At r/OCD, a Reddit community dedicated to support and discussion related to OCD, countless threads touch on the intersection of mental illness and friendship. “Does anyone have bad OCD about their friends?” one postulates. Another asks“What’s the best way to deal with the fear of your friends leaving you?”
These are the questions that may be on the minds of those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is said that mental health conditions cause people to have obsessive thoughts and engage in compulsive activities the National Health Service. OCD presents itself in different ways in different people, and for many it affects a person’s close relationships. As Marianne Eloise, author of Obsessive intrusive magical thinking, wrote in 2016“My relationship is the best thing for my OCD, but OCD is the most harmful thing for my relationship.”
What is friendship anxiety and why is everyone talking about it?
When it comes to friendships, this statement carries just as much weight. Those who suffer from OCD may find that the condition has minor and significant effects on friendships.
In what ways can OCD affect friendships?
As with many mental illnesses, there are specific social impacts associated with OCD that are difficult to determine. This is partly because obsessive-compulsive disorder is common is misinterpreted by the media and popular culture, particularly film and television, where the phrase has long been used out of context. His misconceptions probably make it all the more difficult to explain to friends and family, as Nina White tells Mashable. The activist and forensic linguistics student says she did pure OCD (also referred to as “pure compulsive” or “pure O”), a form of the disorder in which the person engages in hidden compulsions and repetitive behaviors or rituals.
“Because my OCD does not manifest itself in stereotypical ways, it is more difficult to explain the nature of my disorder, and some people have questioned whether I actually have it,” says White. “I find that people’s knowledge of OCD is quite limited, so I need to educate them about what it actually is and the many ways it can manifest itself.” She explains that this applies to friends, family, and partners that she previously struggled with having to “mask” her condition for fear of judgment or people avoiding her.
As with many mental illnesses, there are specific social impacts associated with OCD that are difficult to determine.
Many people say they never realized the impact mental illness has on friendships and how pervasive it can be. People on TikTok set the example compulsively seek validation from those around them. Because the condition is characterized by obsessive or intrusive thoughts and behavior, seeking validation is a common way these compulsions manifest themselves. TikTokker @healwithleilafor example posted about ask for confirmation from friends who feel like they shouldn’t do it. “My OCD constantly screams for validation, it’s exhausting,” she wrote.
Photo credit: TikTok / @healwithleila
“People suffering from OCD can engage their friends in compulsions, particularly in the compulsive search for validation of their friendship,” says Ferdinando Palumbo, the director of BirchTree Psychologya practice specializing in OCD in New Jersey.
In addition to reassurance, other compulsions also arise, as many have explained on TikTok. user @phebelou posted about oversharing as a compulsion; the account @treatmyOCD has identified various OCD symptoms that can impact relationships philanthropic tendencies To Catastrophizing and jumping to conclusions.
Photo credit: TikTok / @phebelou
Photo credit: TikTok / @treatmyOCD
These are just a few ways to track the impact of OCD on friendships. A special form of obsessive-compulsive disorder known as Relational Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD)The focus is on obsessions and compulsions that are typically related to the partner. It can raise doubts about one’s relationships when a person questions closeness and compatibility with a partner and seeks reassurance that they are with the “right” person. But while it has more to do with romantic relationships, ROCD can also apply to friendships or family relationships.
Palumbo explains that feelings of doubt are at the core of friendship-related OCD. These doubts are time-consuming and can lead to repetitive behaviors. Examples include compulsively rereading texts, asking friends if they are offended by certain comments, and asking for constant clarification. He says these behaviors can put a “strain” on friendships. Friends could become “entangled” in one’s rituals and compulsions or even “trigger unwanted thoughts.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Michael Moore, an associate professor at Adelphi University, adds that various forms of OCD have the potential to affect friendships. He says the effects can be both indirect (e.g. OCD patients may be late for appointments because of rituals) and direct (involving friends in compulsions or rituals).
“This puts the friend in the difficult position of helping but perhaps not knowing how, and unintentionally doing more bad than good by encouraging bad habits,” says Moore.
Address the problem – and support it
For people with OCD, communication has paved the way to better understanding and support.
White says she’s recently found it easier to talk about her OCD: “At the end of the day, it’s a part of me,” she says. “Over the past few years, I have been involved in the mental health field by raising awareness of OCD and trying to counteract the misconceptions surrounding it.”
If a close friend learns about OCD, they may be better able to provide appropriate and appropriate support.
If a close friend learns about OCD, they may be better able to provide appropriate and appropriate support. Palumbo says he has asked some customers to create a couponing system with their friends to combat the compulsive search for security. The system has a select number of vouchers that a person with OCD can use to ask their friends for validation. Each week coupons are removed until there are none left.
“With treatment or guidance to reduce compulsions,” says Palumbo, “there is good reason to believe that people can recover from OCD and form healthier friendships without compulsions straining those relationships.”
BeyondOCD.org, an organization dedicated to raising awareness, also suggests that friends step away from a friend’s rituals and not get too caught up in constantly reassuring them to avoid triggers. The organization says such measures “do not help provide long-term relief of symptoms.” Instead, as a mental health organization Think about Britain also suggests that friends can support people with OCD by talking about it and keeping an open mind.
Dr. LeMeita Smith, director of clinical services at United Health Servicessays that fear of being misunderstood or judged can cause people with OCD to “have difficulty getting close to others.”
“Maintaining friendships can be difficult because it can be overwhelming for someone with OCD to spend time with others while feeling trapped in their own thoughts,” says Smith. She says that OCD thoughts “go beyond normal fears,” sometimes making it difficult to “socialize, have conversations, and simply enjoy time spent with others.”
Combating this fear of judgment may require explaining the condition and its subjective impact on the individual. White admits this can be “pretty tiring,” but it can increase empathy and awareness. She hopes that educating others about OCD will help “OCD sufferers feel a little more comfortable being themselves and understanding that OCD is nothing to be ashamed of.”
It’s important to keep friends informed – but it’s equally important to maintain the boundary between friend and therapist.
Moore agrees that it’s important to keep friends informed — but it’s equally important to maintain the boundary between friend and therapist. He added that it may not be suitable for all relationships.
“The way to overcome these challenges is to be as open and communicative as possible about your OCD struggles with your friends,” he says. “Let your friend know what you’re struggling with, make it clear to him how he can help you and when he should sit it out and let you solve it.”
Mental Health Relationships