

  • Thank you for writing this. It drives me up the wall when people say “Oh i’m so OCD about X/Y/Z”. I wish people could see past the stereotype and try and understand what goes on in our heads..not just the handwashing.

  • I usually stand there wondering whether to just let them continue or whether to tell them what it’s really like.

    It’s so weird, you never hear anyone talk about another mental illness so casually.

  • I don’t know, i hear a lot of

    “Oh he hasn’t called me/I can’t afford this i’m SOO depressed”

    “It was a schizophrenic film/play”

    I would agree that you wouldn’t hear people talking so casually about physical illness though.

    “Oh i’m so diabetic about that”

    …..

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