8 Things People Have Said To Me About My OCD

8 Things People Have Said To Me About My OCD

“Everyone is a bit OCD though, aren’t they?”

When this has been said to me on more times than I care to remember, it always sounds more like a statement than a question. OCD is one of the most misunderstood, stigmatised mental illnesses, and I think this is one of the things people say that gets to me the most. Not only does it belittle and underestimate the condition, but it unintentionally makes a mockery of the people who fight OCD on a daily basis and prevents an understanding of what the illness actually is being taught.

I could rant about this for days, but I’ll stop (for now) or this will turn into the worlds longest blog post.

“Oh you have OCD? Do you want to come and clean my house for me?”

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to commit an act of violence as much as I did in that moment. (I’m kidding…a bit). It is the stereotype of all stereotypes. For one, I don’t suffer from contamination OCD. And for those brave individuals that do, they do NOT enjoy cleaning. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is the most common stigma attached to OCD, which is unfortunately enforced by the media and certain TV shows…*Cough* Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners *Cough*…

“You don’t seem like you have OCD.”

I don’t know what they were expecting. Am I meant to be acting like some kind of maniac or be rocking in a corner? Or perhaps I’m meant to be running round the house wearing a piny with a feather duster.

When I figured out that I had a problem but I was too embarrassed and scared to tell someone, I got quite good at performing my compulsions subtlety so I didn’t get teased. Other rituals I perform mentally, whether that be counting in even numbers or repeating certain phrases over and over again so bad things don’t happen. This is constant, whether I’m sat at my desk at work, or I’m with friends or in bed.

What about the days I cannot leave the house or have to cancel plans because I am terrified the unthinkable will happen? It is exhausting having to be on constant high alert and feeling responsible for every awful thing that happens. I would not wish this illness on anyone.

“It’s all in your head.”

Yeah, you’re right. It is. A mental illness is one of the mind, which the last time I checked, was in my head. In seriousness though, most OCD sufferers know their intrusive thoughts are not logical, but it is driven by doubt. The illness creates things for me to worry about. I may think ‘If I don’t touch every light switch that I pass twice, my mum will die.’  But if I try to ignore it and tell myself nothing bad will happen, the ‘what ifs’ dismiss the rational protests of the tiny logical voice trying to challenge OCD. I’m too terrified to ignore it. So yes, it is all in my head – it’s a constant raging war.

“Just stop worrying. Nothing bad will happen.”

Gee, thanks. I never thought of trying that! If only it was that easy to ignore the constant, unwelcome and quite frankly, terrifying dread that something awful is going to happen. My OCD tricks me into thinking the only way I will be able to stop these bad things happening it to complete my compulsions to prevent it. The OCD voice will get louder and louder; refusing to be ignored. It will reward me with a short relief, only to creep up behind me again soon after. OCD is like a boomerang. No matter how many times you throw it away, it will always come back.

“You’re being ridiculous!”

Yep, and don’t I feel it. OCD is a ridiculous disease that does not make sense in the slightest because we know everything we have to do is not logical. I am fully aware that agonising over everything that could possibly go wrong – ignoring the probability of whether or not it could actually happen – is ridiculous. I know that believing I have ‘magical thinking’ that can stop bad things happening is ridiculous. But logic is mouse compared the roar of OCD. I am not my illness, therefore it is not me that is being ridiculous, it is OCD.

“You’re not OCD, your room is messy!”

Okay, so there are two things wrong with that statement. For one, the use of the term OCD as an adjective. IT IS NOT A BLOODY ADJECTIVE. And two, FYI messy people can have OCD too. I have clothes all over my floor and I can’t even remember the last time I dusted the top shelf.  Yes, for some people with OCD, obsessive cleanliness and tidying is an awful trait of the illness, but it is fuelled by intrusive thoughts and fear. Not everyone with OCD has a fear of germs or contamination. There are many different types of the illness, so please do not assume we are all the same.

“It can’t be that bad!”

This one actually made me laugh. If only they could enter my mind for a minute, then they would understand. The obsessive thoughts are beyond awful. My OCD is capable of convincing me of anything. It can convince me that I killed my nan, even though it was cancer that took her away. Every bad thing that happens to anyone I love – it is my fault. It will convince me that my boyfriend is cheating on me, or my best friend secretly hates me. It convinces me that I am capable of killing someone, or have inappropriate thoughts about certain people. I can’t even to explain how overwhelming and upsetting this is. It’s a different level of paranoia. Some thoughts I still can’t bear to share with anyone. It makes me feel like the most awful person in the world.

I am being held at ransom. But I still have a little bit of hope to cling on to – and that is the tiny voice of logic. Yes, it might always be beaten, but it’s still there somewhere at the back of my head, hiding. The whisper has not yet been silenced completely.

 

As always, thank you for reading.

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15 Comments

  1. Desiderata
    19/06/2017 / 23:00

    This is such a great post and you were/are so brave to share it. While I may have VERY mild OCD, I am bipolar- another stigma. And my mother was schizophrenic, yea it all runs in the family- gotta laugh or cry, right? Good luck to us all! Mental Health Awareness is so important!!!!!

