Dealing With Family

In all my time having suffered from OCD and anxiety issues (25 years) I have read a lot of literature in regards to helping family members cope with having a loved one who has mental health issues, obviously this is an important issue and it needs support, what I do not understand is why is there not enough support for helping those with mental health issues deal with family and the outside world?

I highly doubt I am the only one who feels isolated and alone every day by a world who doesn't understand, over the years I've heard every comment under the sun from people who don't understand my mind.

Get a grip

Stop being so stupid

You have to wake up yourself

You need to stop this

This is all so stupid

Why don't you just stop this

Can't you see you are wasting your life

All of these comments if they were aimed at someone who was physically disabled would be regarded as highly offensive yet those with mental health issues have to listen to them sometimes every day.

Where is the support for us when we are constantly dealing with family who have no clue what we are going through?

There should be a guide - dealing with families who don't understand.

7 Replies

  • That is a really good point and I've experienced the same things. "you have to start thinking differently" "worrying isn't going to change anything, it's a waste of energy" etc. I understand that for someone who has never experienced a mental health problem it's almost impossible to imagine what it's like and some people from the privileged position of a healthy mind can't understand why we can't just think like them. I guess to them it seems like it might help us to hear these things, maybe they think we've never thought about it like that and it's going to be some magic cure but it just ends up making us feel worse. I'm sorry I don't have any great advice. I just try and be really honest with them. I used to worry about offending them but now I'm just really honest and don't care. I tell them I know it would be great if I could think differently but it's not possible to just snap out of it. They should try to understand and be supportive and if they can't then thats fine but I don't ever want to hear any more things like that. I tell them I understand they can find it frustrating when they don't understand my thinking and want me to be 'normal' but they need to stop because it upsets me, makes me feel like I can't tell them how I feel and pressures me into hiding it and that makes me even less likely to get better. Sometimes I'll be really sarcastic if I'm particularly angry and tell them they'd better go tell the NHS they've got a cure for OCD, just ask people if they've "thought about just thinking about it differently". It has mostly worked and it's rare I hear anything like that from family anymore after a few conversations about it. But I suppose it'll always depend on who you're speaking to. Hope you manage to improve things with your family it's hard enough dealing with OCD without people making it worse with their comments.

  • I can totally relate to everything you have said, I saw a great cartoon once and it was stick figures commenting on other stick figures being ill but they were using some of the things mental health people are subjected to hearing, yet they were physically ill, was a very clever point, I'll see if I can find the link, I showed this to a family member and it did make them think.

  • Here's the link here -

  • I am sorry you have not had the support you deserve. Could you please help me help my son? What would you like people to say? What do you need people to understand? My son often says, "You don't understand, I DON'T HAVE A CHOICE." Why does he think he does not have a choice? Sorry if I sound dumb. I want to understand so that I can help my son.

    Kind regards

  • Thanks for your response, I think in many ways the best way to look at it is as if it's a physical illness, communicate with it in a similar way if you know what I mean?

    For example if he was in a wheelchair you would never ever say things like - it's a motivational issue, or you need to snap out of it.

    I think often people make the mistake that if they accept and recognise mental health issues as something that is disabling it means they are allowing it win and destroy the person, this is the reverse, the more help and support that someone can get they may then recover, but support can only come if the issue itself carries the weight with others that it needs to.

    Imagine it is a physical illness, what would you say to your son, how would you communicate?

    My advice would be to use that language and with unity of communication he will feel more understood helping him to potentially recover over time.

    I'm happy to talk more about it if you like though, it's good you want to help him.

  • Hi Felix,

    It is an interesting point you make about the comparison of psychological and physical disability. I have done much reading in an effort to 'help' my neighbour and understand the mechanism of OCD and seen how shockingly life limiting its effects can be. That said, I have found that the more time, favours and patient talks I have done , rather than appearing to help, just makes her more dependant on me to the point of treating me as 'on demand 24/7' and seems to reinforce that her behaviour is 'correct' and everyone else is 'wrong'. When a person refuses to deal with anything at all in their life, pushing all responsibility onto someone else, constantly tries to force their needs, beliefs, hygiene/ insect rules ( insect rules = standing over me whilst I'm weeding my drive, making me check through all the soil/weeds to make sure no tiny insects will end up in the brown recycle bin )etc onto someone and becomes verbally aggressive when you dare to disagree with any aspect of their controlling behaviour towards you, it becomes a thankless task : (

    I am physically disabled. There have been times during illness ( neurological ) when my legs/balance have not worked well enough or my blood pressure would not allow me to remain standing, so could not get to the loo. I have crawled ! My point is, with a physical disability it is often possible to think round an issue and work out a compromise. My neighbour does not seem to have the capacity to see anything from another point of view, hence no compromise.

    I do feel that there is a fine line between what we call 'mental health' and neurology. Spect scans have shown functional changes in the brains of sufferers but also shown changes back to more normal patterns after medication/psychological treatments. Just as physio is designed to reroute abnormal/damaged signals and improve physical function, so meds and psych treatments seem to help reroute thought patterns for some. However,the desire to want to improve has to come from the individual - without their willingness to participate, treatment cannot be initiated. How then, are we to talk round those who on one level say they want help but when it comes to the crunch, are too irrational to agree to treatment ?

    I have always treated my neighbour with respect and compassion - sadly her illness has affected her behaviour towards me so badly that I feel unable to continue giving the level of support she seeks from me. I am having to distance myself and wean some of her dependence off me, for my own wellbeing. There are sufficient Social, Medical and Psychological services involved at this point who ought to be pulling their weight, although I realise there are plenty of gaps in the system ! I am too tired to keep walking on eggshells and doing all she wants, just to keep the peace and it doesn't seem to be helping in the long run. I am also feeling on edge about when the next anger bout or verbal abuse torrent is coming. Although she has never shown violent tendencies 'towards a person', there was an incident with another neighbour where she mimed scraping their car with a pair of scissors as a threat, after an argument with them : (

    I have to admit that I, ever the resourceful one, am all out of ideas at this point. x

  • Thank you so much. I shall follow your advice.

    I shall take you up on talking to you more.

    I do hope you have a friend or family member supporting you too

    All best

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