Anita Levesque

@anita-levesque | contributor
I became a mental health advocate in 2014. My goal is to spread the awareness of mental health after seeing the affects from loved ones. My blog: http://mentalillness-doyouknow.com
Community Voices

Getting to Know OCD

#ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder is a

pattern of unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do

repetitive behaviors (compulsions), which interfere with daily activities and

can cause severe stress.

You may feel the need to try and stop or

ignore the OCD but that will just increase your #Anxiety.  Eventually you will feel the need to stop the

acts the OCD causes which will alleviate the stress.  You will find, eventually, the acts will keep

coming back; this is the vicious cycle of .

Most people associate with compulsively

washing hands or lining objects in a row.

My first-hand experience with is that

of repeatedly checking and reoccurring thoughts or what’s known as Pure-O.

My father lived with manic #Depression and

anxiety, my boyfriend moved in with my daughter and I in 2004.  He had told me about his mental illnesses;

, GAD, clinical depression, how it affects him and what to look for.  You will not know how debilitating mental

illness can be until you have either lived with it or experienced it as a loved

one or caregiver.  I first noticed my

boyfriends’ symptoms when the “routine” became noticeable.  Everything was done at the same time; wake

up, take dog out, bathroom, back to bed, wake up, take dog out, maybe have

lunch, back to bed, wake up, bathroom, feed dog, have dinner, take dog out,

back to bed, wake up, watch tv, back to bed.

It was like this every day for a year.

We did our groceries the same day, time and place, watched the same tv

shows.  If he had a job to do (t-shirt

printer), the would prolong the job and he would struggle to get it

done.  At one point during the evenings,

while watching tv, he would go downstairs and be there for an hour or two; he

would be checking the taps making sure they’re turned off and not dripping,

windows were closed etc.

When we started dating, the Pure-O became

apparent.  He would doubt if I loved him

and why I was still with him (Relationship ).  He was always second guessing himself and needed

constant reassurance about everything.  It

would take him at least ½ hour to an hour to write a simple email; making sure

it was done right, that he was saying the right thing, that the recipient

wouldn’t take anything the wrong way etc.

All of this would lead to anxiety attacks;

body shaking, crying, difficulty breathing, pacing, very anxious, very

debilitating to the point that he could not focus on anything.  I would have to provide constant reassurance

to ease his mind.

His is severe and can be debilitating,

still to today.  He’s been on medication

for 3 years now, but the is still there.

He still checks, but not as bad; he’ll do “stupid checks” as he calls

them; checks everything downstairs, checks the doors, and always must have “5”

things with him or we don’t leave until he has them all.

The way you react to someone’s symptoms

has a big impact. Negative comments or criticism can make worse, while a

calm, supportive environment can help improve the outcome of treatment. Try to

be as kind and patient as possible.

Tips for helping a friend or family member

with ;

Avoid

making personal criticisms. Remember, your loved

one’s behaviors are symptoms, not character flaws

Don’t

get up upset with someone with or tell them to stop performing rituals. They can’t, and the pressure to stop will only make the behaviors

worse.

Be as

kind and patient as possible. They need to overcome

problems at their own pace. Praise any successful attempt to resist , and

focus attention on positive elements in the person’s life.

Do

not play along with your loved one’s rituals.

Helping with rituals will only strengthen the behavior. Support the person, not

their rituals.

Keep

communication positive and clear. Communication is

important so you can find a balance between supporting your loved one and

standing up to the and not further upsetting your loved one.

Find

the humor. Laughing together over the funny side

and silliness of some symptoms can help your loved one become more detached

from the disorder. Just make sure your loved one feels respected and in on the

joke.

Don’t

let take over family life. Sit down as a family

and decide how you will work together to tackle your loved one’s symptoms.

Try to keep family life as normal as possible and the home a low-stress

environment.

