Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 8 Things People With OCD Want You To Know

15/02/2016 09:02 | Updated 11 October 2016

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is a mental illness which can cause persistent thoughts and images that cause distress. People with the condition might also feel compelled to ritualistically check things.

It's a serious and debilitating illness to have. Yet still, many of us have referred to ourselves or our pals as "a bit OCD" at least once in our lifetime. And in doing so, we downplay it.

To educate people about OCD and attempt to de-stigmatise it in the process, we've compiled a list of thoughts and musings from people who suffer from the condition.


It is not a positive mental illness

Claire Greaves believes positive connotations are wrongly attached to obsessive compulsive disorder.

"OCD is often seen as a positive mental illness, people are tidy, clean and hardworking," she wrote in a blog post.

"The TV programme 'Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners' adds to the damage, the hoarders are seen as lazy or bad and the people with OCD fix the situation and are seen as good.

"OCD is not a positive mental illness, it is a mental illness that is as equally distressing and horrific as any other mental illness. It affects the quality of life of the sufferer and if an illness is affecting someone being able to live their life then it is not positive."

She continued: "By using mental illnesses to describe an individual's personality it both simplifies mental illness and takes the seriousness away from them. Many people work hard to get mental illness recognised as illness."

The condition can change over time

Casey Douglass is a self-confessed geek who has found that his OCD has affected his hobbies and interests over the years.

"OCD can attach itself to anything that is important to the sufferer and so can be far more varied or obscure than the commonly held beliefs above. It can also change form over the years, even if the themes stay the same," he wrote in a blog post on HuffPost UK.

"How about a sufferer obsessed with germs and hand-washing suddenly finding themselves obsessively scanning their PC for viruses every day?

"Or the gadget geek who is so afraid that something might be wrong with a newly purchased toy that they examine it with the concentration usually utilised by forensics at a crime scene?

"If you have OCD and happen to be a geek, it will almost certainly poke its nose into your favourite hobbies and interests."

It can be debilitating, but misconceptions make it seem 'daft'

"I believe it vitally important that we do our best at the moment to help with the de-stigmatisation," Lizzie Green, a 20-year-old from London, previously told HuffPost UK.

"Too often, people believe mental illness and illnesses such as OCD, are easily gotten rid of and might be thought of as 'attention seeking' or simply just rather daft.

"People need to realise how debilitating OCD is and the amount of shame accompanying it."

She continued: "I desperately believe that education is the key to awareness of OCD. Too often I hear people saying 'I am so OCD about tidying my room.' Are they really suffering from OCD, or are they just a tidy person who likes to live in a neat space?!

"OCD is vastly different from being tidy. It shouldn't be an adjective people throw around to describe themselves as. It is a serious illness and can dramatically affect someone's life."

It is far from enjoyable

Charlotte Peach suffers from OCD and said there is absolutely no enjoyment in feeling compelled to reorder things or have obsessive thoughts.

Peach spoke about a time she visited her hairdresser, who mentioned that a woman who had been into the salon earlier had had a stomach bug.

"I could literally FEEL the germs on my chair," said Peach. "Through the rising panic, I was busy retracing my steps to check what I had touched on my way from the door to the chair that might have also come into contact with this woman."

Just because a person with OCD might joke about it, it doesn't mean they're not suffering

Charlotte Peach added: "We sufferers have a huge part to play in the awareness and understanding of our illnesses.

"I know I've probably been guilty of not helping in the past. You see at first, when you're trying to hide your anxieties or compulsive behaviours because you feel ashamed or pressed-on by the weight of the stigma of having a mental illness, you play it down.

"You make a little joke about it here and there and mask over the reality of the difficulties you're going through. It's far easier to be quirky than crazy.

"Then as things progress and you begin to learn more, live with it more, become battered and downtrodden by it more, it starts to nark you that people don't get what it really is and what it isn't."

It is a tiring illness to have

Orlagh McCarron has a good friend who has OCD and has learned just how tiring her friend's plight is.

She wrote in a blog post: "Anyone who has ever experienced or witnessed OCD in action can see straight of the bat how time consuming and pernickety these little rituals tend to be.

"It's a vicious circle that is fed into constantly and any relief achieved by carrying out a particular impulse is only temporarily abated and sooner or later the obsessive thought will have its tiresome clutches on the weary victim again, forcing them to abandon all known logic and succumb to its whims."

The illness cannot be controlled

"If you dare to confide in others, they will try to tell you to use self-discipline, just get over it, you're wasting your time and energy. But they don't understand it's not in your control," wrote Laurie Hollman in a blog post on The Huffington Post.

"This doesn't mean there's nothing to do to help yourself, but when others don't understand, it does make it feel worse."

Peek inside the mind of someone with OCD and you'll begin to understand how it feels

Julie Zack Yaste suffers from OCD. She offered an insight into the thoughts and feelings of someone with OCD, compared to someone who doesn't suffer from it.

"You may see a person crossing the street from your vehicle, and think that you could physically run them over," she explained. "You would usually dismiss this as an odd thought because, of course, you would never actually do that.

"Someone with OCD might think the same thing, and the thought will replay over and over again causing debilitating stress. The OCD individual may even check their front fenders a few times after driving, or return to the crosswalk to make sure that they did not actually run someone over.

"They will know by memory that nothing happened, but the fear and anxiety of even considering causing harm to another human being is so intense that checking to make sure it didn't happen seems to be the only option."

She continued: "My OCD normally materialises in intrusive thoughts, hypochondria, intermittent bouts of checking things repeatedly, localised skin picking, and a difficulty in making variations to routines.

"I make daily to-do lists and get upset or despondent when I don't complete them.

"I'm afraid that if I don't make the lists I'll forget to do something and my life will somehow eventually spiral out of control, inevitably ending in the destruction of mankind. So I keep to my lists to preserve humanity (you're welcome)."

9 Signs Of OCD

Also on HuffPost:

Suggest a correction