If you asked me three years ago what I thought OCD was it would probably be exactly what you’re thinking. Being insanely organized and being overly cautious. Washing your hands too many times and making sure the door is locked before you leave the house but making sure twenty-three times just in case. Now I know better than that. I know OCD is not being a perfectionist or a germaphobe. I know it isn’t being a neat freak or someone who is superstitious either. But not everyone knows that or honestly cares to know it because it doesn’t pertain to them. So, if I were to explain OCD to someone whose attention I barely had, I would say that those things are what it may look like on the outside but it is a mental disorder, therefore, there is a lot that you don’t see. Like if that person doesn’t lock the door twenty-three times their brain is wired to make themselves think someone will break in and tamper with all of their medications and then just leave. The process of locking the door a certain amount of times is referenced as a ritual which is what “OCD believes” to be the cure to any and all suspicions of illicit activity. To someone without any understanding of any mental illness, all of this can be hard to grasp. Now even if you didn’t understand my explanation that doesn’t mean you can’t understand how to respond to someone with OCD. If you see or know someone with OCD you can ask then if they need help to stop their ritualizing or if they want to talk it out. You can also ask if they would like you to help affirm the OCD. What I mean by this is when they tell you they think something bad is going to happen to them if they don’t do XYZ you say that it is possible for that bad thing to happen. Sounds crazy and against your natural instinct to comfort someone but this helps them not cave into their OCD which in turn helps diminish its hold on that person over time.
My personal mission as well as Hard Quirks, is to make it a more casual conversation and make OCD common knowledge. Common knowledge isn’t quick facts but more so a general understanding with a general response and I hope to change the common knowledge to a more positive one.
@Taylor Arianna Smith What an insightful and wise post. It's so deeply meaningful to hear from the community not first-hand experiencing OCD on how you perceive it and what information feels most relevant to helping you understand it. I love the comment about the experience of a mental disorder being invisible. I appreciate the use of common knowledge and casual terms here too. We are so deeply grateful for those of you from the supporting community spending time here with us to emphasize our lived experiences.