7 Things You Should NEVER say to a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

I chose to believe that most of the people who say these things are saying them because they are unaware, or truly think they are being helpful.  It is in that spirit that I write this blog.

  • I’d love to have OCD then I’d be more organized, and my home would be tidy.  Not all People with OCD have cleaning compulsions. There are many different obsessions, and compulsions they are as different as each individual person is.  Telling someone you wish you had the illness they are struggling with is not helpful, or encouraging.  It diminishes the struggle that person is enduring.
  • You need to let things go. I’m not aware of any circumstance where this advice is helpful. When you go to a Doctor with an illness of any kind they don’t tell you to let it go.  That you’ve suffered! Let It Go, that cough you’ve had for a week! Let it Go.  OCD is not something you can just let go.  There are real physiological, and Psychological symptoms that need to be treated.    Don’t you think the person would have already Let It Go! if it were that simple.
  • I think everyone has a little OCD.   OCD is a diagnosed disorder.  You either have it or you don’t.  Having constant thoughts and feelings that make you feel the COMPULSION/NEED to do certain things to prevent something terrible from happening.  That is OCD.
  • How bad can it really be? This one I must admit makes me angry.  It is not for you to determine how bad someone else had it.  It can take people with OCD hours to leave the house if they can leave at all.  The only respite they get is when they are sleeping.
  • Your just doing this to get attention. Why would anyone want to put themselves through something so difficult on purpose.  OCD is a neuro-biological disorder which means people are born with it.
  • I’m so OCD’ing today. OCD is a noun not a verb.  You cannot pick a day to OCD.  It is not an action that can be done by everybody.  It is a medically diagnosed illness that is with you your whole life.
  • Everything is going to be OK. Reassurance feeds OCD.  If someone with OCD says “I am afraid if I leave the house we will be robbed.”  Saying It’s OK we won’t be robbed is unhelpful.  You have no way of knowing, or guaranteeing that you won’t be robbed.  Instead acknowledge that it is a possibility, but you’ve done everything you can, and you need to leave now, and trust everything will be ok.

Educating ourselves is the best way to learn an understand please never stop learning or trying to understanding one another.  Here is a link to The Canadian Mental Health Association’s information about OCD.


Karen is a great listener and a solid shoulder to lean on. She has a degree in History and English and a diploma in Counselling Skills. She struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Depression. She understands the importance of having someone to talk to about your struggles. She loves singing, researching her genealogy, cheering for her favorite hockey teams, swimming, hiking and spending time with friends.

You can follow Karen on Twitter.

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