Do you wake yourself up in the middle of the night if you haven't folded your laundry, or completed an assignment that isn't due for another week? Has your youth been surrounded by intrusive thoughts that have interrupted your ability to write on a piece of paper, to stop or start any simple task, or focus on thinking realistically? These are a few of the symptoms I personally have lived with in my 19 years with OCD. I can attest to two very important things about the illness; Each individual who is diagnosed with the disorder experiences it in a unique form that are equally as valid, and secondly... that people have the wrong idea about OCD. Formally recognized as Obsession Compulsive Disorder, OCD is an anxiety disorder that is commonly referred to inaccurately in television shows, online, and in regular conversation. The mental health illness is portrayed in a way that is not only invalidating to those who suffer with the disorder, but it is also offensive, and overall not entirely true.
This applies to all disorders, mental, physical, whatever; Illnesses are not adjectives. Everyone is guilty of this, even myself, at least in years prior to realizing the detrimental impacts of saying things like "You're being so OCD" or "She's too bipolar about that." Conditions like these just don't belong being ostracized and made out into characteristics -- especially when you aren't sure if you completely understand the topic you are stereotyping and creating an analogy too. Imagine being someone who does actually deal with the disorder you are connecting them too, that could be uncomfortable and make the person feel as if they are defined by a diagnosis. On the flip side, throwing these terms out left and right sometimes can make someone who has tendencies (that are often wrong or exclude other sub-types of mental illnesses) associated with whatever illness/ someone actually living with the disorder, feel like there is something wrong with who they are or the things they do. Phrases like "She talks to herself all the time like a schizophrenic." constructs the wrong idea about the illness being characterized, and features it in a negative light. I encourage everyone to think more objectively when referring to anxiety, behavioral, and personality disorders as well as other mental illnesses. Out of respect and common courtesy for those around you, think about the effect of what you say before you say it.
Obsession Compulsive Disorder is one of the most improperly cited anxiety disorders. Think back, I'm sure there was a time you organized something in a way you preferred, or took an extra minute to straighten something out or ensure that it's looking clean and crisp. Why do these behaviors have to be connected with OCD? Just because one of the symptoms of the disorder happens to be worrying about germs and the placement /appearance of objects doesn't mean everyone who likes to be neat and tidy needs to be rushed into therapy and proscribed an anti-anxiety medication. Yes, I can admit that the constant need to be actively maintaining things as spick-and-span is one of the things that my OCD has made stressful for me. The reason being, it is actually challenging to stop cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, etc. once I start, even if whatever it is I'm tackling is entirely spotless. Since I know this about myself, I try to stay on track with retaining the good order of my suite/house while at school/home, as I go about my daily activities. Sometimes though, I still do manage to make a mess. I am human, after all. Although it causes me distress and interrupts my ability to stay focused on almost anything when the space I'm in is in dis ere, I often have to avoid that space completely if I don't think I'll have time to get things as dapper as I'd like in my free time. Knowing I can not always stop trying to get everything looking sharp once I've began, there are times that I abandon ever starting to straighten up to begin with. This occasionally results in a less than manageable setting for me.
Another reality behind the overgeneralized assumption of what Obsession Compulsive Disorder looks like is the unspoken variances of the mental health illness. Some people experience obsessive compulsions that interrupt their everyday life affiliated with physical or mental contamination, checking, hoarding, and ruminations and intrusive thoughts. I personally have a few spikes that fall into different categories. For example, I do lots of counting and feel inclined to mathematically assure myself that things are alright or make sense by relating numbers, statistics, or times to something affiliated with the numbers 1, 4, and 7. So when thinking about the number 30, since I have no 1, 4, or 7 in the number 30 my mental process to get a number that resonates with me is to get the digital root of 30, which 3+0=3, and then take that sum and relate it to 1,4, or 7. In this case, 3 happens to be both the sum and increment between all three of my safe numbers; So that is how I associate the number 30 to 1, 4, and 7. While this may seem a bit silly it is really important to me to be able to do this, and that it only takes a brief moment of mental processing. If it takes more than a few seconds I tend to freeze up and become compulsive about my other surroundings, more so than I was. This particular compulsion would best fit in the category of ruminations, but hundreds of different thoughts and compulsions exist for not only me, but anyone suffering with OCD.
There are all sorts of spikes and triggers that people facing the illness on a daily basis cope with everyday, and it is wrong to ignore a large portion of the disorder, and then stigmatize the most physically notable example of it. Living in a society that judges and assigns labels and identities to individuals who behave a certain way is bound to have issues like these arise. It is important for people to speak out about flaws in social systems, and bring attention to issues that may not seem big to some, but enormous to others -- so, I guess that's what I am doing here as someone that this seemingly small issue towers over me like a skyscraper.