A Few Words on Stress and OCD

Are you part of the problem?

stressedsquareThe website “A Guide to Understanding Stress and OCD” states, “Stress can also be thought of as how we react to an event. The classic stress response is the “fight or flight” reaction in which your body activates a number of physical and behavioral defense mechanisms to deal with an impending threat. This includes the release of specific hormones, activation of stress-sensitive brain regions, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and a decrease in appetite and sexual activity.

All of these changes are designed to keep us alive in the face of danger. It makes sense that it is often these physical and psychological symptoms that we are detecting when we say that we feel stressed out.Although the fight or flight reaction is helpful in the short-term, it puts a strain on the systems of the body and can contribute to a variety of physical and mental illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety disorders, if it goes on for too long.”

I wrote a series on Mental Health a couple years ago. One of those articles was on OCD, where I wrote:

Yeah, a place for everything and everything in it’s place. And in order, lined up and symmetrical, too. I can’t describe the feelings that I experience when something is out of order, or out of symmetry. Not quite dread, but very unsettling. So much so, that I am compelled to “set things right.” 

As someone who suffers from OCD and has been diagnosed with (and still undergoing treatment for) clinical depression, I cannot “stress” how important it is to NOT belittle what triggers stress, particularly for those who are mentally ill. This is not easy to do, because the things that cause stress often seem picayune, or insignificant, to those whom are not effected. Often, we hear things like “get over it,” “suck it up,” “don’t be ridiculous,” or some such other invalidation of what is causing us to be in duress.

It causes me great stress when things are out of order, unorganized, messy, unkempt, or generally haphazard. It’s literally painful. If someone tells you they have a broken leg, you are not apt to take a hammer and start banging on the cast, are you?

If someone tells you they are suffering from any form of mental illness, and something you are doing is causing harm to them, then the same rules apply. Your invalidating comments are like a hammer to us. They devalue us, cause us even more stress, and do not help at all with our ability to cope with life.

So, please, I implore you, have a little compassion. Don’t use belittling statements. Avoid projecting your ability to cope with any given situation onto those who have trouble doing so. Finally, treat mental illness like any other illness. If there is anything you can do to help alleviate the pain and discomfort that someone is suffering, you have a moral obligation to do so.

Don’t be part of the problem…


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