OCD .Vs. Being A Perfectionist: What Is The Difference?

I wrote a blog post called ‘The Many Misconceptions Of OCD’ which you can read HERE. I wanted to do a follow-up post about this, as It’s a topic that most people with OCD will relate to. Not only that but I think its important to spread as much awareness as possible, when trying to break the stigma around mental health conditions. I often see people saying “I’m a bit of perfectionist when it comes to such and such” followed by then saying “I’m quite OCD”. Something else that is very common, is when you tell people “I have OCD,” they don’t take it very seriously. I’ve had people say “I think everyone is a bit OCD to a degree, I am about such and such.” Although it’s not their fault they don’t understand it’s still annoying to hear when you have suffered with years of being in the grips of this terrible disease.

So what is the different between OCD and being someone who’s particular about the way they do something, or someone who is a perfectionist or very a organised person?


Perfectionist/Being Particular Examples

 When someone finishes tasks to a very high standard because they like to do so or like to achieve the best results they possibly can or they will feel agitated with themselves.

 – Liking things straight because you find it irritating if things aren’t.

Organising clothes in colour order or in a certain order because you like how it looks/makes you feel.

Wanting to clean the bathroom daily, because you like it being clean. but if it HAS to be left you can leave it without much discomfort or distress e.g late for something important, so you leave the cleaning!

Your need for doing things in a particular way isn’t a must its a want to do so, and doesn’t affect your quality of living and interfere with your day-to-day life.


The Same Examples In Someone With OCD

Your reason for being tidy, organised and clean, stems from an obsession. The obsession is not with being clean and tidy,  its an irrational obsession based around fear, which then leads you to perform compulsions. For this blog post the compulsions would be cleaning, tidying and organising things, to reduce your anxiety around the fearful obsession. E.g “If I don’t organise my books in this particular way, someone I love might die, I know this is irrational but what if it comes true?!” “if I don’t use a whole bottle of bleach when cleaning, my toddler may contract a deadly illness, and it will be my fault!”

Having to finish tasks until they ‘feel right’ or you are certain its been done ‘correctly’, because something terrible will happen if you don’t or your anxiety will become so strong you won’t be able to cope anymore.  Most importantly you feel like you HAVE to do these things until they feel right, not want to or would prefer to. It gets to the point where finishing tasks in a reasonable amount of time is impossible and starts to dramatically impact your life.

Having to immediately straighten wonky things, because it causes a great deal of anxiety if you don’t, it doesn’t ‘feel right’ like that. If you leave it like that it feels like something terrible might happen! Which means you HAVE to straighten it over until it feels ‘right’ or  seems to be perfectly straight.

Organising clothes in colour order or in a certain order because you feel like you HAVE to or that dread that something bad might happen and anxiety will not go, if someone changes or messes it up, you have to re do it all!

Having to clean the bathroom daily with an excessive amount of cleaning products, because if you don’t you and your family could get ill and the contamination could spread to the rest of the house. This task takes hours, because it has to be done in a certain way. It cannot wait for anyone or anything, it must be done before you do anything else or you will become extremely anxious! Cleaning the bathroom is no longer a want or should, its a HAVE to or else. This starts to dramatically affect your life, cleaning comes before work, social events and even family.

As you can see OCD is based around feeling like your keeping you and someone else safe, from something you consider bad or makes you incredibly anxious. It’s not a want, it’s a NEED to do these things. These are just a few of the examples I could think of, there are so many symptoms and different forms of OCD. You can learn more about OCD and get more tips on how to deal with your own OCD, in the ‘OCD, Anxiety & Depression’ category HERE, where you can see all the other posts related to this topic. Like I said in the related post I wrote a while ago, this isn’t people like me with OCD being bitter about having OCD, taking life too seriously or not being able to have a laugh about it. It’s about the illness not being taken seriously and knowing how it can affect us and others suffering with it. It’s about spreading awareness, so people understand these things and don’t misuse a serious illness as a word for an everyday quirk or habit.

Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting or liking my blog post, it means an awful lot to me!





  1. robin1967
    July 10, 2014 / 9:53 pm

    Good post illustrating the differences between true OCD and the watered down version of what many people refer to as OCD. The term OCD has become so overused by the general population and most people have no clue what clinical OCD feels like

    • July 11, 2014 / 12:13 am

      Thank you, yes it definitely has! I’m glad you liked it! xxx

  2. July 12, 2014 / 6:06 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I know most people don’t mean to offend sufferers, but hearing someone say ‘Oh I’m so OCD, it really annoys me if this isn’t like this’ is the most frustrating thing! Good for you to raise awareness and show the true difference xx

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