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Hopeforthefuture

Help! Daughter with intense rage.

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My daughter has health anxiety and contamination anxiety. One minute everything's calm when I'm in the kitchen, then she appears and next minute she's in a rage of anger, becoming physical and verbally abusive. This is because she feels I prepare food un-hygienically and use unclean food containers. I am now wondering if I am the problem as I have always struggled with cleaning. I'm beginning to feel afraid for our safety, and like a prisoner being constantly watched. Please can someone offer help as I'm struggling to cope.

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Hello hopeforthefuture,

Presumably not poisoned your family up to now with bad hygiene, so I doubt you are the problem.

Anger comes from fear. The more enraged she gets the more scared your daughter is feeling. The containers could be totally clean but still feel unclean to her. No amount of logical reassurance that they are up to standard can erase a feeling as emotions aren't logical.

At some point she'll need to challenge her belief that the risk of poisoning is as high as she feels it is. You might find it helpful to talk to her about her feelings, or maybe try a self help book which you can both read to better understand how the obsessions and compulsions work in OCD and how it's necessary to stand up to the fear and not give in to compulsions such as excessive washing or throwing away food which feels contaminated etc. 

How you deal with physical and verbal abuse probably comes down to how you discipline within your family, what behaviours are deemed acceptable and what is not tolerated. It won't harm her to set boundaries while you work towards overcoming her OCD. 

Have you had any outside help or a formal diagnosis yet? 

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Hello snowbear,

Thank you for for taking the time to reply.  As I'm feeling dispair and struggling to cope. My daughter has been diagnosed with OCD and health anxiety. She has counselling and access to courses from the recovery college. She had an occupation health therapist who's abandoned her at the start of lockdown. She feels her fears are realistic and that she doesn't have OCD, and that I am the problem. As a parent I have struggled with enforcing boundaries, and now I am facing the consequences. Can you recommend a good book to help us? I want to try to stay strong to help her, but I'm beginning to feel afraid and that I'm treading on eggshells.

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First off, don't beat yourself up over how you've parented in the past. It's never too late to take a stand - in fact her threatening behaviour gives you the perfect excuse to lay down some 'new rules'. :) 

Of course she thinks you're the problem. To her that will seem a more logical explanation than accepting her fears aren't real. CBT can help her understand the problem is how her thoughts lead to fearful feelings and how her behaviour results from those feelings, showing her there are other (better) ways to deal with the situation. 

I recommend 'Break Free from OCD' as a readable book that explains OCD and CBT well, though there are others. It's really a matter of personal preference. You can read more and browse a selection in the charity bookshop here and here. (There are 4 pages on the second link, not just the books immediately on show. :)

Also worth getting in touch with the Occupational Therapist again. Things may have seemed comfusing at the start of lockdown, but since then it's become the norm to continue therapy by phone or skype. It does need to be CBT though and not just 'student counselling'. 

It's very stressful to feel you're treading on eggshells all the time, so make sure you look after yourself too. Try to have some 'me' time to relax where you can switch off from being a parent for a while. 

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Thank you Snowbear for your advice. Greatly appreciate it. I have ordered the book which I'm looking forward to reading. I will try to persuade her to contact her Occupational therapist. I'm being mindful about giving myself more "me time". At the moment there is calm in our household. I am so grateful for your support. Please ignore this emoji as was mistakenly sent and can't seem to change!! 😨

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Hi Hopeforthefuture,

It might help to sit down and discuss her OCD worries (and maybe some legitimate concerns) when things are calmer. 

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Thank you so much for this. I am 63 and a mum. My daughter suffers with OCD health and anxiety. She had a baby (2nd after 5 stressful years) 3 weeks ago and I was staying with her a month beforehand (at her request) after isolating since early March. It was so stressful I had to leave when baby 5 days old. Constant food, washing, cleaning checking and questioning my every move. (Have you cleaned your teeth?) Her anxiety is Masked as she has had several CBT sessions and hides rituals but all her anxieties are then unleashed on me. Nothing I say or do is right. I don't know how to help so have backed off completely and keep telling her how well she is doing. My heart is breaking. I don't know how to help her. 

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Thank you so much for your posts. I am supporting my 25 year old with extreme anxiety and cleaning/health OCD which is getting worse.  So good to know that there are others out there and its good to see how you manage the distressing and stressful situations.  This week, my daughter manged to contact her GP to ask for referral for professional help and was told that she should start acting like an adult and not a child.  To act her age and not give into her compulsions. All this whilst my daughter was having a panic attack that the Dr interpreted as shouting. The Dr made the referral but so much damage has been done.

 I keep bursting into tears and you can image how my daughter is now feeling.

Thank you so much for being open and sharing your own concerns and situations on here - it's really helpful to know we're not alone. 

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