OCD – why do we need to raise awareness?

Blog by mymindoutlined

Blog written by 'My Mind Outlined' ‏@mymindoutlined for OCD Awareness Week, October 2014.

I have recently looked back over my previous blog posts and there was one in particular that stuck out to me. It was my attempt to summarise why I felt my OCD is so misunderstood, in relation to my own situation and experiences. I have taken the opportunity to update this post for OCD Awareness Week 2014, and to explain why this week is so important to me.

1. My anxieties are invisible
People can’t see the uncontrollable thoughts and fears I experience when my OCD is at its worst (or even when it’s not). They only see the compulsions that I sometimes carry out as a result of those thoughts such as the washing or the checking, and they think that is all it is – a quirky feature of my personality or me being fussy. They don’t see what is causing them and the constant mental anguish it causes me, which is often the worst part of it for me.

2. OCD is used incorrectly in everyday language
I have often said that OCD sufferers face two daily battles. The first is the constant fight against their condition, and the second is get others to understand it. This is not helped by the term ‘OCD’ now being used loosely in everyday conversations to describe people who are particularly fussy or ordered. This detracts from the true nature of OCD and how debilitating it can be. It trivialises the condition and causes misunderstanding. More recently I have seen an increase in the number of ‘jokes’ about OCD which show no real understanding of what it is really about. I am the first to laugh at myself and have a good sense of humour but when I hear jokes that do nothing but increase the misunderstanding I can’t help but get annoyed. What is particularly worrying is that work then has to go into correcting this, which could instead be used to support those sufferers who most need help. Which brings me to my final point…

3. I have found it difficult to access good quality treatment
I have suffered with OCD for over 20 years and know that there is some really good quality treatment available. However, it can often be hard to access this for a number of different reasons. My experiences suggest to me that part of this (but certainly not all) could be helped by improving understanding and awareness. If people became better at recognising the symptoms, understanding the severity of it and where to go to get the right treatment, sufferers could have a chance of leading a ‘normal’ life.

OCD can be such a lonely and misunderstood condition, but my hope for Awareness Week is that it might make it a little less lonely for some people.

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