What is OCD? (It Doesn’t Always Look Like What You Think it Should)

Scrabble pieces telling a story.

If I hear one more person say, “I’m so OCD because I have to clean my toilet every week!” I’m going to get mouthy. The question, what is OCD, and its answers are a bit more complicated.

But really, it’s more than that. We all trivialize various mental disorders to normalize them, etc. But OCD is one of those strange disorders that is different for every person who has to live with it. Believe me – I know from personal experience.

Rookie recently reported on this subject when one of the site’s writers detailed her struggles with OCD. As I alluded to previously, I have had struggles with OCD since my childhood. And not surprisingly, many of my friends have, too.

Rookie’s contributor’s experiences were similar to, but still totally different than, mine. The author details how she thought her “issues” (obsessively thinking about one thing, etc.) weren’t OCD symptoms. She thought of OCD as many folks do — a guy that has to wash his hands a million times, or a person who obsessively can’t step on sidewalk cracks. And, sure, OCD is all of that. But the disease is so much more.

My personal brand of OCD started out as a compulsion to say things repeatedly. Over the years it changed and shifted. (I lovingly call it OCD whac-a-mole.) I’ve obsessed over things as simple as what I’m going to eat and wear, to things as serious as my health and life. It ain’t a pretty disease.

But like the Rookie author states, it’s totally treatable. Meds, therapy, and alternative therapies can work wonders. So, if you think you’re obsession about whatever-it-is, is a little more obsessive than normal, don’t freak. Just reach out to a professional. And if you’re friends with someone with OCD, just remember that we know what we’re doing — we sometimes just can’t help it. And that’s why it’s so darn nice to have good friends around who support us.

Related on EcoSalon

5 Conscious Stand Up Comedians Redefining Comedy

The Perfect Minimalist

Why Women Need to Speak Out About Mental Illness

Image: Sebastien Wiertz

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.