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  • Catherine Benfield

Pete Interview - Supporting someone with OCD

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Pete smiling at the camera

Here’s the interview!

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful questions you asked Pete about supporting someone with OCD. He spent most of his Sunday afternoon answering them 😊

We initially hoped this would be an in-person interview but there are two main reasons why we’ve written it down.

- The first and most important one is that Pete is not comfortable in front of a camera, he was going to do it, bless him, but I could see it was making him uncomfortable. Getting him to speak about a subject like this for his first social media interview was asking a bit too much 😊

- The second reason is that as soon as we saw some of the (utterly amazing) questions you sent in, we knew it needed to be like this. You’ll see why when you read some of the answers. We’ve spoken about OCD a lot over the years but we’ve never done a Q + A session and it was unbelievably moving. Watching me snotting over myself and Pete looking uncomfortable at being filmed may have distracted you!

I should also say that I'm in a little bit of a relapse at the moment so you're going to read about my nighttime compulsions which are worse than normal right now. But I'll get there!

Pete and Cat laughing, facing each other over a table with a cup of tea each

Here we go!.....

1) How do you make sure you make time for self-care and down time?

Making time for free time is a hard thing to manage and something I don’t do that well. I’m quite happy sitting in front of a screen watching television or drawing. I enjoy looking at reels on Instagram, it's good to have a laugh at something silly. It’s also very quick and I can squeeze it into the day.

I’m also a firm believer in exercise being very helpful. I’m not at all good at keeping it up regularly but I try to be active outside of work too when I can – it boosts my mood more than most things.

It’s important to recognise when things are getting to you and to step up the self-care. It is far too easy to reach for a beer to solve a bad mood than to go for a run or do a 20 min HIIT class but the effects of exercise for me are better and longer lasting.

In terms of making time, it's really hard. I tend to fit in around you and Will. I guess the important thing is to try to make the most of any time I get.

2) What advice can you give to my partner who has to deal with me when I have flare ups?

Be as patient as you can be. Don’t rush them. Make sure they are accessing any material they may have worked on in therapy. Make sure they are eating right and drinking plenty of water. Discuss considering upping medication depending on how long it’s been going on for.

I try to get you to zone out by watching a funny series.

Try not to reassure, but then fight your battles, and if it's the only way of snapping them out of a loop do so but don’t do it regularly.

That goes the same for helping with a compulsion.

3) How do you keep seeing past the OCD to the person you love?

I fell in love with you, OCD is just one of the crap things in life we have to deal with. Everyone has something. I remember who you were when we met, I see someone who is fighting to stay well now and I hope that in the future, after all the fighting, you’ll have been able to tame it. You were, are, and always will be the person I fell in love with, unfortunately OCD is along for the journey.

4) When I told you my thoughts, were you scared? What was your first reaction?

YES! Massively. I had known you ages – it might not have all been plain sailing but I thought I knew you. To hear how you felt, and what you were thinking frightened me. Equal to that was the feeling that I was helpless to help you. I couldn’t shoulder any of these problems for you. I had to learn to help in the subtle ways I could. I felt better when you started therapy as I knew someone was there to help you navigate it. After that we could start to work on it.

5) Do you feel it’s necessary to share OCD theme with a partner? Is not sharing more difficult?

I feel personally that I’m better off knowing everything I can - it helps to talk it through. Some themes I can see are tough and partners may respond negatively. You know them. Again, it’s about breaking down the misconceptions – discussing what OCD is, the treatments and the therapy.

You explained what you did at therapy so I felt this was a good goal to work towards. Yes, it’s got to be scary for you to share it, they are the thoughts in your head, but from a supportive partners point of view – we don’t have a clue about what’s going on unless you tell us. For me the more the better. I hate that you suffer but not knowing what is tormenting you is incredibly hard to deal with as a partner.

6) What sort of support are you giving at the moment? Do you find yourself drawn into compulsions?

Yes, at the minute bed time is a big one. When we had the baby gate it was one thing. Now it’s anything – it’s the stairs, knives left out drying, cables for the cats, is Will tucked in properly? I’m the second line of defence. I know you should do it on your own but if I go around and check after you have checked – I see that as a small price to pay for you to go to sleep well. It’s not like I do it throughout the day with other things. Okay, maybe the cooker a little bit when we are leaving the house but that’s it. I know that’s not good for you though. I have to walk a fine line.

7) Has OCD affected the number of children we’ve had. How does that affect you?

I would have loved to have had three or four kids. When Will was born, it was the best day of my life. However there was no way we were going to have another with you being the way you were. When you got to grips with your OCD, and it was more manageable, Will was a few years old, life had knocked us about too much, too much loss, too many battles. It was nice to enjoy some normality. People always pressure for a second child but Will was, and is, everything – I settled years ago to not have anymore. No OCD hasn’t won in this respect, it was a valid concern that it might flare up again but Will had also just got out of toilet training, was sleeping through, was just about to start nursery and a selfish part of me didn’t want to go through all of that again.

So there we go! :-)

We answered the questions you sent in for this interview. We are very happy to do a second interview with more questions so if you can think of any, or if you didn't get a chance to send them in this time - please send them over now.

We'll do a second post probably around summer.

Okay, that's it for this post. We really hope you found it helpful.

Loads of love,

Cat (and Pete) x x

Further Reading

Finding your community and support network can be such a huge part of recovery. OCD loves isolation, don't give it to it <3. Read this post to find out how to find your OCD community.

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