All in the Mind
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Ep. 2: No it isn’t OCD
(This series has been written by one of our blogging interns who wishes to remain anonymous)
I never tell people that I have OCD. Most of my friends have no clue about my disorder. But it wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I was open about my OCD. It was never something I was ashamed to admit. However, what was painful were the reactions of people. Everyone seemed to have OCD around me. Not the OCD I had, but a very casual OCD, which wasn’t obsessive at all! ‘Dude, even I have OCD. I can’t stand a dirty toilet!’ ‘Don’t tell me, I’ve had OCD for a very long time! I have to wash my hands before every meal and I hate street food, because it is so dirty. I just can’t stand it.’ ‘I have the very same symptoms man! I always have to double check the locks on my bag before I leave home!’ To someone with real OCD, these responses aren’t comforting. Far from comforting, actually. These are ignorant people who trivialize a severely handicapping and traumatic mental condition. These aren’t the only people to blame, though. OCD has often been portrayed inaccurately in movies and TV which actively spreads misunderstandings about it. It is a popular belief that Monica from F.R.I.E.N.D.S has OCD, but she really doesn’t. She may have OCPD which is essentially a personality disorder, often confused with OCD. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory is also such a misportrayal, or really, misunderstood by the audience. Although Sheldon is more likely to have OCD than Monica, the mere fact that his compulsive rituals are reduced to acts that invite laughs and is primarily used as comic relief is deeply disturbing. Being a cleanliness freak doesn’t mean you have OCD. If you fear that there are germs on your skin which will kill you and you spend hours washing your hands till they start bleeding, you may have OCD. OCD is deeply traumatizing and consuming because your thoughts control your compulsions and prevent you from resisting them. OCD makes you feel responsible for everything in the world and forces you into believing that performing your compulsive rituals is the only way to save the world around you. OCD is not something you can laugh about. It is precisely the reduction of a disorder of this severity to trivial acts of perfectionism and cleanliness, that prevents me from starting a conversation about OCD. Writing about it certainly feels different. In the coming articles, I will share further aspects of OCD and the process of recovery.