Why saying “I’m a little OCD” is 100% wrong
You may not like me after this. I’m going to get a little bit rough here. Have you ever been with someone and suddenly they reach over and “fix” something and then they look at you and say “Sorry, I’m just a little OCD about it.”? Yeah me too. And there’s just one thing I have to say about that: No, you are f****** not. You do not have OCD because you like all of your ice cream to be vanilla. You do not have OCD because you do your laundry in a certain way. You do not have OCD because you straightened out the centerpiece at the table during a night out. So stop saying you’re “a little OCD” about things unless you actually have OCD. It’s an ignorant and destructive statement that serves to perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Thank you.
Now, I’m sure that plenty of you do know what OCD actually is. OCD is a common, chronic disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and / or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. The thoughts are invasive, disruptive, and cause anxiety. And they just won’t go away. The behavior that is repeated over and over is a response to these thoughts. It is a real, debilitating, aggressive mental illness. OCD disrupts different aspects of a person’s life including work, interpersonal relationships, social life, worship, and other areas.
It is normal for OCD symptoms to worsen and then get better or ease up and then get worse over time. Common symptoms include fear of germs and contamination, unwanted or intrusive thoughts that involve taboo subjects such as sex, religion, or harm. Common compulsions include washing or cleaning, checking on things, and compulsive counting. These lists do not include everything that can be a symptom or a compulsion, it just outlines the most common ones.
For a person with OCD, thoughts and behaviors are uncontrollable even when they are recognized as excessive. The thoughts and behaviors take up at least an hour of every day, but the rituals don’t give the person pleasure. Rather, they offer some relief from the intrusive thoughts. The cause of OCD is unknown, but the risk factors include genetics, brain structure and functioning, and environment. it usually starts earlier with boys than girls and is most often diagnosed around the age of 19. Of course this is not hard and fast for every case. Later onset is a thing.
Treatment usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. SRIs, or serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are generally used as medication for OCD. For those people who are resistant to treatment, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can be an option to use in combination with medication and psychotherapy, as can other brain stimulation therapies. Brain stimulation therapy is relatively new, having just been approved by the FDA in 2018. So, this is an exciting time in the field of psychology for OCD treatment.
Perhaps I was a bit harsh in the first paragraph. But that’s a big “maybe” for me. As someone who suffers from mental illness, including OCD, it just butters my biscuits when people make light of it or spread misinformation. I live with the stigma every day, just as everybody else with mental illness does. I’m looked at and treated differently than a “normal” person. Even online, my presence is saturated with mental illness “vibes”. And that’s okay, because I wouldn’t be presenting myself accurately if I were to leave out the mental illness bit. Plus, I chose this platform and I want to be heard.
I’m sure we can all come up with better ways of explaining our behavior to people who are confused or off-put by it. Better yet, we could realize that we don’t need to explain our behavior to anybody in order for it to be valid. What a relief that would be! However you go about your life, I hope that it is with forward-thinking motivation and purpose. Please help crush the stigma. Until next time,