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Don't Say You Have OCD Just Because You Like Things Clean

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People have developed this habit of saying “I’m so OCD about BLANK.” They say it because they like their bedrooms clean, they say it because they don’t want their foods to touch on their plate, they say it because they make sure to brush their teeth every night before bed without fail. They say it and they don’t even understand what they are saying.

You’re “OCD” about that? Really? Go ahead and tell me more. What type of OCD is it?Contamination? Intrusive thoughts? Scrupulosity? Did you have to take 30-minute showers every single day after school at the end of you elementary school years, as thoughts of panic gripped your small, childhood mind about what would happen if you didn’t?

Did you cry yourself to sleep at the age of 10 because you hurt your younger brother’s feelings when you refused to let him in your bedroom, your one “clean” place where your brain could rest from its constant worrying, to give you a goodnight hug and kiss? Did you lose the end of your carefree and innocent childhood, as you suddenly were thrust into a world of uncontrollable fears and doubts? Did you have to check with your fourth grade teacher multiple times a day to make sure that you weren’t “cheating,” even though you sat at a desk with nobody around you?

Were you a 14-year-old child, lying on her mom’s bed, crying so hard you were hyperventilating because you were convinced you were going to hell for hearing a cuss word? Did you feel the shame and disappointment of leaving your long-planned Daddy/Daughter date because you were suddenly gripped with the fear that you were not going to go to Heaven? Did you have your life turned upside down your sophomore year of college, as thoughts of harm coming to your friends and family flooded your brain, making it impossible to function?

Have you spent hours trying to convince yourself that you are not worthless? Did you watch as your boyfriend went from overwhelmingly supportive and gentle to uncontrollably frustrated and fed up with your constant fears, while blaming yourself the entire time? Have you had to move out of a house in college because it felt too dirty, causing you to lose friends and feel pure mortification and embarrassment about the things that were being said behind your back about how “crazy” you were?

Do you wash your hands until they bleed, having to count to 70 three times before they feel clean? Have you spent thousands of dollars on clothes and objects only to have them suddenly feel “unclean,” and you have to throw them out? Do you have to text your mom 4 times a week, just to have her reassure you that you aren’t going crazy? Does your heart literally break inside your chest because you have a 4-year-old Godson who is showing definite symptoms of having OCD, and you know the torture he might have to endure in his brain during his innocent childhood?

Have you bargained with God that He take away your outer beauty, and instead make your brain feel a little bit more beautiful? Have you accepted being in abusive relationships because you thought your “craziness” caused it and this was the best you were ever going to get? Do you finally feel happy and hopeful for your future after years of not? Have you fought tooth and nail with your own brain to get to where you are today, at the point where most people are unaware of your disorder unless you tell them and where you finally go weeks at a time without a “bad OCD day”?

Have you had to do all of this, while at the same time trying to maintain friendships, keep your faith in God, graduate college, navigate the dating world, be a “normal” 22-year-old, and keep from falling into the dark whole of helplessness that haunts you at every corner of your life? No? You haven’t? You just get a bit irritated when your clothes aren’t folded a certain way?

Then don’t you dare tell us that you have OCD. Don’t you dare trivialize our struggles. Don’t you dare cause us to feel ashamed of our battles. Don’t you even dare.

RELATED: I Have OCD. This Is What It’s Like to Be in My Mind for 3 Minutes.

Originally published: April 14, 2015
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