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My Response to 8 Ridiculous Things People Have Said About My OCD

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1. “Everyone is a bit OCD though, aren’t they?”

This has been said to me more times than I care to remember, and it always sounds more like a statement than a question. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most misunderstood, stigmatized mental illnesses, and I think this is one of the things people say that gets to me the most. Not only does it belittle and underestimate the condition, but it unintentionally makes a mockery of the people who fight OCD on a daily basis and prevents an understanding of what the illness actually is.

I could rant about this for days, but I’ll stop (for now) or this will turn into the world’s longest blog post.

2. “Oh, you have OCD? Do you want to come and clean my house for me?

It is the stereotype of all stereotypes. For one, I don’t have contamination OCD. And for those brave individuals who do, they most likely do not enjoy cleaning. Often it’s quite the opposite. This is a common stigma attached to OCD, which is unfortunately enforced by the media and certain TV shows… *Cough* “Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners” *Cough*…

3. “You don’t seem like you have OCD.”

I don’t know what they were expecting. OCD doesn’t have a “look.”

When I figured out I had a problem but was too embarrassed and scared to tell someone, I got quite good at performing my compulsions subtlety so I didn’t get teased. Other rituals I perform mentally, whether that be counting in even numbers or repeating certain phrases over and over again so bad things don’t happen. This is constant, whether I’m at my desk at work or with friends or in bed.

What about the days I cannot leave the house or have to cancel plans because I am terrified the unthinkable will happen? It is exhausting having to be on constant high alert and feeling responsible for every awful thing that happens. I would not wish this illness on anyone.

4. “It’s all in your head.”

Yeah, you’re right. It is. A mental illness is one of the mind, which the last time I checked, was in my head. In seriousness though, most people with OCD know their intrusive thoughts are not logical, but they are driven by doubt. The illness creates things for me to worry about. I may think, “If I don’t touch every light switch I pass twice, my mum will die.” But if I try to ignore it and tell myself nothing bad will happen, the what-ifs dismiss the rational protests of the tiny logical voice trying to challenge OCD. I’m too terrified to ignore it. So yes, it is all in my head – it’s a constant raging war.

5. “Just stop worrying. Nothing bad will happen.”

Gee, thanks. I never thought of trying that! If only it was that easy to ignore the constant, unwelcome and quite frankly, terrifying dread that something awful is going to happen. My OCD tricks me into thinking the only way I will be able to stop these bad things happening is to complete my compulsions to prevent them. The OCD voice will get louder and louder, refusing to be ignored. It will “reward” me with a short relief, only to creep up behind me again soon after. OCD is like a boomerang. No matter how many times I throw it away, it will always come back.

6. “You’re being ridiculous!”

Yep, and don’t I feel it. OCD can be a ridiculous disease that does not make sense in the slightest to me because I know everything I have to do is illogical. I am fully aware that agonizing over everything that could possibly go wrong – ignoring the probability of whether or not it could actually happen – is ridiculous. I know believing I have “magical thinking” that can stop bad things happening is ridiculous. But logic is a mouse compared to the roar of OCD. I am not my illness, therefore it is not me that is being ridiculous; it is OCD.

7. “You’re not OCD, your room is messy!”

OK, so there are two things wrong with that statement. For one, the use of the term “OCD” as an adjective. It is not an adjective. And two, FYI, messy people can have OCD too. I have clothes all over my floor and I can’t even remember the last time I dusted the top shelf. Yes, for some people with OCD, obsessive cleanliness and tidying is a trait of the illness, but it is fueled by intrusive thoughts and fear. Not everyone with OCD has a fear of germs or contamination. There are many different types of the illness, so please do not assume we are all the same.

8. “It can’t be that bad.”

This one actually made me laugh. If only they could enter my mind for a minute, then they would understand. The obsessive thoughts are beyond awful. My OCD is capable of convincing me of anything. It can convince me I killed my nan, even though it was cancer that took her away. Every bad thing that happens to anyone I love – it is my fault. It will convince me my boyfriend is cheating on me or my best friend secretly hates me. It convinces me I am capable of killing someone or have inappropriate thoughts about certain people. I can’t even begin to explain how overwhelming and upsetting this is. It’s a different level of paranoia. Some thoughts I still can’t bear to share with anyone. It makes me feel like the most awful person in the world.

I feel like I am being held at ransom. But I still have a little bit of hope to cling on to – and that is the tiny voice of logic. Yes, it might always be beaten, but it’s still there somewhere at the back of my head, hiding. The whisper has not yet been silenced completely.

Follow this journey on Be Kind to Your Mind.

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Originally published: March 28, 2017
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