Simple fact: I am OCD. I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It isn’t as bad as some people’s, but it is pretty bad. Another simple fact: I absolutely hate it when people use OCD as a term for being organized, or particular about some specific thing. Example; “I am soooo OCD, I just have to do my dishes before bed, or I can’t stand it.” That is not OCD. Being clean, or methodical, or organized is not OCD. And it offends me. And yes, I know everyone is offended about everything these days, but I don’t care. If you aren’t struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, then don’t claim that you are OCD. It’s rude and inconsiderate to people, like me, that actually struggle every single day with this disorder. It is a medical condition. It requires medication and treatment. It is not a joke. Do you take medication for it? Have you been diagnosed by a medical professional? Then please, for the love of God, stop saying it. I probably sound like a bitch, but the truth is when I have mentioned that I am OCD at places like work, I almost always get someone saying “Oh my God, so am I, I like…” such and such a certain way or do this thing or that. It is always pretty uncomfortable to have to say actually I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it affects my everyday life pretty seriously. I take medication to help keep it under control.
I distinctly remember the first time I thought I might have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I was at work, my last job. I had purchased a shelving system that was to hold papers and pamphlets. I built it and placed it on top of a credenza we had in the office by the front window. My boss at the time liked to pick on me. I think she knew that I had some form of mental illness, and she wanted to move things in the office and rearrange things, which gave me incredible anxiety. One day she says we should move the shelf. I play it off and tell her no, it’s fine where it is. Trying not to make a big deal out of it. So fast forward to the next week, and I’m on vacation in San Jose with my cousin. I am having a great time. When I return on the following Monday, my shelf is on the opposite side of the office. And I freaked out. I don’t mean like I yelled a bit. I mean, I had a full mental breakdown. I started shaking and sobbing, and I begged my two coworkers to move it back to where I originally had it, which they so kindly did. But it triggered me hard.
At that point, I reached out to a friend who was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive and asked him what some of his symptoms were, how he was diagnosed, etc. I made a doctor’s appointment and went through an assessment and found out that yes, I am OCD. The real OCD and I started medication for it. From what I understand, OCD manifests itself slightly differently for different people.
I have a few ticks. My main things are that everything has to have a place, and I find it really hard to do anything if everything around me isn’t just so. I also have racing thoughts. I visualize bad situations like driving off a cliff when I am driving somewhere or being stabbed to death when I glance at a stranger. It is so intense sometimes I am afraid I actually will drive off the cliff, and it is terrifying. A compulsion of mine is driving the same way everywhere I go. Once I have been somewhere once, I will always, always go that way. If there is road work or a detour, I get extreme crippling anxiety. Mostly my husband drives. I rub the palm of my hand with my thumb excessively when I am extremely agitated by my thoughts or something going on around me. Or when I am nervous or scared. Or in a new social situation. I also like to count. Things like road signs, numbers (obviously), things in a category, like shoes on a rack in a store, money, items I own-just to name a few.
My point in all this is to hopefully give people a better understanding of this disorder and make you think before you speak. Remember that this is a medical condition that can be debilitating. Don’t claim that you are OCD because it’s trendy, or you think it’s a harmless terminology. For those that live with it every day, it is not a joke or a trend, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.