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Ashley

Starting a conversation to understand misconceptions

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So yesterday the sight of this jersey prompted another cyclist at the Ride100 event to make a joke about the "OCD guys are here to 'check' the course".  I was upset, but not totally surprised.   I don't believe that individual intended to cause offence, he clearly doesn't understand I reflected over the following 100 miles.  I want to start a conversation to understand and importantly learn why people still think it's acceptable to make jokes about #OCD?

I was also momentarily unsure what to say as we were surrounded by lots of people so I didn't want to get too arsey and I don't work well pre 8am so I didn't say anything and turned away, my friend (Paul Salkovskis brother in law) who doesn't have OCD just laughed with the guy, not knowing what to say as he doesn't have OCD or understand beyond my conversations with him. 

So I wanted to brainstorm what is a good response in such situations, where we can educate but not in an aggressive or argumentative way?   

Nice story from the day below ˅

AF100.jpg

 

A happier interaction came about 50 miles in at a feed station. A young man tapped me on shoulder to say thank you. At first I assumed because I was about to let him into the flow towards the exit, but he said it again thank you for riding for OCD, I looked bit surprised to which he said I have OCD, thank you. That really helped make my day after that earlier interaction.

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Perhaps the easiest response is to suggest they check out the OCD-UK website to really understand the realities of suffering with OCD. 

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Personally, although I'm not sure this will be a popular opinion, I think saying nothing was the appropriate response. You can't use every opportunity of misuse to educate, it puts too much pressure on the moment. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, misuse is much easier to contradict. That's the same for anything that is said that someone disagrees with.

Also, if there's a charity for it, then that says all there is about how much it impacts on people's lives. I'm not sure education on OCD is what's needed more like education on common decency. The rule of thumb is, don't mock charities, really simple. 

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1 hour ago, Gemma7 said:

Personally, although I'm not sure this will be a popular opinion, I think saying nothing was the appropriate response. You can't use every opportunity of misuse to educate, it puts too much pressure on the moment. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, misuse is much easier to contradict. That's the same for anything that is said that someone disagrees with.

I don't think that would be an unpopular opinion Gemma. I think a lot of people would struggle challenging such comments face-to-face.   To be honest some of the 'challenges' of misuse on social media are OTT in my opinion and don't do the cause any good, but I understand the frustration that drives that. 

Which I guess brings me back to the original question, what makes individuals think it is ok to joke about OCD. If we can identify that, then we should target our resources at that cause... although we may still have to address the misconceptions already caused with people like the one I encountered. 

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28 minutes ago, Ashley said:

Which I guess brings me back to the original question, what makes individuals think it is ok to joke about OCD. If we can identify that, then we should target our resources at that cause... although we may still have to address the misconceptions already caused with people like the one I encountered. 

Well I think people joke about and make light of a lot of problems, OCD isn't alone in that. OCD compulsions can look funny and odd which makes people find it humerous. That channel 4 programme doesn't help. It is also regularly confused with liking order and commonly laughed at that way on twitter for instance. All you have to do is look at #OCD tag. These little things belittle what is a serious mental health problem and make it a humerous anecdote for people to talk about. 

OCD seems to garner little empathy from people who know nothing of it. I think people just don't see the suffering so just don't believe it's there. I think that's common with lots of unseen illnesses but particularly with OCD because of all the confusion over where the boundaries are between illness and liking things a certain way.

But I'm not sure tackling misconceptions of OCD will tackle the problem you encountered. That person was trying to be funny and missed the mark by a light year. Making a comment like that would be widely seen as idiotic especially given the circumstances, but the problem is in people commenting on stuff that's nothing to do with them that they don't understand at all to be funny. It's like a boys will be boys humour. I think it's a culture problem not an OCD one. 

What do you think Ashley? 

Edited by Gemma7

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I agree I think it's difficult and sometimes counter productive to try and educate people in those kinds of situations. I think if you'd tried he probably wouldn't have been receptive. He was clearly a bit of an idiot. I think as gemma says the opportunities to educate can come as part of a more serious conversion. Like someone I used to work with used to joke about being ocd all the time and I never corrected him until I did a fundraiser for ocd uk and he chatted to me about it. I explained why I didn't like his comments and he agreed not to say it again. If I'd  challenged him straight after the joke though he probably would have just thought I was uptight.

I think inappropriate jokes are always going to be a thing not just about ocd. I find it staggering though that he still made the joke even knowing it was a charity. 

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I agree with it being best not to try and reply to this person during a bike race,  he probably wouldn't have been very receptive and as Gemma says in this case its about basic manners and social awareness. - he could surely have seen from the outfit that Ashley was riding for a charity. 

