Talking to Friends and Family About Seeking Help
Q. I started dating a guy who told me that he had anxiety and ocd. Well as we started to get closer, he started to notice my symptoms of anxiety and ocd. At first, I thought he was crazy but as a started to look at myself I began to realize all the “checking” I was doing, how I worry endlessly, and just how bad things were. He told me I need to go see someone but I have an obsession with making myself look normal. Even though my boyfriend tells me that he is behind me all the way and he tells me he is not going anywhere..I still worry everyday about how I must look to him. I’m afraid to tell my mom because I dont want to look weak and I dont want her to be upset. Now things are starting to get really bad because of all this worrying and I just feel like I’m losing control of everything. I feel like I cant talk to anyone about it because I dont want people to know that I’m dealing with anything like this. I try really hard to stop worrying but I just cant. I feel like all my thoughts are racing and I constantly have to be up doing something. I cant sit still anymore and I cant pay attention in class. I just dont know what to do. How do I tell my mom? Are my friends going to think I’m crazy?
A. I wrote about this issue in another related answer, the idea that getting help makes a person look “crazy.” I can assure you that it doesn’t. From my perspective, asking for help is a sign of a very wise, open-minded, brave and insightful person. What might make you look out of control or “crazy” to use your expression, is the person who recognizes that their behavior is abnormal and problematic but refuses to seek help for it.
In your situation, you said that you find yourself “checking” things constantly and that behavior was noticed by other people. From the tone of your letter, it seems like you did not even recognize you were engaging in that behavior until someone else noticed it and pointed it out to you. Now that you recognize the problematic behavior and the anxiety producing feelings associated with it, you can address it and find a way to reduce it. That is very good news.
Obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety are very treatable. Medication may help you and so might therapy.
With regard to your family and friends, you could handle this situation several ways. You could be honest with them, tell them you recognized that you may have developed some OCD-like behaviors and you want to correct the problem before it becomes overwhelming. Most people would find this rationale for treatment sensible. I would not be surprised if when you broached this subject with your family they said that they noticed your “checking” behavior, or other OCD-related behaviors. If your boyfriend noticed, then it’s possible others have as well. The other way to handle friends and family is not to tell them that you are seeking treatment. You could tell them at a later date. I only mentioned the option of not telling your friends and family because they may be less accepting of therapy.
What is important for you at this time is to do what you think is necessary and correct for you, not to do what you think your friends and family want. You’re an adult and you can and should make choices independently, based on what is best for you. My recommendation would be to consider therapy.
Randle, K. (2008). Talking to Friends and Family About Seeking Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/06/talking-to-friends-and-family-about-seeking-help/