Those were the words I heard from a characters mouth on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, about an hour ago. Don’t worry, I don’t actually watch the programme. My step-mum and brother were watching it at the time.
As someone who has suffered greatly with OCD, I certainly do not appreciate my disorder being used as a description word. OCD is an illness that has completely changed my life. It has ruined opportunities for me. I’m not the only one; OCD transforms and potentially ruins many lives around the world.
For those of you who don’t understand what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is, I shall tell you. OCD is a mental disorder that causes the sufferer to have obsessive thoughts about unpleasant or unwanted things, which can lead to compulsive behaviours to decrease the negative emotions such as anxiety that are caused by these. These obsessions are not nice, and can turn into extremely time-consuming behaviours that can lead someone to not being able to leave the house without doing them. OCD is an anxiety disorder. It is not a description. For those of you that feel that my description didn’t clarify the disorder well enough for you, here’s a link to the NHS page that describes OCD in a bit more detail:
So why am I angry that a TV programme used a mental disorder as a description? First of all, it’s very frustrating to those who suffer with OCD, as the programme maintains the ongoing stereotype around OCD that claims that people “are OCD” if they like to have their things in a certain order or like to be neat. I can promise you, that is not what OCD is all about. I can guarantee that fairly soon I shall hear an individual near me use OCD as a description word. I hear it all the time, and it is so frustrating to hear someone relate someone’s little quirk to the disorder that I suffer with. The little quirk of there’s does not mean that they would willingly rather die than not carry it out. Their little quirk does not cause them to almost take on a completely different personality as a result. It is shocking that a well known channel such as Channel 4 would even think that it is okay to use a disorder as a description word.
It’s also another stab at the ongoing stigma surrounding mental illnesses. If this programme decided to describe someone as “a bit cancer”, or “a bit arthritis” , there would be an uproar of people disgusted at the fact that a physical illness had been used as a describing word. So why should the description of a mental disability be any different? The only difference between a mental disability and a physical disability is that you cannot see the mental disability. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cause offence or upset when someone uses it as a description.
I have made a complaint to Channel 4 about this, and I do hope that others have too. I am hopeful for a response to my complaint, as I, alike many, are wishing for a day when mental illnesses are finally taken seriously.