OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is extremely common. In the UK alone the estimate is 750,000 people suffer with this disorder.
- Liking things neat and tidy
- Liking things ‘just so’
- Enjoying cleaning
- Checking the front door once before you go out
- A habit
- A choice
- Needing things neat and tidy
- Having to clean
- Checking over and over again
- Anxiety driven
- Catastrophising thinking patterns
- All consuming
- Extremely distressing
You cannot be ‘a little bit OCD’ .
The main thing to understand about OCD is that it is driven by our old friend anxiety. And anxiety is driven by a catastrophising thought. The thought will often start with ‘what if?’ and is powered by a tendency towards over-responsibility and a constant need to make the uncertain, certain.
The constant loop of a sufferer’s thoughts and anxiety is the obsession. That’s the hidden part that the world doesn’t see. It is frightening and deeply distressing.
The way sufferers try to relieve the anxiety, is through repeated safety behaviours such as checking, counting, cleaning, washing, ordering or hoarding. This is the compulsion. Sufferers feel they have to do it. That’s the part the world does see.
Because the outside world only sees the compulsion, people might think it OK to just tell an OCD sufferer to ‘stop’. This however would just add to their suffering. OCD needs to be managed with empathy, kindness and a range of tools.