I need to share something with you guys that’s been bothering me all day. It bothers me everyday to be honest, but something happened today that has filled me with so much hurt and anger and it’s been rolling around in my head and my heart and I need to write about it.
Our family deals with mental illness every single day.
A member of our family has been battling mental illness for their entire life and will continue to do so because this isn’t something that ever goes away.
I have seen first hand the devastation mental illness can cause. Our family has been rocked to the core on countless occasions due to mental illness.
This family member has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
When I was at work today I had to use the washroom which is a bit of a walk from my office. As I rounded the corner to the washroom there were two people having a very loud conversation and I could hear every word they said.
“Oh I am totally OCD. I need to have everything tidy and my day totally organized.”
“Oh my god me too! So OCD. You should see my desk at work.”
And then they laughed.
They laughed as if it was funniest thing in the world to “be OCD.”
The rage that filled my body in that moment took me by surprise. Those light hearted references to OCD always upset me, but today it was more.
You see, this pandemic? This pandemic has made our loved one’s life about a billion times harder. The energy and strength they need to find every single day to get up and do what needs to done while fighting the thoughts that threaten to consume them is nearly impossible.
Watching this daily battle literally breaks my heart.
I didn’t say anything today. I wish I had. I consider myself to be an advocate for those fighting mental illness, as well as an educator.
Frankly I’m ashamed I remained silent.
But the words that were threatening to leave my mouth in that moment were not helpful. They were angry and nasty and peppered with F bombs. And that’s not who I am.
But I can’t stop thinking about it.
So here is what I would have said, if I could have remained calm and thought about it for a moment:
“You don’t have OCD. What you have are type A personalities and that is a far cry from a debilitating mental illness.
Do you have thoughts so strong and so convincing in your head that you can’t ignore them? Thoughts that remain on a loop, and tend to get louder and louder every second of every day?
Do those thoughts tell you about all the horrible things that are going to happen to you or the people you love? Do they tell you in graphic detail how you will die, or loved ones will die?
Do they convince you that the outside world is so filled with germs that it isn’t safe for you to leave your home, so you don’t? Do those thoughts at times, or maybe all the time make it impossible for you to lead a happy life? Find a partner? Sleep? Relax, for even one second?
Have the thoughts ever been so loud and so exhausting that your brain becomes your own personal hell? The one place you would do anything to escape from but you can’t?
I’m going to assume the answer is no, since you found the topic so hilarious and I have never known a single person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who finds their illness funny.
But please, tell me again about your tidy desk.”