Do You Have An OCD? The Truth About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

ocd

Being organized doesn't mean you have OCD. | Source: Shutterstock

I am so OCD,” we say, when we want our shelves organized in a very neat manner, or we have a morning routine where breakfast before makeup is totally unthinkable. But is being orderly or precise what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder really is? Actually, no. OCD is a diagnosable psychological condition that makes living a typical life almost impossible for those who have it, due to feeling compelled to participate in certain behaviors.

Here are a few facts on what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder really is:

* OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (those are the obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (those are the compulsions). Carrying out the behaviors to get rid of the thoughts will only provide temporary relief for people with OCD. People with compulsive behaviors are often aware that their behavior is detrimental to their lives, but still can’t stop their actions.

* OCD symptoms usually appear before a person is 30 years old.

* Symptoms include: Obsessions or compulsions that are not due to medical illness or drug use, and cause major distress or interfere with everyday life.

Excessive hand washing is a common compulsion. | Source: Shutterstock

* Common obsessions/compulsions include fear of germs, excessive counting, checking and re-checking actions (like making sure the door’s locked), and excessive hand washing. Some people with OCD feel that if they don’t carry out certain actions, something bad will happen.

*Treatments include medications and therapy, particularly exposure therapy, where the person with OCD is repeatedly exposed to situations in which the obsessive thoughts occur, then learns to deal with the thoughts. With treatment, people with OCD can make huge improvements, which will allow them to live with a lot less stress.

If you think you may have OCD, don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor or therapist. Starting with a parent or guidance counselor at school could help if you don’t know what to do. This site also has plenty of resources.

Do you know anyone with OCD? Do you ever joke about having OCD, but know that you’re just super organized? Tell me what’s what in the comments!

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  • Bekk

    I think I have OCD. I double door check, and if something isn’t in the right place or straight (eg. Pencil case or book) i freak out and have to have everything perfect. If i type something wrong ill go back to the start and do the whole thing again. Im obsessive with having even numbers too (except for 3) such as for the tv volume or the numbers if bobby pins i put in my hair. Weird i know? I also just clean up and organise everything all the time. I HAVE to sit on the left side of the car too. My friend teases and makes a joke out of it. My mum kinda thinks i have it but won’t bother taking me to a specialist. Im 14. I don’t know what to do. :)

  • Casey

    I was diagnosed with OCD and GAD in the spring of 2012. I’ve always felt like there was something wrong, but my parents refused to take me to see a therapist, even when I begged for them to. Once I turned 18 that changed. I found out through my therapist that most people CAN control their thoughts and DON’T have a hundred different streams of thought going at once all day every day. My friends don’t understand. If something upsets me they say “don’t think about it” and I try to remind them that I don’t have control over that. they say that I’m ”victimizing” myself. If our society refuses to accept that mental illnesses aren’t made-up or imaginary, then, yeah, I’m a victim of our society’s ignorance. I didn’t choose to make my brain chemistry wonky.

    • Andrea

      I know what you mean. I’m always using hand sanitizer, washing my hands, and I have a whole bunch of weird phobias. For example: fear of paper. I am constantly counting things and they always have to be “even”. Like if the tv volume is on 33 I have to change it to an even 30 or 40. When I’m writing papers in school, if I make a mistake I have to start all over again. There’s so many more problems I have. I actually figured out that I have OCD while watching a tv show called Monk, ( he is a detective with OCD). Anyway, having OCD is very hard and I can’t believe people joke about it.

  • Audrina

    I have OCD and it’s a struggle. Constantly going back over things, counting, staring because something’s not right, and not wanting to tell anyone. I constantly feel like I’m living in a dream, I check knobs, stoves, everything, I organize everything around me, and I constantly have to wash my hands. But I remember that it just makes me stronger since I have it.

  • Sampajama

    I utterly HATE it when people claim they’re OCD (let alone have any other disorder). It seems like a “thing” almost and starts to make people see that OCD isn’t a big deal when it is. People with OCD hate it and wouldn’t go around saying “Oh, I’m OCD”. Everyone has ticks and impulses. For one, whenever there’s a sticker on something I own, I have to peel it off so there’s absolutely no residue or else I freak out or if there’s a scratch or blur on a computer screen or my phone screen, I get stressed and pissed off but that is NOT OCD. I’m glad this post was made so hopefully people would think twice before claiming they have OCD.

