Nine myths about OCD
It’s okay to say, “I’m a bit OCD.”
Nope. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious mental disorder that involves intrusive, unwanted thoughts, doubt, anxiety and physical or mental rituals, behaviors and acts.
It’s a disorder that can cause a huge amount of distress for the sufferer, so much so that it can severely impact daily living.
Most people with OCD are not anal retentive neat freaks. Organizing a junk drawer or fluffing your pillows just so does not qualify you as having OCD or being a bit OCD.
OCD isn’t all that serious
The World Health Organization has classified OCD as one of the top 10 most disabling illnesses.
OCD severity runs from mild to extreme, with about 50 per cent of sufferers classified as being in the severe to extreme categories. Some people cannot function properly and end up cut off from the rest of the world due to the severity of their disorder.
OCD sufferers often suffer debilitating mental anguish. They can end up house bound or even cloistered in one room because of their illness.
People with OCD are always neat
Chances are the opposite is true. While one OCD theme sees sufferers worried about contamination and thus they clean a lot, many sufferers spend so much time on other obsessions and compulsions that they have neither the time nor energy to be extremely neat.
One subtype of OCD is hoarding, where people compulsively keep useless or unnecessary items. Hoarding causes huge messes to accumulate.
It’s obvious when someone has OCD. You can visually see their compulsions
Not always true. Some types of compulsions can be seen by other people. They include washing, tapping, counting, organizing, ordering and others. But there are a whole host of mental compulsions that sufferers can perform.
One type of OCD is called Pure O and it means that the sufferer’s compulsions are mental in origin and not visible to other people.
Assisting a sufferer with his routines helps calm them down
Unfortunately many people get caught up in the rituals and routines of OCD sufferers. There is a belief that it is best to assist sufferers complete their compulsions so they are done and over with.
The reality is that compulsions only provide short term relief. Soon enough obsessions come back and compulsions must be repeated. In addition, compulsions help to reinforce obsessions, making them come back stronger and more often.
Assisting with compulsions is the wrong way to go about helping an OCD sufferer.
People will OCD lack willpower
Not true at all. Some sufferers can be subjected to hundreds of intrusive thoughts every day and some spend countless hours on rituals, trying desperately to bring some kind of relief into their lives.
OCD sufferers are actually very strong. They have to deal with extremely upsetting thoughts and images on a daily basis, involve themselves in the real work of compulsions and continue to live as normal a life as they can. If anything, sufferers have a lot of willpower to be able to continue living despite suffering from a crushing mental disorder.
OCD is quite rare
On the contrary, OCD is quite common. Many people with OCD face shame and embarassment about their disorder and do not seek help for many years, thus skewing the numbers of how common OCD is.
Recent studies have suggested that between one and three per cent of the population has or will have OCD. Using an average of two per cent of the population having OCD, that means one in 50 people will suffer from OCD at some point in their lives.
That works out to about 700,000 in Canada, six million in the United States and about 140 million people world wide.
OCD can be useful to have
Some people think it would be okay to have OCD because one would always have a clean house or would always know the front door is locked.
There is a big difference between being clean and having to clean repeatedly to try and alleviate high anxiety. Checking a door lock once is okay but no sufferer wants to have to check a door lock a dozen times and still feel like something is wrong.
People with OCD don’t want to have to perform their compulsions. They feel an overpowering urge to perform them.
It’s okay to joke about OCD
That’s the feeling one gets when searching the Internet, especially if one looks at tweets on Twitter about OCD.
It has become okay to joke about OCD and to claim it as the reason why people organize and clean a certain way.
People don’t claim a physical illness as their own, so why do so for a mental disorder? Even when it comes to mental disorders OCD has become the butt of jokes while others stay untouched. How many times have you heard someone say they are feeling very bipolar because they had a bad morning and a good afternoon?
OCD is a devastating mental disorder that causes high anxiety and severe doubt. It is nothing to joke about.