The Dirty Truth of The Clean Show

Trigger Warnings – OCD, Mental Health, Dermatillomania, Schizophrenia, Brief Mention of Suicide

(Trigger Warnings will be included as standard from now on though apologies if I forget)

Hey folks, did you know it’s OCD awareness week this week? You probably didn’t, I almost forget to be honest and granted it’s Friday so the week is almost out and I’ve done precious little to contribute so here is my little contribution, they get to be considered with this article that attacks their greatest foe, other than the OCD itself, the media and stereotypes. I know, shocking, the media is wrong about reality again, another serious disorder is played as a gag, who’d have thought? Channel 4, you’re on the firing line again, resume your position from Benefit Street and I’ll get my shotgun

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is often seen as being little more than a neat-freak/germophobe with this wacky habit of always washing their hands three times after a toilet break or arranging their wardrobe by colour and garment or some silly little organisational habit but in truth, this is such a superficial view of the disorder that it is like calling depression the same as being sad or calling M.E being tired. I mean, the name Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no accident:

Obsessive – An obsession, not a hobby or a cute little stint, an actual obsession that plagues their minds night and day like the hounding cry of nicotine urges for a smoker

Compulsive – No control in the matter, this illness compels them to scrub the floors clean or pick at their skin like vultures and it seriously affects their life

Disorder – As in not ordered, not a blessing, a curse, a state of chaos, a burden to bear. Do not, I repeat do not, ever say “I wish I was OCD, I’d be so clean!”

OCD is a serious issue that needs to be treated as such and not as some sort of freaky superpower of doing housework to amazing standards. I hear people say “I’m so OCD, I always keep at least three pens on my desk and if I lose one I have to get a new one” or “I’m so OCD, I like to have all my plush toys facing this way or I go mad”. Really? Fucking really? You’re not OCD, you’re just organised and if it does annoy you when you lose a pen or your toys are misaligned that’s because you’re so organised that you hate having that hard work disrupted. OCD is not “I like to dust my house once a day”, it is “I must dust every day or the dust will build and I’ll get ill and I could die”. The thoughts are intrusive and disturbing and not always about cleanliness (only 27% of OCD sufferers are ‘cleaners’), some suffer from unwanted sexual thoughts and not in the “I accidentally pictured my dad naked” way but rather picturing graphic sexual scenes that make them seriously disgusted with themselves and potentially ruins relationships for them. Imagine trying to act normal around someone you ended up sharing a bed with before even greeting them properly, you’d feel hellishly awkward. OCD can also lead to skin-picking, excess hand-washing, do the same job five times over to be sure, count their footsteps and a whole host of other things that sound quirky but when you can’t stop doing them, it interferes with getting on in life and functioning in society

So why is Channel 4 in trouble in my books? Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners returns, the show that basically takes these people suffering with OCD and makes them into a rent-a-maid service that isn’t getting paid for the work. The show likes to go by the stereotype of OCD being a free servant and that they enjoy this work like they’re all a bunch of domesticated Ood but in truth, it’s torture, it is throwing them into the gates of hell and laughing maniacally. The show validates these intrusive thoughts as being right and desirable, essentially saying “Oh don’t recover from this disorder, you’re useful this way! If you were just like us, we wouldn’t care about you”. Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners is basically a freak show for the modern era, like The Undateables before it, a show that says “Hyuck hyuck look at them there weirdos doing weird stuff, point and laugh! Point and laugh!” all whilst reinforcing the stereotypes they claim to be presenting positively. Channel 4, you’re doing it wrong, all wrong, seriously. Heck, even the ad-breaks are littered with latex gloves and cleaning agents, there’s no escape, the show is a spiralling abyss of putrid ignorance that trivialises a mental disorder that can lead to suicide into a personality quirk that makes you the ideal butler. Imagine other mental illnesses getting this treatment, it’d spark outrage, I’d list examples but Channel 4 would ask me if I’d like creator’s credit for the shows they’d base on my sarcastic suggestions

Seriously people, we need to talk about mental health and stereotypes. Depressed people aren’t just sad, OCD people aren’t maids, schizophrenics aren’t all just Gollum and not all psychopaths become murderers. That’s a rant in itself but for now, don’t assume your friend with OCD is super tidy or would love to come over and sort out your DVD collection, they may well be a total slob like you and have DVDs all over the shop. Get out there, get informed, find out the differences between these stereotypes and the truth and above all else – Don’t watch Channel 4 whenever it has a show about an underrepresented group, it’ll almost certainly be akin to the old days where mental asylums were open on weekends for people to come and throw nuts at the man crying in the corner.


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