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You do not have OCD

A man I just met and immediately dislike has me feeling surprisingly tenacious. I’ll call him Bob. Bob tells me he has OCD because of organizational needs.

I feel baited and I take it.

Cutting into Bob with the verbal equivalent of a knife, I explain disabling fear and why it is not a joke to have the disorder he so flippantly identifies with. When I’m finished he simply smiles and walks away. I think of all of the sufferers – some whom I have worked with, others suffering in silence – and I feel like an advocate.

Non-clinical conversations about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder usually follow a script. The person I am speaking with is intrigued, and will either tell me they know someone with OCD, or the phrase “I have OCD because …” arises. The sentence is almost always followed by a stereotypical explanation of the disorder.

Most of the time those with OCD let this sentence go unchecked.

I do not have OCD, but I have dedicated my work to helping those who do. This is a place of privilege. Shame, embarrassment, and stigma are non-threating to me when correcting the misconceptions that follow OCD. When privilege is used as a force for good you become an ally.

I was stuck with Bob for hours. Thinking he brought out the worst in me, I did not give our conversation much attention. However; Bob helped cultivate the courage I needed to be bold, loud, and advocate for the community I serve.