Search for anything on my site
One of the most common effects of OCD is difficulty interacting with others. The pressure and exhaustion a person feels to hide in order to be able to do their rituals can cause them to decide it would be easier to just stay away from everyone. Many of the children and adults I work with will say they are fearful of other people calling or thinking them crazy. Additionally, at times, triggers for the rituals can be in the public. For example if a person has fears of contamination, a grocery store or restaurant may be a trigger for them, and it’s easier to just avoid it. Unfortunately this just reinforces this vicious cycle.
Anger is common both in the family or loved ones of the person with OCD and the actual victim. It can take many forms. Until OCD is understood, a person may think that it is their fault, and their family may as well. It is important to think about OCD as the culprit and not yourself or the person you love. Honestly, who would choose to behave and suffer this way? It is embarrassing, exhausting and depressing! This is not a choice, this is a disease.
Many of my clients who haven’t had therapy to understand their illness think they are crazy. It is certainly big reliefs to find out you are not and that there is treatment for the problems you are having. When you have OCD your brain functions in a stuck way. There are ways to unstick your brain. You don’t have to feel like this forever. It doesn’t mean you are crazy. You can change. In fact, most people who participate in ERP have a very high success rate.
The longer people who are suffering from OCD deal with their illness without help the more likely they are to suffer from feelings of powerlessness. Without a way out of this, people feel stuck, out of control and unable to change the things that make them the unhappy. This, of course, is a recipe for depression. A child who suffers from OCD often feels unable to achieve the things they would most like to, and so they begin to believe they are not capable of doing well. With treatment, most of these symptoms will get better.
ENGAGING IN COMPULSIONS
I will often see clients who have involved their family and friends in their illness. Family members and loved ones can be co-opted into the client’s compulsions. Once you become a part of these compulsions, you are enabling the person you love to stay ill. Therapy must include these people who have become a part of the illness. Therapy should teach the family to shift from anger and resentment to compassion and support. It also should equip the family with the tools to stop participating in the compulsions. This can be a difficult process because the ill person may fight to keep the family involved in compulsions. This is to be expected, because they have a distorted view of what will happen if they don’t engage in their compulsions. In order to learn that they are safe and okay, they need to experience the anxiety at its peak. They need to see firsthand that compulsions are what make their anxiety worse.
A Family is often affected in many similar ways by OCD as the client. A family feels resentment at being forced to live in an isolated way, at having to participate in the compulsions. They also may feel resentment at having to stay away from social situations, and feeling they need to hide the illness. Resentment dissipates once the family understands that the illness is to blame for these issues and not the client. Therapy can also help the family to decrease their resentment.
Although exposure therapy is the gold standard of treatment for ocd, good help for ocd must adress all of the above issues.