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By Ashley Fulwood, Chief Executive of OCD-UK.
In a previous Christmas message I spoke about how OCD does not seem to recognise Christmas and take the holiday season off, if anything OCD rages more at this time of the year for many people.
But you know what, I have to acknowledge that rare occasion when I might have been wrong, you see throughout this year's festive build up there’s been a marked increase in social media memes and naff retailing websites like CafePress selling ‘OCD jumpers’, not Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but that seasonal condition called ‘Obsessive Christmas Disorder’. Amusing hey?
This horrid trend that started a couple of Christmases ago gathered pace last year when a major US retailer (Target) got it on the act and thought they would use OCD to make a Christmas profit…. Such is the commercialism of Christmas these days. Sadly it’s even infected respected journals like The Spectator that published an article which started… ‘There are plenty of usually normal and well-adjusted people who go bonkers at Christmas time. I refer to the condition as Obsessive Christmas Disorder’.
Obsessive Christmas Disorder… My Arse!!! (I was watching The Royle Family last night, which is where that piece of descriptive rebuttal came from).
Of course OCD does not mean Obsessive Christmas Disorder, that was something dreamt up by people with not the first idea about what OCD or the word ‘disorder’ actually means, and it’s nothing more than a few people attempting, but failing to be humorous and cash in with their stigmatic tat.
Now of course some people will not be offended by such trivialisation of OCD, but there are plenty who are living with the devastation of OCD, an illness that blights their life, that find such trivialisation utterly unbearable and objectionable.
Sadly, even expressing discomfort at naff OCD ‘Obsessive Christmas Disorder’ memes on social media leads to accusations of being Christmas scrooges, sometimes exacerbating their isolation.
It’s ok for people with OCD to be outraged at such stigmatic crassness, equally it’s acceptable for sufferers not to be offended by it, but that does not mean that we should quietly accept it, because if we do it will be even more widespread next Christmas. So during 2017 and OCD Awareness Week next October we will need to find ways to address this lack of education around what OCD is.
But here’s the thing, don't let the fight of ignorance come at the expense of your liberation from OCD. Your recovery perhaps matters more than fighting ignorance in many ways. Because believe me my friends, recovery is real, it can and does happen. Recovery does mean different things for different people, for some it will be a destination and for others it will be an ongoing journey. Our job in the coming year will be to instil more hope and belief that recovery from OCD is a realistic proposition, and find more ways to be there to support you in your journey.
Our efforts to support you in your journey would not be possible without the incredible support of my amazing staff, trustees and volunteers. Throughout the year they are the true spirit of Christmas in many ways in that they give selflessly, and what is often forgotten is that some of them are also fighting the same battles with OCD as the people they are trying to help and serve.
Without these selfless individuals the charity would not be able to offer the levels of support that we do provide, so I would also like to take this time to thank my volunteers and colleagues for their dedication and contribution in 2016. I would also like to thank everybody that’s contributed to our charity in 2016, either financially or in a spirit of goodwill.
Our forums are a prime example of both, our moderators do an amazing job, sometimes in difficult and challenging circumstances. So if any of our forum users are reading this, please do take a moment during the Christmas and New Year week to thank our moderators for the support they offer throughout the year. The forums will be open throughout the Christmas period, a community of people helping and supporting each other.
I will be manning the charity’s phone line for a while on Christmas Day, because the fact is OCD really does not take a day off for Christmas and so neither will OCD-UK.
So as we enter 2017, lets raise a glass to 2016, either the year we overcame OCD, or maybe it is more a case of good riddance to 2016, but either way let’s raise that glass and look forward to 2017. May we all have courage to face the challenges ahead, and face them with the determination to win more battles than OCD does in 2017.
I can’t promise you what you will recover and overcome OCD in 2017, and I can’t promise you that you won’t lose some of those battles, but by putting yourself in the position to lose a battle or two, you are also putting yourself in the position to win a battle or two, and if you do that you will be one step closer to recovery, and that my friends is the only way we will beat OCD.
As a friend tweeted in the week, you can’t think your way into a new way of living, you have to live your way into a new way of thinking, and how right that is.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and healthy New Year.
Good mental health,