Advice for parents who have children with OCD
Advice for parents who have children with OCD
We say “should” all the time, but rarely at the appropriate time. “Should” indicates responsibility in usually a critical way, and with anxiety disorders and depression, this occurs a lot.
“My life shouldn’t be like this.”
This statement hurts because what it really means is that life and who I am are not ok as they are. I know OCD doesn’t feel ok, but hear me out. It’s that “I’m wrong and that if I made a different choice or acted another way, than everything would be as it should“. “Should” makes us feel like we messed up, and what’s worse, if we truly have no or little control, then we are beating ourselves up for a crime we didn’t commit.
When I said this, my therapist asked me how my life should be. Through the tears, I explained how I never thought I’d be this person. He asked when I made the choice to get OCD, and I said it wasn’t my choice, and he said “exactly.” He explained how “Should” was a trap. Who decides what should and should’t be? It’s when we feel like things should be a certain way, that we fall into it.
Next time you say “should”, think if it’s really appropriate. It hurt less to say “I want my life to be different.” because this stems from a real emotion, and begs the question, “how can I improve my emotional state?”
Language can really cause us emotional downs, and here’s another:
“I don’t deserve to be happy”
“Deserve” means you have done something worthy enough to receive something else like happiness, for example. O no. I’t’s impossible for a psychologist to talk me out of this one. They always respond to with “but, everyone deserves to be happy.” Instinctively I know this is not true. Evil people don’t deserve happiness, while kind people do, right? What about people who go through insane trauma; did they not deserve happiness?
In short, no, I don’t deserve to be happy, nor do I deserve to be unhappy.
The truth is that sometimes I will feel happy and sometimes I won’t, but that doesn’t reflect who I am. Most of us strive to be descent people and happiness is not a reward system. Happiness is an emotion that stops by sometimes, and though I feel like it’s unfair that I feel anxious more than I want, it doesn’t mean that I deserve to be unhappy and I shouldn’t believe that it does? 😉
Watching my OCD symptoms diminish was the most incredible and empowering thing, but it scared me because as my compulsions slipped, so did my emotional sensitivity and I was left feeling numb.
This is a frightening feeling. I wondered what parts of my personality my OCD would take with it and I felt my identity threatened. What if Van Gogh or other tortured artists never had their depression? Would they still be artists? Do you need misery to fuel passion?
I saw an episode of “House” where Dr. H discusses this in a great way:
“Miserable? You think that by taking meds you’ll lose your edge? Stop making the unique connections that make you a successful doctor?”
“If Van Gogh was your patient, he’d be satisfied painting houses instead of ‘The Starry Night’.”
“Van Gogh would still be making inspired paintings of the night sky. Just maybe not from the room of his asylum.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know both his ears would be intact. And I know his life would be better.”
My therapist showed me to look at my numb feeling like a concert. When you walk outside a concert where the music was blaring, you feel like there’s clouds in your ears and everything is quieter than it should be. It’s not that the world suddenly spoke in a whisper, it’s that you get used to high volume and moving into a normal range feels quieter than it really is, BUT it eventually levels out and that “quiet world” starts to sound normal.
With OCD you feel everything extreme in your emotional range. Everything is severe, so when you start to turn down the volume on your emotions, it feels numb.
After my OCD became asymptomatic, I felt euphoric, but then I crashed into an identity crisis. Who was I without my OCD? It felt wrong and bad not knowing who I was because I questioned everything in my life from my breakfast choices to my husband, but what I would tell someone else going through the same thing is that don’t beat yourself up during this search for the self. You’ll find your identity, but it will take time.
Today I am no longer the “OCD Girl”, but I am a girl with OCD. My OCD is not the star of the show, but it’s a part of my story, and that’s ok.
announcing TEDx talk
OCD has been referred to as the “disease of doubt” and I think most of us understand on a visceral level why. Our obsessive thoughts feel shameful to talk about and our compulsive behavior can range from annoying to humiliating. Before we even know what’s going on, we know that it’s irrational. We hide, lie, escape and do anything we can to get our minds to calm down. This can create a very lonely environment. Really, it comes down to the fact that so much of the time we feel like no one understands because we wish we didn’t.
I feel lonely a lot. I am not one to call a friend when I need to talk, and although I’m extroverted in a lot of ways, I find it hard to make an effort to be social because making connections is still very scary. Though, feeling lonely is unpleasant and I def. do not like it, I believe I am not alone.
Writing on this blog, I have discovered a community where we can share, support each other, and remind ourselves that although it may feel like it, we are not truly alone. We understand each other, and we share the same goal of wanting our lives to improve. They will 🙂
We may not feel normal, and we may try to keep our secrets hidden, but we are not alone. We need to remember that, because it is when we suffer alone that we truly suffer.
I am really excited to announce that I will be speaking for a TEDx talk! I will be telling my story with OCD and sharing a lot of the lessons that have come with the journey. I will keep you all posted and of course, if anyone has any ideas or things they would like me to include, let me know 🙂