( TW/ OCD)
I did a post very similar to this one, a few weeks back about things you shouldn't say to someone with depression. It seemed to go down pretty well. So I thought I would do one about things you should not say to someone with OCD.
Like in the depression post, I mentioned that some people are just very arrogant to the reality of mental illness because they haven't had first-hand experience. However, some people are just uneducated because of the unhelpful information and perceptions of OCD that they have absorbed through the media and TV, etc.
Which is why I'm so passionate about ending the stigma that surrounds OCD and mental health in general. If I can change just one person's perception of what OCD is through this post, I will be so pleased. Please do share this post with others, to spread and share awareness of the true reality of what it's like to suffer from a mental illness.
1. Hurry up, your wasting my time
I've actually had this one said to me, in public by a complete stranger. It hurt a lot. I will never forget that day because it was the first time I had truly experienced discrimination due to my mental illness. I'm sorry that I have held your busy schedule up, today. But just remember; you've been caught up in my OCD compulsions for what, five minutes? I'm caught up in my OCD compulsions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Why don't you spare a thought for what it's like for the sufferer?
2. You know it's all pointless anyway
Yes, I know that my compulsions are ridiculous and what I'm doing doesn't make any sense. But I still do it. Do you know why? Because of the intrusive thoughts. The bit of the illness that you can't see. The part of the illness that is so often forgotten about or ignored completely. Which is why OCD is often subject to being used as an adjective or thrown around as an off-hand remark about things that truly aren't anything to do with OCD at all. You don't have to tell the sufferer what they are doing doesn't make sense because the chances are they know already.
3. It's just all in your head
This is a hard one because technically it all is in the mind. The chemical imbalance in the brain. But there are better, more sensitive ways to go about the matter. You don't need to tell someone with OCD that it is their fault or think they can just snap out of it. You wouldn't expect someone with a physical illness just to get rid of it. It's the same for someone with a mental illness. It's more internal and complex than you may think.
4. I'm a little bit OCD
* Excuse me while I go and bang my head against the wall* Let's get this straight, you either have OCD or you don't. There's no ' just a little bit OCD' OCD isn't about being neat, orderly or fastidious. You're not OCD if you change your bed sheets once a week, do your washing every day or hover your floor every night. You're not OCD if you sometimes check your door is locked twice before going out. You're not OCD if you put all your DVDs in alphabetical order and your definitely not OCD if you carry hand sanitizer with you at all times. Please don't use OCD incorrectly.
5. If you have OCD...why are you not super neat and organised
This is a very common misconception that surrounds OCD, which has not been helped by the media and programs such as obsessive compulsive cleaners. When a lot of people hear the words OCD, they think that someone must be super neat and tidy. Well yes, compulsive tidying can be a sign of OCD. But it's fuelled by intrusive thoughts and taken to the extreme. However, not everyone with OCD is concerned about germs, contamination or neatness. Some people repeat prays over and over again in their head, some people tap things excessively, some have to avoid certain objects, and others check lights, power, and doors excessively which makes leaving the house a real nightmare.
6. There are germs everywhere you know
If you suffer from contamination OCD, I almost guarantee this has been said to you at some point. You make think that you are helping by telling me this fact, but you are actually doing the complete opposite. I know there's probably the same amount of germs on the plastic fork and knife I use to eat my food then there is on my hand, but the intrusive thoughts tell me otherwise. You know the bit you can't see? Supporting someone with OCD is so important, but it's equally important you go about it in a sensitive manner.
7. Are you just saying you have OCD because you want to be cute and quirky?
The fact that anyone would claim to have a mental illness to be cute and quirky baffles me! It really does! Unfortunately some people do claim to have OCD because they want to appear cute, but if they knew the true reality of what it's like to suffer from OCD they really wouldn't. If you know someone suffers from OCD, don't try and make it out like they had a choice because, guess what? They didn't!
8. Do you wash your hands a lot? Is OCD just another name for a germophobe yeah?
No! No, it's not actually. As I have said before and I will continue to say, not everyone with OCD worries about germs or washes their hands excessively. Although contamination OCD is very common, it's not the definition for OCD ( despite what the media wants you to believe) and therefore, the intrusive thoughts and compulsions will be very different for everyone that suffers from OCD,
9. It's okay your not alone.." I check my door is locked twice" or " I'm such a germ freak, I carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere."
Although, you may want to reassure your friend or family member that they are not alone, by telling them all the ' OCD things' you do, it's not going to help. You see someone who is just a neat and organised person won't get the intrusive thoughts that someone who really has OCD will get. Comparing your behaviours to someone who really has OCD, adds to the stigma of OCD. It makes the sufferer feel bad because they feel even more abnormal than they already feel. Often thinking to themselves: " If everyone else has OCD traits, what's wrong with me?"
10. OCD doesn't really exist
Mental illness exists. Depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, eating disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia and so many other mental illness exist. Just like cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and tumours. But no one doubts their existence, do they?
I really hope you guys enjoyed this rather long post. I hope I have been successful in educating you about how to talk about OCD sensitively with a sufferer and maybe even persuaded you not to use the term OCD inappropriately.
Thanks for reading, as always X