After watching Jon Richardson’s programme on channel 4 about living with OCD I wondered how common it is. I mean, sometimes little things annoy me or something has to be done in a particular way. For instance, if the teaspoons aren’t all facing the same way in the drawer and I have to eat all the foam off the top of a mocha or cappuccino before drinking it (do you eat or drink foam?). But this isn’t OCD, sure I get annoyed if my morning routine is interrupted but I move on, I can forget about it and enjoy the rest of my day. For others though, this isn’t an option. It’s either their way or no way.
What surprised me is how much of an effect this has on people’s lives. Missing all the cracks on a pavement is livable, might slow you down a bit but that’s all. One teenager has to tap the door frame twice on both sides when he walks through a doorway. What does he do for lifts? Automatic doors? He’s 16, been doing this since he was six and it’s only getting worse with little habits appearing for every action most people would do without thinking, like pouring a drink.
Why doesn’t he just stop? I hear you ask. It has no real influence and he knows it’s irrational, but it has to be done.
Another woman is practically housebound due to an obsession with cleaning, when she’s not cleaning she’s planning on what to clean, how to clean it etc by making extensive, detailed lists.
OCD is ruining people’s lives, it’s a killer. It’s a real issue, not a joke or something to be taken lightly. Lots of people say “I have OCD about this”; “I have OCD about that”, when really it’s not OCD at all, not in the real sense.
People with OCD can move up and down the scale, usually it’s triggered by stress. Anxiety over career, bullying or other uncontrollable health issues. However, some believe it can be genetic. This could be both nature (biology) or nurture (growing up around it and developing you own ‘tics’ or ‘quirks’). One mother, unable to bring up her son due to OCD, has to live with the knowledge that OCD was passed onto her son, who committed suicide as he impulses stopped him from doing anything, all he could do was pace backwards and forwards.
Jon Richardson was told he does not have OCD by an expert at Bath University. For this he feels extremely lucky, he has obsessive compulsive order, not disorder. He knows his ‘quirks’ reassure him, give him a little control, but he does not become too distressed if things aren’t ‘right’.
Living with OCD must be hard, it affects people’s lives and those around them, just as much as any other illness. If someone has OCD telling them to stop won’t help, it might even make it worse as they worry about their compulsions and impulses. OCD is treatable and people can move down the scale as well as up, all is needed is support and guidance, and the end to the stigma this very real illness holds.