Has someone in your life, a friend or family member, ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition? How did that make you feel?
At Rice Psychology Group, we know whether you want to admit it or not, having someone you love diagnosed with a mental health condition, can be overwhelming. It can take a lot of time for everyone involved to adjust to a new diagnosis and learn the best ways to support your loved one. However, a new diagnosis doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer or deteriorate. There are ways to live and thrive with your loved ones who are coping with a challenging condition.
In honor of OCD Awareness Month, Rice Psychology Group wants to help those who may have friends or family that have been diagnosed with OCD, strengthen their relationship despite this mental health condition and better understand and support their loved ones living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Tools for Your Family
Here are some guidelines you can use to help you and others develop a better and more understanding relationship with those who are living with OCD in your life.
- Recognize The Signals. Do you know the “warning signals” of OCD? There are several behavioral changes to watch for and to not be dismissed. Some may include but are not limited to: repetitive behavior, asking for repeated reassurance, constant lateness, extreme emotional reactions to seemingly small things, increased indecisiveness or increased concern for minor things and details.
- Modify Your Expectations. Many individuals living with OCD find change or unfamiliar situations Frustration or conflict towards an individual with OCD, due to how they may be reacting, can only make things worse. Instead of getting mad at them, because of how they may be acting or responding to a situation, try to look at it through their point of view and let them know their feelings are valid. Be a support system for them.
- Encourage without comparing. There is a wide range of symptoms those living with OCD can exhibit. Remember to measure any progress made by an individual with OCD, to their own level of functioning and not to others. Encourage your loved ones to work on their own OCD related goals and go according to their personal timeline. Make sure to let them know how wonderful improvement of any kind is no matter how small, or that any set back is just that, a set back and things will get better.
- Keep Communication Clear. You may already know, living with someone with OCD can also mean living with someone who asks a lot of questions and may constantly look for reassurance. Try to answer their questions or uncertainty with short, thoughtful answers, Avoid lengthy discussions or debates. Try to avoid telling them not to worry or to find something else to think about.
- Separate Time Is Important. It can feel natural to want to protect your loved one with OCD and want to be around them all of the time. However, this could end up hurting your relationship more than helping it. Everyone needs their private time. Give them the opportunity to know they can do just fine by themselves and help them understand you need to pursue your interests too. Not only can this help you get some time to yourself, but may actually be something positive the individual with OCD can learn to model.
- Don’t Let OCD Consume Your Relationship. Discussing your loved ones’ condition constantly can weigh heavily on your relationship when every conversation is consumed with the topic of OCD. Even if you are just asking how they’re doing, or reassuring them about their feelings, it can become a lot to handle. It’s perfectly OK not to ask your loved one about their OCD or to ask how they may be feeling or doing with their OCD only every now and then. Set limits on talking about OCD and the worries around it and try to set a more “normal” routine. It can help everyone involved feel more in control and less like OCD is running your life.
- Find Helpful Resources. If you are looking for some more information on OCD, be sure to check out The International OCD Foundation https://iocdf.org/
Rice Psychology Group hopes these guidelines can provide some assistance in your relationship with a loved one who is living with OCD. While we hope you can use these on your own, we also want to remind you that combining these tools, with the help of one of our licensed psychologists, may improve your situation even more. Our team is here for you and ready to help your family design a plan that will work for everyone. Contact us today to schedule your free, 10-minute consultation.