The negative impact of trivializing OCD

By Victoria Navarro

“I’m so OCD,” someone says as they organize the clothes in their closet in terms of color or style. After all, perfection is key to finally feeling a sense of comfort and relief over the previous pile of unorganized clothing. Or perhaps there is the individual who claims they have the disorder because they wash their hands five times a day, while carrying around hand sanitizer just in case. Surely, by showing one simple symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it is safe to self-diagnose yourself with the disorder.

However, the full picture of OCD is not as simple as washing your hands from time to time or organizing your room. It is so easy for people to trivialize a mental disorder and mold it into a punchline as a means of exaggerating one’s level of cleanliness. By degrading such a severe issue, people are normalizing the disorder to the point where it is not viewed as dangerous or unhealthy, but rather a quirk.  

Despite this common ideology, OCD revolves around living in constant fear and anxiety, which is derived from their unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions). While being extremely clean by be a minor symptom, it is certainly not the only factor that goes into OCD.

In terms of obsessions, symptoms of OCD include, but are not limited to: fear contamination, aggressive impulses, as well as offensive or senseless thoughts. For compulsions, people may constantly wash their hands so that their skin becomes raw, repeatedly check appliances, and hoard.

While these may not seem severe for others, people with OCD cannot escape their thoughts, regardless of the efforts they put into stopping it. Thus, an individual with the disorder may struggle with maintaining relationships, platonic or romantic, or an inability to function as a contributing member of society. Not only that, but OCD is often seen with depression and severe anxiety.

Although a person may not have any harsh intentions with phrases such as “I’m so OCD,” they are contributing to the trivialization of mental disorders. What many fail to understand is trivializing OCD prevents true understanding of the disorder; it is a severe issue that may be dangerous for one’s well-being. For those who truly have OCD, there is rarely, if not ever, a moment of relief after cleaning because their mind is in a constant state of anxiety and fear.

As much as any other disorder, OCD constantly torments those who have it as it may prove to be an obstacle in one’s life. By normalizing such a disorder will ultimately cause those with OCD to refuse any help because of the conception that it is not unhealthy to merely cope with the symptoms.

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