5 common misconceptions about OCD

Hello people. I haven’t posted for bloody ages! I’ve just been really busy enjoying 1 hour walks, shopping for essential items, and crying salty bitter tears of depression into my crisp white bed linen. 

Today I’m gunna write a very short little piece on some myths and misconceptions about OCD. I hate to use a buzzword which really irks me but there’s really no alternative – mental illness as a whole is stigmatised and misunderstood by many. OCD is one of the mental illnesses most commonly misplaced in conversation. If you have OCD then you’ll almost definitely be aware of these. If you don’t then sit tight because I’m about to F you up with some friendly knowledge. 


Number 1: OCD is just liking things to be neat and tidy 

WRONG! Admittedly this CAN be an element for some people, but it’s waaay bloody more than ‘just liking things to be tidy’. For some people, this specific element of OCD might be compulsively tidying and rearranging a room that was already tidy to begin with. For others it may manifest as an urge to compulsively check to see if their things are in order. 

This specific order-related obsession/compulsion aside, OCD has a huge plethora of debilitating symptoms which some OCDers might have, and others might not. Examples include false memories, fear of physical and mental contamination, intrusive thoughts (which can be sexually explicit, violent, disturbing etc), skin picking, false beliefs, hoarding, compulsive checking and so many more.

I wish so badly that I ‘just liked things being neat and tidy’ instead of the reality of what happens in my chaotic little brain. (Just kidding it’s massive.)


Number 2 (lol): Everybody is ‘a little bit OCD’

WRONG. SO WRONG! Researchers believe that 1.2% of the population have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is not an adjective, a personality trait or a preference. It’s a diagnosable illness – the clue is in the word disorder. It can ruin peoples’ lives and take everything away from them.

This particular misconception never really bothered me until I realised that it can prevent people who are actually ill with OCD from realising it, which may in turn deter them from seeking treatment, meaning they might suffer for longer.

Also, repeatedly hearing the sentence “Yeah I’m actually a tiny bit OCD aswell” can be bothersome for an individual whose brain repeatedly plays f***ed up images to them whilst persuading them that it’s not OCD’s fault – they’re just a bad person. Ya feel me?


Number 3: All compulsions are physical 

When people hear the word ‘compulsion’, they think of repetitive behaviours such as checking and touching things until it feels just right (CAN WE BLOODY QUANTIFY ‘JUST RIGHT’ NOW PLEASE – SCIENCE DO YOUR THANG SO THAT I CAN STOP REPEATEDLY TAPPING THE MIDDLE OF MY FOREHEAD).

Some compulsions are mental. For example some people count repeatedly in their head until it feels just right (JUST LOOK INTO IT SCIENCE. PLEASE.) Some people repetitively go through situations in their heads to the point where it prevents them from going about their day. I personally have a mental compulsion that causes me to pick out a word in a sentence that someone has just said – it’s usually the word with the most emphasis – and then I have to spell it in my head. I visually spell it out with an invisible pen in my mind’s eye. Then I have to write it backwards in my head. If I’m interrupted then I have to begin again. If you’re talking to me and I’m looking blank, there’s a 70% chance that I’m distracted by this compulsion. (The other 30% is usually distraction caused by a dog walking past.)


Number 4: OCD is a cute quirk 

I’ve definitely had people refer to some of my obsessions and compulsions as ‘quirks’ in the past. Although it’s never made me sad or mad, I realise it’s extremely unhelpful for undiagnosed OCDers. These symptoms aren’t quirky – they’re debilitating. Imagine people referring to physical symptoms of an illness in this way. “Yeah Barb’s been throwing up for the last 4 hours – she’s so quirky and weird man!” 

If we all asked about our loved ones’ symptoms and opened up a discussion, rather than brushing them off as quirks and isms, then perhaps society would have a more thorough understanding of OCD.


Number 5: People with OCD can’t take a joke

Ha! Anybody who knows me even a tiny iota knooows that I deal with all of life’s happenings and misfortunes with inappropriate and ill-timed humour. This post probably reads as being a little uptight or offended. Conversely, I never feel offended when people make incorrect assumptions. People only say these things because they don’t understand. I just want to help them to understand the reality of what having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is like before we start cracking below-the-brow jokes.


So, there we bloody have it, you beautiful isolated little beans. There are LOADS more misconceptions – I think I could write an entire book about them – but instead I’ve given you five because I want to go and finish making my grandma a face mask. 


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