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Help me understand

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Lil T

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Jul 26, 2020
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3
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Canada
My wife has OCD tendancies, particularly relating to germaphobia. This started after we met and seems (to me) to have been getting worse over the years. She sees the small wins (I do not, because I actually often am not aware of them) but I often focus on the negative (my own character flaw, but also because it's more easy to spot to me).

Some of it is just general cleanliness around the house, which I won't ever deny is best practice, but the level to which she seems to jump to from 0 is often not tethered to a reality of the situation. As such, I perceive it as being related to her OCD, she claims I'm just not being mindful and considerate of what she's asked me.

Certain situations (like mouse poo in the garage) have prompted her - in the first instance - to avoid the garage and assume anytime I come in from there that I need to clean up, or anything kept in there that's hers might as well be donated because it's contaminated, despite the fact that after mishandling it (vacuuming it up - a no, no) I did go through, moved everything and disinfected the floor.

Another example is related to bats - my parents found a baby bat and moved it (using gloves and a cardboard sheet) into a box where eventually it was reunited with it's mother. The fallout here is she quizzes me about all the details (for which I don't know) and intuitively (and quite frankly always) assumes the worst - that my parents touched the bat with bare hands, were scratched and bit by it, and swapped spit with it. I'm being sarcastic of course - she doesn't actually claim this but treats them this way nonetheless. Will not hug them at our nieces birthday, is nervous about them hanging with the grandkids, won't take food home from them, etc.

These are not isolated incidents, but I always end up feeling like an asshole and useless because rational conversation (this is where I live, despite my GAD, is not helpful, and I can't stand having her push back with all the "what-ifs" for which I don't have an answer, don't want to spend my life discussing because I think it's so minute a concern and also because it causes tension and often lashing out at each other.

Can someone please help me understand what are some acceptable ways to help her through this (and these types of) situations. Our relationship is struggling because of it. She has agreed to go see an OCD counsellor but she is very aware and mindful already (breathing exercises, sitting with it, trying to expose herself to it etc) and I fear it may not help her to hear about these tools again.

I love her, I don't want to 'change' her, I understand that I need to work on some things myself, but I can't help feeling like we'll never be on the same page again and these types of incidents will taint our otherwise very happy life. These seems to be more numerous (even the small things) and I don't want to bicker with her until the day she wakes up unhappy with me.

Help me understand her perspective, how I can be responsive to it, and what I can suggest to help her overcome these anxious feelings and thoughts.

Thanks in advance
 
Lunar Lady

Lunar Lady

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Hello Lil T and welcome to the forum :welcome:

I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's struggles. It must be incredibly stressful for her (as well as yourself :hug:)

We have several members here who are living with OCD so I hope you'll be able to get some good advice from them. This is an international forum but we seem to be predominantly European members - bear with us, as in UK it's only just past six on a Sunday morning...:coffee:

I'm glad you found us and hope we can be of help. x
 
Lizaje

Lizaje

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Jul 20, 2020
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521
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Idk
I have never tried mindfulness stuff and feel revulsion to it, yet I found great help from medication and long term regular counselling.

What does not work well with me, is becoming angry (it only adds to the anxiety) and over rationalisation. I usually know perfectly well the rationalisation that can be put behind my problem, but telling me as if I wasn't aware of it makes me feel like my anxiety isn't recognized. Despite that, occasionally explaining the normal view of things can be useful.
 
L

Lil T

New member
Joined
Jul 26, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Canada
I have never tried mindfulness stuff and feel revulsion to it, yet I found great help from medication and long term regular counselling.

What does not work well with me, is becoming angry (it only adds to the anxiety) and over rationalisation. I usually know perfectly well the rationalisation that can be put behind my problem, but telling me as if I wasn't aware of it makes me feel like my anxiety isn't recognized. Despite that, occasionally explaining the normal view of things can be useful.
Thanks for sharing Lizaje! How do you mean the "normal view"? - do you mean as most others would see it that don't struggle from OCD or germaphobia? And if so, am I even in a position to do this do you think, or am I too close to the point that she'll think I'm just saying it to assuage her fears?

What's the best way in your opinion to 'recognize' it? Just be supportive and patient? One of the things I worry about is if acknowledging the concern and the basis behind it will make it seem more reasonable for her to the extent that she no longer thinks whatever we're talking about is a problem and is really everyone else's behaviours that are unfounded. I don't want to 'make it worse' in that respect, by acknowledging that there may be some merit to her concerns, but I'm not sure if that's just an intuition that is complete BS. I just don't want to do any long term damage either way (her losing faith in me/us, but neither that I'm driving her further down the hole).

Thanks again for your response
 
Lizaje

Lizaje

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Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
521
Location
Idk
do you mean as most others would see it that don't struggle from OCD or germaphobia? And if so, am I even in a position to do this do you think, or am I too close to the point that she'll think I'm just saying it to assuage her fears?
Yes, that's what I mean. I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't see why she would think you're just saying it to assuage her fears........and then I don't see anything bad in you doing that if I'm not confused on the meaning of the word..

Keep acknowledging the anxiety is there. I mean, mainly within yourself so that she can perceive it from you, but you can also address it by talking about it. Sometimes people understand the problem in theory but not in practice. Basically, patience and support.
One of the things I worry about is if acknowledging the concern and the basis behind it will make it seem more reasonable for her
The basis is her anxiety, imo. The brain of someone with ocd, at least often (idk if it's always), works differently. For instance, I've read something about how, when the part of the brain that 'feels' anxiety (with someone with ocd) becomes active, the part that feels guilt becomes active at the same time. The anxiety comes first, then the compulsions. Not the other way around. But when one has those compulsions it feels like it is the other way around.

I can only speak for myself. Nothing would convince me that what I do is normal or more reasonable than what all the people around me do. Now, I have run into a person with obvious issues with germs who seemed psychotic rather than just having ocd, because he didn't seem to be able to tell that he's being irrational. I'm not sure if that is uncommon, but personally it makes me worried that such a person might have some other mental illness as well.

Before I knew about ocd I may have believed in my compulsions more, but I was a child so I don't know what difference that could make.
I don't want to 'make it worse'
I think, if there's a way you could make it worse, it would be by making her more anxious and even if that did happen, it might get better again when you'd stop making her anxious. It isn't your job to be on your toes because of that.
What's most important is that she receives the psychiatric treatment she needs.
by acknowledging that there may be some merit to her concerns
There is no merit to her conserns, but there is a valid reason for how she feels – that being her anxiety which she cannot control even though with the compulsions she tries.

Glad if I can be of help.
 
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