You know the articles I mean, with titles like, “10 Images That Will Set Off Your OCD”. Maybe you think it’s rather OCD of me to want to say (scream), “NO. YOU ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT OCD STOP USING THAT TERM.”
But remember that it’s kind of a REALLY FLIPPING HUGE DEAL to not trivialize mental illness; when I take mighty umbrage to people referring to “that feeling of ire when you see something done wrong” as OCD, it’s because when I actually experience obsessions or compulsions, I need you to understand what is happening, and it’s not something I can just brush off.
Go back to “that feeling of ire” that I’ll just call “ire”. I’m talking about when you see a brick or tile out of place in a pattern. Or any gag where a character plays a short ditty on a piano and ends on a note a half step off, sharp or flat (like the one where Bugs Bunny tricks Yosemite Sam into pressing a piano key that blows him up). That sour note that’s so intolerable that you just HAVE to go fix it because aaaaugh it BURNS and it LINGERS!
That’s “ire”. That’s not OCD. I have never met a human being that does not experience “ire”. And if EVERYONE or most everyone experiences a thing, it’s not deviant. And deviant is a rather important aspect of mental disorder. “Ire” might be distressing, but there are a lot of things that are distressing that are not mental disorders. And disabling? I mean, “ire” might be really annoying or upsetting, but usually you’re able to move on. People usually do.
The difference is in, say, my experience at a fast food restaurant, findng a table to sit at.
Say that every table has a splotch of ketchup or is dull and questionable-looking or actually damaged. No one likes napkins or ketchup splotches or creepy-looking tables, but we suck it up and move on. I cannot suck it up – because in my head, some broken part of my brain I don’t control insists that any of the tables I mentioned are covered in a disease that bears the same name as any given STD but behaves the same way cooties do (if I touch it, I’m infected – and that’s it. I’m just infected. I have to go take a shower or at least wash whatever touched it with hot water until it doesn’t feel infected anymore.) This sounds really silly, but it gives me a panic attack. If I am forced to sit at an “unacceptable” table, I spend my entire time there freaking out about all the chlamydia I’m touching. My mind can’t stop obsessing over that stupid nonsense. The only way to get it to stop is to go wash and not touch it any more and I am compelled to do so.
It’s just silly, right? Things became a lot more serious and anxiety-panic inducing when I had a kid and we went to a duck pond with a railing and I held her up to see the ducks.
The railing was at her chest and there was a zero percent chance that even if I dropped her, she would fall in the pond. But guess what clouded out everything else in my mind while I held her there? Guess what ruined my ability to see her face at seeing ducks, hear her scream, “Duck! Duck! Quack!” What made a cute moment a moment of pure, unadulterated terror? All I could see in my mind was her shocked, crying face trying to make a strangled cry as it disappeared below dark waters to disappear forever because I dropped her into the pond. Again. And again. And again. And again. My child sinking below dark water. I tried to fight it. The vision showed me diving in after her but it was too murky to see and I’m not a strong swimmer and I couldn’t find her. I told the obsession that she couldn’t fall in. The railing was at her chest! I wasn’t going to drop her! The vision added what I would feel like for the rest of my life, watching in my head her face disappearing below the water, knowing I’d killed her. I set my kid down and pull us both away from the railing of the duck pond and breathe, and everything is okay again, though for a moment, that image of her little white face disappearing lingers.
Don’t even get me started on how my obsessions have progressed on having a second child – it’s disturbing and distressing, like a little devil sitting on my shoulder whispering whatever it can to horrify me by obsessing over how fragile he is and how easy he would be to break in myriad monsterous ways, and what he would look and sound like in the process. I live in a psychological horror show in my own freaking head.
You don’t have OCD. You don’t want to have OCD. Stop saying OCD when you don’t mean obsessiosn or compulsions.