Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder that has a great impact on the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. If one of those people is someone you love, you know that the effect of OCD influences far beyond the person who has been diagnosed with OCD. Living with someone with OCD requires a proper understanding of the disorder. So you can help them in a better way.
Although any intimate relationship has its own challenges. Living with someone with OCD or dating someone who is affected by a chronic mental illness such as OCD can add some extra challenges as well as opportunities for growth. It is very important to put some effort to strengthen relationships between individuals with OCD and their family and friends. This can only be possible by promoting understanding and cooperation.
Learn How to Live with Someone with OCD
Follow these useful guidelines to deal and learn how to live with someone with OCD like a pro.
1. Identify Warning Signals
The first guideline stresses that family members take to acknowledge the “warning signs” of OCD. It is very important to watch for behavior changes. Do not misinterpret significant behavioral changes as “just their personality.” Recall that these modifications can be gradual, but overall different from how the person has generally carried in the yesteryear.
Alarming Signals to Watch
- A person starts spending too much time alone like in the bathroom, changing dress, washing hands or doing any task.
- Repetitive behavior is one of the most visible signals
- Consistently self-judgment and self-criticism; excessive need for reassurance
- Complete simple tasks with too much time
- Continuous lethargy
- Increased unease for trivial things and details
- Severe and extreme emotional tantrums to small things
- Restless sleep
- Obsessed about tasks to complete so they stay up late to get things done
- Eating habits changed
- Daily life becomes a tussle
- Avoid social gathering
People with OCD usually report that anxiety and anger make their symptoms worse. When people around them criticize or blame them for the symptoms they can’t control. Then they become anxious and stressful.
So it is essential that you learn to view that an illness is what a person has, not who they are. And these features are not as personality traits but as signals of OCD. This way you can share a hand the person with OCD to combat the symptoms, rather than get separate from them.
2. Adjust Your Expectations while Living with someone with OCD
There are times when OCD symptoms tend to flare up or sometime positive changes occur. But all kinds of changes either positive or negative brings stress in the life of a person with OCD. Family expectations and conflicts add fuel to the fire and result in the escalation of the symptoms.
Watch your comments you are going to give to the person with OCD. Your positive and moderate expectations can help them.
3. Do not Compare Progress Rate between Individuals
Everyone has their own severity of OCD symptoms so as the progress rate. Every person responds to the treatment at their own pace. So do not pressurize your loved one about their treatment and progress. Let them recover at their own rate and remember slow, gradual improvement may be more beneficial in the end if relapses are to be forbidden.
4. Day to Day Comparison of Progress
Avoid day to day comparisons of your family member’s progress because it’s misleading. It is misleading because it doesn’t give an overall picture of a person’s progress.
Rather than making subjective analyses and comments encourage to use the objective questionnaires to have OCD progress assessment.
5. Acknowledge Small Improvements
People with OCD often complain that family members don’t understand their pain and stress. They do not acknowledge their accomplishments, such as cutting down hand washing by five minutes or resisting asking for reassurance one more time. While these gains may seem insignificant to family members, it is a very big step for your loved one. Acknowledgment of these seemingly small accomplishments really can be a powerful motivator.
6. Supportive Environment
If family members keep criticising then it deteriorates the condition of the person with OCD severely. Learn about OCD and learn that OCD gets on everyone’s nerves. So, gang up on the OCD and explain in even tone to your loved ones with OCD that the compulsions are the symptoms of OCD. And you are not going to carrying out their OCD around but definitely supportive to overcome these OCD symptoms.
7. Be Sensitive to the Mood of your Loved One with OCD
If you feel that your loved one with OCD is having a bad day with their OCD. Then you need to back off for a while. And let them deal with their negative thoughts. But be there for them.
8. Be Supportive for Them to Take Medicine
Assist them to visit their doctor appointments. And also help them to follow the medication regime as prescribed.
9. Avoid Lengthy and Vague Communication
Vague and doubtful communication may trigger anxiety and OCD. Always label the problem and keep your communication clear and simple.
10. Keep Your Family Routine “Normal”
Often families of people with OCD ask how to unwrap all of the effects of months or years of going along with OCD symptoms. For example, to “keep the peace” at home, a husband allowed his wife’s doubts and fears. And he prohibits their children from having any friends into the household or going around with their friends. As a first shot to avoid conflict by giving in just grows; however, it is not a healthy approach. It is important that children have friends in their home, or that family members live their normal routine life. Through negotiation and limit setting, family life and routines can be well-kept-up. Remember it is in the individual’s best interest to tolerate the exposure to their fears and to be reminded of others’ needs. As they begin to regain utility, their desire to be able to do more increases.
Taking Care of Yourself While Living with Someone with OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common disorder. Nearly 2% of the population is diagnosed with OCD. It is difficult to understand and cope with this disorder. Being a partner of someone with OCD or any serious mental illness, you yourself will face a diversity of challenges like emotional stress, physical fatigue, and mental exhaustion.
You can only be supportive and loving your partner if you maintain proper self-care for your own sake. You have to work on your well-being and strengthen the relationship between you and your partner with OCD.
- Continue learning about the disorder. Read books and generals about the disorder. Seek information to understand your partner’s manifestation of illness in a better way.
- Do not put yourself in a denial and accept your partner’s mental health issue. No doubt this disorder will disturb your flow of life. By accepting your partner’s illness your journey will become easy. You will not feel shy and you will be ready to ask for help you need it.
- Prioritize your own needs as well.
- Seek out help from OCD support groups. Coping with a partner’s obsessive-compulsive disorder is not easy at all. While you are living with someone with OCD, do not forget to take care of yourself as well.