I am a bit ocd (obsessive compulsive disorder)

 I am a bit ocd (obsessive compulsive disorder) 

I am a bit ocd (obsessive compulsive disorder)_ ichhori.com

When I tell people I have OCD, they are oft pretty surprised. 

 You see, when people think of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), they think of tidiness. They picture pencils and pens lined up impeccably in order of the rainbow, and kitchen utensils neatly organised into dividers in separate drawers. They think of sparkling white surfaces, colour-coded wardrobes and beautifully neat handwriting. 

 What they do not think of is me, sprawled on my bedroom floor among the piles of clothes I have tried on that morning, scrolling through Instagram and procrastinating the washing up I have to do downhill. 

 But then I am a real-life person with what was described upon diagnosis as “ severe high-performing pure OCD,” living a life that is relatively chaotic compared to the stereotype numerous people expect. 

While I can joke about it now, those stereotypes have a real-world impact especially when it comes to people using OCD as shorthand for things that are not, well, actual OCD. 

 If you have ever heard someone describe themselves as “ a bit OCD” you will know what I am talking about. Whether they are explaining away the thought process behind their impeccably tidy desk space or justifying the introduction of a new organisation system, the phrase “ a bit OCD” has snuck into our modern-day vernacular. 

 But the thing is, there’s no similar thing as being “ a bit OCD”. Indeed for those whose OCD manifests as a need to have effects tidy and organised, OCD is more than just wanting things a certain way – it is a disorder characterised by feelings of anxiety and discomfort. 

 Indeed, OCD isn’t a preference, or a personality quirk, or a light-hearted reference. OCD is a serious, enervating complaint that affects people in the United Kingdom and your words have the potential to do further detriment than you might expect. 

 First of all, using OCD as a way to describe a personality quirk not only undermines the severity of the disorder (the danger of death by Self-harm among people living with OCD has been estimated as ten times that of the general population), it perpetuates the idea that people living with OCD choose their compulsions, and thus have the power to stop or circumscribe them. 

 But it is just not as simple as that. The obsessions (and attendant forces) endured by people living with OCD are driven by similar violent fear and anxiety that are oft completely unavoidable. 

 Take me, for example. Now, thanks to a combination of antidepressants and CBT therapy, I know how to coach myself through periods of obsession and anxiety (my OCD largely focuses on how I could beget emotional harm to others by harming myself as a result of depression and suicidality). But previously, my compulsions ranged from flooding myself with positive thoughts of the future ( so I could convince myself I was not oppressively depressed) or making sure I was noway alone “ just in case” I suddenly became suicidal. 

 When you are amid OCD, you do not trust your brain; the compulsions seem like the only way to navigate the world safely, and you become consumed by them. 

 Calling yourself “ a bit OCD” about cleanliness and tidiness also undermines the experience of people whose OCD does not fit into those boxes. Yes, there are people whose OCD does revolve around extreme cleanliness and hygiene (which is frequently powered by a debilitating fear of illness or dirt, not a simple preference for tidiness), but there are so numerous other types of OCD people may find themselves living with. 

 People with OCD have been known to check the hob over one hundred times just to make sure they have turned it off and won’t burn the house down, or struggle with intrusive, unpleasant thoughts about causing harm to others which make them worry about whether they are a “ bad” person, despite being fully repulsed by the thoughts themselves. 

 These stereotypes even stand to get in the way of diagnosis, because they shape the way society – including the person living with OCD – sees their symptoms. 

 In my case, getting a diagnosis was hard, because both myself and the people around me had never heard of pure or harmful OCD ahead. My courage to speak to the GP about what I was passing only came when I discovered a YouTube videotape of someone giving a speech about harm OCD. The videotape gave me the words I demanded to describe my experience to the people around me, describe it to my GP, and the courage to leave that GP (and seek a diagnosis elsewhere) when they refused to hear me. 

 Let me get this straight if you have used the phrase “ a bit OCD” in history, or slipped up and use it in the future, that is fully fine. Before my diagnosis, I used the phrase casually when I laughed about my neat handwriting with buddies or joked about choosing a font for my latest school project. Language grows and evolves as we use it – and the words we use occasionally become alternate nature to us when we have heard them used in the world around us. 

 But coming time you go to call someone “ a bit OCD”, I want you to think about the impact your words could be having. The same applies to all the language we use to describe psychological health – the weather is not “ bipolar” because it is a bit each over the place, and you are not “ so depressed” just because something made you feel sad. 

 The language we use is just as important as the actions we take to destigmatise psychological health conditions – and if my words can help one person vocalise what they are going through and reach a diagnosis, also I consider that a job well done.



Previous Post Next Post