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  • My mother has OCD, worse after death in the family

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    Old 11-28-2016, 07:21 PM   #1
    Gracie0's Avatar
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    My mother has OCD, worse after death in the family

    Hi, I wanted to reach out to anyone with OCD and see how to best approach this situation. My mother has OCD, displaying it through extreme cleanliness, checking locks constantly, a strict routine, and appearing stressed about a seemingly endless checklist.

    I always thank her for the hard work she does, compliment her on how nice the house looks, and reassure her when she expresses anxieties about bad things happening. I also try to help out by doing chores, but she always ends up redoing them and criticizing me for doing it wrong. After doing some research, I realize this is probably actually the wrong thing to do because it reinforces the behavior.

    Recently, we got into an argument because I was putting up the Christmas decorations after she had been stressing about needing to. I tried to make light of how it's supposed to be a fun thing and get her into it, but it conflicted with her routine. Again, she criticized me the entire time and I eventually blew up. I expressed how she's very negative and complains about how she has too much to do, but won't let us help her out because she has impossible standards of perfection. We're a very loud, emotional, close family so we just had it out. But eventually we had a good conversation about how she was actually probably more upset about the holidays in general as this will be the first Christmas without my aunt (her sister). That, coupled with several other tragedies and hardships, has made this a tough year for us all. My mom admitted that she has a problem and needs to work on it. I gently suggested seeking professional help and she agreed it might work, but I didn't want to be pushy.

    She was on medication quite a few years ago, but not anymore. Especially in light of all that's happened, I think she'd benefit from some cognitive techniques, if anything. I'm glad it ended in a good place, but I've heard her make promises to work on herself way too many times before. It's difficult not to feel a little depressed about the sisyphean nature of these conversations. I just want her to be happy. I mean I think she is overall, I just don't know how to help her when it comes to this. Thanks for any advice.

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    Old 01-08-2017, 09:32 AM   #2
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    Re: My mother has OCD, worse after death in the family

    Dear Gracie0,

    You seem like an absolutely wonderful, loving daughter that just wants the very best for mother, and that you only want to help.

    Is she self-medicating, failing to pay her bills, staying in bed, sleeping all the time, not eating or anything destructive like that?

    The whole family is facing this death in the family, an extremely harsh reality that things in life are definitely not within our control. As daughter, it is a harsh reality that your beloved mother is in mourning and she doesn't want you to try to try to fix her life. Perhaps all she needs is acknowledgement that losing her sister is very hard on her. It would kind of give her permission to speak about it and grieve and cry & feel out of sorts. Mom appears to be just controlling what she can control. All of that is a normal part of grieving.

    That you can't fix this for your mother may be part of your own grieving process. Everyone deals with loss in different ways. I never clean my house or yard or car more thoroughly than when dealing with emotional issues that are not within my control. It's really is not an unhealthy way to deal with anxiety. I personally get more anxious at Christmas, the time of year I have unrealistic expectations for everything with family to be just "perfect". Of course we know the Christmas season doesn't change reality. It just stirs up what we feel about reality. I think understanding this helps us to deal with it.

    It may help mom most for you to face that you can't control what your mother is going through. Maybe rather than trying to help her do things she likes to do in her own way, you can just ask if she is missing sister, and empathize with her. You can tell her you miss your aunt, that things just aren't the same with her gone. You can admire that she looks after herself and her home. Tell her you like knowing she makes herself secure in her home and takes care of herself. Just speaking about things can help both of you relax.

    In my experience the holidays always bring out unrealistic expectations. All we really can do about it to is be 'helpless' with each other; you can cry with mom, empathize with how harsh some things in life are. What you cannot do is take the stress of losing her sister and facing her own mortality off your mother. All you can do is just be 'with' her in it, which will lighten her load.

    From what you shared, I think your mom is going through a normal process and doesn't seem to be self destructive.

    ~ YaYa ~

    Last edited by yayagirl; 01-08-2017 at 09:40 AM.

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    death, family, mother, obsessive compulsive disorder, ocd

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