Anita Levesque

How to Love Someone With a Mental Illness

Valentine’s Day is a day to express love and affection towards family, friends and loved ones. It’s an emotional day for most, but it can be a frustrating day for others. I remember the first Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend. It was a new relationship, getting to know each other, but for us Valentine’s Day was just like any other day; for me it was a day to show affection but not for him. You see, my boyfriend lives with mental illness and when he first moved in two months prior I discovered he was not on any medication and couldn’t tell me how he felt.  I didn’t completely understand then, but I do now. He lives with clinical depression and with that comes with sleeping all day, not wanting to do anything or go anywhere, emotions being put on hold, no laughter. He also lives with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), so on top of the depression is the anxiety. That includes a fear of going outside, talking to anyone, not wanting to text, call or email anyone. He sometimes would ask me questions like, “Do you love me?” “Why do you love me?” “Why don’t you find someone else, someone with a stable mind?” He couldn’t be touched when he was upset, anxious or panicky. The best thing I could do was just talk to him and provide reassurance. What helped me the most is reading all I could on mental illness but information based on other people’s experiences. I found it helped me better understand him and his needs. I’m not afraid to say it was a rough year, but it was worth it. We made it through, he’s been on medication and going to therapy for two years now, and we couldn’t be happier. If you have a loved one who lives with mental illness, I have some advice for you: 1. Please be patient. I know it may be frustrating and upsetting, but it will be worth it 2. Your loved one may need reassurance. Don’t be afraid to tell them you love them even though they may not be able to express the same 3. Be sure to take time for yourself. What you’re experiencing may drain you mentally; take care of yourself. Overall, just remember you’re with your loved one because you do love them, you’ve seen them for the real them and not the mentalillness. Also remember they do love you. Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s boyfriend. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Oleg Breslavtsev

Anita Levesque

How to Help a Loved One With Anxiety and Depression Get Through Family

During the holidays, you watch television commercials of people getting ready for a family gathering: getting gifts ready, dressing the kids, everyone in the car, you see the family at the door knocking, and Grandma answers it. She gives everyone a hug and kiss and everyone goes inside to see all the other family members. That’s what people think really happens. What about those with anxiety or depression or both? It is not always like that. My father lived with manic depression and anxiety. Family gatherings were not his favorite. There were a lot of relatives. Only a few family members knew my father lived with manic depression, but back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, not a lot was known, so there was a lack of understanding. My father would become anxious about going, but we did go. We never knew if anyone would comment about his behavior, what he would do, what he would say; sometimes we did leave early after something was said and he would end up being hurt. After a while we did stop going. There would always be someone who didn’t want my father there because of something that happened in the past. Even just a small mention of a past event would grow into a huge ball of anxiety, frustration, anger, embarrassment and humility. Family gatherings are meant to be fun and memorable and are for getting closer to one another. When a loved one lives with anxiety and depression, it can become a stressful event. Things are said and done and eventually the feeling of being trapped may occur, which can result in a panic attack. When a loved one has anxiety or depression, the anticipation of the event can sometimes be worse than actually attending the event. Thoughts enter your head days, sometimes weeks before the event, wondering what is going to be said or done, how you would react to it, how the other person would react. Then you think of the consequences of it. Sometimes just the preparation of the event can be stressful as well. If it’s Christmas, gifts have to be ready. If you have pets, they have to be taken care of before leaving. If there are children, they have to get ready. All the preparation has to be done within a certain timeframe and can cause the anxiety to heighten. At times you won’t be able to control your surrounding during a gathering, but as a loved one you can help reduce the anxiety at any gathering… Find an ally – if there is a relative who is positive and comforting, go with your loved one and begin a conversation. Set limits – you cannot control what someone says or does, but you can help your loved one; reassure them it’s OK to say something but know when to walk away. Bring a distraction – at times, it can become overwhelming. You can prepare a bag with comforting items for your loved one: a book, mp3 player, anything to help your loved one calm down. Focus on the good – within the anxiety-provoked situation, you need to help your loved one see the good; there will be something positive that can be a calming distraction. You can suggest talking to a relative who has a positive, understanding energy, reading stories to children, playing with animals or assisting with the meal. Doing something positive will calm your mind and reduce the anxiety/depression Understanding what is happening and having a plan to make it through can increase the sense of control and decrease your anxiety as well as your loved one’s. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Rawpixel Ltd