Raising Awareness: Step One!

Starting this summer I have begun my journey of recovering from OCD but also of joining the OCD community, meeting others who have OCD, and doing my part to raise awareness of what OCD really is. The other day I stumbled upon an opportunity to do just that: help raise awareness, and so I decided to take the opportunity.
I visited a candy store called IT’SUGAR that I really liked and they had great candy (this is coming from a candy connoisseur) but…they sold this annoying chocolate bar (http://www.itsugar.com/it-sugar-ocd-chocolate-bar.html). duh duh duhnnnn

chocolate guy spongebob

property of Nickelodeon

I wrote and sent them a polite but encouraging product complaint that they should stop selling this chocolate bar. This makes me feel proud of myself to be helping contribute to all of these efforts for raising awareness. This is the first of many battles I will take on :), just as I am beginning to take on battles against my OCD.

I would really appreciate it if more people would be willing to write and send their own polite but reasoning messages also encouraging that they stop selling the candy bar. (Their contact form can be found at http://www.itsugar.com/index.php/webforms/index/index/id/10/). Thank you in advance!

Here is a copy of the message I sent them if anyone would like to read it:

Hello. My name is (blankety blank-This blog is still anonymous but the letter had my real name) and I recently visited one of your store locations in (blankety blank). I have visited before and I am a big supporter as I think you sell a great selection of candy (especially the many flavors of gummy bears!)

Nonetheless, despite how much I like your store, there is something I found disturbing that you were selling. This is the chocolate bar labeled “Beware: OCD Obsessive Chocolate Disorder.” It seems innocent enough but to people actually suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, this is not the case. I personally have struggled with OCD for 10 years. What this chocolate bar does is make fun of a very real and very distressing disorder. It is continuing the false perception that OCD is quirky or fun, which is not true. It is an anxiety disorder that affects real people. These real people are fighting hard to overcome OCD and raise awareness about what the disorder actually is. Therefore, other sufferers and I would greatly appreciate if you stopped selling this chocolate bar.

 

I can understand why a chocolate bar like this was made in the first place. Unfortunately, OCD is a very misunderstood disorder, partially because many keep their symptoms secret for years, suffering in silence, before getting professional help or telling family and friends.

Because of a lack of awareness about what OCD really is many people think OCD is something fun and quirky, like organizing things by color or being annoyed when a painting isn’t straight. The truth is though none of these behaviors that people normally call OCD are actually OCD. These are merely personality traits or quirks, things people are often choosing to do or gaining some enjoyment from doing the behavior.

Some people understand the basics of OCD a little better and see it as being a germaphobe and washing your hands a lot. While this is one part it is only a fraction of the true story. There are many more different types of OCD that are less familiar to the public. Just a few examples are hoarding, fear of harming oneself or others, counting, or checking a variety of things.

I would like to provide a quick explanation of what it is like to actually have OCD to help explain why this chocolate bar is hurtful to sufferers and detrimental to the public’s knowledge of OCD.

The true story is that OCD is a type of mental illness categorized as an anxiety disorder.

The O in OCD stands for obsessions. These are recurring, disturbing thoughts, for example that family and friends might be in danger or that something might lead to your death. The C stands for compulsions which are behaviors sufferers engage in, either physically or mentally, to temporarily decrease the anxiety the obsessive thoughts are causing. For example someone might have the obsessive fear that if a light switch isn’t turned off “just right” an electrical fire might start, harming them or their family. The compulsion might be turning the light on and off over and over or tapping the light switch over and over. Other common compulsions involve checking, counting, or thinking something over and over. However, these compulsions only decrease the anxiety for a short amount of time before it returns. These behaviors are a “false clutch.” It is a vicious cycle of obsession, anxiety rises, compulsion, anxiety temporarily decreases.

(It should be noted that people with OCD know these thoughts and behaviors are irrational but OCD is a disease of doubt. The fears are so strong that sufferers give into performing compulsions again and again “just in case” something bad might happen.)

The most important part in explaining what OCD actually is like is the last letter, D, which stands for disorder. Everyone has obsessive or disturbing thoughts from time to time and everyone has certain rituals or weird behaviors they do. It becomes OCD only when it is taking up a large amount of time in the day, is extremely distressing, and is affecting the sufferer’s quality of life. In summary, it is actually OCD when the OCD is in control rather than the person. (For more information about the actual disorder please visit http://www.ocfoundation.org/whatisocd.aspx )

 

After this explanation, I hope it becomes clearer that OCD in actuality is not fun, quirky, or in any way desirable. It involves nearly constant anxiety and daily terror.

Many people with OCD are working hard to raise awareness of the real disorder and decrease the colloquial and incorrect use of the term. By doing this we can also help decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness. What this chocolate bar does instead is work against all of these efforts. It decreases awareness for what OCD actually is, raises the stigma on mental illness, and lastly trivializes the real disorder, which greatly affects several million around the world.

I will continue to support you stores but I would also like to politely ask that you stop selling this chocolate bar. This will help support these efforts for mental health awareness, rather than working against them.

Thank you for your time.

(blankety blank-my real name)

spongebob eating chocolate

property of Nickelodeon

 

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