OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
People throw around the expressions like “I’m so OCD” with no idea what a prison it can feel like to have OCD — to be thrown into a state of terror when things aren’t clean enough or just so. To love and raise someone who is in so much pain — a pain that he doesn’t understand, can’t explain, and keeps secret — can be just as hard. It’s called “accommodating” when a loved one has to make things just right or make sure things are clean/uncontaminated or help out with rituals and rules that you don’t understand. These kids require a level of reassurance that is never enough. Raising a child with OCD is exhausting.
- Does your son insist that things have to be just right, repeated the same time every time?
- Does he have thoughts or images that pop into his mind and won’t go away?
- Is he obsessed with cleanliness and have a need to wash his hands?
- Does he struggle with when routines or rituals are disrupted?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is generally experienced as repetitive obsessions (thoughts or images) that cause debilitating stress for kids and teens...and their families. OCD is like a bully that causes a kid to have intense anxiety. Kids feel the need to do repetitive acts or rituals in an effort to get rid of the anxiety that the obsessions or fixations cause. Kids are bullied into all kinds of behaviors. Compulsions can include such things as cleaning, checking, counting, seeking reassurance, or avoiding certain places, people, things, etc.
The sooner that you reach out for support, the better. Doing so takes courage. Compulsions make kids feel less anxious...for a little while. As time goes on, the obsessions and the anxiety get worse, the bully becomes more demanding, and the compulsions take up more and more time in a child and family’s day.
I’ve worked with kids with OCD as well as their families and I know that things can get better. With parental support, kids can fight back against the bully that OCD is. That happens through a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy known as Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP). With patience and understanding, I will walk you through the process. The first part of it is getting to know all of obsessions or bullies your son is dealing with, then using evidence-based assessment tools to assign an anxiety rating to each one of them. We start with the easiest “wins” against OCD and then build on that success. Your son will practice tolerating the obsessions while either not doing the compulsions, doing them differently, or having to wait an increasing period of time until he does them. Your son will need your support as a coach and a cheerleader. Gradually, through ERP, your son’s brain will literally be rewired in terms of his “stress response.” He will learn that it’s possible to live a life not dominated by OCD. I will collaborate with you in the process every step of the way.