Why people need to stop saying “I’m so OCD”

You are not “so OCD”

Have you taken one of those “OCD quizzes” you see on Facebook?  Have you said “Oh I like my clothes sorted by color, I’m so OCD” or “I like things really organized. I’m so OCD” Guess what?  You aren’t.  You can’t be OCD.  You can’t be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Just like you can’t be the flu.  You can’t be an illness.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a chronic, or long-term, illness that can take over your life, hurt your relationships, and limit your ability to work or go to school. It’s not quirky, fun or something a person can “just stop”

Brain of OCD
The brain of a person with OCD must process WAY more information than the average person

It is not just wanting to have things clean, neat, and orderly or being super-organized. No one is “so OCD about…” It’s not an adjective and it needs to stop being used as one.

Things we see all over the internet tend to minimize the real struggle of those with OCD.  It is a real, significant mental illness.  People need to understand the difference between being a neat freak, or really organized or even anal.  It matters.  When you say “I’m so OCD” you are diminishing the meaning of the sentence “I have OCD.”

A day in the life

My daughter wants to go for a bike ride.  She goes to put on her shoes but first has to spit on her finger and rub it on the bottom of her sock so they are clean and she can put her shoes on.  Then she has to clean the bottom of her shoes before she can step from the carpet to the tile, and again before she can step outside.  She has to repeat this ritual with her jacket and helmet.  All she wants to do is go for a bike ride because she finds it relaxing, but she has to jump through OCD’s hoops first.   She’s started to just wear her jacket and helmet all days so she doesn’t have to do the ritual.

Last night we just spent a good 30 minutes with a crying, screaming child trying to get her to use a towel after her shower. The OCD has her convinced that the towel is dirty and will get germs on her so something bad will happen.  She kept saying she was cold and tired and just wanted to go to bed but we couldn’t let her.  It’s heartbreaking, but we have to make her face the challenge or else OCD wins again.  We have to fight him or he just gets worse and worse.

OCD is a bully

If she wants to relax and watch TV, she squats because there is nowhere clean to sit.  She wants to eat lunch with her friends but struggles because there are napkins there and OCD has convinced her napkins, even clean ones, are bad.  She has trouble with people touching her or being touched.  I once went over 4 months without being able to touch my child.

OCD is always telling her things are dirty and she has to clean them or germs will get on her and something bad will happen.  The problem is OCD is a big, fat, liar.  The things OCD is making her clean are actually giving her more germs.  She understands that logically but the OCD bullies her into believing him

It’s a battle

Just after being diagnosed at age 5. Can you imagine trying to go through all the normal problems of adjusting to school and growing up? Now add OCD on top of it.

She is 8 and we’ve already been on this road for 3 years.  It’s a never ending, daily, hell hourly, battle.  OCD doesn’t go away; there is no cure.  Medicine and therapy help (you can learn more about some of the therapy we’ve done here) but it’s a fight to the death.

So the next time you think you are “so OCD” because you are a neat freak or super organized, think again.  OCD isn’t about cleanliness or order, it’s about doubt and fear. It’s dark and scary and real.

Have you said “I’m so OCD”?  What’s a different word you can use?