  • Kylie

    Yep, I have OCD. It’s not fun my any means! My case is where i everything has to be an even number, mainly 4. EX: volume, time on a timer, number of coats of mascara I put on. If i mess up, say put on 3 coats, i will do little rituals where I like ground my teeth, hold my breath, or cross my eyes in little sequneces of 4. its really ahrd to expalin unless you watch me. i try to contain myself in public but when i get home, i do it like 16 times. I have had the signs since i was little. also everything has to be perfect! i hate it but i get through it. i tell my friends and they help me alot. some times a simple distraction is all i need

    • Greenkat

      Please if you are able change ‘ahrd’ to hard.

  • jordan

    i feel like im OCD i dont let my brother kiss my cheek i want evry thing in a neatly order and im only 12 can you tell me if i am our not

    • Casey

      You should talk to a counselor at school or a doctor. Wanting things your way and being ticked off when they don’t go your way isn’t having OCD. Most 12-year-olds don’t want their brothers to kiss their cheeks. If you can control your thoughts without therapy or medication, then you probably do not have it.

  • Lalala

    I have a doubt about having OCD.It doesn’t affect my life drastically..however,it does in a mild way.I have compulsions like touching a particular thing or looking up at something at an inappropriate moment.It doesn’t really get in the way of my things but it definitely is annoying!

  • Ally

    My brother suffers from OCD. He can’t hug me because of it. But, yesterday, I finally got a hug, willingly, after 5 years!!! I also suffer from Doubter’s OCD. Its tough to live with. OCD isn’t a term to be used lightly.

  • Mailan

    I’m glad I’m not alone my excessive hand washing started in middle school. I had to reduce it when my skin started peeling but I’m still an excessive hand washer and glad I’m not alone.

  • LittleRedWolf

    I’m pretty sure I’ve got it mildly. Shelf organization for me goes beyond just making things neat: if books/movies in a series don’t match (i.e. all hardcover or all paperback), I actually will go out and buy new copies, even if I already have them. I’m always checking to make sure I’ve dialed the right number multiple times before I hit send. I count money I get from customers, and the change I give back, several times, and when I want to lock a door, I double-check almost every time. The hand-washing thing isn’t as bad for me, though. I only wash them after I’ve been touching things I know are dirty, or can actually see/feel dirt, food, etc on them.

  • Chrysalis

    My mom and I both have OCD. It’s hard for me because I’m constantly washing my hands and freaking out if just the slightest spot of one hand isn’t washed correctly, I am always afraid that if I leave my room and don’t switch to a blank window on my computer that something unexplainable will be seen by my parents… if anything is just a slight millimetre out of place, I will freak out and try my best to fix it.
    The last point really gets to me every time I have to work with the class clown on projects, because he’s always laughing at me for needing everything to be right.

  • Abby

    My mom and my brother both have OCD. They can be hard to deal with when they don’t take they’re medicine, but I understand they’re condition. I agree with Sierra about the jokes. Sure they may be funny to those who haven’t seen OCD in the REAL world ( Not on “Monk”), but for me and my family, we just roll our eyes at those jokes. I hope people read this article and realize just because you’re super organized you DON’T HAVE OCD. OCD is a hard thing to live with- for the victim and those around him/her. Don’t make jokes about it because they ARE NOT funny.

  • Sierra

    I have OCD and it is so annoying when people say that they are “so OCD”. It’s not cool! It’s a mental disorder! I wish people could learn some respect for the people who are actually disordered.

    • brie

      I agree. I have ocd sexual thoughts and reassuarnse needs. It is so hard

    • Madz

      Omg I have a very close friend named Sierra and she has OCD too! Hers is stress triggered and when we did a group project in school once she almost had an attack because of our teacher (who treated her awfully).

  • Mariana

    I have a really hard time with OCD . I constantly check to see if the doors are locked I have had this issue ever since I had just turned 6 years old. I have a counselor who is helping me out with my OCD behaviour issue.