Wildcat Wellness: OCD Awareness


Kyra Fleischman '17, Writer

“You have OCD? You’re room must be so neat!”.

“I’m so OCD; my notes always have to be so organized.”

“Ms. So and So? Can you finish erasing the board it’s driving my OCD crazy.”

Sound familiar? Due to how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is commonly portrayed in pop culture, it is no wonder that these little comments are so commonplace in modern society. From television, to Target’s “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” sweaters, to the classroom, OCD is constantly oversimplified and misunderstood.

The week of October 9-15 was OCD Awareness Week, and as a teenager who has both OCD and a messy locker, art bin, and closet, I want to educate students on what having OCD is really like. Half of OCD is obsessions: intrusive thoughts that are outside of a person’s control. These thoughts are recurring and cause extreme anxiety, which separates them from the intrusive but fleeting worries of someone without OCD. Everyone’s obsessions are different and do not always fit into the cookie cutter mold of obsessive cleaning or obsessive germ avoiding. Often, one cannot physically see someone’s OCD; a lot of obsessions and compulsions go on inside the person’s mind. Compulsions are done in attempt to alleviate the extreme discomfort that the obsession is causing. OCD’s victims can often recognize that these compulsions are irrational, especially after the episode, but in the moment “believe the only way to relieve their anxiety or discomfort” is to do the ritual. (International OCD Foundation). An example of an obsession is the fear of vomiting, which stems from the fear of losing control. Its compulsive counterpart ranges immensely depending on each individual person, but some examples include mentally reviewing whether or not one feels nauseous, running away when someone says they feel sick, and asking other people for reassurance that they are not going to throw up*. It is important to realize that obsessions about things like vomiting, sexuality, religion, organization, or germs are not really about the actual topic, but rather about doubt (uncertainty) and discomfort (not being able to be certain) (Psychologist Lisa Sondin). All of these layers add to why OCD is so much more complicated than Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory makes it look.

Another essential piece of understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is that having an obsessive behavior does not necessarily mean one has the disorder. OCD is diagnosed when these behaviors  “take up at least an hour a day – usually longer – and cause significant distress.” (Beyond OCD). Ironing one’s clothes fastidiously or tidying up around the house often does not constitute OCD unless it is invading other areas of the person’s life and causing a serious preoccupation. If someone with OCD and an ironing obsession had to skip ironing one morning, they might have extreme anxiety, constantly tug at the wrinkles on their shirt, and feel that their day is ruined unless they follow rituals to fix it.

Having OCD is very difficult for millions of people and is a serious mental illness. Saying you are “so OCD” about something when you are just being meticulous is something that can be very frustrating to hear for those who truly have it. I cannot count the amount of times people have said something like this in front of me and I have stayed awkwardly silent, debating whether or not I should speak up until the topic had already faded into the distance. I don’t want to stay silent anymore. Do you?


Works Cited:

“Facts About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” Beyond OCD. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

“What Is OCD?” International OCD Foundation. N.p., 30 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.


*I interviewed five other teenagers with OCD to gather their opinions on the stereotype/ reality aspects of OCD, as well as their own experiences. They wish to remain anonymous, but their thoughts are displayed throughout this article.