I am looking for some advice for helping my boyfriend with severe OCD.
Here is the story.
I moved here to Italy to be with my boyfriend (I am American). I lived with him at his parents house for the first 2 months and although I knew he had OCD and had to do certain things (like count in his head before he climbed the stairs to the bedroom, count before he closed the car door, turn the light switch on and off a certain number of times) it was never as I would consider SEVERE. They were little habits that weren't really bothersome and didn't take up TOO much time.
We moved in to our new home together back in December. From then his OCD has progressively gotten worse.
Let me list some examples.
1. We have 3 doors that we have to go through in order to get outside. Before going through each doorway he has to count to a certain number or go through the doorway a certain number of times. In the beginning it didn't take long, but now it can take up to 30 minutes for him to go through the doorways. Going to work or going out in general is a big task and we have to plan to leave 30 minutes earlier in order for him to make it outside.
2. The same thing applies to when we get home. It is actually even worse. The other night he was counting and going back and forth through the doorways for an hour and a half. Each time he went through the doorway a certain number of times something in his brain said "no, you did it wrong" and he would have to do it all over again. By the end of this he was so overwhelmed, upset, sweaty, and exhausted.
3. Getting dressed and undressed is a huge task. He has to put on and take off his shirt a certain number of times. Same with his pants and shoes. Some nights it is so overwhelming that he just sleeps with his clothes on in order to avoid the process.
4. Getting out of the car is also hard. He has to go in and out of the car a certain amount of times and also close the door over and over again.
There are other little tics that he has to complete and if he doesn't he goes crazy. One time we were leaving work (we work together) and he didn't shut his computer down "the right way". He realized this when we arrived home. Work is 20 minutes away. We had to drive all the way back to work so that he could reboot his computer, open Internet Explorer 3 times and close it three times and then shut the computer down.
As I said, before we moved in together his OCD was not TERRIBLE. I believe the reason that it is getting worse is because I know that he has this problem and I know that he has to do things a certain amount of times. Before, no one knew about his OCD, not even his parents. It was always a secret and so he didn't want anyone to find out so he kept his tics to a minimum. Now that I know about it I feel like he thinks about it more and he feels free to perform these compulsions without having to worry about who finds out.
I feel so bad that he is suffering like this. I tell him all of the time that he needs to talk to someone or he needs to go to therapy. He didn't even know what OCD was until I told him that he had it. He thought he was just strange and didn't understand why he had to perform these compulsions. Of course I try to be understanding and let him fulfill his compulsions without putting anymore pressure on him, but sometimes it is really hard. Especially if I had a hard day at work or if I am tired or if I don't want to be late for something. I am human and of course I get angry sometimes. I know that it isn't his fault and he can't control it and I feel terrible when I get mad about it, but sometimes it is just so hard.
I really would like some advice from anyone.
Does anyone have any similar compulsions?
How do you deal with your OCD?
Does therapy help?
How can I be more supportive?
Is there anything that I can do to ease his compulsions?
I just want to add that I really don't think that he is up for taking medication for this. As I stated above, he is italian and Italians aren't really keen on taking a lot of medication. They believe in natural cures or taking as little medication as possible (at least down here in the south they are like this).
Thank you so much in advance.