Please note: This is a rant. Or at least, it's as close to a rant as I can manage. I'm told by Macky that I'm not angry or sweary enough to truly rant, but here goes...
Have a look at this link. I'll wait. If you don't click and look, the rest of this blog post won't make sense. So go ahead and click.
So, did you feel the urge to straighten the pencils? Did you want to twist that one biscuit around so they all faced the same way? Probably. Because you have OCD, right? It's no big deal. Everyone is a little bit OCD, aren't they?
Well actually, no. You're not. You're "a little bit OCD" like I'm "a little bit pregnant". And I'm not pregnant. But I do have OCD.
If it seems like I'm slightly manic about this, it's because I am. This pervasive misconception that preferring things to be alphabetical equals suffering from OCD drives me to desperation because, like I said, I do have OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, if you're out of the mental health loop. Both a psychologist and a psychiatrist have diagnosed me with OCD. And it's hard. It's a lot harder than many people would believe.
If you know me IRL, you'll know that I need to have volumes on an even number. I mean, I have to. I nearly killed my whole family leaping from the back seat to the front seat because my brother (who was driving) decided to test out just how badly I wanted the car stereo volume on an even number. In terms of compulsions, I am thankful that I have got off lightly. I do not have the debilitating need to wash my hands over and again or to open and close doors a set number of times. But even still, this aversion to odd numbers is not my OCD. This compulsion is simply the symptom that manifests on the outside and that you can see. No, OCD is much more than this and not many people understand. Some of my closest friends may not even understand.
You are all aware that I have thanatophobia (the fear of death). But having OCD as well means I am thinking about death constantly. I am not exaggerating when I say the only relief I get from thinking about my own mortality and the inevitable deaths of my loved ones is while on a football field. That's 90 minutes in the space of a week (a total of 10,080 minutes) that I don't think about death. And yes, I even think about death in my sleep. It is exhausting. It is so exhausting that last year I decided I couldn't take this life of constant fear and thinking about death anymore. I decided to kill myself. That is OCD. It is persistent, invasive, relentless. It is continuous thoughts that disturb the sufferer and ruins their life. It is not lining your pencils up on your desk.
There is another, little known, disorder called OCPD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and this is more akin to what people believe OCD is like. People with OCPD have "a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness" whereas people with OCD have "an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry". OCPD manifests through "a chronic non-adaptive pattern of extreme perfectionism, preoccupation with neatness and detail" but OCD manifests through "repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing the associated anxiety... of thoughts that recur and persist despite efforts to ignore or confront them".
I am not trying to play "my pain is worse than your pain', I promise. My reason for writing this is because when I (or anyone else who is legitimately diagnosed) admit to having OCD, it is not as trivial as the general public believes it to be. While many people get funny about stereo volumes or like to have their pegs matching when hanging out clothes and they have this in common with some OCD sufferers, I assure you, these people don't understand the half of what living with OCD is like. And somebody saying "I am a little bit OCD about my pegs" is just insulting. You are finicky. You are a perfectionist. You are a control-freak. But you are not OCD. You are not even "a little bit OCD". Please don't presume to know the hell that an OCD sufferer lives in on a daily basis because you like your CD's to be in alphabetical order. It's like telling someone with a brain tumor that you have a little bit of a brain tumor too because you have a headache. Please stop. You are looking foolish.
Miss SAMawdsley xx
- Are you willing to admit to being guilty of claiming to be "a little bit OCD"?
- What are some common misconceptions that annoy you?