Health, Lifestyle

Do you think you are OCD?

Natalie Annetta by Natalie Annetta
May 31st, 2017
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Sally.
Stand up and sit down 3 times.
She grew up in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne and loved her dog, Muffin.
Blink 23 times.
She did ballet after school 3 times a week with her best friend Emma.
Minimise this screen and reopen it 3 times.
She was never very good at it. Sometimes the teacher’s steps didn’t match what the voice in her head told her to do.
Stare at the word OCD on the screen as you count to 16.
Sometimes the music would only have room for 2 plies but in order to feel settled, Sally tried to sneak in a quick third, which would muddle her up for the next few counts.
Repeat the word safe in your head 11 time.
At school, she was extremely slow at completing set tasks, as she would regularly need to rub out and rewrite words until they looked and felt ‘right’ on the page.
Clap your hands together really lightly 11 times; make sure no one hears or sees you  (that would be embarrassing).
This really frustrated Sally but she still loved school and ballet and playing with her friends.

She loved her family and her dog, but she just hated that unsettled feeling in her gut. The feeling that wouldn’t go away until she did what it told her to do.

How did you go reading my story? Take a while? Was it super frustrating stopping and starting all the time? Did you just give up half way and not act it all out?

If you really did have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, giving up wouldn’t have been an option. You see, when you have OCD, you HAVE to repetitively perform every compulsion (physically or mentally) in order to settle the heart stopping, body freezing, mind numbing thought that if you don’t, something BAD will happen. For example, If you don’t write these words three times, If you don’t write these words three times, If you don’t write these words three times, your loved one will die and it will be YOUR fault.

Hand washing is a common compulsion for people with OCD.

Hand washing is a common compulsion for people with OCD.

Intense right?

Sally is now 26 and OCD still disrupts her day but she has it under control most of the time. I asked Sally if she has ever been offended by the casual use of the term OCD in everyday speech. She rolled her eyes then whispered through an accepting smile, “ it’s ok, it just highlights people’s naivety.”

This confession made me, someone who has used this very term on occasion, start to question it’s impact. “I colour coordinate my wardrobe…I am a little OCD” or “ I have to tidy this up, I am so OCD.” The O in OCD doesn’t stand for organised. The C doesn’t stand for clean and the D doesn’t stand for desirable. I feel like many of us are aligning ourselves with the term to showcase our impeccable filing systems and parade our ability to laminate and use a label maker.

The way that OCD has been infused into everyday language, in my opinion, needs to be resisted just like the use of the terms “ that’s so gay” or “ that’s retarded”. It belittles the impact this misunderstood mental illness can have on the lives of the people living along side it. When we belittle something, we often look down upon it like it isn’t real or important.

So next time we hear someone use OCD to describe their love of matching socks, perhaps we should let them know what OCD really stands for.

Do you or someone you know have OCD? What are your thoughts on the way the term is used in everyday language?