Dear Stereotypes,

To the girl in my sociology class who called her pretty notes “OCD”. To the Instagram accounts filled with pictures of satisfying order and colour, describing them with my disorder. To the “Friends” fans who nicknamed Monica Geller with my clinical condition. To anyone who ever invalidated, minimised or trivialised the illness that tortures me on a daily basis. This is for you. 

At sixteen years old, when my brain that was once preoccupied with thoughts about school and boys and Netflix began to become consumed with pictures of vomit and death, when my hands that once wrote essays only ever tapped on tables, when my feet which would have danced at prom couldn’t even be placed on the ground incase there was a crack, I truly believed I lost my mind.

Insanity had a tight grip on me. Silence eclipsed me. Demons plagued me. Every second of every day, I was taunted by an invisible monster demanding I touch the door one, two, three times in return for safety. I often collapsed into exhausted tears because I thought I was broken, deranged, mental.

Why was “crazy” the first term I thought of rather than “sick”? Why hadn’t I even considered the notion I’d developed obsessive-compulsive disorder but instead concluded I was insane? Simply, because I was never educated.

Depicting nitpicking, cleanliness and neatness, I’d learned from the media that OCD was an adjective applicable to situations such as my friend colour coding her crayons because it looked cool, my mother wiping down the table twice before lunch, aligning a pile of novels to make them appear straight on a shelf. Is it any wonder I diagnosed myself with madness before I’d considered OCD?

I was shadowed from the reality of the illness, forced to rely on stereotypes for understanding. Stereotypes which glamorized an illness that was destroying me, turning a parasite into an aesthetic.

OCD has never been and will never be a satisfying experience because compulsions are painful to perform. Water begins to sting and soap bottles are empty, broken light bulbs and tired switches, cracks on the ground are maps in the mind, ingrained images.

Despite the chuckles that Monica Geller gets, celebrities labelling it as “a blessing”, the mugs with “obsessive coffee disorder” on them, this is an illness we are talking about. Would you describe something as “cancer?”  What about appendicitis? Asthma? Pneumonia perhaps?

It is called a disorder for a reason.


- Lucy

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