Obsessive compulsive disorder or as we commonly know it as OCD is a mental illness that is often regarded as a joke. Many of you will throw the word around if your home is clean, work desk in order or your car is sparkling this is not a sign that you have this disorder, it’s easy just to say “don’t mind me I have OCD” and chuckle about it.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a illness that is very disruptive to the sufferer, it’s a condition that most of us can’t put our heads around in comprehending its seriousness.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental disorder in which people have repeated thoughts (obsessive) to mention one and have behaviours that make them do things over and over e.g. cleaning your hands with sanitiser more than once in a few minutes until your hands are red raw from the antiseptic (compulsions), this often happens in any form to get rid of the obsessive thoughts and is only one example, sometimes repeated behaviours become rituals, certain times of the day, minute etc
So how do we help our loved ones to cope with OCD or how can they help themselves:
1. Understanding the condition and not teasing their rituals but being positive in communication at all times
2. See a psychologist, psychiatrist or your GP for treatment both medication and behaviour modification therapy
3. Negative behaviour can be adjusted by understanding the correct responses for their reactions
4. Don’t play along with the ritual, feeding the obsessions will only make it harder for the sufferer
5. NEVER tell them to stop what they are doing, let them be and allow the professionals do what’s needed.
6. Remembering OCD forms part of the Anxiety family, overthinking, worrying, being scared etc
7. Exercising regularly to minimise anxiety that’s linked to having OCD but strengthens the nervous system that assists in refocusing the mind.
8. Go out with friends, being social and enjoying quality of life will turn you away from living an isolated life
9. Get enough sleep to help balance your emotions
10. Relax by downloading relaxation apps on your phone, do yoga, deep breathing daily
11. Desensitisation to the thoughts your trying to avoid e.g. A thought you often feel, should step by step be faced so the ritual will be reduced and you will end up spending less time on the ritual.
12. Shift your attention to something else when experiencing OCD thoughts and urges, except use, listen to music, play a video game, surf the net, call someone, this is to delay the thought and compulsion.
13. Keep a journal of all your thoughts, what you did in that day, how many times etc, tracking will give you a clear indication of how your progressing. This could even be your first point of starting your recovery journey to see your patterns. Sufferers often don’t realise the extent of their obsessions or compulsion.
More awareness and more light should be made on OCD as its often mistaken as nothing serious until it becomes serious and that’s when it’s hard to accept and even to start treatment, self acceptance is the hardest part when suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but it is treatable and unlike other mental illnesses it is curable.