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How to support fiancé with OCD?

J

Jeffers

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Joined
Nov 28, 2020
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1
Location
Norfolk
Hi all, I’m looking for advice to help with my situation and how best I can help my fiancé with his OCD. His main compulsions fall in the contamination category and specifically his main issue is blood. Every day after work he has to get completely undressed by the front door and then is showering for an hour a day (I have to wait in the bathroom with him to make sure he counts the times properly). If he sees even a spec of whatever under his nails the whole cleaning process starts again. He asks me so many times a day if he is bleeding or if there is blood on anything either in or out of the house. Any spec on loo roll / anything he assumes is blood (even if it’s not red) and the whole cleaning process starts again. We have had some family issues which have caused more stress recently and his OCD is at the worst it has been in 5 years and I want to help. But I don’t know what’s best, if I don’t help him with his compulsions he wouldn’t come in the house and would just sleep in his car to avoid the stress of it all. I’m finding it so hard as he is completely dependent on me and we have NO sense of normality. He can’t even make a cup of tea for the fear that the milk and kettle are “dirty”. I do all of the cleaning, all of the cooking, look after our two cats and work full time as well as dealing with his extra OCD needs. I am exhausted and can not see any light at the end of the tunnel. He has spoken to his doctor this s week and we are going to try medication and be on a list to receive CBT treatment but are there any tips that have worked for people in similar situations? Me completely cutting off helping him won’t work as he just won’t come in the house. Really appreciate help and support. Our relationship has severely suffered through this (I’ve been doing this for years). We are looking to get married in a couple of years and then want to start trying for children but I worry we will never have children as we can’t until we get a handle on his OCD which at the moment seems impossible.
 
P

periodtpoo

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Joined
Nov 24, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Oregon
Hi there! First of all I want to tell you that are very strong. I commend you for seeking help in order to support your fiancé and loving him unconditionally. I’ve struggled with OCD for 9 years, and it’s been an exhausting and tormenting experience at times. I can to an extent see similarities with my own experience, such as avoidance. While his avoidances seem much more intense and serious. But what I’ve done in the past when it comes to over coming avoidance behavior is breaking down and rationalizing the fear. I am not a psychologist, and this is purely a tactic I have discovered on my own that helps me. For example, I used to be TERRIFIED of the oven. So much so that I would go floppy when someone would ask be to take food out of it. The amount of anxiety that washed over me was insane. I avoided it, and even the thought of ovens made me sick. But I thought, the oven is firstly only an appliance. You put food in it. You need food to survive. It is hot, but you have mits that protect you. If that makes sense? For me it was breaking down the fear and rationalizing it. Essentially taking the fear away and seeing the oven as what it was. Just an oven. Just a means to cook. Now your fiancé’s main trigger is blood. I would maybe talk to him and help him break down what blood is. Blood is majority water. We drink water to survive. Blood is basically life. Our hearts pump our blood throughout our bodies and keeps us healthy and alive. Blood is healthy. Blood is a good thing! Blood cannot hurt you. Blood can be cleaned. Once blood is gone, it is gone. It’s okay to bleed. We were born to bleed. Now I’ve dumped a lot of info on you, but I really hope this helps. Staying positive and supportive throughout is so important, and I’m so incredibly happy to hear that you are doing just that! But remember to take care of yourself too! At the end of the day you are you and you need to be okay. I would highly recommend getting him to get in touch with a therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders, and I’ve heard that exposure response therapy does a really good job helping people who experience OCD. I’d also suggest finding a chill therapist for you as well! Life is tough, and everyone needs an outsider to talk to. Even if life is great and dandy. You are fighting the good fight, and I respect you so much for what you are doing to support your fiancé. Brighter days are ahead, stay strong!
 
hicks

hicks

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Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
2,416
Location
A galaxy, far far away..
Hi @Jeffers. My daughter suffers from contamination OCD. Last year was sheer hell (even worse than this year with Covid), as things escalated dramatically. We hadn't noticed her compulsive routines were becoming longer and longer, due to anxiety. She'd take literally 3 hours to go through washing/toilet and dressing. Things had to be placed in 'clean zones', and bringing items in from outside the house caused major anxiety.
The effect on the whole family was huge. Sleep was disrupted as night time routines extended into the early hours. We needed help. I took a week off work at one point because of sleep deprivation, and also to find someone to help us.
What helped my daughter were sessions with a counsellor. The counsellor explained the source of anxiety was coming from the primitive brain, or Amygdala, which in young people is a very strong influence. She explained techniques for coping with the anxiety. This has all worked, due to the hard work of my daughter in using the coping strategies.
Obviously everyone is different, and the approach taken for a younger person may be different to someone who is older. The NHS treatment was really poor. They gave up after a few sessions, and were pushing medication, which our daughter didn't want to take.
Only when we paid for private counselling sessions, did we get some very useful, and life changing advice as I have described above. I can't tell you how grateful we were, and those sessions were priceless.
We worried that Covid would cause a relapse, but beyond all our expectations, she's not been troubled, and not watching the news has helped. That confirms the effectiveness of the advice we received.
I hope you find ways of supporting and helping your fiance. This isn't really something that can be 'cured', but rather managed. You may want to locate a good counsellor/therapist.
 
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