themighty logo

12 'Harmless' Comments That Actually Hurt People With OCD

If you live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you might have heard some of the seemingly “harmless” but incredibly hurtful comments people often make to those struggling with it.

Most of the time, the comments come from misunderstanding mental health struggles. And although these “harmless” comments may not intend to hurt, they can often invalidate the struggles of someone living with OCD. People may share these comments to relate to someone’s experience (“Everyone’s a little OCD.”), but often times, people misuse the condition as an adjective (“I’m so OCD!”) and invalidate someone’s struggle (“Just stop.”).

We wanted to know what “harmless” comments people with OCD have heard that actually hurt them, so we asked our mental health community to share one with us and explain what it feels like to hear it.

What seems to be “harmless” to one person may actually be hurtful to another. No matter what anyone says, your feelings are valid, and you deserve support.

Here are some comments that our community shared with us:

1. “Everyone’s a little OCD.”

“Saying things like, ‘Oh don’t worry about it! I’m like that, too! Everyone’s a little OCD.’ It’s one of the most painful things and it discourages me from opening up about it to others.” — Jacob B.

“I think everyone has a little OCD, everyone can benefit from a little OCD.’ They couldn’t be more wrong. I sit back and think to myself, according to the DSM, the symptoms have to be causing either distress or dysfunction and for at least an hour a day. I know then the person who said it doesn’t understand the anxiety that goes along with OCD. It’s not just a simple desire to have things neat.”— Samantha M.

2. “I’m so OCD.” 

“Whenever someone says, ‘I’m so OCD about…’ usually in reference to organization or a little bit of cleaning. Having OCD doesn’t mean you just have a preference. It’s something that causes you severe anxiety. It’s a joke to them, but it hurts me because they just don’t understand how hard it is to live with this illness.” — Sydney E.

“OCD is exhausting and frustrating. When people are explaining how they do something well and they call themselves ‘OCD’ like it’s something to joke about or enjoy.” — Gianna R.

“‘I’m a little bit OCD about (insert quirky pet peeve).’ As if you can have a half-diagnosis — I wish.”– Emily E.

3. “My OCD is kicking in.”

“‘My OCD is kicking in’ as someone begins to organize something. It bothers me to so much, and they see it as a joke.” — Lissa A.

4. “What’s wrong with you?”

“When I hear people say, ‘That guy’s on something,’ while shopping for groceries.”– Austin G.

5. “You/your house must be so clean!”

“My OCD is not cleaning, my OCD is doing my bills over and over and over and over until I have notebooks full of the same thing written to ‘perfection’ even though it’s the same thing written over and over.” — Keaton B.

“All the jokes about OCD being about cleanliness caused me not to accept my diagnosis, meaning not getting treatment for it. I’m a messy person, but I still have OCD, I just didn’t realize that’s what it was.” —Britni W.

“’My OCD makes me (insert something that means they like to be organized or clean)’… Trust me, if you had OCD you wouldn’t be saying that or talking about it. You’d be hiding it and the effects it has on you!”–Dawn C.

6. “You seem fine.”

“My OCD is more the constant obsessive thoughts and compulsions, not any ‘outward’ symptoms. I’m tired of people arguing with me that I can’t be OCD because they ‘don’t see it”– Phaedra M.

7. “I wish I had OCD.”

“When people say they wish they had OCD so they could have a clean house. No, this is not how OCD works. You should see my house.”—Vanessa M.

“I wish you’d bring your OCD to my house, like you’re going to clean their house spotless. OCD isn’t only about cleanliness.” —Kea T.

8. “It’s not a big deal.”

“It may not be anything to you but to me, it’s like bees rattling in my head. ‘You’re just a control freak.’ For years, this is what I thought I was until doctors and I sat down and really went over what daily ‘control freak’ things triggered me and how.” — KaitLynn M.

9. “You’re just being dramatic.”

“I’m usually told I’m being extra and that I’ll survive. I will survive but I’m not being a drama queen, my mind literally screams at me until I complete the pattern and I can be obsessed with it for days until I fix it.” — Jenna-Lee E.

“‘You’re being so extra and anal like Bethany.’ It really hurts because I can’t make the OCD just go away.” —Bethany D.

10. “Just stop.”

“When people say that I am in control and I can make it stop. What? The thing is, they don’t understand that I’m not in control at all. My brain just works this way.” –Vanessa M.

“‘Can’t you just stop thinking about it?’ — Sundi T.

11. “Turn off your anxiety.”

“It hurts because I’ve been trying my whole life to turn it off and let me free.”– Stefanie H.

12. “But you’re so confident, you’d never know.”

“I can be confident and social whilst putting anti-bacteria on my hands to the point of rawness.”–Lizzie H.

If you have OCD, what’s something you do want to hear from a loved one? Tell us in the comments below:

GettyImages via Rita Saitta