An honest look at the ways women are taking care of their minds and bodies in 2018.
Earlier this month, singer Camila Cabello opened up to the world about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). “If I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it,” the “Havana” singer told Cosmopolitan UK. A few days later, Stranger Things and Riverdale actress Shannon Purser went public with her own struggle with OCD and suicidal ideation.
While many people across North America still seem to have an idea or preconceived notion of what obsessive-compulsive disorder is, there still seem to be a lot of misconceptions about what the disorder actually entails. This is why is it so important when stars like Cabello and Purser open up to the media about living with the disorder.
Currently, it is estimated that about one to two percent of the population has OCD or will have it at some point in their lives. When hugely popular and public figures talk about their experience with a mental health disorder, we work towards breaking down the stigma and shame that surrounds such disorders. We also work toward advancing true and accurate representations of what conditions like OCD truly look like.
The invisible, cognitive aspects of OCD go far beyond what many have stereotyped as the “hand washing” mental illness. An obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).
While it can present differently in each person, obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t just about the compulsive behaviors that may first come to mind (like hand washing); life-consuming obsessive thoughts can be a debilitating experience for sufferers. According to the Canadian Psychological Association , over 90 percent of people with clinical OCD have both obsessions and compulsions, with 25 to 50 percent reporting multiple obsessions. In fact , OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability, worldwide, for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.
If we want to undo misunderstanding and continue to support people who have been diagnosed, we need to know the best way to support them. The first thing we can do is learn how to change our language surrounding the OCD.
First and foremost, we need to stop making quirky statements about how we feel “so OCD” whenever we’re doing things like being organized or clean. These types of statements make those who are living with the disorder feel like their experiences are not valid. You should stop using “OCD” as a catch-all term to describe “obsessive” behaviors. Also, if someone shares with you that they do have OCD, maybe, just maybe, don’t ask if they wash their hands a lot. It’s likely, not the time and not the best way to support your friend.
Let’s hope that, with more and more celebrities stepping forward, we can help change the narrative and better help change experiences for those around the country — and the world — who are living and dealing with OCD.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty)