I’ve just read a forum thread about whether or not OCD is real (you can read it for yourself here). For those of us fighting the battle on a daily basis, or know someone who is, this is a ridiculous question. Of course OCD is real. I’ve been living with it for 10years and it really isn’t a whole lot of fun. I wish it was made up so that I could take the day off from it and do all the fun things that it stops me from doing!
I think some of the problem is that many people still insist on using all mental health phrases incorrectly.
“I’m a little bit depressed” for when someone is just a bit sad for genuine reasons
“They’re schizophrenic” for someone who can be nice one moment and angry the next
“I’m a little bit OCD” for when someone is extra tidy and likes things their way
These, and other such phrases, are the ones that are thrown around general society – I hear them all the time and it doesn’t help those of us with the real problems. The phrases trivialise the issues far too much and put us off from speaking out because we know we’ll be ridiculed and not taken seriously. They also lead to questions like ‘Is OCD real?’
One of my main issues with what this person has written is that he questions whether it is a made up condition from attention seekers who clog up doctors’ waiting rooms pretending to be ill. I can only speak from personal experience, but my OCD makes me hate the doctors and avoid going there as much as possible. Apart from my initial diagnosis I’ve hardly spent any time in the doctors about my OCD. I had to go to yearly appointments to check how I was getting on, but for the past 5years this has been a couple of minutes on the telephone. So I hardly think I’m clogging up his time. More people are taking his time up with colds that he can do nothing for. I have also never taken a day off sick because of my OCD (I know I’m lucky here and that lots of others have had to be signed off from work). I pay for my own prescriptions so I hardly think I’m a burden on society – to myself and my family yes, but not the general world.
I wish there was a way to make those who doubt OCD (and other mental illnesses) experience what it’s like living with one for a week. I think they would soon change their minds. As there’s no quick pill we can give them to induce the horrors, we have to turn to education. My OCD is a constant. Sometimes it has a snooze and I can get on with my life as best as I can, but it’s always there waiting to wake up and paralyse me with fear, my mind going round and round and round with anxiety. I’m jealous of all those around me living what I see as ‘normal lives’, wishing I could be the same.
Mental health needs to be taken seriously. We need to talk about it more and people need to learn the correct terminology. No one would ever say they’re hyperglycaemic when they’ve eaten way too much chocolate. We have to get to a position where they’re using mental health phrases properly too.
I do think mental health should be discussed at school. I’m not aware that it is – it certainly wasn’t in my school. It should also be discussed more openly in the workplace. I don’t mean that you have to stand on a chair one day and shout ‘I have OCD’ but there should be regular days set aside for mental health where someone can go up to a volunteer (could be someone with a mental health problem, knows someone with one, the occupational health officer) and ask questions. It should be encouraged – there could even be a pop quiz making people think more seriously. (We did this at work recently with environmental issues the business faces and people’s eyes were opened).
In the meantime those of us who know the truth, must stand together and support one another. One day attitudes will change. We just have to hold on until then.