For as long as I can remember, I have heard people say they are "so OCD" or "I definitely have OCD", a throw away comment because they had just spent an hour deep cleaning their house or they had to straighten a wonky picture on the wall. Comments that made me doubt and question myself for years. Why? Because all along I was suffering with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) yet I wasn't aware. I wasn't aware, because I had been conditioned to believe a lie, a stereotype portrayed in the media and on television shows - something that delayed me from seeking help for many years.
Unfortunately, the dark truth and drive behind OCD is intrusive and unwanted thoughts, which usually involve the things we fear the most. This is something you will never read about or see, I mean, why would you? It wouldn't be very entertaining to watch another episode of Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners if they were cleaning out a house because they were petrified that their family would die if they didn't. OCD is often a household joke, something that is used in jest and to be quite frank, it needs to stop now.
It is thought that OCD affects around 2% of the population (OCD Action UK), so why are we still falsely throwing the illness around? I am not so sure you would be able to get away with saying "I feel so schizophrenic today" or "I am so anorexic", so please tell me why is it acceptable to do this with our illness?
The average time a sufferer waits to get help for their OCD is 12 years. We do not spend years of suffering to be told that it is “just a quirk” in our personality and we certainly do not deserve to be made a mockery of. Our illness is torturous and disabling at its worst. We lose out on work days and social events because our anxiety is so overwhelming from the nightmares spinning around in our heads, and that's at its best. Some of us are even prisoners in our own homes because we fear the outside world so much.
So how can we change this? Well firstly OCD sufferers need to talk about their illness; talk about it proudly. Never be ashamed about having a mental health condition. Sufferers of mental illness are some of the most strongest and motivated people that I know. We fight an extremely hard battle every day and we are still able to carry on. More importantly do not fear the judgment of other people and educate yourself. Learn about your illness so you can teach other people about it.
Remember that knowledge is power. Knowledge puts us in a strong position, not only for when we need to explain our illness to other people but for ourselves. If we understand our illness, we are more likely to respond better to treatment and therapy. You are in control.
Other people: please stop saying you are OCD, if you are not.
More from Gina on her blog; Pure OCD U.K