The 5 Most Common Myths About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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The 5 Most Common Myths About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Just because I have OCD does not mean that I am a clean freak or extremely organized.

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The 5 Most Common Myths About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

So What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive, irrational, obsessive thoughts that are acted upon by compulsive behavior. Compulsive behavior can be anything from excessive washing of hands to counting obsessively. Everyone experiences OCD differently. Some cases can be very mild, while others can have extreme cases to the point of washing their hands until their skin bleeds.

As a person with OCD, I am tired of hearing others talk about OCD like it is a joke or a fun quirk.

Mental health is often misconstrued in the media, like television shows and movies. OCD is no exception. Often times when I tell people that I have OCD, they react with surprise and even a little bit of laughter. This comes from the many misconceptions surrounding OCD. Too many people view the mental disorder as a funny quirk or weird strings of habits. It's time to tackle these myths about OCD.

1. OCD is about being super clean

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Many characters in television shows or movies are subtly hinted at having OCD because they like to clean, like Danny Tanner from "Full House" for example. However, this only adds harm to the stigma surrounding the disorder. People with OCD are often more aware of the cleanliness of their environment or of themselves. Cleaning may be a compulsion to fight against the anxiety they are feeling. Since OCD affects everyone who has it differently, some people are more fearful of germs than others. Also, just because someone likes to clean, does not mean that they have OCD.

2. If you are really organized, you have OCD

When I tell people that I have OCD it is not uncommon for me to get the question, "So do you like to organize things?" which can become frustrating. Although I am an organized person, I don't believe it is related to my disorder because it does not interfere with my daily life and I do not obsess over it. Similarly to the cleaning myth, organization is not an indicator of having OCD. Some people are just naturally more organized than others, but being organized is not a mental health problem. If someone with OCD is very organized, it could be one of their compulsions to reduce their anxiety about one of their obsessions. In fact, it is actually difficult for some people with OCD to stay organized because they have so many other anxious thoughts occurring.

3. Everyone has OCD

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I am not sure who decided to make mental health romantic or quirky, but it further adds to the stigma surrounding OCD. How many times have you heard someone you know say, "Oh my gosh I can be so OCD sometimes!" or "I am very OCD about my schedule," when talking about themselves? I know I have heard those phrases countless times when talking to my friends or family. Not everyone has OCD, and it is not trendy or funny. People with OCD go through real struggles of fighting irrational thoughts and often these thoughts create compulsions which interrupt their daily lives. Personally, my case of OCD is not as serious compared to others, but I can say from experience that it is no walk in the park. OCD does not make you cute, but it does make you rather miserable.

4. It's obvious when someone has OCD

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As I mentioned earlier, people are often surprised when I tell them I have OCD. This is partially because I received counseling for it at a young age, but also because my current compulsions are very subtle compared to when I was first diagnosed. In addition to subtly, some people do not even have physical compulsions. Instead, they carry the weight of it all in their minds. They might be repeating things in their heads that you could obviously never see. My compulsions were a mix of physical and mental when I was little. I would pray a lot in my head and also repeat physical actions, like checking under my bed multiple times. Basically, everyone who has it experiences it differently, and so you may not be able to see it.

5. Those who have OCD do not realize the irrationality of their thoughts and actions

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This is definitely not true. People with OCD mostly know that their compulsions and actions make no sense, and that is what makes these thoughts so stressful. It's like this itching feeling in the back of your mind that if you don't act on your compulsion then something bad will happen, even though it is completely irrational. Acting on a compulsion makes a person with OCD feel a little bit better for the time being, but he or she knows that it is not actually preventing anything from happening. It feels like you are being black-mailed by your own brain, but in reality if you stopped everything would be fine.

Hopefully, it is now understood that OCD is not anything funny or cute. I would really love for everyone to take this disorder more seriously and treat it with more respect because thousands, probably millions, of people suffer from it daily. If you hear anyone speaking about OCD unintelligently, do not be scared to educate them. If you think you might have OCD, make sure you talk to someone you trust or consult your doctor. Lastly, never feel ashamed of any mental health struggles you may be battling.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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