LouBlou

My 21 year old daughter - my lightbulb moment - what next?

3 posts in this topic

Firstly, apologies for the lengthy post. I've tried to keep it succinct: 

I had a light-bulb moment at about 5.30am on Saturday:  My 21 year old daughter is suffering with OCD.

It hadn't occurred to me that this was the problem until now but after talking to her, it appears that she is more than aware. 

Her OCD seems to manifest itself with negative thoughts, anxiety and slight panic - usually over the health, well-being and safety of our family dog and her boyfriend.  She worries about family members too - but not quite as much. 

She has always been very particular about knowing the  whereabouts of family members and she worries if we are late home etc but, to be honest, we all tend to let each other know if we are going to be late or get held up etc so this hasn't ever really been an issue. 

The bigger problems began when she got her first boyfriend just over 2 years ago. 

I'm not keen on him for many reasons but I think I have identified the main one:  he enables and plays to her OCD anxiety and panic. I think this is sometimes conscious behavior and sometime unconscious.  

for instance: 

She will phone him to find out where he is / what he's doing: He won't answer the phone for whatever reason. She will try again (and again and again) without response.  He eventually calls back once she's practically in tears.  He usually tells her that the sound is off on the phone or he was asleep.  

He isnt used to having someone around who wants to know where he is, what time he's coming over, if he's got somewhere safely etc and I think he quite likes this - mistaking this for love. 

He will be 26 this year. He is quite a weak character and is enabling her OCD behaviours - much of the time, causing them (whether he's aware of it or not). 

This relationship is very, very unhealthy. My daughter knows this. She is completely obsessed with his health and safety as if she alone is totally responsible for his being kept alive. 

I think her obsessions are less with other members of the family because she sees us as being very capable. She can trust us to take care of ourselves. She can't rely on her boyfriend to make good decisions or look after himself as his track record is poor. He also plays on his incapability, lack of responsibility, lack of time-keeping, instability, immaturity.  It feels more like she is the mother of a 5 year old child with mild aspergers than his girlfriend.  (I'm pretty sure he has aspergers). 

She displays similar traits over our dog (another family member who is reliant on us to take care of her). She panics that the dog will choke when we're not around or that the fridge might catch fire and the dog will be trapped etc.

Things are progressively getting worse. The boyfriend is probably getting fed up but would never do anything about it apart from answer the phone less or become less and less responsive/talkative which enables her anxiety to get worse.  

We are about to go on a family holiday (without boyfriend) and I fear this will be unbearable for her...... and us as she will be worrying about him the whole time we away. 

I can't believe its taken me this long to realize whats going on but now I'm there ..... I obviously want to help. When we spoke briefly at the weekend,  I said we would find someone to talk to because as things stand, if she one day decided to have a child, her anxiety over it would be unbearable and she would make herself very ill.  She agreed and said that she definitely didnt feel mentally stable enough to have a child (relief for me at the moment of course).   We did arrange counselling last December / January time as I knew something was wrong but clearly the therapist didn't identify the problem. Unfortunately She let my daughter down by not getting in touch with her after she finished her sessions to find out how she was getting on - as was promised. 

We don't want to wait for CBT on the NHS - We would pay privately for treatment. There are no registered BABCP practitioners in our area.  Its been terrible to watch her suffer over the past 2 years or so. I've been blaming the boyfriend - but its not just him .

What should be our next step? 

Thanks for reading - its helped to identify the problem and write it down.

L

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Hi Lou and welcome to the forum. :)

Getting your daughter on board with therapy (wanting things to change) is paramount.  Ideally CBT is the next step, but is there is difficulty finding a registered practitioner locally, or a long delay in getting an NHS referral, then a good self-help book might be a worthwhile investment for the interim.

One of the most popular guides among our forum users is Break Free from OCD which you can read more on by clicking the link. 

I'm afraid I can't offer any advice on the boyfriend issue - we just have to hope she sees any problems there for herself! The family presenting a united front on not giving reassurance will help. It may also help her to re-frame her boyfriend's silences as a good thing (that he's not pandering to the OCD by reassuring) rather than as a bad thing (something to create extra reason to worry.)

Let us know how you get on. Have you checked out the charity's finding a therapist page? 

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Hey, I was going to say something similar to polarbear in regards to her boyfriend not answering the phone, it might not seem like it, but that is actually a good thing, she needs to realise that nothing bad has happened just because he doesn't answer the phone, the reassurance of him answering is keeping the cycle going. Of course it's worrying when we can't get the hold of someone but the likelihood of something awful having happened is minimal so we with OCD need to learn to tolerate this uncertainty just like the rest of the population who don't have OCD. She needs to hear his voice in order to minimise her anxiety, the calling of her boyfriend is a compulsion, compulsions are what keeps the disorder alive! She should call him because she wants to chat about something but not to escape her anxiety xxx

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