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To find 'I'm a bit OCD' over something trivial so bloody galling!

(66 Posts)
ocdprobs Sun 14-May-17 09:43:51

Gah! I need to vent.

I have a colleague who regularly says 'I'm a bit OCD' because he likes to keep his desky tidy, I have heard this countless times before. It's not OCD to just be a tidy person!!!!! Fwiw he has been asked before if he actually does have OCD and he said 'no, I just mean I like to be tidy'... Right...


Crunchyside Sun 14-May-17 09:44:59

YANBU but lots of people think nothing of using the term in that context.

e1y1 Sun 14-May-17 09:48:14

YANBU - It can be a life crippling illness, but as crunchy said, nobody thinks anything of using it in the context.

Nobody just likes being tidy/organised, they all have OCD hmm

Katie6448 Sun 14-May-17 09:52:19

I have OCD and the trivialisation of it by people who just like things ordered or meat and tidy is quite offensive. And not only that but it makes it really fucking difficult to be taken seriously. It's a mental illness but people find it amusing.

Katie6448 Sun 14-May-17 09:52:52

Fucks sake. NEAT and tidy I meant obviously. Bloody app.

Dulcibella Sun 14-May-17 09:55:21


My 16 year old was diagnosed with OCD at 14. It got so bad that I had to have him sleep in my room because he wanted to kill himself.
At his worst it could take him to hours to be able to leave the house. He couldn't eat because he feared contamination. He couldn't even touch another person because he thought he would contaminate us and we'd die so I couldn't even hug him. Seeing your child curled up on the floor so distressed that he wants to kill him self is devastating.

HeyCat Sun 14-May-17 09:55:40

It's very offensive to use OCD that way.

I'd pull him up on it

peaceloveandbiscuits Sun 14-May-17 09:58:57

All mental health disorders are used as fun, lighthearted quips. It's shit, but people just don't see them as serious illnesses, even now in 2017.

Programmes like Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners haven't helped, because they show these people suffering as quirky characters who are seemingly coping well with their difficulties and having fun with them.

I have a friend whose life has been devastated by OCD. She doesn't like to keep her desk tidy, but she has split her house into two zones - clean and unclean. If she spends time in the unclean zone, her DP has to scrub her clean in the shower. She won't enter a building with certain electronic devices installed because she believes they will make her seriously unwell. She has no freedom from her illness. It's incredibly sad.

It's rather like comparing getting sunburnt to being "a bit cancerous", isn't it?

See also: a bit schizophrenic, a bit mental, a bit suicidal, a bit manic, a bit of a psychopath, etc.

AnxiousMunchkin Sun 14-May-17 10:00:03

These threads always end up with lots of people saying how terrible it is that people trivialise a serious mental illness.

I do have OCD, on medication, in therapy, attend support group, got the badge grin and I can't get worked up about this. FWIW I don't believe it's black and white between "likes things in a certain order" and "diagnosable OCD". Whilst the grammar is appalling, i think it probably is possible to "be a bit OCD" i.e. display clear obsessive/compulsive behavioural traits or thought patterns but not to the extent that it causes distress or impacts daily life enough to warrant a diagnosis. Many people who would fit a diagnosis of OCPD (personality disorder) for example may not be distressed at all, it's just how they are and it's not a problem for them.

So making a fuss about clumsy use of language - can become borderline virtue signalling sometimes, I feel. Many people who feel they "are a bit OCD" may indeed experience low level anxiety if their "liking to be tidy" need isn't met. They just haven't reached the extent where distress or dysfunction is extreme enough for them to be seeking help. I realise other people with my diagnosis might feel differently though, and the most important thing is to respect and support anyone who has difficulties with these kind of behaviours or thought patterns, regardless of diagnosis or not.

peaceloveandbiscuits Sun 14-May-17 10:03:38

I understand your point, Anxious. I've got various serious MH disorders, and I do try to see the funny side when I'm able to, because what else can you do with such a life sentence?
But I do object to the mainstream lighthearted use of such disorders as idle chit chat.

peaceloveandbiscuits Sun 14-May-17 10:04:41

Let's not forget that it wasn't long ago that "a bit spastic" was a seemingly acceptable thing to say.

Dawndonnaagain Sun 14-May-17 10:07:18

A couple of points: 1) If it doesn't impact on daily life it's not an illness. Displaying clear traits of something but not being bothered about them or them not affecting anything you do, no illness.
2) Whilst you're not bothered by people marginalising or dismissing mental illnesses by trivialising them, lots of us are. Obviously you're entitled to feel the way you do, and to voice it. I do wonder though if you've thought about how such trivialisation makes others feel, even though it doesn't bother you?

