Saturday, February 22, 2014


It occurs to me that because of the media portrayal of OCD that many think we enjoy our compulsions, our issues, our attempt to control our surroundings. I find it painful and frustrating that this is how people see us. Further frustrating to me  is when the idea is reiterated by people calling themselves OCD in general reference to being neat and tidy or organized.  It makes what we as sufferers go through seem trivial and promotes more misunderstanding of the condition.

The big difference to being just quirky or extremely retentive, is that those people take pleasure in being those things. It is an enjoyment to those who color code their shirts in a closet or arrange their pens in order from biggest to smallest. It becomes a sense of pride for them. Away to be different.

As sufferers, we don't want to be different. We don't like to feel ostracized and odd. No one takes pleasure in being OCD, at least no one that has OCD does. It isn't something that feels good or makes you happy. There is no joy or satisfaction when it comes to the rituals, mental or otherwise, that we do. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Unlike our quirky counterparts that claim to be OCD, we do not want to do these things. We would rather be normal. The kicker being,  we can never be normal. So, in fear of living in rejection, we mock being normal to the rest of the world. We pretend and we have become masters at it. Unlike people that think they are OCD and aren't, we don't love to tell people the truth. We don't tend to celebrate our rituals and triggers. Our truth is often times too painful for that. Most people don't even know that we do suffer from OCD. We don't have that sense of being safe because of it.

I can tell you what we do have. We have a sense of shame. A sense of overwhelming guilt. A sense of being different and wrong. We know what we do is weird. We know that our rituals and thoughts make no sense and are irrational. It's part of what makes having OCD so scary. We are aware that our minds are broken and our perceptions are faulty. We have a sense of being judged. We have a sense of being poked fun at, misunderstood, and rejected. And we now have a sense of people using our debilitating devastating illness as fodder to explain away why they like things orderly. I can't tell you how many times I have heard," Everyone has a little OCD."


So, everyone has unwanted violent/sexual/blasphemous thoughts running through their heads 24/7? Everyone is worried about accidentally poisoning their loved ones by not washing their hands enough? Everyone has issues with triggers? Everyone is afraid if they don't touch the doorknobs twenty seven times that their family will die horribly in an accident and it all depends on how many times they touch that door knob correctly? Everyone has other OCD spectrum disorders like pulling out their hair, repeating themselves, starving themselves? Everyone has this? I had no idea. Or how about scrubbing the floor to the point of damaging the tile, or scrubbing the tables till the finish is gone? Or hoarding so much stuff that your house could be condemned? What about the picking your skin till it bleeds? Or washing your hands till they are raw and burning? Hating yourself because you feel ugly and your body seems out of proportion? What about being afraid you will hurt the ones to love because you see it in your head and so you avoid them because you are scared what the OCD shows you could become a reality? Even though you know it wont and yet you are still terrified.

Does any of this seem enjoyable or exciting?

You see we don't do our rituals or compulsions because we like them. We do them because the OCD makes us. We do them to prevent the anxiety provoking thoughts. We do it to control our environment because our minds are going crazy and we just want one thing to feel like it's going right. We want a day without triggers and since that isn't going to happen, we do things other people don't understand. IT then gets misrepresented and we end being the butt of everyone's jokes or worse yet we have our mental illness associated with being anal retentive or being treated as if it something small and quirky.

It's not small and quirky. It is not less important than other mental illnesses, and sadly it isn't less deadly either. People with untreated OCD can become suicidal. People assume that OCD centers around what the media has presented as our most common symptoms and they are wrong. That is not what OCD looks like nor is it what it does to us.

And just to add two more recent examples of just how wrong OCD depictions can be I would like to offer up these two tidbits:

On the soap opera Days of Our Lives, the character Nicole was talking about a doctor and referred to him as being "the typical OCD" because he kept impeccable paper work and wrote lists...

On the popular television show Grey's Anatomy, the writers gave a beloved character MIranda OCD tendencies by making her repeatedly twitch her fingers and needing everything in place...not because she was born that way or had OCD tendencies before but because she had a trauma happen to her.....

If we were to go by those two depictions we would think OCD is about making lists and being organized and about keeping everything in place while twitching your fingers.

Nowhere is there talk about intrusive thoughts or images. Nor is there an implication that OCD is generally thought to be a genetic or hereditary, not trauma induced as Grey's has implied.

It's frustrating to watch the mental illness that has haunted me for over 31 years being used as entertainment value. I mean, if you are going to go there, then please actually go there and get your facts straight first. Portray OCD as it really is and not how you want it to be. Show it as a agonizing illness that steals away bits of your soul a day at a time. Show the therapy involved to deal with it. Show how it affects our loved ones and family. Show how it forms and grows. And make damn sure that you show how OCD really is and not just the stereotypical symptoms that many of us don't even have.

I am all for showing it and bringing out to the public, but do it right. Show that it is a hereditary mental illness. Show that it is an anxiety disorder. Show that it isn't about organization, washing hands, and making lists.

Represent us but represent us in true form. Represent us as strong intelligent individuals that suffer from something we don't enjoy. Something we know is wrong with us. Something we are trying to live with every day. Represent us fully and unequivocally as who we are not just what makes t.v. more interesting.

Please stop taking our mental illness and making it into something it's not. It's not fun. It's not cute. It's not amusing when you are the one suffering from it. We deserve better than a general mention and a goofy context that is completely wrong, and hurtful at the same time.

Until next time,
Neurotic Nelly


  1. Nelly, an extremely informational entry. I have wondered how these depictions feel to someone with OCD. My favorite show of all time is Big Bang Theory but at the same time I have felt bad how they depict Sheldon's OCD as humerus. I feel bad saying I have laughed at it on occasion. I do understand your desire to bring it to light, I personally daily post Antii Stigma items on face book and have talked about it in my blog. Keep going and stay strong.

    Also I want to compliment you on your blog. I've learned somethings from yours and have plagiarized it into mine.

    Finally on my last comment to you the item about my wife was ment humerously, Sorry it didn't come across and no she doesn't have OCD, she is just a neat person and a saint for supporting me.

    1. No worries Paul. I knew you were kidding. I actually really enjoy Big Bang Theory and although they have never actually addressed what Sheldon has, it seems to gear more towards OCPD rather than OCD which seem similar but are really quite different. Such as OCD know that they are not right and OCPD wonders why everyone isn't like him. They don't realize things are wrong.
      Anyway, I thank you so much for your support Paul. I really do appreciate it. :)

  2. I hear ya. People are so thoughtless and stupid the way they throw around terms like OCD, bipolar, psycho,etc. They aren't fun, funny, or cute, but I don't think it's possible to stop it. It's just too "funny" when it's thrown around in public,on tv, movies,etc. Just more insensitive shite to have to try to ignore. I'm glad you really spelled it out in your blog though. You mentioned a couple things that I had never even heard of before. Good to learn.

    1. Thank you Frankie! I am always so glad to get your comments. :) I agree, they will probably never stop making fun of mental illness as a whole. I mean, I do see the humorous parts of OCD and I even write about them and laugh myself but for me, I think they should expose the pain and anguish as well as the goofy. You know, to make it a full representation. But I find that wholly unlikely. It is a good thing to dream though...

  3. I have only just started this blogging lark and I like this type of writing as it gives me a sense of achievement...I lost my job because of my mental illness, my Uncle has sacrificed his right of freedom and stays cooped indoors bound by his OCD. Only a few days ago I felt the lowest of the low. All I want is a chance, an avenue, to have a tool to express myself. Do not want to keep letting down my family.

    1. Michael, I think it's great you are blogging about your struggles. I found it to be healing and self affirming. I hope that it feels that way as you write as well. Good luck in your endeavours and thank you for your support. :)

  4. So well said, and it is a shame that society has such little understanding of the true forms of OCD. Media, of course, is hugely to blame for this. And it is hard for us who suffer from it to really open up about what it is like. The people who know me can see the little things like the frequent handwashing and straightening things, and they can make little jokes about it, but they don't know about the terrifying and shameful thoughts and images I have inside my head, what really drives me to do the "quirky" things. And if they knew the whole story it would probably scare them to death to know what is going on inside my mind. I was not diagnosed until I was 26, and yet once I knew what it was I could look back over my life and remember things as early as age four that indicated I had OCD. But because so much of it is internal, no one knew. There has never been a moment of peace in my head, and I long for that so much.

    1. Thank you Amy. I can totally relate, silence hasn't been in my head ever. I thought that was normal till I realized I had OCD and everyone else didn't. It can truly be exhausting sometimes.