Work out how to deal with compulsions together
One of the hardest things about living with someone with OCD is working out how to deal with their compulsions. You may find it difficult not to help with compulsions, or get involved (this is sometimes called accommodation). For example you might:
- check locks for them
- reassure them that they didn't cause an accident
- reassure them that an obsessive thought doesn't mean anything
You may have found that refusing to help with rituals, or offer reassurance, increases their anxiety and makes life harder for both of you.
But helping someone with their compulsions is not usually helpful in the long term. Every time someone acts on a compulsion (including asking for reassurance) it reinforces the belief that the compulsion is the only way to deal with their anxiety.
Treatment for OCD helps people learn that their anxiety will reduce naturally, even if compulsions are not completed.
Your first thought is why aren't they helping me check... but if you step back, breathe you realise they are not helping because they care.
How can we manage compulsions in other ways?
Try and work out some alternatives together. Your approach might depend on what your loved one thinks about their compulsions and whether they are receiving treatment. Here are some things you could try:
- Agree on an approach that feels right for you both. For example, you might decide that you will say 'we've agreed I won't answer questions like that to help you overcome your OCD' or 'I'm here for you and I love you but I'm not playing OCD's game today'.
- Encourage them to challenge compulsions where appropriate. For example, instead of offering reassurance you could try and help them think about why they want to do a compulsion again.