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Now that our adult son is back living with us we are working out how to live together.

He is very withdrawn. Won’t go outside and seems quite depressed and hasn’t talked about getting a diagnosis or treatment with us yet.

He is very demanding with his accommodations and can get very angry very quickly. He screams and shouts at us.

Does anyone have any coping strategies?

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Hi CaringParent,

It's never nice having to deal with someone who's being loud/ aggressive.

With OCD I think it helps if you keep in mind the anger comes from a place of fear rather than intentional bullying or manipulation.

People around you not accommodating your compulsions is scary - the things the compulsions are aimed at preventing feel like they will come true, he'll feel strongly that he won't be able to cope if the compulsion/ problem isn't sorted, his mind will be buzzing with anxious thoughts, and when the anxiety gets too much he shouts at you. The aim of the shouting will be to 'get things back on track' as seen from his perspective (get the compulsions done one way or another.)

To a degree you deal with it much like a toddler's tantrum where the child isn't able to process their emotions and expresses that through anger and noise. Stay calm. Never rise to the bait. Help him label the emotions he's experiencing ('I understand you're scared and frustrated right now and I want to help you, but it's not achieving anything if you shout at me.')

Try to get him to take a few moments of time out. In a quiet voice, encourage him to calm himself.

When he's calmer, try to get him to verbalise what is making him so upset. Suggest he makes a plan on how he wants to deal with that at a practical level. You can ask if he wants help thinking through how to manage the siuation, but let 'the solution' be his choice. You can say no if his 'solution' is totally unreasonable such as damaging the property, or harming himself, but otherwise you need to let him decide when he's ready and able to give up the compulsions.

Try not to get drawn into being complicit in his compulsions or doing them for him. Keep in mind these behaviours are the result of distorted thinking, so they are his invention and it's his responsibility to decide whether he's able to let them go unfinished or find a way to do them himself.

And after a 'meltdown' try to make some time for everybody to relax again. That can be as a family, or some quiet time alone for him while you relax and pamper yourselves downstairs. The aim is to restore a sense of peace and resolution to the incident.

Some time later, when you instinctively feel it's appropriate/ that he's ready to talk, you can raise the issue of his OCD, anger, and compulsions and help him think things through more rationally on how to manage them etc. That's also the time to raise suggestions about therapy and the fact that things have to change. If he says he's not ready, ask what he considers necessary to have to happen to make him ready. Keep it practical and realistic. 'Pigs will have to fly' is not an answer to that question! It has to be something concrete he can start working on/ working towards, so that the goal of going to therapy begins to have a time frame applied to it.

Hope those suggestions help. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sounds like anger is a coping mechanism & your son could learn another type of coping mechanism.  Angry people are pretty scary.

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16 hours ago, Handy said:

Sounds like anger is a coping mechanism & your son could learn another type of coping mechanism.  Angry people are pretty scary.

What other coping mechanisms are there?

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