OCD is Not a Joke

If you are OCD and you know it wash your hands. I have CDO – It’s like OCD but the letters are in the correct order as the should be. Or my favorite – I have OCD but I only clean when I’m in the mood because I’m also bipolar. People write these things and, worse yet, other people think they are funny. They share them around Facebook and Pinterest like they would a great recipe or a clever DIY post. They smile and nod and make reference to how they are neat freaks therefore they have OCD and can relate.

Making light of mental health conditions is something I have no stomach for. I spent 10 years of my career working along side mental health professionals and I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent so much time with people that understand mental health and understand the damage that these jokes, that so many think are harmless, can actually do.

Here are some things about OCD that you may or may not already know:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no laughing matter. It is not a quirk. It is not synonymous with being anal retentive or being a neat freak. It is not about putting things in order or not stepping on cracks. If having your books arranged by genre or your clothing arranged by color makes you feel better – that is not OCD. Wanting something to be a certain way and obsessing about something being a certain way are very, very different things. OCD is not “that picture is crooked I must fix it.” That, my friends, is personal preference. You like things the way you like them.

The obsessions that lead to the compulsions do not have to make sense (and they often don’t). It may make some sense to you that some people with OCD need to repeatedly wash their hands to deal with their obsessions about germs.  But often the tie between the obsession and compulsion makes no sense to anyone but the person that has them – I have to knock on the table five times or a puppy will die, for example.

OCD is not an adjective. You cannot BE a little OCD. You either suffer with OCD or you don’t. It is not you and you can’t have it “just a little bit.”

True OCD is not as common as the memes and jokes would have us believe (although we can’t label it as uncommon). In fact you are more likely (far more likely actually) to have herpes than to have OCD.  It effects roughly 1 – 2 % of the population.

OCD can wax and wane for some people but generally  if  OCD behavior does not interfere with your every day life (especially during a waxing period) for at least an hour EVERY DAY you probably do not have OCD.

There is no quiz on Facebook or anywhere on the google that can diagnose you with OCD. That is a job for a health professional. Yes, there are some resources available that can help you figure out if you should be seeking out the help of a professional.

OCD is often confused with OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) although they are entirely different conditions. In fact, many of the jokes you see referencing OCD are actually picking up on OCPD symptoms – and no that doesn’t make them any less offensive. People with OCPD have a preoccupation with rules, things being in order, lists, the need for cleanliness and perfection. Despite the name OCPD does not involve the same obsessive and compulsive rituals that OCD does. In a nutshell the main difference is that OCPD, by definition, is a personality, where as people with OCD have certain behaviours. Having said this, it is not impossible for someone to have both conditions.

If you are interested in more information about OCD please visit the Canadian Mental Health Website HERE


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