"A little bit OCD"
When I knew my boy was haunted by
this demon in his ear
Not knowing how to help him,
My knowledge turned to fear.
I'll keep this to myself I thought,
He didn't want to be
the boy that was a weirdo,
Just 'That kid with OCD .'
But people came to notice
little signs that served to tell.
They all became an expert
"I've got OCD as well!"
"I always put my books in line
so neatly on the shelf.
My husband says that I'm
a little bit OCD myself!"
"Take away his Xbox
if he keeps on being late.
Ground him for a week and he'll soon
Realise his mistake."
"Tell him to snap out of it.
You have to make him see.
Nip it in the bud,
we're all a wee bit OCD."My boy can not eat or sleep
or concentrate at school.
A little bit OCD maybe
But at least he's not a fool!
In John’s early teens when he and I suspected OCD and the rest of the world were either oblivious or in denial, John tried to combat the condition himself (without the stigma of having a label slapped on him by the medical profession)
For my part I hoped that if we ignored it, it would go away. Perhaps he would grow out of it? I wondered if acknowledging it’s existence might somehow justify the rituals and discourage John from trying to suppress them. I wonder still if time alone with OCD allows the sufferer to indulge what should be resisted. We were both naive, however, and underestimated the OCD grip!
The rituals and compulsions multiplied and became more severe with time. The realisation that this was not going to go away hung like a black cloud.
Now, years on in the midst of the battle I am still regularly fooled into thinking that all is well. Each time John has a few ‘good’ days (not to say that he is ever OCD free, but sometimes in good spirits, functioning well, sleeping, eating with only moderate compulsions), I am euphoric and find myself acting as if he is well. Perhaps he is cured? Perhaps it was all a dream and he never had it at all?! I fall for it every time!
When the meltdown comes it devastates me anew.
I relive the heartbreaking realisation that my son is not perfect. That life will probably always be hard for him, but you know what?….
…….I am proud of him, at 16 he is already his own man despite his difficulties, he is perfect !
Speaking for myself as a parent of a teen with OCD, I think that the worst thing is the fear of what lies in store for him.
I imagine a string of failed relationships and lost jobs, and at best a lonely old age.
When I realised the severity of John’s OCD I desperately researched the condition. Hours of trawling the web and thumbing through OCD charity magazines did nothing to abate my fears. I read inspirational and heart rending stories of noble and broken parents swimming, walking or climbing to raise money in memory of their child lost to OCD. I encountered more and more horror stories of suicide, drug addiction and alcoholism/liver damage cutting short the lives of young adults as they struggled and failed to survive their OCD. I cannot describe the hollow feeling as the realization hit me that if we did not find help and fast,the prognosis could be fatal.
On a good day the way he moves is a natural to him as
breathing in and out. The quarter turn of the bottle
between each splash of juice poured. The one, two,
three, four bangs of the fridge door without breaking
his stride in the story he is telling me .But I don't hear
him. All I can think about is what he is doing.
He places the plate in the microwave, one, two, three,
four times closing the door. He turns on his axis ,full
circle before putting his plate on the counter.
Without losing eye contact with me he continues the
conversation ,whilst sliding the plate along the surface
and off the edge, not breaking contact until the last moment.But today is a good day. At least he is chatty and in reasonable
spirits. At least he's eating! I am always grateful for days like
these.As he adjusts himself on the dining chair until it feels just right.
I ask him how his day at school was. "Alright"." Tell me what you did today ." I press.The beginnings of some agitation now. I've pushed too far. "You know I can't" . He looks at his burger and I can sense
the inward squirm. " I just don't get why you can't talk to me about what you've
been doing"Pause." It's an OCD thing mum". I leave it at that and quickly switch to small talk about some
TV programme so as not to turn around his good day.
He doesn't want to talk about it. He wants to be like other
teenagers and forget his torments. This is as near
to forgetting as he gets. So we talk and laugh for a little
while about past holidays, the dog, Rhod Gilbert and other
things of no consequence. For now he seems happy and
that's enough for both of us.I wonder to myself when it was that a pleasant, relaxed
conversation with my only son became something to be
elated about. I feel almost giddy. I suppose most families
take this kind of thing for granted. I know I did when my girls were young. Recently it seems that life has taught me to
appreciate the little things, or rather to realise that what
I used to view as a little thing is actually a huge blessing.