themighty logo

How to Joke About OCD

My friend said to me, ‚ÄúDo you know what it’s like when you¬†can’t get something out of your head?‚ÄĚ

I sat back and actually laughed out loud.

Briefly, my friend looked confused, but then she laughed too¬†and said, ‚ÄúOh yeah. You’re so OCD,” to which I replied, ‚ÄúSo very very.‚ÄĚ

She can tell me I’m so OCD a thousand times. She’s earned¬†it. I can also make jokes about her anxiety. It’s not that we take these¬†conditions lightly. We are constantly dealing with our demons and have several¬†scars, but we understand each other’s pain and respect it. So we don’t take¬†these conditions lightly, but then again, we take these conditions lightly.

Using humor is a great way of coping with difficulties. If I¬†didn’t joke about my OCD, I’m sure my anxiety’s anxieties would have anxiety. I¬†feel like I have a healthy sense of humor. My Twitter bio even reads, “I have¬†OCD. Don’t make me retweet myself.” But lately I’ve been questioning when it’s¬†appropriate to laugh and who can do the laughing.

As a wannabe stand-up comic, I take humor pretty seriously.¬†I think telling jokes can be an art form, and I’ve analyzed the ways tone, timing and word choice can have an impact on a joke. You might say I’m a little OCD.

But can you say that? Is that allowed? Sure, if you’re my friend, say what you¬†want. I’m also not the language police, so I can’t tell you to stop even if you¬†aren’t a friend.

But freedom of speech runs both ways. You can say what you¬†want, and I can react. I don’t engage with everyone who makes a flippant¬†comment about OCD. I do, however, write about the disorder, and I’m pretty sure¬†I’ve come out of the closet to everyone I know. Even my mailman is sick of¬†hearing about it.

Too often, people with OCD and other mental health issues¬†are told they’re just too serious. Someone will make a joke and say, ‚ÄúLighten¬†up. It’s just a joke.‚ÄĚ This is a way of making our concerns seem trivial, and¬†when that happens, the true nature of OCD gets lost. My goal is to communicate¬†the seriousness of OCD so you too can make jokes about it. When I know¬†you’re an ally, someone who truly understands the horrors of my illness, I will¬†laugh right along with you.

I prefer comedy that comes from a place of knowledge rather than ignorance.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.