A girl with too many thoughts...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Supporting Somebody With OCD

Sometimes, we can find ourselves in a situation where we know somebody needs help, but we don't have the first clue how to help them. I think this is especially true for mental health disorders, because if you haven't experienced one for yourself, you might not know the best way in which to offer your support.

There is no denying that OCD is a complex condition. One which requires a lot of understanding, time and patience from not only the sufferers, but from those around them too. Perhaps you are living with somebody with OCD and you don't know how you can help, or a close friend is suffering from the condition and you are stuck on how to support them.

I thought I would outline a few things that may be useful when somebody close to you suffers from OCD. This is coming from my perspective (the sufferer), but they are things that I know would make life easier for both me and those around me.

 1) Leave out the backhand comments

The person who is suffering from OCD knows they are being irrational. They know that their behaviour makes no sense. Making a snarky comment under your breath is really not going to help the situation - I can assure you. Accusing them of being 'crazy' or 'mental', laughing at them or making jokes about their behaviours/symptoms - these things really aren't going to fill them with the confidence they need to reach out to you for support.

2) Be patient

One aspect of OCD is compulsions or rituals – and they can be time-consuming. Someone with OCD may take longer than usual to leave the house, for example, because of various routines they feel compelled to carry out beforehand. Telling somebody with OCD to just ‘hurry up’ is not going to hurry them up. In fact, the likelihood is that they will just take even longer, since they have to start their ritual again because they couldn’t carry it out properly the first time around.

Also, telling them to just 'stop doing their compulsions' isn't going to work - it really isn't that simple (although I really wish it was!)

Recovery from OCD takes time, don't expect a quick-fix. The person has to learn a whole new way of thinking and adopt new ways of responding to situations. They must break old routines or habits, and this can be difficult and time-consuming. Be patient, nobody recovers from OCD overnight.

3) Try and understand

OCD is a complex condition. It is not as straightforward as the media often portrays. This means it can be particularly difficult for those who are not suffering from the condition to understand it. However, the key to supporting somebody with OCD is having knowledge of the condition. Only then can you even begin to gain some idea of what might be going through their head. If you don’t know much about it, read up on it! Do your research, there are plenty of resources available online that give good information about OCD, and you really don’t need to read much to understand the basics of this disorder. (I've linked some useful resources here)
And finally...

4)  Let them know you are there

Being surrounded by supportive people can really help somebody who is suffering from a mental health condition, and this is true during recovery as well. Many people suffering with OCD may experience extremely distressing intrusive thoughts, some of which they may be ashamed of. This could make it difficult for them to open up about their OCD and get help. Reassure them that you are there for them, no matter what they might tell you about some of the thoughts that run through their mind. Understand that it is the condition that causes these thoughts, they say nothing about the individual.

Of course, these are only suggestions based on my own personal experience and what I find helpful in my recovery from OCD. Everybody’s experience is going to be unique to them and certain things may help some more than others – I can only advise from my own perspective.

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