For too long now, a person suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (a.k.a OCD) has always been assumed as one simply being overly fixated on cleanliness, tidiness and everything being in order. In reality, it’s not that simple. OCD is a form of chronic mental/anxiety disorder in which a person has reoccurring thoughts and behaviours that he or she feels the need to repeat over and over; this urge cannot be controlled. Although one of the compulsions related to OCD does include excessive cleaning and the need to order and arrange (and rearrange) things in a very particular and precise way, the disorder is not limited to this symptom. The symptoms of being overly obsessive and compulsive can oftentimes disrupt the daily activities of a person suffering from OCD.
Recently, actress Amanda Seyfried has opened up to Allure about her own experiences living with obsessive compulsive disorder, and how the stigma that surrounds taking psychiatric medication still very much exists.
“I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it,” she said. Seyfried stated that she has been taking the psychiatric drug to fight her OCD for 11 years. “I’m on the lowest dose, and I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it.”
“What are you fighting against?” the actress asked, regarding pressures of coming off a drug for mental disorders. “Just the stigma of using a tool?” Due to the fact that mental illnesses do not have the same awareness and urgency compared to physical illnesses, Seyfried made a point about how “it [mental disorders] should be taken as seriously as anything else… You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst, but it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.”
Seyfried also described one of her experiences with health anxiety that is stemmed from OCD. Fortunately she has managed to get it under control as well.
“I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and I thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist. As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.”
The awareness for mental illnesses is seeing a slow rise, and it’s good that celebrities are able to open up and talk about it freely without shame or stigma. Those who are currently battling mental disorders can look up to them for inspiration and support, as well as to show that mental health is a priority, and to encourage people in our society to be more open and educated about it.