Tuesday, 23 August 2011

"You have OCD? That's SO cute."

There are few things in life that are responsible for my anger. Put simply, I'm just not a very angry person. I feel guilt terribly easy and if something goes wrong in my life, I am the first to blame myself. Whilst I'm not particularly tolerant of stupidity, very rarely am I filled with rage. However, every time I hear a comment such as this, I really do want to punch someone right in the face.

Let's get something clear. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is NOT cute. And whilst it is the fourth common mental illness in the world, there is, statistically speaking, no way that every 15 year old girl in the world has OCD. Just because you cleaned your bedroom for five minutes or enjoy bubble baths, does not mean that you have OCD. It is a serious condition that is constantly degraded and talked down by society, turning it into something that is weak, quirky, and worse still, 'cute'.

Despite the rant I am currently typing, I must make it apparent that I do recognise the slightly funny side to OCD. I mean, as serious and as destructive as it is, it is kind of odd and strange. We all look at our weird compulsions and thoughts and giggle at ourselves and at how silly it is to think in this way. Sometimes you just have to laugh, so that you don't cry.

The thing that does bug me about the stigma associated with OCD, is that it is seen as a nothing disorder. According to society, it just means that you're a bit of a perfectionist or like straight piles and clean things. Your usual OCD character within a movie, book or TV series is typically made fun of for being a neat freak. The part that the media conveniently 'forget' to include is how graphic and terrifying the thoughts can be, as well as how time consuming the compulsions are. The stereotypes surrounding it just make me want to stand on top of a mountain and scream my lungs out. At school, I regularly get the "Gosh, you're so OCD!" and, honestly, it hurts that people don't understand how much that statement is actually true.

People often try to shake my hand or touch my face as a joke, just because they know it bothers me. Females in my grade are big on the whole hugging thing, and so it's just assumed that I too would naturally wish to engage in such unhygienic and unnecessary tasks. I'm ridiculed for my constant usage of hand sanitiser and for refusing to use the computers at school because of how many other people have touched the keyboards. School is hell for us OCD people, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

This has got me thinking though, about how naive we as human beings can be. We make jokes at the expense of others, not even stopping to consider that we could be hurting someone close to us. Our words can be such a powerful weapon, and we need to take that into account when thinking about the way we use them. I feel that the best way to handle having people make sly comments about OCD is to remember that whilst people are continuously crossing the line, they don't realise it. Nobody can see the line except you, the one who drew it. And yes, some only put a toe over the line, whilst others prefer to take a run up and dive right over it, but it helps to remember that people aren't intentionally out to make your life hell or to destroy your self esteem. They don't understand, just as I don't understand them and their social interactions.

So, my goal for this week is to try and be genuinely nice and caring to the people around me. If they don't understand what I'm going through, what makes me think that I can understand them in their entirety. There's always more to people than what meets the eye.



  1. Dear Magenta,

    My heart is singing and tears fill my eyes after reading this post. I agree with every single word you wrote.

    I was actually just thinking back to my school days because all my nieces and nephews are going back to school today. I was wondering how in the world I made it thru school because it really was hell for me. And I was thinking that if I had to go to school in this day and age, I don't think I could do it in the state I was in during my school years-- because of the communal key boards and all the hugging young people do. My heart goes out to you, Magenta. It's a tough world for an OCD person in school.

    Magenta, all the stuff you said about stigma and how society portrays OCD--You are so wise!

    I am going to create a link to this post on my blog.

    Lady Delphinium-

  2. Dear Lady Delphinium,

    School is an exceptionally hard place for me to be. Every night I cry and beg mum to let me stay home. I count down the days till it is over, but considering I'm only in year 10, I still have a long way to go.

    I appreciate your concern and your compliments. It means a lot to have connected with someone who understands me so well and who I identify with. You also remind me a lot of myself.

    Thankyou for linking this on your blog. Hopefully much awareness can be raised about the stigma of OCD.


  3. I like your "laugh, so that you don't cry" thought; I've had it before. Yes, OCD is funny, but in a really trying way.

    I kind of figure there is real OCD, which we have, and there is common (incorrect) english OCD which is something else. It means you hang your Christmas decorations straight or you wash your hands before you eat, etc. I like to say that with REAL OCD, you are afraid you will die or someone else will die (or at least, something bad will happen) if you don't wash your hands/hang Christmas decorations "just right", etc. But the common (fake) ocd sometimes makes me feel free-er to talk about it. Because the public in general doesn't know the thoughts I might be thinking from my real OCD. I can joke about my "evil" Christmas tree, and they think it is a joke and don't have to worry about the part of me that is secretly disturbed.

  4. Brilliant post. I'm ashamed to think now that I've sometimes joked that I wish I was a "little" OCD so that I could do my work more efficiently, writing it off as some sort of superpower. I see now that this is just as insensitive as someone saying, "I wish I was a little anorexic so I could lose weight." Thanks for opening my eyes; it's so hard to remember sometimes that you need to walk in somebody's shoes before you can truly understand them.

  5. "The part that the media conveniently 'forget' to include is how graphic and terrifying the thoughts can be, as well as how time consuming the compulsions are." Exactly. It is so hard to get someone to understand how much it HURTS. Still, I can say that people do eventually get it. And you are right, they are not there trying to make your life hell. They are, in fact, busy hiding all the things about *themselves* that they are embarrassed about, or think are weird, or imagine they will get made fun over. School is rough on everyone, and having a mental illness like OCD just makes it that much trickier. Try to ignore the ignorant comments, knowing that they are indeed inspired by ignorance. Know that it does get better. People say that a lot, but it is true. Every ten years of my life has been better than the last. Stigma is going down about this and other MIs (if slowly) and we are part of the reason why understanding is rising.
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  6. I could not have put these words done that so exactly describe my feelings no matter how hard I might have trued. I couldn't have summed it up with some much realism and truth and masked pain. Because we laugh. And people laugh with us and sometimes they accidently laugh at us. Because it isn't cute. it's our life. Thanks.