By Shaun Flores
Race OCD, is a theme I rarely see spoken about in the OCD community, it's a taboo among taboos, shame amongst all shames. We need to open up these conversations. As a young black man living with OCD, I see the hardship OCD causes, and yet through living with OCD I want to see others living with OCD and the many themes also live a life they deserve to live.
In our society currently, we work towards being as far away from any of the “ics” in society: Racist, homophobic, transphobic and misognistic are some of the few I am able to name.
Whilst scrolling tik tok a while ago I saw a young white girl post up a video informing her followers how her OCD intrusive thoughts make her believe she is a racist, chaos on social media ensued. Other ethnic minorities simply said she is “racist”, what was sad is that once again this shut down any sort of conversation. The video has since been removed which inspired me to write this blog.
Race OCD is defined as : “unwanted, repetitive racist thoughts accompanied by fears of being a racist.” I myself have had Race OCD, but it popped in and out, thoughts of being a racist and the racial slurs in my head for every single race.
Movements such as Black Lives Matter brought to the forefront difficult conversations around race, which were swept under the carpet by society. Through this we saw the racial landscape change and conversations were being had which were uncomfortable, difficult, but most importantly needed.
A brain like a sponge clinging onto a new theme, as we say goodbye to one theme another one waits in line. OCD latches onto themes and makes people question every single one of their values. OCD thoughts are ego-dystonic meaning they are against your morals and values.
In the wake of The Black Lives movement and in particular, George Floyd’s murder where we saw several weeks of protesting, and allies coming out to support black people. I am sure many people with or without OCD questioned their values, and wanted to be seen as “anti-racist” and I am of the strong belief that many would have developed Race OCD, due to the fear that if they weren't in solidarity with the movement the were simply “racist” alongside the media onslaught and constant coverage of black trauma.
Through this was the sinister idea that all white people were racist, and for us who live with OCD, we already have an overactive imagination.
When social media was littered with death, protests and proposed solutions many posted black squares in solidarity with the black lives matter movement. Someone with Race OCD would be worried they were a racist. A compulsion could potentially be to post the square out of sheer guilt, worry and anxiety. A wider society plays an effect on mental health in places where we don't expect it.
By no means am I justifying racism or excusing racism, but when someone with Race OCD, Sexual Orientation OCD (SO) or Paedophilia OCD has a mental disorder like any other form of OCD, it causes grave pain.
I still live with SO OCD and Harm OCD, and it's not the issue of sexual orientation, it is the loss of identity. Many people have misunderstood OCD and it's why I do a keen amount of work surrounding it to get an understanding on a level where we can speak free of shame and taboos. We need more research as to whether more white people suffer from Race OCD, due to the way society is currently and the pressure to either be an “ally” or “anti-racist”. It create a black and white box, pardon the pun that you are locked into.
Race OCD and SO OCD are just two examples of OCD where the intrusive thoughts would be determined as “inappropriate” in society, therefore worthy to be shut down’. Many of the current discourse surrounding societal topics in many ways prevents people from coming forward with thoughts or ideas that the dominant narrative may detest. Outrage and reactive individuals constantly shut people down and this is not as a society where we should be.
Many new symptoms of anxiety and OCD are emerging due to the way society is being reconstructed and, through this construction, we are reimagining ideals for humans to be almost perfect.
Yet that is wrong, humans make mistakes and we can make the world a better place, by allowing space to have difficult and necessary conversations without excluding other individuals. It is through conversation we criticize and polish the diamond that is the truth, everyone has the ability to do this. I feel whilst we have progressed with mental health conversations, and more are openly speaking about difficult topics, we need to ensure conversations are allowed to happen irrespective of our bias.