Updated: Mar 8
*If you or someone you know relates to any of what is said, please seek out medical attention*
Let me say it one more time for the people in the back… and by “back” I mean Instagram. OCD is not an adjective.
It’s not a term to use to drive a point home, it’s not a description of your cute little clear containers full of displayed cookies, it’s not a way to dramatize a story for comedic flare, it’s not a trend, and it’s not a joke.
This is the second post I am writing on OCD because we still aren’t getting it. OCD is one of the most debilitating mental illnesses one could ever experience and live with.
I am so sick and tired of a disease being used as a term of endearment. So, let’s break it down and understand it better so those of us who suffer from this nightmare can stop being the pit of a joke or compared to Khloe Kardashian and her kitchen displays.
What is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety-driven mental illness that is broken into many different types such as:
– Contamination – Hoarding – Checking – Mental Contamination – Ruminations – Intrusive Thoughts
Basically, it is a mental illness that is driven by overwhelming thoughts and urges that are typically involuntary and extremely difficult to ignore.
When you have OCD, your brain is in constant fight or flight mode.
The nervous system is malfunctioning and alerting you of danger, even when danger is not present. Your brain is heavily alarming you of some type of danger and the sufferer then performs rituals, that may or may not make sense, to get rid of the fear.
One of these dangers is sometimes ourselves.
Symptoms typically increase gradually as we age, and may not be distinguishable until adulthood.
When in an episode, you begin obsessing over something fear-related or anxiety-inducing.
You try to stop the unwanted thoughts from continuing by performing compulsions, which only intensifies the thought and its persistence.
All of this interferes with everyday life and can sometimes take hours out of one’s day just so rituals can be performed in an effort to control the mind.
OCD never leaves. Medication can help keep episodes less exaggerated but you will never NOT have OCD if you already have it. It will come and go your entire life and the hardest part about treatment is the mind vs. mind battle.
Your mind is warning you of a non-present threat but it feels very real. You have to then learn how to gain control over not feeding the beast and being mindful.
You essentially have to let these scary intrusive thoughts come and go without defining them or giving them power.
Common Obsessions and Compulsions
Some common obsessive intrusive thoughts and compulsions are fear of germs and contamination, fear of hurting others or yourself, the need to check your locks a certain amount of times, checking your stove/oven a certain amount of times, switching the lights on and off a certain amount of times, excessive hand washing, having things in a particular order, and the list goes on.
Something to note is that when things need to be in a certain order or organized a certain way, it’s not out of preference, it is a method of reducing some irrational fear.
One of mine is the fear of contamination, especially with a baby.
I definitely wash my hands excessively to the point of them bleeding at times, I also had to check my locks, stove, and oven a certain amount of times before going to bed or leaving my home, I’ve had intrusive thoughts about being a danger to myself, and more.
A common compulsion is repetitive googling or researching looking for answers and seeking reassurance that what I deal with is “normal”.
This is probably the most common compulsion of all.
If any of this rings a bell with you, I highly encourage you seek out medical attention to help you live a more peaceful life.
This is when I realized I had OCD.
About 4 months after having my daughter I started having strong intrusive thoughts that I could be a threat to my child’s safety. I didn’t feel capable of keeping her safe or caring for her properly and I started to retreat and have her father take on more parental duties than myself.
I knew deep down none of this was true, but the thoughts kept coming on strong and I didn’t know why.
I was so freaked out that I drove myself to the hospital after 72 hours of consistent thoughts, thinking I needed to be put on a psychiatric hold.
After meeting with a very nice psychiatrist and being asked a few questions about my previous mental health experiences, I started to realize this wasn’t new. I had OCD my entire life. It just clings on to the things you value the most in life and your thoughts become egodystonic, which means they are completely opposite to how you actually feel.
At this time I also had the flu, so I spent three days with my parents and stayed in bed and was taken care of by my lovely mama. I was able to just take some time for myself to feel better on all accounts.
The time away was hard because I wanted to stay away until my medication kicked back in, but now that I knew more about what I had, I was able to start being very introspective with myself and start to mentally gain control over my reactions.
Society’s Perception and its Danger
Society has painted this picture that OCD is just a cute abbreviation for being a perfectionist. Well, being a perfectionist is a part of OCD, but instead, if you don’t reach your perfection, you are riddled with intrusive thoughts that make you want to just call it quits on life.
Society has used OCD as a way to create comedy or dramatic emphasis on a topic. Society has put OCD and a Kardashian in the same sentence and not as a diagnosis.
Why is this bad? Well, by painting the wrong picture on what a disease is, those who actually suffer without knowing it like me for 12 years, don’t think they have an actual diagnosis.
They don’t think they have a common disease, they don’t think they can get treatment.
Instead, they think they are insane, dangerous, weird, a threat, etc. and they don’t get the help they need out of fear, embarrassment, and confusion.
They don’t think that what they have is even a real diagnosed thing and they spend their life in pain and suffering. OCD is the leading mental illness in suicide rates. I honestly believe it’s because OCD is not talked about appropriately enough.
How Can You Help?
Correct people when they use the disease term incorrectly.
Don’t use OCD as a joke.
Don’t use it for dramatic flair.
Don’t make it trendy.
Ask your friends if they’re OK.
Being open to listening to people who suffer with an open mind and without judgement.
Stop glamorizing mental health.
The minute we start treating people with kindness and compassion, the minute this world shifts and changes for the better.
It’s not a matter of anyone being oversensitive, it’s a matter of having compassion and empathy in understanding that although you may not suffer or have a mental illness, others do and the outcomes of these diseases being referred to as “dramatic” or “ways to seek attention” are fatal.
Understand you have the power to change the narrative. It starts with one person and that one person could be you.
Save this article for later by pinning the image below and follow The ChaCha Blog on Pinterest for more: