Tuesday, April 23, 2013

OCD Is The New Black

OCD is the new black. It is fashionable. It is the excuse for being particular and quirky. It is a simple explanation for being unwavering in their desire to be perfect. It is crap. As I mentioned before these people know not what they are talking about or admitting what they have. They are not OCD. I guess I should be proud or happy that I have something that is popular or fashionable finally, and yet I am not. I can not feel good about something that actually promotes false understanding and misinformation.

Somehow, in allowing these people to use our mental illness as an excuse, we have traded the stigma of having it for something much more sinister. We have traded stigma for the false belief that OCD can not hurt you. This is simply not true. Somehow, we have garnered the reputation that OCD is not a serious as other mental disorders. Now, I don't believe that OCD is worse than other mental illnesses but I do believe it is equal to them. After all, pain is pain and no one pain is greater than others. The pain from OCD is just as serious and excruciating as pain from other mental illnesses. We have been left out of some mental health sites. OCD is not listed on some of them. Some of them say do not write OCD write anxiety disorder. Why, because OCD isn't important enough to have a name? There is so much power in a name. Before I was diagnosed I thought I was crazy. Crazy was the only name I had for it. It hurt me so much. Then after being diagnosed I found that my crazy had a name. I was no longer alone. I was no longer crazy. I was a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The name should not be used jokingly or in fun. There is power in this name and powerful pain in it's disorder.

 I was really excited to watch the lifetime movie about mental illness this weekend. It was a beautiful and truthful portrayal of living with certain mental illnesses. I was left saddened that OCD was not one of those portrayed. I felt left out, again. It seems as we loose stigma we have become the redheaded step child jumping up and down to get attention and calling out not to be overlooked. We are desperate to be accepted not only with the general population but even more so to be recognized in the mental health community as equals.We are in some instances way overlooked. It is frustrating to be ignored or passed over, after all, our suffering is just as great as bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia, and depression, we are all the same. We all suffer from the same pain. Maybe it was too hard to represent us in away that people would not find funny. A lot of sitcoms have OCD traits in their characters and we laugh. Maybe they weren't sure how to show OCD without making fun of it. I hope that is why, because the alternative is that they didn't consider it to be enough of a serious illness and that would be a travesty.

People that suffer from OCD live most of their lives pretending to be normal. We spend so much time trying to appear to be like everyone else. We are terrific actors. We are able to be chameleons and blend in. We are able to seem perfectly normal, but we are not normal. Eventually when we go home at night we know that. We don't have to hide from ourselves and we know just how much pain we are in. Sure, we have friends but deep down there is always this voice that reminds us these friends don't know the truth. The real you, you keep hidden for fear of judgement or ridicule. Some of us have become masters of our own images. No one has any idea the hell we put up with on a daily basis. It is so very exhausting. To spread yourself so thin so that you can be accepted by normal people and yet accepted by the mental illness community and taken seriously. I have even had a few people with OCD tell me that at least OCD wasn't as bad as some of the other illnesses. Somehow, we bought into our own propaganda.  We act fine and therefore are fine. If we buy into this propaganda, these lies we tell ourselves, we are going to loose fellow sufferers through the cracks. We can not afford to loose good people because we didn't want to admit that our mental illness is just as deadly as the others.

In 2009 it was reported that depression among those with OCD is particularly alarming because their risk of suicide is high; more than 50 percent of patients experience suicidal tendencies, and 15 percent have attempted suicide. Individuals with OCD have also been found to be affected by delayed sleep phase syndrome at a substantially higher rate than the general public.

If you do not like wikipedia there are other sites that list very similar statistics.

I am going to let you in on a little not so secret, secret. I am one of the 50%.  I was suicidal and it was all because of my OCD. I was alone, depressed, unable to work, isolated, and of course the voice in head was telling me what a loser I was. The shame, guilt, and pain was almost too much to bare. I was able to get help. I am now much better but I still suffer pain, guilt, and shame. I will always suffer from OCD. I can live that, but please do not ignore or lessen my mental illness. Please realize that all pain is the same. It should all be recognized. It should all be included on websites and movies about mental illness. It should be allowed to have it's name represented. We have to stop denying that OCD is a serious mental illness because people are dying or at least wanting to. We have to stop minimizing the pain because we are loosing people that can be helped because they think that what is wrong with them doesn't require help. We have to wake up and be honest. I will always suffer pain from my mental illness and just because uneducated people want to objectify my mental illness does not mean it is any less of a killer. Just because they make OCD seem funny or amusing does not mean that it can not hurt you. It can, it will and it does. OCD is the new black. Black armbands that represent those that no longer could take the pain and shame and were misled into believing that it was not serious enough to get help. Black armbands that show that some were allowed to suffer needlessly because others refused and stood by while this mental illness took over their lives, relationships, work, social interactions, and self esteem. Black arm bands because the media and television show it as a funny and quirky and not something that wounds your soul and challenges everything you believe in. Please represent us. Please stick up for us. Please do not allow us to be the ignored redheaded step child. Please accept us and put our illness on your mental health sites if you have not already. Please put OCD in mental health movies in a non funny way, the way it really is to live with it. Please help us spread the word that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just as serious and important as other mental illnesses. [tweet this].
                                              Neurotic Nelly


  1. I agree with what you said, that OCD should be treated with the same attention from the mental health community. Also no mental illness is funny and it should not be looked/treated like that.
    I think a lot of people with mental illness try to pretend to be normal me included (although it brings up the question what is normal?).
    Depression and feeling suicidal are very hard to overcome and I am glad you were able to beat it and feel better.
    In terms of how the general public views mental illness you are either a monster going to kill everyone or a object of a joke. I hate both perceptions and wish this country can move beyond this type of thinking.
    Great post. I look forward to reading more from you. Keep writing

  2. Thank you very much Nathan! It does seem that judgement of mental illness seems to swing to the extreme of the spectrum, either it's funny or you are dangerous. Simply not true for most people suffering from mental illness. We have to change the fear that is cloaked around mental illness. The stigma and false information has to stop.