O.C.D. – Conquering the Dragon

It’s been a while. John is 21 now. The last couple of years have taken us on a nail biting, tear jerking ride, but he currently has his O.C.D. on the ropes. That is not to say that it isn’t fighting back with the usual unwavering determination, but John is winning this round. Good times. We have learned to embrace them when they come.

If you have followed his story, you will know that John’s last school years were challenging. The quiet, bright boy suddenly became a problem student as his O.C.D. worsened. He would refuse to pick up his pen, to do PE, or move seats when asked, and preferred to appear confrontational rather than explain the real reason he could not comply. Most of his teachers were unsympathetic and unswerving, even after we met with them several times to explain his condition. School became a bear pit he was reluctant to enter. John’s grades and attendance slipped. His dreams of becoming an architect were replaced by anxiety and depression.

Leaving school with disappointing results, John went to college to study construction.  He thrived in this new study environment, where tutors were more understanding and prepared to accept the constraints of his condition. Working his way up through the BTEC levels with outstanding results, John hit a stumbling block half way through his two year Level 3 BTEC course when the compulsions and insomnia caused his timekeeping and attendance to slip. The thought of arriving late made him anxious, so he would call in sick. Frustration at missing classes made him depressed. One day ran into another until so long had passed that the thought of going back and having to explain himself was just a bridge too far. His ambitions seemed thwarted once again.

When the new academic year began, John, (who refuses to discuss his OCD, even with family and friends), went into college and met with his old tutors. With enormous courage, and unsure what the outcome would be, he explained the reason he had dropped out, expressed his commitment to the subject, and asked to be given another chance. He was told he could not jump in where he left off in year two, but was allowed to re-start the course from the beginning. Despite all the obstacles, John was wrestling with the dragon and was back on track.

After two years of perseverance and hard graft, John passed his course with distinctions across the board, and was even commended for helping his colleagues to succeed. He was nominated by Llandrillo College and received the award for outstanding achievement in his subject.

The following September (2017) John was accepted to read architecture at The University of the West of England in Bristol, and to date he is excelling and enjoying the journey. Who can say what life holds in store, but I am so proud of him for conquering the struggle each new day brings.

7b8fa84698f80f0b7ea4ca074d0824d9--a-dragon-frank-ocean

 

Advertisements

A Little bit OCD – a poem

"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!

Jane Drew

marbe 032

Fearing the Future

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.

This is why I am passionate about seeing a change in the speed in which youngsters are treated, the quality of their care and the way in which the education system treats them.

I am hopeful for John now as he begins his ERP therapy, but I will never forget that feeling and am very aware that other parents out there are also fearing and fighting for the future. 

Not what defines him.

He is a loving son and a reasonable cook.

He is a excellent shot and a good strategist.

He is a thoughtful boyfriend and a true friend.

He is a team player yet has strong opinions.

He is good at construction and design.

He loves interesting music, even if it is old.

He doesn’t read much.

He  likes a good film. He is  the class clown.

He is kind to animals and interested in natural history.

He is  above average intelligence and enjoys keeping fit.

His life is laid out before him and the opportunities are endless.

OCD is not what defines him.

Look again.

There is more to him than that.

I suspect that People living with OCD ,as well as their
loved ones, feel like they are the only ones going 
through this. I know this to be true for me. Logic 
tells me that other people must have OCD, but I have
never knowingly met any of them.

I suspect this is largely due to the stigma attached to
this 'mental illness'. It is not the kind of thing one 
brags about. I cannot discuss my worries or problems 
with anyone else who might remotely understand.
How much more poignant must this be for John? How alone 
must he feel? If no one understands the worries and
everyday practical problems of the parent of a child
with OCD, how much less does anyone know about what it 
is like to be that child?

Since I realised that OCD was a part of our family I 
have researched it carefully . Know thine enemy! But
 even now I acknowledge that I have no idea what is 
going on in Johns head most of the time. I don't know
why he has his compulsions, I don't always know what 
he is doing and I don't know why or when they will 
change and evolve. He does not like to discuss it with
the family and rarely gives us an insight into his
world. He tells me that it is with him all the time
and the last thing he wants to do is talk about it 
as he is trying to escape it. I cannot truly comprehend
what it is like to be him .I try to learn a little more 
each day but I can only imagine his torment.

Another factor that isolates the OCD sufferer is its
uniqueness. No two sets of symptoms are exactly the 
same. One person might have obsession with cleanliness, 
another might be an untidy person obsessed with symetry.
One might constantly check doors are locked, another
be condemned to complete meaningless and complex 
mental rituals, unseen by the observer. (And pure O 
is even more complex!)
The family might not recognise what they have as OCD
because it does not fit the stereotype of what society
perceives it to be. How can he have OCD when his 
bookshelf is a mess?

Alone together with OCD