Mainstream society has a preconceived notion of what obsessive-compulsive (OCD) is. People are referred to as “being OCD” if they wash their hands excessively or are exceptionally organized. OCD is a widely-known disorder but is grossly misunderstood. 1 out of 40 adults in the United States have OCD, and it is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disabilities for individuals ages 15-44 worldwide (Beyond OCD).
OCD or not, everyone has intrusive thoughts.
DID I TURN OFF MY STOVE THIS MORNING – WILL MY HOUSE BURN DOWN?
AM I TOO CLOSE TO THIS BALCONY – WILL I FALL OFF?
DID I WASH MY HANDS ENOUGH AFTER GROCERY SHOPPING – WILL I PASS ON COVID-19 TO MY MOM?
Those without OCD are able to let these thoughts go, but OCD sufferers become hooked. These thoughts become obsessive, causing the sufferer distress. This exacerbates the intensity of the obsessions, which in turn creates more distress, resulting in a vicious cycle. The sufferer engages in ritualistic compulsions to control these thoughts. These repetitive compulsions are time consuming and often hinder the sufferer from being able to live a full life. OCD harms relationships, finances, work, health and everyday living.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult to break out of. OCD can take many forms. Examples of obsessive thoughts include contamination fears, religious obsessions, perfectionism, and superstitions involving numbers. Compulsions include handwashing, excessive cleaning, checking, repeated tapping, praying, and avoiding triggers.
OCD is a complex disorder. While some obsessions are innocent, there are many that are much darker. There is an unspoken, sinister side of OCD that many sufferers are too afraid to speak about.