I suffer with OCD. I’m special?

I suffer with OCD. I’m special?

When I tell people that I’m on a psychiatric medication, people of course ask “For what?”

The moment I tell them OCD, I see a spark in their eyes.

7 out of 10, people’s reactions are “Woah… OCD… that’s different”

Few people even told me I’m a special one because they’ve “only” met people that suffer from anxiety and depression and apparently, “everyone” is on medication for those disorders.

When I hear these things, I don’t know what to say.

Am I suppose to say thank you? Am I suppose to acknowledge my “special disorder” because it’s not as common?

It frustrates me and breaks my heart how much the number of people on medication increased so dramatically in the recent years. I never imagined myself to be taking psychiatric medication, but here I am. I can no longer blurt out or make fun of “big pharma” because I am also the one that is getting help from it.

I feel lost at times. I don’t mean to “degrade” anyone that is on medication for anxiety and depression. I also suffer from minor anxiety and had a severe depressive episode myself, and it is NOT easy.

But what do I say when I get those reactions? I don’t want to be special nor get pity.

I am NO different just because I’m on medication.

I suffer with OCD, and I am NOT special.

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34 Replies to “I suffer with OCD. I’m special?”

  1. I totally understand! When I get asked the meds question and I answer with OCD, the initial reaction is they think I am joking and start going on about the stereotypes of OCD. But as soon as I explain that actually it can be a lot more than just liking things a certain way, and that I could be obsessing about things in my head that never even happen etc, suddenly I’m the one with the ‘Special’ mental health issue. Like it doesn’t make me any worse or any more ‘deserving’ of help than the others with anxiety and depression. It just makes me different. So I really do get where you are coming from. x

    1. It’s like… having ocd makes me “different” than someone who suffers with severe anxiety because my obsessions with doorknobs and compulsions to check them over and over is “cool”

      Good to meet another OCDer!

  2. This is amazing blog post Haelim, and an important one. You bring about an interesting point about how many people are on psychiatric medications. They are very good and have helped me throughout the last few years at figuring out my own struggles with mental illness. What is interesting though is the other side. Recently I have gone off antidepressants completely because they were hurting more than helping these days. I have seen my depression drop to levels I never thought imaginable and most days I don’t feel any depression. The other side is my anxiety where I can’t live without my medication. I wonder your thoughts, especially since you are getting into this field as both a sufferer and researcher, about the short-term and long-term effects of psychiatric medications. Great post as always.

    1. Thanks James.
      I really do have complete different views of meds ever since I started them myself few months ago. It’s not just simply reading a journal article how different psychosocial variables can make disorder xyz more prone in that population, but it’s been allowing me to think beyond the scope of what can WE do as a society to prevent this from happening?

      I’m learning more and more. Medication is not our enemy, uneducated stigma is.

      1. I agree. Uneducated stigma really is out greatest enemy. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. I dream of the day when people with mental health disorders receive the same kind of respect given to people who suffer from physical health disorders. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and support people asking questions when they are doing so because they truly want to learn how life is, but too often that doesn’t seem to be the case. They ask questions because of morbid curiosity.

    I suffered from horrible postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. This was right around the time Andrea Yates was in the news after drowning her children. I cannot tell you how many people asked me if I wanted to kill my newborn. I was also asked if I “thought I was getting orders from God or the devil”. I lost count of how many people were genuinely shocked to hear postpartum depression was not the same as postpartum psychosis. Given, people who have never experienced any kind of mental health issue are completely ignorant to the self talk that goes on in the mind of someone who struggles with mental disorders. In my case, I’m sure they thought they were being supportive by seeming to care about my disorder. They had no idea that my unhealthy mind could twist their words and use them as proof the world would be better off without me. When they would ask, “Does God/Satan tell you to hurt your baby?”, I would hear “I’m so horrible of a person and mother people think my baby would be better off dead”.

    1. What a horrifying experience! People come up with the most ridiculous assumptions. I have several friends who suffered with severe postpartum depression, all of whom I can confirm have happily living and growing children to this day.

    2. I’m so sorry to hear this. The things some people told you – I honestly can’t fathom how painful and upsetting it must have been for you as a parent. I also do – dream of the day where it’s stigma free and mental disorders can be looked like someone suffering from a peanut allergy. No one is perfect, and we all have something we struggle with. Why is it mental disorders so “special”?

      Hope you’re at a much better place now, and prayers for your heart to be renewed!

      1. Ikr. It is amazing to me how many different forms there are. Some times it is a blessing and other times it is a curse!

