You are not “so OCD”

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m just so OCD?” Have you ever thought about how someone who is diagnosed with OCD feels when that is said? I can say from first hand experience that it is an uncomfortable situation to be in.

OCD is not just preferring things to be neat and tidy. When I hear someone say “sorry, I’m just so OCD,” my heart sinks. I know that OCD is much more than perfectionism or preferring things to be orderly. When this is said, it takes away from the challenges that someone who is actually diagnosed with OCD  struggles with. For example, my OCD presents in the form of intrusive thoughts. As you may know, everyone has intrusive thoughts, but individuals with OCD ruminate about these thoughts and perform rituals to help prove them untrue. The problem is that performing these rituals only strengthens the thoughts, so it turns into an endless cycle. I perform what is called a mental ritual when I have intrusive thoughts, which means that I will replay the thought in my head over and over (sometimes for days or weeks on end) looking for some concrete evidence to prove the thought untrue. OCD can be debilitating and can impact quality of life in its sufferers.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a mental illness that is made up of two parts – obsessions and/or compulsions. These obsessions and compulsions can cause individuals intense fear, distress, and anxiety. Obsessions can be things that you may be familiar with such as fear of contamination or symmetry/exactness, but they can also be intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or others.  Compulsions are often what accompany these obsessions and by engaging in these compulsions it only feeds into the obsession more. Compulsions can include checking, ordering/arranging, mental rituals, or confessing.

As you can see, OCD is a distressing condition that is more than just organizing and washing your hands several times. OCD can really impact someone’s life to the point that they are constantly battling the thoughts in their head; it is exhausting. You would never say “I’m just so PTSD” or “I’m just so cancer,” so try not to minimize someone’s experience with OCD by claiming that because you like things clean you are “so OCD”.

What has your experience been like with people who treat and joke about mental health terms and illnesses? Do you know anyone who’s described themselves as “so OCD?” How did that make you feel?

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