David Beckham, the global football legend and fashion icon, has always been in the spotlight for his remarkable talent, impeccable style, and captivating charisma. But in his recent documentary series on Netflix, Beckham dropped his guard and opened up about a part of his life that he has long kept hidden – his battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into what Beckham has revealed about his struggle with OCD, and how his story can help educate others about neurodiversity.
David Beckham’s Journey with OCD
Within the documentary, David Beckham opened us about his struggles living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). He revealed how living with his “tiring” obsessive compulsive disorder leads him to spending hours cleaning and organising his home while the rest of his family are in bed.
The former England football captain, 47, said in the documentary BECKHAM:
“The fact that when everyone’s in bed I then go around, clean the candles, turn the lights on to the right setting, make sure everywhere is tidy. I hate coming down in the morning and there’s cups and plates and, you know, bowls.
“I clip the candle wax, I clean the glass, that’s my pet hate, the smoke around the inside of a candle,” he says. “I know, it’s weird.”
When the camera crew comments on how clean his kitchen looks, Beckham says: “I clean it so well, I’m not sure it’s actually appreciated so much by my wife, in all honesty.”
In response, Victoria Beckham tells the crew “He’s just so perfect” and tells David he is “appreciated”. He says he finds the cleaning rituals “tiring” but he feels compelled to do it.
Later in the series, a throwback clip of David in his teenage years was aired, saying he always keeps his room clean, declaring: “I hate an untidy room”. The scene then cuts to the current day, where the 46-year-old was filmed running his hands across his clothing as he explained: “It’s all quite organised, jackets, jean shirts, shirts and then it goes from jumpers, cardis to T-shirts, underwear socks and then suits.”
It was revealed that the athlete arranges his jumpers by colour coordinating them, and organises his attire a week in advance. He said: “Those are my outfits for the rest of the week, I prep my week. It used to just be the night before.” When asked if it was a new obsession, David said: “Yeah, I’m quite organised.” He appeared alarmed to find out his trousers draw had been left askew, saying: “Someone’s been in here”.
Beckham’s journey with OCD is a powerful reminder that even the most celebrated individuals can grapple with invisible challenges. In the documentary, he courageously shared how OCD has been a part of his life since his early days as a professional footballer.
Common Symptoms of OCD
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, often abbreviated as OCD, is a complex neurodivergent condition that manifests through a range of symptoms. These symptoms can vary in intensity and form from person to person, but they all share a common thread: persistent, intrusive, and distressing thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive and ritualistic behaviours (compulsions). Understanding these symptoms is essential to appreciating the challenges faced by individuals like David Beckham who live with OCD. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common symptoms:
1. Intrusive Thoughts (Obsessions):
OCD is marked by distressing and persistent intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that are difficult to control. These thoughts often revolve around fears, worries, or disturbing scenarios. For example, someone with OCD may experience a constant fear of contamination, doubts about safety, or thoughts of causing harm to others.
2. Compulsive Behaviors (Compulsions):
In response to the distressing thoughts, individuals with OCD engage in repetitive behaviours or mental acts to alleviate the anxiety or discomfort. These compulsions can include excessive hand-washing, checking locks repeatedly, counting or arranging objects meticulously, and silently repeating phrases to ward off perceived threats.
3. Fear of Losing Control:
Many people with OCD fear losing control over their thoughts or actions, which can be particularly distressing. This fear often drives them to engage in compulsive rituals to regain a sense of control.
Striving for perfection is another common trait among individuals with OCD. They may feel an overwhelming need to have everything in their environment arranged perfectly, often leading to time-consuming and exhausting rituals.
People with OCD may avoid situations, places, or people that trigger their obsessions. For instance, if they have a fear of germs or contamination, they might avoid public places or crowded gatherings.
6. Distress and Impairment:
OCD symptoms can cause significant distress and interfere with daily life, including work, relationships, and personal well-being. It’s not merely a preference for cleanliness or orderliness but a condition that significantly impacts a person’s ability to function.
Contrary to popular belief, many individuals with OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational. However, this awareness doesn’t necessarily make it easier to control these thoughts and behaviours.
OCD rituals can be extremely time-consuming. Some individuals spend hours each day performing these rituals, which can lead to exhaustion and interfere with productivity.
9. Impact on Relationships:
OCD can strain relationships, as loved ones may struggle to understand the compulsive behaviours and their underlying obsessions. This lack of understanding can lead to frustration and strained connections.
10. Co-Occurring Conditions:
OCD often co-occurs with other conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and various forms of neurodiversity like ADHD or autism. These overlapping conditions can complicate the clinical picture and treatment approach.
The Beckham Documentary Series: A Platform for Neurodiversity Education
Beckham’s documentary has opened a door to conversations about neurodiversity in mainstream media. Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of conditions, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and OCD, among others. These conditions are not defects or disorders but are natural variations in the human brain.
By bravely discussing his OCD, Beckham has shed light on the importance of recognising and embracing neurodiversity in all aspects of life, including the workplace. For organisations like ours, which specialise in recruitment and training, understanding neurodiversity is crucial in creating inclusive environments that foster diversity and innovation.
Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Incorporating neurodiversity in the workplace means acknowledging and valuing the unique strengths and perspectives that neurodivergent individuals bring. People with conditions like OCD often possess exceptional attention to detail, organisational skills, and dedication, making them valuable assets to any team.
As employers, it’s essential to provide the necessary adjustments and support for neurodivergent employees to thrive. This may include flexible work arrangements, clear communication channels, and understanding that their needs may differ from neurotypical colleagues. By doing so, organisations can harness the full potential of their workforce and foster an inclusive culture.
Breaking the Stigma
One of the significant barriers to promoting neurodiversity is the stigma that surrounds it. Beckham’s candid discussion about his OCD helps break down these barriers and encourages others to speak openly about their neurodiverse experiences. This openness promotes a culture of acceptance and understanding.
We should take this opportunity to learn from Beckham’s example and start conversations about neurodiversity within our own organisations. By doing so, we can create workplaces where everyone, regardless of their neurodiversity, feels valued and empowered to contribute their best.
- David Beckham’s disclosure of his struggle with OCD in his recent documentary is a powerful reminder of the hidden challenges many individuals face.
- His story highlights the importance of understanding and embracing neurodiversity in all aspects of life, including the workplace.
- Organisations should recognise the unique strengths of neurodivergent individuals and provide the necessary accommodations and support for them to thrive.
- Breaking the stigma surrounding neurodiversity is crucial for fostering inclusive cultures and encouraging open conversations about neurodiversity.
David Beckham’s journey with OCD and his willingness to share his story in his recent documentary offer valuable lessons in neurodiversity education. As a specialist recruitment and training organisation, we believe in the power of these stories to inspire change. Let Beckham’s story be a catalyst for greater understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of neurodiversity in our workplaces and communities. It’s time we celebrate and embrace the beautiful diversity of the human mind.