Many well-meaning people have stereotypical ideas about OCD. These stereotypes can be extremely harmful to people with the condition.
Even when these stereotypes don’t come from a place of judgment, they’re damaging.
These stereotypes include the beliefs that:
- all people with OCD are extremely clean and neat
- all people with OCD are high-strung
- being pedantic about neatness or cleanliness shows that you have OCD
- people with OCD cannot be disorganized
Just as someone with a generally optimistic approach to life can have major depression, a person with OCD can be messy. These personality traits don’t immunize you against mental illness.
If we, as a society, truly want to prioritize mental health, we need to let go of the stereotypes we hold.
We need to be willing to admit when we don’t know too much about certain mental illnesses, and we need to educate ourselves (beyond watching TikTok skits and “psycho killer” horrors).
If you’re a person with OCD and your loved ones doubt your diagnosis, remember that they’re not experts on what’s going on in your brain — you are.
And if you do fit the diagnosis criteria for OCD, as guided by your therapist, you can use that label if it helps you.
For many of us, the label of having OCD can be scary — but it can also be empowering.
This is particularly so if it helps to explain some of the challenges we face.
Doubt and disbelief can be extremely hurtful, but it’s possible to move past it and get the treatment you need.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. As someone with multiple anxiety disorders, she’s passionate about using her writing skills to educate and empower readers. She believes that words have the power to change minds, hearts, and lives.