While at OCD Con, I spoke with a woman on the elevator who asked what the conference was for. I explained that it was for sufferers of and professionals who work in the field of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She said, “Oh! A lot of my clients have OCD about organizing their homes. They tell me they’re OCD because they like things arranged a certain way.”
I took the opportunity to gently educate her that liking things arranged a certain way is, in fact, not OCD. It’s just being particular. She then asked: “Well, what *is* OCD?”
Outside of our amazing community OCD is still seen as the cleaning disorder or a fun quirk. Most people, just like the lady I encountered, have no idea what real ocd is.
Real OCD is a debilitating disorder that latches onto the things you love the most. It gives you terrible and distressing unwanted and repetitive intrusive thoughts about those things. Thoughts that go against your values and can fill you with guilt and shame. The distress from those thoughts drives sufferers to carry out irrational behaviors called compulsions which are intended to relieve the distress.
There is nothing fun or quirky about it. When I wash my dry cracked and bleeding hands for the 100th time because I’m terrified I’ll pass a fatal illness to my son, I’m not enjoying it. When I lay in bed ruminating over the deaths of my loved ones, I’m also not having fun.
OCD is not fun. It’s not all about cleaning and organizing. It’s an irrational debilitating and all-consuming disorder that ruins, and even takes, lives. It’s important for the public to know just how serious OCD is so that when someone like me starts having symptoms they recognize it and can get proper help.
If you like organizing your belongings, cleaning or having things done a certain way, that’s great, but it’s not OCD. If you enjoy it, it isn’t OCD.