Ten Things Not to Say to Someone with OCD

bulletin board

My bulletin board might not look perfect, but that does not mean I am free of OCD.

“Oh, I must set everything up in a certain way. I am so OCD.”

How often do you hear that? People often make comments about OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) that are dismissive and unsympathetic towards those who actually have the disorder. This creates lack of awareness and support surrounding mental illness.

Here are some comments that harm people with OCD. Please know that you should not be hard on yourself if you have used these phrase but try to be aware of them in the future.

  1. How are you not super clean? OCD looks different for each person. Some people do clean excessively, but many exhibit other symptoms of OCD. Try not to assume someone is a certain way because of his or her diagnosis.
  2. I wish I could be as organized as you are. Mental illnesses do bring benefits. However, they also make life more difficult. You probably do not really want to have OCD even if it meant you might (and see the answer above) be more organized.
  3. I had that for a little while too. Back then, I needed to wash my hands at least five times a day. If you really had OCD, it is great to be supportive. However, many people will act like they know what it feels like and give an example that is not really OCD.  
  4. You should come over and clean my house. Having OCD does not make me want to clean; it makes me need to clean, depending on the person of course. Please do not take advantage of that drive or make someone serve you because of his or her illness.
  5. Why do you think like that? Believe me, I do not want these thoughts in my head. I try to get them out but obsess over them instead. Please know that my thoughts are not who I really am.
  6. Those thoughts are awful! How can you think like that? Like mentioned above, my obsessive thoughts are not the way that I want or like to think. They come into my head and will not leave although I am nearly in tears trying to get them to go away and leave me alone.
  7. So you want to hurt people? No, I do not. My thoughts might suggest this, but it the last thing that I want to actually act upon despite my obsessions. Please do not treat me like a villain.
  8. I am so OCD because I like to organize things, wash my hands a lot, use the same fork, etc. Maybe you are, but maybe you are not. Do not announce this lightly without proof. This makes those who have OCD feel stupid.
  9. That isn’t real. You are just being difficult, picky, perfectionistic, etc. This is a real illness, not some game or way of being hard to handle. Please do not tell someone that what is tormenting that person is fake. Would you tell someone that cancer is not real?
  10. Just stop acting or thinking that way. Easier said than done. Once again, we want to stop but struggle to do so. Please do not give up hope on us though. We can make it through this.

What are some comments that you have heard that you would add to this list? Please let me know.


4 thoughts on “Ten Things Not to Say to Someone with OCD

  1. Rachel says:

    I don’t think I have OCD, but people are constantly telling me things like, “Oh, you’re so OCD!” or “Look at those pencils; OCD much, Rachel?” I think it’s just standard ASD “sorting” habits, but it’s like colour-coding my books for each subject, alphabetising the spice rack and freaking out if someone puts the cardamom back under M, drawing up a meal plan every week and making others follow it, coming to a table of A4 pictures and straightening them up so they’re all facing the same way in rows, by number or colour… Still pretty sure I don’t have OCD, though. Surely someone professional would have said something by now if it were anything more than normal ASD tendencies.

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