It is very common these days to hear people throw the acronym ‘OCD’ around, so much that you start to think it’s some fancy sophisticated adjective. Truth is, a lot of these people are ignorant and just feed into the myth that OCD sufferers are extremely neat and love to clean, as such, it’s ‘cool’ to have OCD. I assure you, there’s more serious business to OCD than that.
The extreme neatness and urge to clean is a product of compulsion, not love. At this point, It is worthy of note that an individual can be collected and tidy, without having OCD.
Breaking the acronym down, OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Considering each word that makes up this acronym, and in this context;
- Obsessive – describes behaviour in excess, and most times, to an unreasonable degree.
- Compulsive – relates to any urge that is uncontrollable, compelling and irresistible.
- Disorder – an illness or condition.
From this, you can already tell there is nothing fancy about this condition, as it is abnormal and a deviation from the normal way of living. As a matter of fact, OCD is basically an anxiety-related malady.
It is noteworthy to understand that OCD presents itself in many forms but majorly categorizes under checking, symmetry (orderliness), contamination (cleaning), intrusive thoughts and hoarding. In this light, it is of vital importance to understand that these compulsions are for obvious obsessive reasons, and not because these obsessed people actually enjoy the activity, BIG DIFFERENCE! This disorder basically plays on an individual’s fear and guilt. Is an individual obsessed with checking, for instance, is constantly thinking in his mind ‘WHAT IF?’ what if I didn’t lock the door properly and a thief comes in and carts everything away? Or what if I locked the door properly and forgot to pull the blinds, and this thief is able to come in through the window? Notice the pattern of thought? Now, this person is unable to sleep, lost in thought about a situation that is at best, fiction, stressing the brain unnecessarily, or better still, focused on less productive thoughts. What if I forgot to turn off the gas and this house goes up in flames? And even when they check to make sure, they come back to check minutes later… what if the gas handle is bad, and it just appeared to go off, but gas is actually leaking? What if I contracted HIV from having unprotected sex today? Now it is normal to worry, but a person with OCD will go for a test, and when results come out negative, they aren’t convinced and end up trying 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 hospitals to eliminate doubt. Now as much as you might want to excuse these behaviours as normal, a person with OCD is constantly getting mentally stressed and worked up about artificial situations in their mind. Similarly, constantly questioning your romantic partner’s love for you is normal right? Now an individual with OCD, even in the face of affirmation and affection is constantly thinking otherwise; an attitude that can kill trust and even end the relationship permanently, tailing their partner’s movement, bugging their phones, cloning their texts, waking an individual up in the middle of the night to ask ‘do you love me?’, generally obsessive behaviour. Now you can see why this is often related to psychiatric disorder, right?
Now to the myth of cleanliness and orderliness, if an individual spends hours cleaning their house or cubicle or car or any item for hours unending because they love to clean, it’s not OCD. It becomes an obsessive disorder when an individual is less pragmatic about cleaning, to the extent that it affects their healthy living and normal functioning.
For instance, PERSON A loves to fold their clothes. Now that is orderliness in every respect. It becomes a disorder when this person goes to another person’s house, PERSON B, and finds out person B prefers to hang their clothes. This triggers person A, to the extent that person A goes and folds person B’s clothes, even against person B’s wish, just because it triggers their anxiety. Now you see the pattern? Or person B goes to person A’s house and cleans and re-arranges the entire setting of the house, changing the position of everything in the living room, to suit their own taste, totally ignoring what the owner of the house (Person A) already had in place. Further breaking it down, imagine a person so obsessed with cleaning that they get back from work, instead of resting, they start to clean. So much so, that they forget to sleep, cleaning for hours, and when they finally get to sleep, they sleep so heavy because they ate into their sleeping time, only to wake up very late for work, as such they get to work extremely late, and even when they somehow manage to get to work early, they are mentally exhausted and totally useless at work as they hadn’t enough rest the previous night; a pattern that could lead to them constantly sleeping at work, unable to carry out essential duties they were employed to handle, consequently leading to getting sacked. Now you see how this person’s unhealthy obsession with cleaning has interfered with his job? Take another person for instance who spilt a drop of coffee on his couch, and was unable to clean it as He was rushing to work. This individual gets to work and is completely useless at work because he is thinking of that drop of coffee he spilt on his couch at home, totally shutting out thoughts that have to do with work, rendering him mentally unfit and unproductive that day, as far as work is concerned, or even when this individual decides to not rush to work, He stays home to clean this coffee spill on his couch, even when He knows it will take a lot of time and effort, intentionally choosing to get to work late, when He could have been pragmatic and waited to get back home to clean.
I am sure as you are reading this you can already start to mentally understand the concept of OCD, as is the aim of this paper. Please note that there are other indicators, this is just an overview.