Supporting a sibling suffering from OCD

Posted on: October 16th, 2020

OCD is such a complex and misunderstood illness. As a sibling of someone suffering from OCD, it can be so difficult to try and understand what your loved one is going through, and what the right thing to say or not say is. Do you hassle them to try to understand their every thought, or do you give them the space that it seems they need?

From the experience of having a twin sister suffering from OCD, I have put together a few tips to help the siblings out there caring (although written with siblings in mind, this advice could be helpful to any relative or friend):

  1. Patience: patience is your biggest ally when dealing with OCD. It might be tempting to get angry or frustrated with your sibling. These emotions are completely normal, but will only end up causing negative emotions and affect your relationship. Instead try to take a deep breath and know that your sibling is also struggling.
  2. Understanding: learn as much as you can about OCD and the specific type your sibling is suffering from. This will enable you to support your sibling as much as possible, having an underlying understanding of their thoughts.
  3. Support for yourself: it is so important to seek outside help for your own mental wellbeing. This might be professional help or speaking to someone you trust. OCD affects everyone involved not just the person suffering. There is no need to feel ashamed if you feel yourself struggling.
  4. It’s not your fault: your sibling is most likely also feeling frustrated about having OCD, and having constant thoughts running through their mind. It can be utterly tiring. If they take it out on you, know it is not your fault. They are fighting their own battle in their head.
  5. Create a safe space: try to understand your sibling’s triggers and limits so that when they are around you or in your company they feel safe and not judged.
  6. Don’t be afraid to talk about it: if you feel the time and place is appropriate, ask questions, ask what you can do to help. Even if there is nothing you can do, just being a support by their side is enough.

By Charlotte Crilly

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