It would be impossible for me to count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “I’m so OCD,” because like to keep their house clean or they do things in an orderly manner.
By saying this, it’s clear to someone with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, like myself, that they do not have OCD.
OCD is a disorder that causes a person to have recurring thoughts and obsessions which often force one to act compulsively and repeat illogical or irrational actions, according to the United States National Library of Medicine. My introduction to OCD was a series of random thoughts depicting grotesque violence toward my friends and family. These thoughts were terrifying, and I thought that I was crazy at first.
I sought out a counselor, unsure and uneasy of what might come of it. She explained that these intrusive thoughts were, though frightening, extremely common among people with OCD. They also tend to be even more frightening because people with OCD obsess and fixate on them.
Another common misconception that the statement, “I’m so OCD,” implies is that all people who stick to rigid routines have OCD. People living with OCD don’t just want to stick to a routine or behavior — we have to.
For people living with OCD, this is not just uncomfortable. It’s debilitating. These OCD behaviors, routines and rituals are caused by irrational thoughts. For instance, my fear of germs has caused me to wash my hands until they bled and I, at one point, would refuse to touch a menu at a restaurant because I was terrified of catching a life-threatening disease.
I get why so many people think about OCD the way they do. I understand that society is conditioned to believe that OCD is this quirky thing that just turns people into germaphobes or neat freaks. I get it, because before my diagnosis, I thought the same things about OCD. And people with OCD can be, and often are, germaphobes like me.
However, being a germaphobe is oftentimes an easy oversimplification of what it means to have OCD. People who have OCD don’t always fit society’s stereotypes.
OCD is not a feeling, but a disorder that someone has. I, and others like me, are not defined by our OCD; it’s just something that we have.
As with any other disease or disorder, it’s important to learn the facts. I hope anyone reading this will do just that. Taking the time to learn and understand is the best way to help fight the stigma surrounding this disorder.