Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety condition made up of two main factors: obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Whilst often regarded as a ‘tidying disorder’ OCD is, in reality, an illness whereby you have no control over your negative thoughts and you’re afraid that by not doing things in a certain way, you will cause harm. Whilst some obsessions and compulsions are manageable, others are impossible to live with and can be intensified when you’re stressed about relationships or work.
Some examples of OCD behaviour displayed by sufferers can include: excessively checking to see whether things are locked or turned off, counting, tapping, repeating certain words, repeatedly checking if those around them are okay, spending lots of time cleaning and washing or being reluctant to throw anything away all in fear that something bad will happen if they don’t complete their compulsions.
OCD can often leave you feeling helpless and out of control. Here are a few things that could help you to manage it yourself:
- Look into some self-help resources – The OCD Action website offers lots of information about self-care treatments or you could ask your doctor about self-help books available on prescription. Moodgym offers free sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy online which could also help support you through your condition.
- Build your support network – It’s important to strengthen your relationships with family and friends by opening up to them about your obsessions and compulsions to help them to understand. This will also help lessen the feeling that you’re suffering in silence, which will help you to cope better.
- Get some online support – There are many forums and communities online that can help support you through your illness. There will be others that also suffer from OCD and can provide lots of advice from their own experiences. A few include: OCD Action, OCDUK and Mind.
For friends and family
If someone you love has been diagnosed with OCD, knowing how to support them can be difficult but here are a few tips on what you could do to help:
- Be open about OCD – Encourage them to speak about their obsessions and compulsions in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Be calm, patient and don’t judge them; it’s also important to find out as much as you can about OCD first so that you can understand what they’re going through.
- Help them to access treatments – Remind them about their GP appointments and reassure them that everything they say to a professional is both confidential and beneficial as they will be able to offer advice. You could also offer to accompany them to their appointment if they’re feeling worried or nervous and provide them support wherever possible. You’ll also have to accept that you won’t always be able to reassure them or help them overcome a compulsion.
- Look after yourself – It can be an emotional and mental strain supporting someone with OCD, take some time to look after yourself and seek your own support too. There are lots of online forums and communities that you can use which can offer support and guidance.