As someone with OCD I honestly think OCD is up there with some of the most misunderstood mental illnesses by the general public because so many times I’ve seen that even when people get that it’s not just like “oh I organized all my Buffy DVDs today, I’m so OCD”, they honestly, well-meaningly, genuinely think that it’s just that kind of thing but taken to the level of a disorder? That it is just an obsession with making things tidy or free of germs to the point of it interfering with their everyday life.
But that’s simply not true; OCD is an extremely complex mental illness which manifests in myriads of different ways for different individuals, with primary symptoms being severe, repeated intrusive thoughts which are extremely emotionally distressing to the individual (called “obsessions”, although it’s not an on-purpose obsession— the individual doesn’t want to be having these thoughts, but they won’t leave) and a specific kind of impulse control disorder.
People with OCD develop really specific “rituals”, often related to their intrusive thoughts (for example, Repeated mental image of loved ones dying → Feels compulsed to text their loved ones literally every five minutes and ask if they are okay, the whole day). Since these “rituals” are almost always self-destructive (for example, many people with OCD develop a ritual of self-injury) or destructive to relationships or jobs or hobbies or other aspects of a person’s life, these actually do nothing to quell the anxiety, and in fact make it worse, but the person with untreated OCD feels literally unable to stop. Additionally, almost all people with OCD experience some degree of magical thinking and for many people (including myself) OCD includes various degrees of psychotic symptoms. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; OCD can manifest in everything from motor control to executive functioning.
It’s a severely complex illness and it’s sad that it goes so often misunderstood and underdiagnosed. I think OCD awareness is really important!