Understanding the misunderstood OCD sufferer

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a real medical condition which affects patients both physically and mentally.

However, the stigma surrounding this condition makes it hard for normal people to really understand what it’s like to have OCD.

OCD is not a personality trait

It’s not about being clean or organised, rather OCD is dark and painful.

For example, a person with OCD may feel obsessed about security and locks. Every day, he will feel compelled to go back to his house to check if he has locked all the doors, which makes him late for work all the time.

If he can’t go back to check, he will be flooded with fright and anxiety, affecting his ability to function normally.

People with OCD are not crazy

OCD is an anxiety disorder, not psychosis. This means people with OCD don’t lose connection with reality and are not crazy.

They may be overwhelmed with scary thoughts and a compulsion to harm themselves that lead others to think they are crazy.

However, they themselves know their fears are irrational. They just can’t help themselves.

OCD manifests itself in many forms

Some people dread bacteria and bodily fluids. Others struggle with thoughts of self-harm. Some have to keep everything in their life perfect or precise. Some are obsessively superstitious.

OCD can afflict anyone

Children have it. Adults have it. It may occur during one’s preteen years or early adulthood. Some women develop OCD during pregnancy. Some get it after childbirth.

Although kids may have OCD, many just stick to rituals or routines because they seem cool or relaxing, not necessarily because they have OCD.

It’s important that you don’t say things like “Oh, I’m so OCD” if you are not actually diagnosed with the condition. It’s not something to joke about and deserves more sensitivity. OCD jokes are distressing to those who really suffer from it.

If you haven’t spent hours aligning your stuff perfectly or faced extreme fear that unevenly arranged stuff will kill you or your loved ones, you don’t have OCD and you are certainly not “so OCD” like you jokingly proclaim.

OCD is a medical condition. Even with proper treatment, it’s still difficult to manage. With that in mind, never tell someone with OCD to just get over it or turn it off for a while. It’s not something they can turn on or off at will. No one really has control over it.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.