  2. Alie
    25/05/2017 / 12:01

    Hi Meg,

    Please can you tell me what I can do to help my fiancé, who has OCD? He was diagnosed with ‘severe OCD’ a few years ago and worked with a doctor and got it down to ‘mild’, but it still affects him every day. When I see him doing his rituals or checking things, or if he has a ‘worry’ he can’t shake and talks to me about it, what do I do then? I’m terrified that if I let it go it will get worse and worse and go back to being ‘severe’, and that took up every moment of our lives. We can’t go through that again. I feel like I have no idea how to help him, and he won’t ask for professional help again himself. I know your article was more about what not to say, but do you have any advice about what I should be saying?!

    Thank you so much,
    Alie

    • Esther
      21/06/2017 / 17:35

      Hi Alie

      My fiancé also suffers with OCD and like you I worried about what to do to help. I am no expert but I am happy to share my experience.
      You can’t fix this for him I’m afraid and when you love someone that is so very hard. To watch someone struggle daily is painful to say the least!!
      You absolutely can’t apply logic to the situation. To try is to fail.
      I had to take a long hard look at my lovely man and accept that OCD is part of what makes him him. There are positives. He loves me fiercely and is tenacious in his attitude to life. We talk about OCD as and when we (either of us) need to. I try not to judge, sometimes I get it wrong and we argue but we always learn from it however painful. Without OCD he would be a different person so I embrace it.
      I try not to get too bent out of shape when I see a ritual taking place and if I am unsure what to say I usually ask what’s up? Has something triggered it? And ask what he is thinking. I also ask if I am making it worse or enabling him. I learn all the time, an example is him putting out the bin and apologizing for washing his hands afterwards. My reply, that’s not OCD! Everyone washes their hands after touching a bin! My learning from this was him explaining it wasn’t a choice for him. He HAD to wash his hands. The compulsion was too strong to ignore. It’s easy to get it wrong and assume you understand. Learning only comes with time and talking honestly with each other.
      Be kind to yourself. Just because you don’t have OCD doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you as well.
      Speak to him and let him know it’s ok and that whether it’s mild or severe you love him and his OCD!
      If you stick together, talk, love, laugh and learn you will find a way to live life together, alongside the OCD. Xx

  3. 09/05/2017 / 12:05

    Yes! This is a great post. What really gets to me is when people use OCD as a blase adjective *angry eyeroll*

  4. Shannon K
    05/03/2017 / 01:13

    Brilliant post. I just stare at people who think OCD is like a help mate. “…but you’re always early, never late & your house is always spotless…” True, until it turns on me & suddenly I cannot even force myself to leave the house until 10 minutes after I’m supposed to be somewhere & suddenly I cannot force myself to throw away a piece of paper or fold a basket of clothes.
    I hang onto a sliver of hope (logic) for dear life at times.
    Thank you for sharing your life.

  5. 28/02/2017 / 12:43

    I can really relate to this post! I’m so glad you wrote this, because OCD is so trivialised. People throw it around like confetti, but they haven’t got a clue how it tears apart our lives and souls. I’ve had great difficulties explaining OCD and educating people, because they think it’s about cleaning or liking everything to be even. So thank you again lovely, you are amazing.

  6. Danica
    21/02/2017 / 21:51

    Thank you for writing this! I have had debilitating OCD since I was a child, and have been working with therapy to control my OCD tendencies. Honestly, until reading your blog, I didn’t realize that most of my thought process can be attributed to the OCD. Especially the very last part, what you said about feeling like everything is your fault, and that everyone secretly hates you.

  7. Charmaine
    19/02/2017 / 18:50

    Brilliant post! A part of my OCD is contamination and my rooms a total mess due to the OCD.

  8. Beebee
    17/02/2017 / 19:43

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to feel like I am not alone in the constant battle x

  9. Lis
    15/02/2017 / 18:25

    Great post!

  10. Caroline
    15/02/2017 / 18:25

    wow! I was diagnosed with OC PD and what you wrote put into words what I struggle with. Thank you x

  11. Nicole
    12/02/2017 / 19:07

    So many of these things have been said to me. I wish people would understand OCD better. People can be so rude about OCD and it really hurts. This is such a wonderful post though! Xx

    http://thriftyvintagefashion.blogspot.co.uk/

  12. Rich
    08/02/2017 / 13:56

    I hate all of those things too! So relatable! x

  13. Lulu Blue (@LuluDigitale)
    07/02/2017 / 19:20

    Many people who never suffered from MH don’t understand anything about it and fall in stigmas and misconceptions, which you do so well in breaking through your blog in general, and this post in particular.

    Most people do assume OCD = cleaning, totally missing that this is a very varied illness and that each person has a different form of it, with particular symptoms.

    Medias can either help breakdown those stigmas, only when they properly address the issues of each kind of MH – which is far from done in our modern society, but baby in understanding psychology (a bit like yesterday’s comment I posted).

    I hope that your therapy and ultimately, your inner logic, shall help to fight this OCD down so you can live more at peace and not have to suffer from it as much, or even better, not anymore at all.

    Hugs, and you know where to find me to talk if & ever you need.

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