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18 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with OCD

18 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with OCD

Two simple words can destroy your life. Every minute, every second, of every hour all you hear is, “What if?” Every situation is potentially dangerous. Your heart and mind join forces becoming an evil villain that is out to destroy you and bring you down. That’s what if feels like if you have OCD.

The simplest things in life became huge mountains that are impossible to climb. A family vacation, a night out with friends, or a walk around the block is a death trap.

Obsessions are thoughts that get stuck in a repetitive cycle when the brain doesn’t shift gears as it should. Unwelcome, unwanted, and distressing; these mental images don’t stop.

That’s when the compulsions begin. The OCDer repeatedly performs behaviors trying to erase the scary mental images that won’t go away. These rituals might be excessive hand washing, cleaning, counting, or checking. Even though the person with OCD knows these are ineffective, the urge is overwhelming and overpowering so they give in to it.

Whether you’re born with it, or develop it later, life with OCD is a living hell. Their brains can’t shift through thoughts at a normal pace.

Thoughts get stuck, constantly running like a hamster trapped in a cage spinning endlessly on his wheel. OCD interferes with responsible functioning: job, relationships, punctuality, or just being able to live comfortably with themselves and their loved ones.

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Most people are familiar with the most commonly talked-about types of OCD such as checking appliances and doors, fear of germs that may cause illness or death, and repetitive invading thoughts. However, there is a lot more to OCD than that.

“OCD is a biochemical problem in which the brain locks and starts sending false messages that are not recognized as false,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, author of “Brain-Lock: Freeing Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” The brain gets stuck in gear and cannot shift to the next thought.

The good news is that you can make a physical change in your brain. Here are 18 things that will help you understand your OCD loved one:

1. They have a repetitive cycle in their brains that they cannot control.

They want to “just stop,” but as hard as they try; they can’t. Because the OCD brain is locked, it doesn’t move through tasks at a normal pace.

2. They derive no pleasure from rituals.

Gamblers, shoppers, or substance abusers receive pleasure from acting out a ritual. OCDers do not.

3.  They catastrophize.

The scenes that appear in the minds are suitable for a gory horror movie.

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4. They check, re-check, and can’t stop checking.

Everyone checks the doors or stove to make sure they are locked and off before bedtime. You might have forgotten to shut the stove after answering your texts. But when a person with OCD checks, they don’t trust that they checked, so they check again and again. Maybe they missed something, or maybe the stove magically got turned on again?

Are the doors locked and the appliances off? Was that bump in the road a person I ran over? What did I say in that email? Checking is never believable. No matter how many times they check, they don’t trust their last check-up (garage doors, toasters, hot irons). The only comfort comes from putting your hot iron in your purse and carrying it with you to work.

5. They have disturbing thoughts of harm to themselves or their loved ones.

One small thought can become a horrendous mental vision of tragic events that they might cause or could happen.

6. They worry about worrying.

As if worrying isn’t bad enough, OCDers worry about why they worry so much. They feel anxious that they worry about things that are not worth worrying about.

7. They avoid certain objects, situations, or environments.

A person, place, or thing can spark a destructive wildfire in their minds. Fearful of obsessive thoughts, a person with OCD will go five miles out their way to avoid a reminder that could set off obsessive thinking.

8. They live with constant doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty.

Checking isn’t reassuring. Worrying is disturbing. Living in constant doubt causes anxiety and distress.

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9. They may be superstitious.

Associating a past event to a word, piece of clothing or place; a person with OCD can think it has power. They also believe that any action they take will have a positive or negative effect because of that word, item, or place. They will walk over cracks on a sidewalk, avoid driving past a certain address, or even wear the same item of clothing for a week. They can get stuck on numbers. An address or date can seem lucky or unlucky so they avoid it or succumb to its power.

10. They need reassurance.

Who doesn’t need to hear “everything is going to be alright” when feeling nervous? But a person with OCD needs a lot more reassuring than one sentence.

11. They have no concept of time when in a ritual.

A shower may last for an hour even when the hot water runs cold. You wonder why it takes so long to brush her teeth or wash her face. Every action must be performed in a certain order and with meticulous detailing as if they were preparing the latest model Tesla for it’s debut at the 2015 Auto Show.

12. They may be hoarders.

Old clothes, purses, shoes, and papers cannot be removed. They might need them for future use. You might also be a bit nostalgic, but is there so much clutter you can’t see the floor?

13. They won’t use a public bathroom.

Germs are so scary that no matter how much their body needs to release itself, they will wait until they get to a bathroom that they feel comfortable in.

14. They place objects so they are perfectly aligned.

Symmetry is important, so is order. Papers on a desk, pictures on a wall, or hair on their head; everything must be just right. An uneven edge on a fingernail can cause an hour of nail-biting as they try to smooth the jagged edge. They can spend hours getting dressed, choosing outfits, or fixing their hair. Never feeling that they are “just right,” they will try on ten different outfits until they find the perfect one. They are often late for work or their own birthday party.

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15. They touch, rub, or tap certain objects repeatedly.

Trying to calm their minds away from upsetting thoughts, they may pick their face, play with their phones or twirl their hair.

16. They examine their food very carefully.

Afraid that they might get sick if the food isn’t fresh or cooked perfectly. Any little bruise on an avocado might be a sign of an epidemic disease. It might take them ten minutes to examine and prepare a hamburger before biting into it.

17. They dread illness.

They fear that they have every disease they read or hear about that they become a hypochondriac.

18. They never feel that anything is clean enough.

Feeling that every pot, dish, or item of clothing is contaminated, the person with OCD is repeatedly cleaning them.

As difficult as it is to live with OCD or someone who has it, there are benefits to it. Most likely with a higher than average IQ, people with OCD are mathematicians, statisticians, and analysts who give us the latest technology, medicine, and put astronauts into space. Striving for perfection, they are excellent in fields that require repetitive practice such as athletics and musicians. And it’s probable that the person who takes care of you when you’re sick, does your taxes, and built the bridges that you drive across has OCD too.

There is good news! When OCD interferes with normal daily functioning, they can learn to self-command with self-control. A person with OCD can improve their quality of life. They no longer have to suffer. With proper treatment of Cognitive Behavior Therapy using the Exposure and Response Method, and learning to say, “It’s not me, it’s my OCD,” a calmer, happier life is possible.

Special thanks to- “Brain Lock- Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. with Beverly Beyette.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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