What About Those Who Watch the Suffering?
In an article on families of OCD sufferers, Heidi and Alec Pollard, two experts in the field of OCD, state:
“OCD is a family affair. The toxic tentacles of this disorder extend far beyond its identified victim.”
I did a little digging and found a page from a website dedicated to helping sufferers of OCD and their friends and family. Following is an excerpt from that page, from http://beyondocd.org/information-for-friends-and-family
Steps To A Better Life
Life with a person who has OCD is filled with conflicting emotions. If you feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or hopeless, you are not alone. Today, there are new and more effective coping strategies for dealing with OCD-related difficulties. Families and friends can now take advantage of various “tools” that are effective in improving interactions between you and the OCD sufferer, and, at the same time, can help him or her succeed in the treatment process. Very importantly, when you interact with and/or provide care to an individual with OCD, you must take care of your own physical and emotional well-being.
First Things First
Some very important steps to help your loved one begin with you:
Learn about OCD
You will need to understand what your loved one goes through with this frequently debilitating disorder. We recommend you visit the OCD Facts, Individuals, or Parents section of this website for more information about:
You can access the OCD Facts, Individuals and Parents sections through the Home page of this website, or through these links:
Become a Catalyst for Change
We urge you to follow these guidelines:
- Help your loved one find appropriate treatment for OCD and encourage him or her to actively participate in the therapy process. Effective treatment is the most important step in gaining relief.
- Stop enabling OCD in your household or in your relationship. Participating in rituals with your loved one or accommodating avoidance behavior actually does not help. In fact, the effect can be just the opposite.
- Try to establish a positive emotional climate in the home. How you communicate with your loved one as well as the level of support you provide cannot be overemphasized.
If this sounds easier said than done, we understand your skepticism. Beyond OCD’s mission is to help people with OCD get relief, help their families and friends develop the key skills to become agents of change and help initiate dramatic improvements for everyone in the life of an OCD sufferer. The following sections will help you get started:
Take Care of Yourself
Before an airplane ever leaves the ground, flight attendants provide important instructions about what to do in an emergency. One of those instructions is particularly noteworthy: Put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help anyone else. The basic message is that unless you first take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others. Yet this fundamental idea is frequently ignored by family members of individuals with OCD. And even though research has indicated that family members report some – if not severe – distress adjusting to OCD, they seldom seek the professional help they need. Instead, they usually focus on the individual with OCD.