How to Help Your OCD Writer Friend

I have OCD. No, not in that cutesy “Oh, she’s so organized!” sort of way. I mean, if you took one look at my desk, you would know this. (Don’t look at my desk, please. Disaster area. This is where the OCD organizers go to lose hope.) I’m a perfectionist, granted, but I’m also an all-or-nothing sort of person. Read: If I can’t get everything looking perfect, I don’t bother. But I digress.

My type of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) revolves around germs—and that’s simplifying it—and rituals to cope. I am the queen of handwashing, and don’t tell me liquid hand sanitizer does nothing. I will literally and unapologetically delete your comment. There are also intrusive thoughts that pop up, repetitions, depression, etc.

Anyway, here is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of ways you can help your writer friend when s/he happens to have the OC Disorder—OC, because it sounds cooler, ya know? Ahem.

  1. Proud of their word count and want to congratulate them? Ask before you hug.

I have PTSD as well, so don’t tap me on the shoulder unexpectedly or tuck in my tag either. I will slap you.

  1. Do not tell them that the hand sanitizer on their desk does nothing to combat germs.

It does. It is a MIRACLE-worker. Also, we will slap you.

  1. Don’t ask lots of questions—unless we invite you to do so.

“When will your manuscript be done?” is almost more acceptable than “Why are you using potholders to open cupboards?” But only just. I know why I’m using potholders, but it’s exhausting to explain, because the explanation is usually followed by a challenge, and then we have to get into the whys and the whys are, did I already mention, EXHAUSTING? We have to live in our heads. Do not make us justify our coping mechanisms.

  1. Don’t be offended when we cancel on you.

It’s really nothing personal. Either we have a deadline set for ourselves or we’re just peopled out. Human-ing takes a lot of effort when you’re mentally ill. Your understanding and patience are golden.

  1. Don’t stop inviting us.

A part of still wants to come to your event or hang out with you. The other part is either busily writing or totally stressed out by the idea of leaving the house/being around people.


Being a friend to someone with mental illness/es is tough. I know I’m not the easiest person, and I’ve lost some really good friends over the years to OCD and depression. Thank you to those who love us anyway and take us as we are.

We’re all in this together.

Keep your nose in a book,

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