This week is OCD Awareness Week. And this week my post is going to be about raising awareness about OCD.
The subject of mental health issues, is one that is becomingly increasingly accessible. With campaigns from ‘Time to Change’ and a series of documentaries from Channel 4, the subject of mental health is something that we are encouraged to talk about and challenge. There is however, still a misunderstanding surrounding many of these disorders, particularly OCD. Throughout the next week (8th-14th of October) charities such as OCD UK will be doing all they can to raise awareness about the reality of living with such a scary and lonely disorder. And as the 10th of October is World Mental Health Awareness Day, it’s like the perfect week to write about the subject.
OCD is a largely misunderstood disorder, and has been popularised through the belief that a quirky trait or habit means that a person suffers from OCD. Often it isn’t seen as a disorder, rather it can be seen as something that is quite cool to have. I’ve never really understood the phrase ‘I’m so OCD’, or ‘I’m so OCD about things’; unlike feeling a bit anxious or sad, OCD doesn’t really fit into this category. All mental health issues are complicated and serious, and OCD falls into that category. It’s as serious, scary and lonely as other disorders, but the preconceptions about the disorder mean that often it looks like the joke disorder.
OCD is a disorder that runs far deeper than carrying hand sanitiser around or having your television volume on the number 5. The disorder itself is actually very serious, and far scarier than a person wanting to keep your room tidy because they don’t like mess. The reality of the disorder is something far greater then liking the television volume on the number five. Instead the disorder can be debilitating, dictating exactly how a person lives their life by trapping them in a world of obsessions and rituals. A person can be possessed by the fear of harming a loved one, feel the need to check the gas on their oven is off several times before leaving the house, or being so fearful of germs that a person washes their hands whenever they encounter something that they believe to be unclean. This often leads to embarrassment, with the sufferer being too fearful to actually reach out for help.
The obsession/obsessive thought, leads to compulsive behaviour, in the hope that this will ease the obsession. If a person has the fear that they might kill a member of their family, then they might wash their hands constantly to help wash away the anxiety caused by their thoughts. Eventually the compulsion becomes something that happens a lot, making it far harder to break. Often the loneliness, guilt and shame are neglected due to a misunderstanding of the disorder.
So this week I promise to try and raise awareness of OCD. I won’t preach and judge people for using the disorder in the wrong context, instead I want to stand up for a disorder that isn’t getting the recognition that it deserves. I hope that people will take notice of OCD Awareness Week and understand how the disorder works. I hope people who suffer from this disorder can find the help they need and can live the life they deserve to lead.
That’s why I’m supporting OCD Awareness Week 2012.
For more information on OCD Awareness Week, or for more information on OCD then visit @OCDUK on Twitter.