Have you been embarrassed about having OCD? Attitudes and awareness regarding OCD are certainly better than 10 years ago. OCD is featured more frequently in the press, films and TV and the portrayal seems to be more accurate, empathetic and insightful than previously. There is a wealth of info and commentary on social media (some helpful and some not so...). Nevertheless, OCD stigma still exists and we see clients struggle with the concept of informing friends, employers, family and partners. However, if you didn’t know already, here are a few reasons never to be ashamed of having OCD:
1. You are in good company! Many successful people have OCD. From David Beckham to Cameron Diaz. I would place a large bet that a greater proportion of the world’s most successful people have strong OCD traits, just like you. Their obsessiveness drives them to be successful. If it is channeled correctly, your need for perfection, attention to detail, foresight and intuition can set you ahead of the rest.
2. You are in extensive company! It is estimated that approx. 1.5% of the world’s population have OCD, making it the most common mental disorder after depression. Not only that but a recent study found that 25-30% of people in a GP’s waiting room are presenting with mental health issues (some unknowingly so). Therefore if you factor in addictions, depression, anxiety, panic, etc. and wherever you are, you are not far from someone else who is also struggling.
3. It’s good to talk! For every one of us who ‘comes out’ about OCD and generally, mental health issues, the more people will feel able to follow suit. Even if one person feels able to open up as a result of your actions, it’s progress. When I made an appearance on TV, the show’s driver, producer and researcher admitted that they have OCD. Opening up is contagious.
People with OCD are good people! Believe me, I’ve worked in this area for 15 years and the OCD mindset tends to be sensitive, honest, kind, communicative, responsible/accountable (sometimes overly), empathetic, creative, detailed (again, often overly) and intuitive. Correctly managed, these are positive and admirable traits in any human being and ones that contribute to society.
4. People with OCD do good things! On the subject of contribution, if you are able, you are likely to be giving back in some form or another. Whether you are taking care of people in your family or community, involved in charity or non-profit work, social work or counselling. Being at the emotional end of the spectrum you are naturally drawn to these fields and have an abhorrence of violence or abuse towards humans and animals. You are the ideal person to make a difference to the world.
5. Everyone needs people with OCD! With a few exceptions, many people would prefer to employ a perfectionist. Although they may seem a bit glib, there are people out there saying, ‘I would prefer my architect/accountant/child minder/cleaner/driver/editor/assistant, etc. had OCD’. We know that the actuality of OCD is more serious than this but there is some truth in the fact that you are likely to be more thorough, precise, conscientious and diligent than anyone else
6. OCD is a condition! OCD isn’t insanity, a disease or an illness. It is a biological condition which can be managed and there is no scientific evidence that the severity is biological. It is is more likely to be based upon your environment so that means you can change how you respond. You have a condition which results in an emotional over-response and this is nothing to be ashamed of.