 I do wonder why OCD is seen as the poor relation of mental health disorders. My wife thinks one of the issues around OCD is it is seen as 'quirky' almost 'cool' and as a result it seems ok to mock it, and subscribe to the stereotypes . I think people see OCD almost as 'harmless' due to these stereotypes, people - or at least decent people would not think of making a Joke about Bipolar disorder or Schizophrenia at least to the face of someone representing a charity of that type as they consider rightly that these illnesses carry some kind of gravitas / seriousness.?

is it a case of OCD being less threatening to an individual? i.e if you were stuck in a lift with someone and said you have Bipolar for example that person may feel uneasy as a result? maybe they would worry that a person with Bipolar may be some kind of threat? Say you have OCD in the same situation then the person may feel awkward but not necessarily threatened? 

Sorry if I am subscribing to stereotypes myself - these are not my personal views on conditions such as Bipolar but it is what I have picked up from speaking to people and reading things over the years. 

That's where education comes in but as mentioned it has to be the right circumstances.

Edited by Avo

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I think, from reading others comments, we need to pick the time to respond. 

And in the situation Ashley experienced, probably not responding was best given the circumstances. 

It seems that for everyone we do educate in the real challenges and horrors of OCD, another one or more will pop up with these wrong stereotype views. 

There is so much work to be done, but I think the charity does so wonderfully well, and I do my own little bit locally, as do others in some form or another. 

There is a lot of press attention currently to the massive problem of care funding for seniors - especially those with dementia. 

But so many of OCD sufferers are so handicapped that they are unable to work, unable to get going in life for lack of hands on help.

It would be nice to get the plight of debilitated OCD sufferers more into the media awareness and onto prime time TV. 

This will need more organisations and activists joining our charity in seeking to make this happen. 

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12 hours ago, Gemma7 said:

OCD seems to garner little empathy from people who know nothing of it. I think people just don't see the suffering so just don't believe it's there. I think that's common with lots of unseen illnesses but particularly with OCD because of all the confusion over where the boundaries are between illness and liking things a certain way.

I think thats a great observation Gemma.  The public perception of OCD (though its slowly changing) is the quirky "I like to have things in a certain way".  Often in media people with OCD are portrayed as "quirky" but not necessarily suffering, not the way we know you can suffer.
 

10 hours ago, Avo said:

is it a case of OCD being less threatening to an individual? i.e if you were stuck in a lift with someone and said you have Bipolar for example that person may feel uneasy as a result? maybe they would worry that a person with Bipolar may be some kind of threat? Say you have OCD in the same situation then the person may feel awkward but not necessarily threatened? 

I'd never considered it from that perspective Avoidance, thats interesting.  I think you are probably right, OCD isn't perceived as being so strongly negative and threatening.

 

I think it also goes to how individuals respond to their own OCD.  Some people are more bothered by jokes about OCD than others.  Usually if someone makes a random offhand comment about "Oh I am so OCD about that..." in reference to say keeping their bedroom clean all the time, or liking their books to be in height order or what not, I don't pay much attention to it.  But other OCD sufferers might find such comments more bothersome, and I respect that they feel how they feel.  Even media portrayals can garner different response from sufferers.  The American television show "Monk" was particularly well known for its main character having pretty severe OCD.  While the show did use his anxieties and reactions as part of the shows comedy, it also was very clear that Monk's condition involved a lot of personal suffering and had a significant negative impact on his life.  Many sufferers (myself included) enjoyed the show and appreciated the more realistic portrayal of someone with OCD by including the suffering and challenges OCD presented, while also being able to laugh at some of the absurd situations that occurred (most of which were exaggerated of course).  But not all sufferers were fans, some felt the comedic parts were too much.

So I guess you just have to pick your battles, you have to decide which fights are worth taking on and which ones are not.  And for each person in each situation that might differ a bit.  I think if you want to respond you should ask yourself if you want to respond to make yourself feel better (valid), to try and change someone elses behavior/understanding (also valid) or some other goal.  Then decide whether your response will help you towards that goal.  So maybe its important for your own mental well being that you stand up to someone who makes a joke at the expense of OCD sufferers.  In that case you might not care if the other person is likely to change their mind.  In which case responding in the moment might be all that matters.  Or, conversely, if you want to try and educate them, because thats your important goal at that time, then you have to consider whether its the right time/place for that.  Do your best in the situation, and then go on with your life.

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22 hours ago, Avo said:

I do wonder why OCD is seen as the poor relation of mental health disorders. My wife thinks one of the issues around OCD is it is seen as 'quirky' almost 'cool' and as a result it seems ok to mock it, and subscribe to the stereotypes.

I think another issue is that OCD ranges in severity, so you may get some where OCD is clearly debilitating, but nearer the other end of the scale and probably far greater in number, where it less of an issue and even questionable, and seen as house-proud for example. 

I don't think the wording helps either, and if it had something more psychiatric related, people would not be quite so keen on using it.

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