OCD Is Not Just “Being Clean”

You have probably heard one of your friends say that they are “so OCD”, or that they are just a “little OCD”. The fact is you can’t just be a little bit OCD, in fact you can’t be OCD at all. OCD stands for obsessive compulsive disorder. This disorder makes the people that suffer from it have repeated thoughts, which are obsessions, that make them do an action repeatedly until it feels right, that is a compulsion.  OCD is a real disorder that 2.2 million people in the United States suffer from and that about 2.2% of the world suffers from.  

There are many different types of OCD as well. The main five types of OCD are contamination, checking, hoarding, ruminations and symmetry. OCD is not needing to be clean, or be organized, it is so much more than that. Now you are probably wondering if OCD is not being organized than what is it? Why don’t I just tell you what OCD really is.  

OCD is like having a little monster in your head. That little monster is constantly telling you that you are not going to be okay, or that something bad is going to happen. So, to make yourself feel better, you do a compulsion. For example, if your monster, which is your OCD, is telling you that you will get sick if you touch a doorknob, then you would do one of two things.  The first thing you could do in this situation is avoid touching the doorknob entirely. This will make you feel the safest. This option however will also make your OCD monster bigger, and stronger, since you are giving in to the monster and letting it tell you that you are going to get sick. The second option is to touch the doorknob and then wash your hands. This is still a compulsion and is almost as bad as not touching the doorknob entirelyNow that I’ve told you these two options which would you say is better? Each option is making your OCD stronger and in turn making you feel more and more scared. So which option would you choose and what would you do if I told you there was a third option? 

Well before you pick let me tell you the third option. The third option is by far the scariest, most intensive option, but it is also the option that will continue to make your monster weaker and smaller. This option is most times referred to by the professionals (their official name being a therapist), and this method is known as exposure therapy. This option or method is where you as the patient must do the thing that you fear, in this case touching the doorknob, and then you must NOT do the compulsion that you usually do to make you feel safe, in this case washing your hands. This option will by far feel the scariest at first, but after you keep practicing and keep facing the fear and doing the exposure, your OCD will get weaker and you will get stronger. Eventually, you won’t even fear the thing that OCD once made you so scared of. 

Now that you know what goes on in a person’s head that has OCD, why don’t I tell you a little bit about what happens outside of their head. This being what other people see. First stop and think for a second. Have you ever been at school and seen that person that’s always in the bathroom washing their hands? Have you ever seen that kid that is always counting? Or have you seen that person that never seems to want to throw anything away, even that moldy cheese in their locker? Well, if you have or you haven’t you might be wondering what those people are always doing. Let me tell you this, I have been some of those people throughout my life. And I know some others have been too. We aren’t like this because we like to count, like to wash our hands or think keeping old things are cool. It’s because we are scared.  

Especially with people with OCD, we are scared out of our minds, especially when we are in a public place. The world to us seems like a big place where anything could go wrong and a place where everything could hurt you or your family. This environment puts our minds on overdrive, it’s hard for most people with OCD to just function normally in the outside world, let alone fit in or even learn. This exhausts people with OCD so much that they most times are always tired and just constantly want to go to bed or stay home, but they don’tthey go to school, or work or wherever else they may need to be. This is because they are strong. They may not be that buff football player or that amazing wrestler, but they are strong inside and out, because of what they must deal with.  

That person that’s always in the bathroom is probably in there because they always feel the need to wash their hands because they think their hands feel dirty. That person that’s always counting probably feels that if they stop counting, they will hurt themselves or their family, and that person that is keeping everything under the sun, well they probably feel that if they throw something away then something bad will happen. These people aren’t weird or different, they just must deal with so much more than others. They have to tell themselves that they will be okay, that nothing bad will happen, when that little monster in the back of their head is constantly telling them it’s not okay, that something bad will happen.  

Now that you know a little bit more about OCD, maybe you should think before you say that someone always washing their hands is weird. Maybe you should stand up to your friend when they say they are just a little bit OCD or that they have OCD because they like their room clean. Maybe when that person says that OCD isn’t a real thing you should share this story with them, that way they can understand. OCD is a real thing, millions of people in the world are affected by it and it changes their lives forever. Spread the word, OCD is real, and it sucks!