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Clara’s Commentary: Destigmatize OCD

You most likely have heard someone utter the words, “It’s just my OCD,” after they fix something to be in line, bring out a collection of colored pens or show off their Type A organization skills. While being organized and clean can be something to brag about, if that’s what you’re into, it is simply not OCD. OCD is grossly misrepresented in media and daily life, and it’s time we put an end to it. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to shed light on the often polarizing disorder that affects 70 million people worldwide, including myself. It is time to break this loop of misunderstanding and recognize OCD for the debilitating and serious condition it is. 

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is an ego-dystonic mental health condition that affects uncertainty in the brain. OCD revolves around thoughts that are out of line with someone’s true feelings or beliefs. It often rears its ugly head in the form of obsessions revolving around fear of the unknown. 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder gained its depiction in media because there can be obsessions about cleanliness; some with the disorder suffer from fear of contamination and may perform what is called compulsions, physical or mental actions, to get rid of said fear. So while there is some truth in how it is used, it’s not the whole story.

OCD is not only serious but incredibly difficult to live with and understand. It is isolating in nature, as the brain attempts to solve questions or fears that simply are unknown. The brain operates on a constant loop of intrusive thoughts and compulsions. I like to think of OCD as a monster in my brain, begging me to feed it as it attacks the parts of my life that I love most: my family, my friends, my relationship and my life goals. 

OCD looks like my brain asking a million questions that begin with, “What if,” often using up a whole day, week, or even month asking the same questions or having the same fear over and over again. OCD works in many ways to solve the what-if questions and doesn’t rest until the monster feels like it has answers, this comes from going over memories or conversations for hours to find an answer, called ruminating, or doing a physical action so many times to feel relief, known as compulsions. It’s time-consuming, debilitating, and plain annoying at times. 

Those who have OCD are warriors in my eyes, living and breathing a life where their brain is actively fighting against them and those who suffer from it deserve the respect of not misusing the disorder in daily life. 

It is entirely frustrating as someone with OCD to watch as those around me claim they have it so casually after organizing or cleaning up. I find myself wanting to scream about how incorrect that usage is, that they have no idea what I or many who suffer from the disorder have and are going through. While I am no expert in OCD and the way it affects my brain is entirely different from how it affects someone else, I know that the way it is portrayed is patronizing. 

It begins and ends with knowledge. As we are taught in early elementary, think before you speak. Before you or someone around you claims they have this disorder after organizing, ask yourself if that is at all isolating to those who have it. How would someone with OCD feel about your conversation? Although I know many people do not intend to cause harm with the way they use the diagnosis, it does. The cycle of misunderstanding can end and if my article or story can contribute to that, I feel a breath of fresh air in my lungs, knowing I spoke my truth and may have helped someone understand more clearly. 

Hug your friends, tell your people you love them, ask questions, seek to understand and think before you claim to have something you may not. Happy mental health awareness month, you are abundantly loved and if your story is at all similar to mine, you are not only strong but a warrior. Keep going.

Clara Leder is a junior studying education and journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Let Clara know by emailing her at cl125221@ohio.edu

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