This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the last year and a half of having an OCD diagnosis. I can understand where these opinions are coming from that the jokes are meant to be harmless and laughing does feel good. However, I have reached my own opinion and answer for why I won’t go along with OCD jokes.
Most people know not to joke about other serious illnesses. For the most part they offer support and encouraging words. What this does is it creates an opportunity for the person with the illness to act resilient. They are now freed to sometimes crack jokes about what they are going through or to sometimes act nonchalant about their struggles, because underneath it all there is still an understanding that this is serious.
What would happen if I acted like my OCD wasn’t a big deal and didn’t impact my life? The sad answer is most people would believe me. They would then agree OCD isn’t serious and would joke along. Without that underlying understanding of its seriousness we are less free to just “put on a brave face” and shrug it off. I’m not saying we should mope around always complaining about how bad OCD is, but I do feel a need to be truthful about how serious and difficult OCD is until there is a better understanding of this. This explains the “we can joke, but you can’t” phenomenon where many people OCD don’t mind as much when other people with OCD or people who treat OCD make a joke about it. We all understand how serious this is so feel freed to laugh for a moment and to use humor to cope with some pain.
Yes, there is room for laughter. I am actually the type of person that jokes around a lot. The other residents (I’m currently in residential treatment) often say they appreciate this because it lightens the mood.
However, even though I can laugh during an exposure or I sometimes laugh at my own rituals you won’t hear me laughing about OCD as a whole. Until OCD is more widely understood as a serious disorder, I will be advocating that OCD is incredibly difficult.
Previous blog posts for OCD Awareness Week:
Day #1: OCD is when…
Day #2: Debunking Myths about OCD
Day #4: I think I have OCD. Now what?