Dealing with mental health conditions of any kind can be incredibly challenging, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I personally don't deal with this mental health condition but know quite a few people in my personal life who do.
I sat down with one individual, who asked not to be named, and he told me a lot about his own personal struggles with the condition. I learned a lot from him! Because of this conversation, I wanted to share a list of 7 misconceptions about OCD, other than the most widely-known one, "Oh, they're just tidy."
1. Someone who has OCD is dangerous or a threat
This is so far from the truth. Even though some people who have OCD tend to display aggressive behaviors towards themselves or others, the majority of people with OCD are not aggressive at all.
2. OCD is the same for everyone
This is also very far from the truth. Not all people who have the condition obsess over the same things or obsess over things in the same ways. The compulsive behavioral side of this is also not the same for everyone, either. OCD is not a one-size-fits-all mental health condition.
3. OCD is ONLY about being clean and tidy all the time
This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the condition, and it's honestly such a hurtful stereotype. In fact, my friend who I talked to is probably one of the least tidy people I've ever met! His obsessions and compulsions have absolutely nothing to do with cleanliness at all.
4. Someone with OCD is simply just "crazy"
This is such an important point to make because no — someone who deals with OCD is not "crazy." Words matter, and how we talk about mental health and mental health conditions matter as well. Putting the label of "crazy" on someone with OCD, or any other mental health condition for that matter completely and fully dehumanizes that person and invalidates their experiences with the condition(s) that they deal with.
In fact, it's stated that approximately 2.2 million adults in the United States each year are affected by OCD. That is measured at approximately one percent of the total United States population.
5. Someone with OCD can't function "normally" in society
This is also something that is very, very far from the truth. Many people who have this condition can lead very successful lives. Medication and/or some kind of talk therapy can help people with this condition lead successful lives, but having OCD does not mean that leading a relatively "normal" life is out of the question.
6. OCD obsessions/compulsions last forever
While this might be the case for some, for the majority of people who have mild cases of OCD, these obsessions and compulsions can, and often do, change over time. Sometimes, such as the case with the friend I've talked to, one obsession is replaced by another.
7. OCD doesn't change at all
This goes along with the previous point I made, but it's worth mentioning again. OCD can, and oftentimes does, change over time, and it can change based on mood as well. OCD can also be affected by other mental health conditions as well, and oftentimes, these other conditions can feed into compulsive behaviors and obsessions.
Like any mental health condition, sitting down with someone who deals with the condition and having an open and genuine conversation with them can open the doorway to a greater sense of compassion and kindness for everyone involved. People need to be truly seen and honestly heard in this world. People need other people, regardless of what they might be dealing with.