OCD, we all know what that is, it’s the one where you want everything arranged, so you line your pencils up on your table in colour order right?! Um, no actually. It’s sad how many people seem to think that that is what OCD is.
Firstly, let’s just introduce what OCD is. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and as defined by Wikipedia, is “an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions“.
As you can see from this definition, OCD is a mental condition and not just people being tidy. I know plenty of neat and organised people, but that doesn’t mean that they have OCD.
OCD is characterised by the intense anxiety and sense of foreboding if they do not do certain rituals, or do not do or organise certain things.
What many people don’t realise is that OCD can manifest itself in so many ways, some more unusual than others. Someone who appears very messy could still suffer from OCD, as OCD is different things to different people.
A common OCD area is hygiene. In this case people often wash their hands excessively (often causing bleeding), will wash excessively, and have a phobia of girls and anything dirty. If they don’t do these things (such as washing hands), they feel intensely anxious and sometimes terrified that something bad will happen.
Although that example seems to make sense, many OCD habits aren’t.
For me, my OCD is very strange and select.
There are many things I have to do before bedtime for example, including washing my feet, moving my pillow right up against the wall, switching off my phone and putting it face down on the bedside table, making sure my hair dryer is unplugged etc.
I also have OCD when it comes to school work. All notes a teacher goes through must be written down, neatly too. I cannot ‘leave a gap’ in my workings or in a test to fill out later, which caused a 34% test mark when I couldn’t do the first few questions but also couldn’t move on to ones I knew. (Now I have my tests all as booklets which I fill out to avoid this, and since then my score has gone up to 86%, thank goodness). I must do homework every day, and complete at least one, no matter how busy I am.
Rules. Rules, rules, rules.
You never get a break from them.
Imagine having your mum constantly nagging in your ear 24/7. Now imagine that amplified to an unbearable level. That is what OCD is like.
People are quick to say ‘get a grip’, but of course it isn’t that simple! I try to break OCD habits but it just makes me extremely nervous and on edge, I cannot sit still if I know I haven’t followed one of the ‘rules’.
Another problem with OCD is that it grows and evolves.
It might start out as something really small, a little habit, but before you know it it’s turned into a huge thing, that often leaves you feeling like you can’t function properly. One thing can lead to another, so one habit can multiply to ten before you realise it was an issue.
I used to have only 1 or 2 things I struggled with, such as sitting in the same seat for dinner, but now there are more than I care to count.
So next time someone says “I’m a little bit OCD about my desk”, just ask them this question “do you feel crippling guilt if you don’t do that? Does your mind feel busy and you can’t sit still, do you feel anxious and sick? Does it scare you if you don’t do that? No. Then no, you do not have OCD.”
[obviously some people will have OCD about desks and the suchlike, I am just talking about people who use it as an adjective rather than the potentially serious mental illness it is]
I hope this helped give some insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and some stereotypes involved. Please feel free to leave any feedback, I love to know if I’ve helped or if something was useful or not so that I can continue raising awareness of mental health in the best way possible.
Thanks for reading.