OCD is more than a control issue

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta).
(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta).

Misconceptions are everywhere. Every day we are interacting and engaging with things we, admittedly or not, know nothing about.

A case where this happens too often is with the mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Not everyone who suffers from a mental health issue is the “crazed lunatic” from Rain Man and OCD is not a nonchalant condition to joke about.

While it is unclear where these misconceptions emerge from, one thing is: it has gone too far. A simple comment like “oh, my god, you’re so OCD” is commonplace and is not something to be joked about.

WLU counsellor Tracey Watson agrees. She says there are many stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding the disorder.

“If you enjoy cleaning, organizing, or scheduling, you must have OCD,” Watson pointed out.

But this could not be further from the truth. OCD is an incredibly serious illness, which sufferers often hide or go untreated due to shame or embarrassment, as Watson described. She states that people with OCD cannot simply “snap out of it” or take a pill.

Treatment for OCD is a very long process and the proper health care professionals are not easy to find. This treatment, according to Watson, most often includes cognitive behavioural therapy. While many people who suffer from the condition are aware of the illness, they have a hard time accepting it and feel helpless, not knowing where to turn.

The truth about OCD is that it is an incredibly serious and often severe condition that can negatively affect an individual’s daily life. The simple everyday tasks that we take for granted are transformed into a drastic internal struggle for someone suffering from OCD.

The effects of OCD can range from minimal to overwhelming as their ability to hold a balanced life is highly impaired and relationships suffer. The condition causes severe isolation on the part of the individual as they are embarrassed about their thoughts and feelings.

According to Owen Kelly, Ph.D., writing for About.com, those suffering from OCD can experience a variety of cognitive disorders including over-importance of thoughts, overestimation of danger, inflation of responsibility and the need for certainty and intolerance of emotional discomfort.

William Cranor, executive producer for Cartilage Inc, saw his father suffer through this condition for years. Cranor explained situations of overestimation of danger from germs where his father was unable to remove a glove from his hand for an hour because it had touched garbage.

The need for certainty occurred when he was not able to decide on a purchase at the hardware store for two hours until his family came to find him. Cranor remembered when his father could not leave the house without checking the stove, the door and the outdoor outlets over and over until he was forced to get into the car, experiencing inflation of responsibility.

Doctor of naturopathic medicine, Danielle Marchildon, N.D. explains that as OCD can largely manifest itself through thought patterns alone, it is not always visible to the naked eye. Therefore it is important that we break down misconceptions so those who suffer no longer feel shameful.

“Mental health is as important and serious as our physical health. It is not a laughing matter, nor is it something sufferers choose to deal with.” Dr. Marchildon stressed.

“Talking with someone whom you suspect may suffer from OCD and opening the door for non-judgmental, empathic discussion is really all we can do.”

Suffering with this condition for years, Cranor’s father sought psychological therapy and is able to maintain an easier lifestyle.

When asked how his father feels about his condition, Cranor explained, “My father has said countless times that without his wife and his therapist he’d be dead by now. Literally.”

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