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Housemate with OCD! Help needed.

My housemate has OCD, and it is specifically centered on the kitchen. Her OCD has reached intense levels, and everyone else in the shared house is at their limit with this woman and her very particular demands. Unfortunately she has poor insight into her own disorder, and has not revealed it to any of us (though it's pretty apparent). I understand and respect her full right to keep her mental health private, but it has gotten to a point where it effects the rest of the house significantly.

I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with this at all. I really need suggestions for tolerating her reminders, and ridiculous and incessant requests. ie: Put the square napkins here, the rectangular towels there, etc...keep the wet dishes in the drainer completely off of the drying dishes, no non-food items on any surfaces (papers included), etc...and it gets worse. Every time you see her it's something. I have told her how her reminders effects me, and that it makes me very anxious. It was better for about 2 days, and then it began again in full force.

I apologize if the tone of my post seems harsh or judgmental. I have dealt with some of my own repetitive thoughts, so I can't imagine how much this woman is struggling. I have compassion for her. At the same time it's really causing a lot of stress for everyone involved.

I welcome suggestions from those who live with OCD, or their friends/family/roommates. How can I communicate with her and set my own limits, knowing how fragile she is?
 

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You've reminded me of why a bad roommate is the only things that's every made me experience homicidal feelings.

Okay. Everyone dealing with OCD. You wont know how fragile (I'm inclined to think this is a euphemism for reactive) she'll be to your protests. One piece of advice I have for you is to not think of her as fragile. Be 100% compassionate but be firm.

I went through a bout of very severe OCD in my early twenties. It caused extreme stress to my family who I was living with at the time. While I was suffering greatly, I objectively wasn't fragile, and my illness did not need to be accommodated. I may have wanted my obsessions to be accommodated as not having them accommodated felt terrifying, of course, but want and need are very different things. This is true for all people whether they have a diagnosable mental illness or not.

When you are in the grip of OCD it's hard to have insight because the fear makes everything seem so valid. You know that something is wrong with you but your obsession is to compelling that it overrides that. It's not been shown that others accommodating the OCD makes it better but there's an abundance of evidence that it makes it worse. Gentle and ethical behavioral intervention is the most integral component to getting someone out of OCD loop. I say this to let you know that you're not necessarily being compassionate by accommodating her.

You're being accommodating out of fear of rocking the boat, which is natural.

You could simply state that you're not complying with her demands anymore and that you're sorry. That she'll have to find ways to cope with this revelation, perhaps with a therapist, or move. Ask her to try not to speak to you anymore about anything related to the kitchen.

If a face-to-face would be too scary, write her.

Then, uh, don't keep any of your food in the fridge whilst you gauge her reactions. :dry:

Sorry for this crappy living situation.
 
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