OCD misunderstood


As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, I’ve heard it all. Some people believe that I am simply a “neat freak”. Others have deemed me a perfectionist. The former couldn’t be further from the truth—almost everything I own is caked in paint or pencil, the remnants of past art projects. While I can be a perfectionist, I am just as often unmotivated and messy. Worse still, I’ve heard people say that OCD is “not that bad” or that it isn’t real at all. Nevertheless, OCD is oftentimes severe and, when paired with anxiety and depression, it can become anyone’s worst nightmare.

The stereotypical person with OCD is thought to be a constant cleaner and/or organizer. Though people with OCD experience these urges, it really depends on what the person is worried about. In an article published by “The Mighty”, Adam Walker, who suffers from OCD, states that it is like “all your worst thoughts as a soundtrack running through your mind 24/7, day after day.” The people and values a person holds the most dear are attacked, oftentimes leading to days—and even years—of torment.

The most common type of OCD consists of two parts: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are the thoughts and ruminations that cause a person anxiety and compulsions are actions a person takes in response to an obsession.

There are many different obsessions that people with OCD experience, common ones being scrupulosity (obsessive and unwanted thoughts involving religious or moral dilemmas), the fear of losing control, the fear of contamination, and fears regarding other sensitive/frightening topics.

According to Verywell Mind, “Obsessions involve thoughts, feelings and mental images that can seem like they are taking over your mind.” These intrusive thoughts can lead to depression and anxiety, making it hard for people with OCD to even go out in public.

Compulsions, such as constant handwashing, knuckle cracking, checking behaviors, and picking come along with the obsessions. “Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away,” as reported by HelpGuide. Though these actions can lead to short-term relief, they can cause serious issues in the long run. These issues can range from wasted time to embarrassment to injury (picking). It is important to seek help before the obsessions and compulsions worsen.

The next time a person states “I’m so OCD,” he or she should think seriously about the meaning of this statement. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is serious and can even be life-threatening. It isn’t just extreme neatness—it’s a slew of intrusive thoughts and urges that cause mental and emotional distress.