Today, I have a special guest here on my blog: Roger, who is also featured in my novel. He has experience with OCD but not as a sufferer himself – ‘only’ indirectly as his girlfriend is one. I find it very important, while bringing awareness to OCD and how debilitating it can be for the sufferer, that people who love and support the affected person are NOT forgotten in this!
Here, Roger answers 8 of my questions that I have asked him – thank you for being my guest:
(He is happy to answer further questions by people who read this post. Ask him by leaving a comment!)
Q 1) When you met your girlfriend, how long had she been suffering with OCD for?
A 1) She had been suffering ever since she was a little girl, so 23 years.
Q 2) Had you heard of OCD before then?
A 2) Yes. I had heard of David Beckham who apparently likes to have labels on cans of drink all facing the same way in his fridge. I never saw the word ‘suffering’ with regard to his condition and was surprised at how debilitating it can be. I didn’t expect that it affects so much of the life of the sufferer and consequently the partner. What goes on in the minds of sufferers is such a problem, because it can’t be ‘seen’. It is an invisible condition.
Q 3) What would you say has been the greatest challenge for you?
A 3) Devoting time to support her during OCD routines which are ‘necessary’ for her to complete what, for unaffected people, are the simplest things. Repeating that ‘it doesn’t matter’ or that there is ‘no need to do that, again, you’ve already done it’. It is not enough to say these things once as they need to be repeated again and again while at the same time trying not to be appearing too harsh.
Q 4) How much has it affected your own life? Could you still carry out your normal life? What about feelings?
A 4) A lot, mainly due to the time and emotional commitment. There are occasions when I’m told by her that I don’t care or that I’m saying or doing the wrong things. This is hard to take when I know that I’m trying to help and even if I’m not doing it right, I am still there doing it. I know that for her, it is very easy to feel totally alone even when someone is there, if she feels that they just do not understand.
I found that her OCD impacted my time so much that I was going to bed only by 2am when I still had to be up for work at 7:30am.
Q 5) Did/does your girlfriend have professional help? Would you recommend it for her/others?
A 5) Yes, she has had a number of professional therapies, which have resulted in knowing everything (maybe too much) about the condition. It is such a horrible condition because you can see yourself doing things which you know you shouldn’t but you can’t stop the compulsion. There is suffering whether you continue giving in to the demands of OCD and suffering if you fight against them.
Yes I would recommend it because fighting on your own is so difficult.
Q 6) Has it affected commitments and how you felt in the relationship?
A 6) Yes, in the first place I had trouble committing, long term, particularly to marriage, because I didn’t know if I could see me spending the rest of my life in this ‘supporting’ role. This was tough, but as I continued I realised that I loved my partner and that was what really mattered.
Q 7) Has the OCD changed since you met her?
A 7) It appears to have ‘softened’ and routines have been dropped and not replaced by others, which is what has tended to happen in the past. This is a very good sign and may mean that she regards it differently now. As something that can be treated more as a ‘thing’, as ‘alien’ and as a result, a little easier to fight against.
Q 8) How long have you been together?
A 8) 7 1/2 years.