- Learn to recognize and reduce "Family Accommodation Behaviors" (listed exactly from the OCD Foundation, pg 14)These are behaviors that people do to enable the OCD symptom, and are not healthy for you or your loved one. While it seems helpful in the moment (I'm taking away some stress), it doesn't help them to address the situation, and doesn't help it long term.
- Participating in the behavior: You participate in your family member's OCD behavior along with them
- Assisting in avoiding: You help your family member avoid things that upset them (ex= doing their laundry for them so that it is cleaned the "right" way)
- Helping with the behavior: You do things for your family member that lets them do OCD behaviors (ex= buying large amounts of cleaning products for them)
- Making changes in family routine: (ex= you change the time of day that you shower, or when you change your clothes)
- Taking on extra responsibilities: (ex= going out of your way to drive them places when they could otherwise drive themselves)
- Making changes in leisure activities: (ex= your family members gets you to not leave the house without them. This affects your interests in movies, dinners out, time with friends, etc).
- Making changes at your job: (ex= you cut back on hours at your job in order to take care of your family member.
- Don't Focus Solely on the Behavior. Remember that the OCD thoughts & behaviors are not all of who your loved one is. Focus on them as a whole, not just on the behavior. It's important that the individual knows you care about them as a whole person.
- Come Up with a game plan if your loved one refuses treatment: Your loved one may need more time before they are willing to seek treatment. You can help or harm in this situation. Don't nag or demand- they'll often strengthen their resolve to avoid treatment. Encourage them, be open to discussing it together, and get support for yourself! Patience and gentle encouragement can be helpful during this time.
- Remember that you cannot do the work of treating OCD: You cannot change your loved ones thoughts or behaviors yourself. You can help point out distorted thoughts, or remind them of things such as the "4 Rs", but they must choose to do the work. Don't blame yourself if they don't change- it's NOT your fault!
- Aid a listening ear: If your loved one is actively engaged in treatment, they may want to process sessions with you, or express how hard it is to sit in the anxiety (through ERP). Choose to listen and support, but don't dump answers and advice on them unless they want it. If you constantly dump advice, more then likely they will stop talking to you!
Well, there you have it! 10 steps you can take to remain healthy and support your loved on in the best and most healthy way possible!
If you've missed the other posts in this series, here they are!
Now it's your turn:
If you have a loved one struggling with a mental disorder, what do you do to keep yourself healthy?
If you are currently struggling with a mental illness, in what ways do you feel supported by your loved ones?