  4. I think the thing is that we are very slowly, as a society coming to terms with depression and anxiety. That’s not to say that everyone is equipped or willing to treat those illnesses in an appropriate manner, but there’s a consensus that those illnesses can exist and be treated with medication. That said there’s obviously a lot of work to be done in acceptance and empathy, but the basics are now there compared with even thirty years ago in terms of the conversation starting.

    Your OCD is simply not on the curve yet. That means people aren’t remotely equipped to deal with that knowledge, because their understanding of OCD is where their understanding of depression and anxiety were 30 years ago. Back then people were ‘a bit sad’ or ‘prone to be nervous.’ OCD is not well understood, and still a synonym for ‘fussy and nervous’ in many people’s minds.

    And you are special, because you are blazing a trail into cultures beset with ignorance. You will suffer no doubt, and struggle to be heard and understood, but you are brave and setting a path so that in 10, 20 or 30 years time we will as a people be more understanding, more accepting.

    That’s not intended to be pity or patronise you. But don’t sell yourself short, and be gentle with those that don’t understand – even if it’s incredibly frustrating.

    1. Thank you. Your words really spoke so loudly to me. Blazing a trail into cultures beset with ignorance – filled with stigma and lack of understanding. As frustrating and hard as it could be – THIS – the support I find gives me to embrace my “special” identity. Thank you

  5. I wonder if some people are surprised to hear that OCD is an actual illness, since it so often ends up getting used in the sense of “OMG I’m so OCD about _____”.

    1. I think they’re not surprised to hear that OCD is an actual illness, but they think it’s “cool” that the symptoms are things that people ACTUALLY suffer from – not just “OMG IM SO OCD”

  6. I get one of two responses: “Oh yeah, I’m OCD about (insert random specific task here)” or “Like, real OCD? Because REAL OCD is a…b…and c…so you probably don’t even know what that is.” Including people who know I have some professional medical background to speak of and know better. *sigh* The term is thrown around pretty flagrantly. Gotta love the stigmas…thanks so much for this post!!

    1. I can go on and on about all the disorders that gets thrown around… “I’m depressed” – being sad and depressed is DIFFERENT. The extent and depth of devastation that comes from depression is incomparable to sadness. Being sad is hard, but it’s not depression

  7. I don’t have OCD, but I get similar responses about my ADHD. “Oh, I must have ADHD because I forget things sometimes.” And I’m like “that’s not how-…*sigh* You know what. Yes. You have ADHD, here’s a medal.” Ignorance is a thing.

    1. “Here’s a medal” – honestly got me laughing so hard! It’s like… a laughter of ‘are you serious…?’ If that makes sense.

      I agree. Ignorance and lack of interest doesn’t help with stigma either

  8. That’s funny because when I say I am OCD the first response I usually get is, “Me too!”. Because they cleaned yesterday. It is such a generalized statement now, ” I’m so OCD I can’t….” I hear it all day at work and it makes me want to scream “NO you aren’t. Being OCD is not cool”.

    1. It’s like… they don’t expect people to say it’s ACTUALLY something that people suffer with. Like they think OCD is simply just being neat or clean. It’s frustrating and I also do want to just scream at their faces too. You’re not alone

  9. People need to be more educated. I have OCD (obsessive thinking and rumination) but I don’t really tell people about it. They have a hard enough time with the depression. I “always look so happy.” It gets easier to pretend, doesn’t it?

  10. This was a really good piece of writing! something I can relate to a lot, I have told somebody before ‘I’m in therapy’ when they asked ‘why?’ and I said, ‘I have OCD’ they replied with ‘aw but that’s cute’ ?! cute. They were implying that it was a little cute quirk, I went on to tell them how much it affects my life and how much I hate it. People often don’t have a clue what OCD is sadly.

      1. Yes really, I was shocked when it was said and like you mentioned above I was standing wondering ‘how on earth do I respond to this’. I’ve made it my goal since to educate and to talk about OCD, yeah! Sometimes you have to laugh don’t you

  11. If I could go out without taking meds I would..but sadly I can’t. Sometimes it is still hard to accept that my well being depends greatly on my adherence…but there is no way around it.

    1. I personally am very new to meds but I am honestly scared that I may have to be on it a lot longer or even for the rest of my life. But, I try to remember that my antidepressants are NO different than someone taking allergy medications for rest of their life

      1. We shouldn’t be ashamed about the meds we take for our well-being. I take several and over the years they have changed. Dosages have changed as well. Scary as it may be, for me it’s better to be on meds. My symptoms are too overwhelming without them. I function because of my meds and my supporting family. Hopefully you don’t have to be on your meds for too long.

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