This page will be a diary logging John’s treatment step by step.
I hope this might be informative to others undergoing or awaiting help.
Please remember, however, that everyone experiences OCD differently and the best means to recovery varies from person to person.
There is no quick fix and no hard and fast rules apply.
Sharing in the hope it helps.
1st August 2012
John has his first appointment with CAMHS after being referred by his GP late November last year.
I went with him. He seemed fairly relaxed, relieved at last to be getting some help. The ladies we saw were helpful and understanding. They apologised for the long wait and blamed low staffing levels.
We each filled in a questionnaire to assess the mood of the household regarding John’s OCD. It was considered to be low. Various options of therapy and drugs were discussed.
They questioned us both regarding how it affects John and when it started. I found this grueling but John took it in his stride. Then John was interviewed alone and it was arranged that he begin ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy in the next week or two.
Thursday 30th August 2012
John’s first proper appointment after initial assesment in which we were told that would begin his ERP. In truth it was a meeting for his new therapist to meet and assess him for the first time. It was not the gentleman we were initially told it would be but a girl in her twenties who told us she becomes a qualified CBT therapist in a couple of months. Hopefully she will be able to help him, but I admit to being a little concerned at her possible lack of experience. I did not, however, wish to display a vote of no confidence in front of John as I believe it is important for him to trust his therapist. Fingers crossed.
Thursday 6th August 2012
More form filling followed by breathing techniques.
John sees his therapist every Monday now. As yet, I have to say I have noticed little improvement but he is still optimistic. He has fewer ‘melt downs’ and panic attacks now, but I attribute that to the fact he has left school rather than the therapy. School was always a problem as certain teachers were decidedly unswerving and not prepared to take his particular situation seriously. This was the source of much distress to him which sent him into a vicious spiral of compulsion vs red tape. He was viewed by the ignorant as a naughty child trying to be difficult. Since he began college this month things are much improved. The attacks where he freezes, unable to move have been absent for a few weeks and we are thankful for that. His compulsions are still very much present though, and continue to change and evolve.
Learning about anxiety, what it is and how it affects the body/brain.
15th October 2012
Today is a bad day. John was not able to attend his CAMHS appointment. Had a meltdown day due to increased stress. Couldn’t eat and froze tonight in the kitchen unable to move or speak and clearly distressed. 25 mins later managed to go upstairs. Now he is sitting on his bed in the dark and I am afraid for him. I daren’t go to bed. If alcohol was my thing I would get drunk right now. As it is I am diabetic so I’m reaching for the chocolate to self distruct . Just want to go back in time and be sitting on he couch with my little boy, watching an episode of Dr.Who together or something and pretending everything s ok.
John begins his therapy again after the Christmas break tomorrow. He feels he is making little progress and it seems this therapist agrees as he has been referred to a psychiatrist with a view to prescribing drugs for him. At my last meeting with camhs I was told that John had made some progress in so far as opening up about his compulsions which are many and deep seated, but that when it came to completing the ERP exercises he was given or performing the relaxation techniques, she suspected that he was leaving the session and pretending it never happened. She said that this avoidance behaviour was common with OCD sufferers. It was also suggested that perhaps there was a part of John that was reluctant to completely let go of something that had been an integral part of his character for so many years. I fear there could be some truth in this.
Next week John sees the psychiatrist for the first time.(Up to now he has seen therapists). He has been referred because the therapy isn’t working and they think he should try medication which has to be prescribed by a psychiatrist. He is apprehensive about this because of fears relating to side affects and addiction, but I think he is prepared to try it, depending. I wonder if perhaps a change of therapist might be in order first? I do not feel he can relate to her. He has only seen one, a girl in her 20’s who we were told was ‘almost qualified’ when he began therapy, and certainly has little experience.
John saw the psychiatrist who seemed very thorough and approachable. After a 2 hour appointment he has been started on medication. (Sertraline). We were dubious about this at first but a little reassured after the doctor explained that it is in itself non addictive with only minor side effects. It apparently replenishes serotonin in the brain. This should help with both the OCD and the low mood which it causes. He also explained that whilst it is not expected to stop John’s current compulsions, it may stop him producing new ones. He explained that in later life his relationships and employment etc will be adversely affected if we don’t do something now. Fingers crossed that this works.
John has gone back to college this week and has so far not been too bad. He is eager to do well and hopes not to have to miss to much time due to anxiety and compulsions.
We haven’t really noticed much improvement since the introduction medication but his OCD is no worse. No new compulsions since and perhaps a slight decrease in the severity of his anxiety.
John’s meeting with the psychiatrist this month was a little worrying. He remains on the sertraline but because of his reluctance to open up to his therapist I fear they are losing interest. He turns 17 next June which means that CAMHS finish with him and I believe the transition to adult mental health can be rocky and at worst non existent. Having waited so long to be seen by camhs, if adult mental health services are as efficient I fear the struggle could start all over again.
It has been a year since I checked in re John’s progress. John turned 18 in June and as such has been cut loose from CAMHS due to his age. He had his last appointment just before his birthday and was told to stay on the sertraline and keep visiting his GP for review. He is currently managing his life quite well. He still has his usual compulsions but it has been some time since he had a major debilitating melt down leading to suicidal thoughts. I feel that this is more due to having a relatively stress free period in his life rather than the medication. However, I am concerned that if he enters a stressful time that the GP may not be qualified to help him. It’s a worry, but for now he is managing college and his life without the compulsions escalating further.
After OCD caused him to drop out of college two years ago, John began his course again and passed with distinctions across the board. He won an award for outstanding achievement and is now reading Architecture at the University of the West of England, Bristol. So far he is excelling and enjoying building a future. Fingers crossed for the future.