The Realities of OCD

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This photo represents the stereotype of being neat or a clean freak.

Dry, cracked, bleeding hands, yet the desire to wash them just once more is still there. Tears streaming, and heart racing. Thoughts that are never quiet, spewing about horrible things. Not a second of peace. This is what life can be like for people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder, more commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental disorder that affects 2.2 million adults according to the ADAA. Its symptoms include, but are not limited to, unwanted, intrusive thoughts, compulsions, repetitive and ritualistic behaviors. There are many different variants of OCD that have different symptoms. The different types of OCD include, checking, contamination, symmetry, intrusive thoughts, and hoarding.

OCD becomes severe when it affects a person’s daily life. While there is treatment, and medication OCD never truly goes away. People can only learn how to manage and live with it. It is an anxiety disorder, so when a person’s stress level goes up, their OCD symptoms can become worse. OCD can also lead to depression, other anxiety disorders, and a tic disorder. After reading about this, people would think it’s no cause for jokes, or not something to be taken lightly.

OCD in the media, is often portrayed as being a “neat freak” or a “perfectionist”. And when there are characters with “OCD” it is treated like a joke, and like that person is simply crazy, rather than suffering. This stereotype is harmful, and untrue. OCD is not an adjective, or a synonym for being neat and orderly. It is a serious condition that can significantly affect someone’s life. By portraying it as any less than that in the media, contributes to people not taking it seriously. This could even affect people from getting proper diagnoses and treatment, because all they have seen in the media is that OCD is the same thing as being a perfectionist. An example of a person with OCD in the media is Monica Geller from Friends. Her desire for things to be clean, can be a symptom of OCD, but the way hers is portrayed treats it more as a punchline, than as a mental condition. These portrayals have more of an effect than people think. This leads to people not taking OCD seriously, as well as people using OCD as an adjective, and not truly understanding what OCD is. For example, saying “I’m so OCD”. Bad representation can change everything. When people use OCD as an adjective, it takes away the weight and meaning of the word. This can also be demeaning to people who have OCD. OCD is so much more than just being neat and orderly. This goes for multiple mental conditions, not just OCD.

People’s words can have a heavy impact, and it’s important to understand the weight and meaning behind them. Always treat people with kindness, and understanding.

If you want to learn more about OCD check out these websites:
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder#:~:text=Obsessive%2Dcompulsive%20disorder%20(OCD)%20is%20a%20mental%20illness%20that,nails%20or%20thinking%20negative%20thoughts
https://iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/OCDMyth-Handout-092313.pdf
https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/severe-ocd#takeaway