SiouxieQ Sun 14-May-17 10:07:24

I think there is a major lack of understanding of what true OCD actually means for a person who has it, over the years some vague details have been trivialised in the media and people have decided that anyone with a particular focus on being tidy has OCD or is 'a bit OCD' it completely trivialises the hell that true sufferers endure. Mumsnet should consider raising awareness via a campaign.

INeedAnAdult Sun 14-May-17 10:11:39

I think depression and OCD are amongst the most misunderstood mental illnesses because of the way people use them. Bad day - ugh im so depressed. Like a tidy home- yea, im OCD you know.
So people think somebody having depression is like when their friend had a rough week, and having OCD is like their friend who likes things neat.
All mental illnesses I think are trivialised, but those two seem to be most common.

AnxiousMunchkin Sun 14-May-17 10:14:54

"A bit spastic" was generally meant pejoratively though (meaning stupid, clumsy etc), plus, you kinda either have cerebral palsy or not, don't you, people don't just get traits? It doesn't really seem equivalent, to me at least.

I do object to to people using "mental" "crazy" "nutjob" etc in a negative way. Usually to describe someone they dislike, disagree with and/or don't understand. That definitely stigmatises mental health problems.

Lighthearted use in a 'positive' mannner - eh, a very minor offence in comparison. Like someone with a carefully curated wacky personality saying "I'm a bit mad, me!" is no where near as upsetting, to me as someone with MH problems, as someone describing their "crazy psycho ex, seriously, total nutjob".

StillDrivingMeBonkers Sun 14-May-17 10:18:13

Everyone has their little peccadillos and quirks. Everyone is on a spectrum.

toomuchinfo88 Sun 14-May-17 10:19:52

@Dawndonnaagain Respectfully, I can't agree with you in the slightest. By your logic, someone will severe depressive tendencies 'doesn't have an illness' if they have a good phase and their daily life isn't affected?

Someone undergoing long term cancer treatment 'doesn't have an illness' if they're not negatively impacted on a daily basis? My grandmother has suffered from various cancers over the past 20 years but some days she even manages to forget she's ill because it doesn't necessarily change her life every single day.

How absurd.

KanyeWesticle Sun 14-May-17 10:22:59

Usually when someone uses this, I reply with "You mean you're just a bit anal". The joshing and 'NSFW' word seem to catch peoples attention and make the point quite well.

Gingernaut Sun 14-May-17 10:25:13


I do have a mild version. You'd never guess.

However, once I start something, I've got to finish. Got to.

I've worked beyond my hours, missed lunches and even come in early once given a task.

Someone who complains about my untidy desk, apologising by smilingly saying "I'm a bit OCD" often has no idea about the real stress she causes me by getting me to break off to tidy my desk and restart. No idea. 😠

moutonfou Sun 14-May-17 10:29:19

Having suffered from mental illnesses, I think if an illness is used very flippantly in a way that's clearly exaggeration, I don't mind. E.g. if someone says to me after a sad film 'Well I'm depressed now' it's obviously just light hearted and they're not claiming it's actually on a level with true depression.

But what bugs me is when people who do just like things to be in order, or like to switch empty plugs off, or whatever, actually think they have OCD and know what it's like.

Katie6448 Sun 14-May-17 10:29:56

@toomuchinfo88 I would agree with that I think. There are good days and bad days with mental illness and to suggest that on the good days it's not an illness is to show a complete misunderstanding of mental illness as a whole. Although I don't think that's actually what @Dawndonnaagain meant.

AwaywiththePixies27 Sun 14-May-17 10:30:02


I have OCD. Like proper OCD not 'just need to keep my desk tidy' OCD.

I have mastered the smile and mental eyeroll when someone says that gem.
They're welcome to have my OCD.

strikhedonia Sun 14-May-17 10:31:20

true, being tidy doesn't mean you are OCD. However, of course you can be a bit OCD and it doesn't sound right to make a judgement call about others. Maybe they are, maybe they are not, but it's not really up to you to decide, is it?

I don't find it offensive when people are talking about themselves. It only gets offensive one way or another if they describe somebody else negatively.

AwaywiththePixies27 Sun 14-May-17 10:32:41

Programmes like Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners haven't helped, because they show these people suffering as quirky characters who are seemingly coping well with their difficulties and having fun with them.

Quite so peace. Me and my counsellor were only talking about this show recently and how it hasn't helped the perspective. I wish OCD was just wanting things a bit neat and tidy. If you (generic use) think it's that, you really dont understand the condition at all.

WhooooAmI24601 Sun 14-May-17 10:35:09

DH has used the phrase "a bit OCD" about me once or twice. I've pulled him up on it, though, because liking the house tidy and not going to bed til it's sorted is entirely different to some of the issues people have spoken about on this topic previously. Being a tidy person doesn't blight my life or damage my enjoyment of things whereas genuine OCD can be debilitating.

I'm not keen on using those sort of phrases but it's so common it's sort of accepted by most people because they don't think to question it.

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