Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm so OCD," in reference to, perhaps, being detail-oriented at work, or needing dinner party plans to go a certain way? Saying you're "so OCD" has become a kind of catch-all phrase for intense thoughts or feelings, but when you think about it, it kind of disregards what OCD really is: a serious, and often-misunderstood mental health disorder that affects real people's lives in real ways. So it was particularly important and enlightening when Camila Cabello opened up about living with OCD, the realities of how it affects her, and how she's learned to cope with it — which is what May's Mental Health Awareness Month is all about, right?
E! News reports the 21-year-old singer, in an exclusive interview with Cosmopolitan UK for the publication's June issue (which will be available in the coming days), got real about what it's like living with OCD, and how she's come to recognize the various ways in which the disorder manifests in her behavior. For one, Cabello explained, she tends to repetitively overthink things all the time, to the point of causing herself even more anxiety.
Though she admits she can "laugh about" her OCD now, she's still truthful about the negative ways in which it sometimes affects her well-being.
She said in her Cosmo UK interview,
Everybody has different ways of handling stress. And, for me, if I get really stressed thinking about something, I'll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don't keep thinking about it.
But it wasn't always so easy for Cabello to recognize and cope with the symptoms of her OCD. She admitted there was a time when she had no idea what was really going on with her mental health, when she didn't know how to identify, let alone deal with the thoughts and feelings that were making her feel so overwhelmed. She explained,
I didn't know what it was and when I found out, and [learned] how to step back from it, it made me feel so much better. I feel so much more in control of it now. To the point where I'm just like, "Aha! OK, this is just my OCD." I'll ask my mom a question for the fourth time, and she'll be like, "That's OCD. You've got to let it go."
This isn't the first time Cabello has opened up about her struggles with mental health.
In 2016, she talked to Billboard about having debilitating anxiety, and at one point, she even had to cancel a performance mid-concert because her stress was that overwhelming. The Havana singer told Billboard,
I was having terrible anxiety, nonstop. My heart would beat really fast the whole day. Two hours after I woke up, I'd need a nap because my body was so hyperactive... I was scared of what would happen to me, of the things my brain might tell me.
Cabello also told Billboard that she she copes with her anxiety through things like journaling, meditation, exercising, and of course, her music.
Mental health can be difficult to understand in any context, but it's especially important that Cabello has opened up about having OCD, which is often extremely misunderstood as a mental health disorder.
Of course, it's impossible to teach everyone every single thing they should know about OCD, or how they should talk about it, so the best thing you can do is inform yourself, and learn as much as possible about the condition, so you can remain sensitive and compassionate when you talk about these types of mental health issues.
To be clear, obsessive compulsive disorder, as described by the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), is "a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions." There are a variety of ways in which the disorder can manifest, but obsessions are defined by the IOCDF as "unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings," while compulsions are "behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions," as a way of managing those feelings of distress. The IOCDF also notes that most people experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors from time to time, "but that does not mean that we all have 'some OCD.'"
If you're not sure what the difference is between true OCD and the occasional obsessive thought, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers some examples of OCD symptoms, including things like a fear of germs or contamination, unwanted thoughts about "taboo" subjects like sex or religion, aggressive thoughts about yourself or others, or the constant need for symmetry, or to have things "in a perfect order."
If any of these symptoms ring true to you, and especially if they're disrupting your everyday life, don't be afraid to reach out for help. Cabello is living proof that, not only are you not alone, but there is no shame in talking about, or in taking care of, your mental health.