After reading Charlotte Walker’s (@BipolarBlogger) post “Ten things not to say to a suicidal person”, I was inspired to write a similar piece regarding OCD. Some of the things in this post have genuinely been said to me and others are things which I’ve heard people say. So here goes.
1. “You’ve got OCD? Do you want to come round to my house to clean for me?”
Someone said this to me a while back after I nervously disclosed that I was suffering from OCD. I don’t know where to start with this comment; it is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, it reinforces the stereotype and commonly held view that OCD is a disorder based around cleaning which is completely wrong. Yes, an obsessive fear of contamination and germs is one of the common symptoms of OCD and with it comes rituals to prevent contamination, but these are not the only symptoms of this disorder. Many other debilitating symptoms include obsessive sexual thoughts, fear of harming yourself or other people and many more.
As well this comment also implies that sufferers take some form of pleasure in their illness. Why if someone did have an intense fear of contamination would they want to go to someone else’s house and clean where their anxiety would most likely go sky high? It’s like asking someone who’s worst fear is heights, to do a bungee jump. When this comment was said to me I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.
2. “OCD is an expression of creativity”
Sorry. What? This illness which is torturing me and I have no control over is just an expression of my creativity? Of course…
To this day this comment still makes me angry. OCD is not cool. It is not quirky. And it is 10000% not an expression of creativity. If it was, do you really think that it would be listed by the World Health Organisation in the top ten most disabling conditions of all time? No I don’t either.
3. “Germ freak”
This was a popular one amongst the girls in my high school. Making fun of someone who has a mental health condition and is unwell is outright bullying and discrimination. Nobody deserves that.
I don’t think I need to justify anymore as to why that comment is wrong and shouldn’t be said. All I’m going to say is, just don’t.
4. “Are you one of those OCD people?”
OCD is not an adjective, it is a disorder which people suffer from. Everyone has a personality individual to them and OCD isn’t a part of this. Yes I have suffered from OCD but I AM NOT OCD. I am Georgina, I love music, reading, playing the piano, shopping and all sorts of things. See people for who they are and not what they are suffering from or going through at that moment in their lives.
5. “Can’t you just stop doing that?”
No. If only it was that simple. Someone suffering from OCD is carrying out compulsions or rituals such as counting, checking, hand washing, walking a certain way, tapping (etc.) in order to prevent their worst fears from happening. They may have images in their head of their closest relatives dying or of themselves dying or of them harming someone and to this person doing the rituals would prevent these dreadful things from coming true. So no, you can’t just stop doing it.
6. “I have CDO. It’s like OCD but the letters are in alphabetical order like they should be”
Fuck off. Which genius came up with this one?
7. “I’m so OCD when it comes to… (insert: grammar/DVD collection/wardrobe/making my bed etc.)
OCD is a debilitating disorder and is diagnosed by a medical professional like a general practitioner or a psychiatrist, you can’t self diagnose. You wouldn’t say you had diabetes or pneumonia or asthma or any other physical health condition so please don’t do it with OCD. As well, OCD is diagnosed if obsessions and compulsions are interfering with an individual’s daily life and causing them a lot of distress.
8. “I wish I had OCD then my bedroom would be tidy all the time”
You wish you had OCD? Feel free to take mine because I bloody wish I didn’t have it.
OCD is not something sufferers enjoy and I suggest before you make a comment such as that you find out about what OCD is and how horrific it is to live with. Also throughout the years I’ve suffered from OCD I couldn’t have cared less about my bedroom being tidy.
9. “Everybody is OCD about something, I’m OCD about handbags, I love them”
Everybody isn’t ‘OCD’ about something and again, OCD is not an adjective. Please don’t use it interchangeably with words like ‘obsession’, ‘quirk’, ‘habit’, ‘trait’, ‘craze’, ‘desire’ etc. The very fact that the person who said this expressed that they gained pleasure and enjoyment from “being OCD” shows that they really do not understand what actual OCD is.
10. “My OCD is kicking in”
If you really had OCD you’d know that it doesn’t just kick in now and again. You’d know that OCD is constantly in your brain tormenting you, questioning everything you do, telling you to do things and never leaving you alone. OCD is a mental illness.
Throughout the time I’ve suffered from OCD, I’ve had numerous encounters of people saying ridiculous things (like what I’ve listed above) about OCD which is mainly through lack of education and understanding which has then been further fuelled by stereotypes shown in the media. However it is worth noting that I have had positive encounters with people as well. People who’ve been so great to me and really cared. And people who have looked beyond the ignorance in society and actually know about OCD.
I do hope that this post will help some people to realise what OCD really is and what it is like to live with. If you wanted to learn more about OCD then visit http://www.ocduk.org/.
Thanks for reading.