“I’m So OCD.”

Jamey Simon, Staff

To add to the daily challenges that come with having mental disorders, many of them come with damaging stereotypes.

Some people assume that those suffering from bipolar disorder have mood changes every two minutes. This is false. A common theme among people with bipolar disorder is having manic and depressive episodes. These can last days.

Another stereotype concerns those afflicted with depression. This could be others assuming that they are depressed because of certain things around them, although it could be true for some. Depression can occur randomly, usually affecting most people when they enter their teens. Depressive mood swings can come about randomly as well, causing people to feel sad when they have no reason to.

One of the biggest disorders that has a stereotype would be OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder.

OCD is surprisingly very common and affects over 1 in 50 people and over 2% of the population. Most people joke that those with obsessive compulsive disorder are overly neat and wash their hands every 30 minutes. Although this behavior can happen to people with OCD, it is actually not the most common form of the disorder. People affected by OCD can experience intrusive thoughts, which are unwanted and often disturbing images or actions that pop into the mind. These thoughts can include images of being hurt by their loved ones or hurting their loved ones. Although the person with OCD doesn’t want these things to happen, their mind convinces them that it will happen. 

When people obsess over their thoughts, the obsessive side of OCD appears. These frightening thoughts can stay in their head for days or weeks and keep popping up. It is hard for someone afflicted with OCD to talk about what they are feeling because most of their thoughts seem very hazy.

Obsessive thoughts can also be counting and doing certain rituals to prevent something bad from happening. Someone might turn the doorknob three times before they open it to a certain room to stop their family from “getting hurt or killed.” Such behavior can take over a person’s life, although it might not be as strong with others.

Many people, without cruel intent, use the phrase “ I’m so OCD.” Most of the time, these people are talking about being neat or are bothered if something isn’t even or clean. Nevertheless, such language can be offensive to people with OCD because what they go through is often terrifying. 

As someone who actually has OCD, I can say that growing up with the disorder has made my brain stronger and aware of how to treat others whether that person has a mental disorder or not.

The Center for Mindfulness and CBT identifies five misconceptions that circulate about OCD. Perhaps the most prevalent is the belief that “everyone with OCD washes their hands too much.” This behavior can affect some people with OCD, but it is not the most common form.

Another myth is that people with OCD are intent on always keeping things neat and organized. The site states, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard someone playfully say, ‘I’m so OCD’ while cleaning a room or organizing a desk.”

The site goes on to explain, “Saying this can be the equivalent of saying ‘I’m so anorexic’ because you choose to avoid dessert after dinner.” 

The site explains how harmful it can be to downplay mental illness and make it seem more like a quirky trait than something very harmful.

The important point is to be more careful with both our language and our judgments. Keep in mind how others might feel when you make comments, and remember to treat everyone with kindness.