Here's What You Need to Know About OCD
1. Helping my son manage OCD is the single biggest challenge I have faced. Ever. Once my son was finally diagnosed, I wanted to FIX him, just like I fixed my patients. I came to understand that I could not do my son's hard work of learning to manage his brain. However, there WERE things that I learned how to do to create the circumstances that made it easier for my son to do his hard work.
Did you know that as many as one in 100 American kids
and one in 40 American adults
carry the diagnosis of OCD?
You are not alone!
2. OCD is shrouded in secrecy. Many people with OCD experience embarrassment and shame. Your child may try to hide their struggles from even you. You and your family might feel judged as others think of ODC as a character flaw or a moral failing. Someone might have offered "helpful advice" like, “Just tell your kid to STOP!” Your kids are not lazy or undisciplined. Just the opposite! They have a brain wiring glitch that has hijacked their brains. You can help them take back their power!
Your child with OCD has a treatable medical condition.
You can do this!
3. Our kids with OCD have amazing brains with specialized gifts. Imagine the raw power of their determination and grit to continue to comply with the escalating demands of the “OCD Terrorist-Within.” Our kids don’t say, “This is too hard. You’re asking too much of me. I think I’ll take a vacation day.” Now imagine they direct that focus to the things that give life meaning.
Your child's gifts include empathy, grit and determination.
They get sh*t done!
Here are three things I've learned as I help my son manage OCD:
1. Kids managing OCD and their parents both have simple jobs. My son is mastering three core skills: choosing his thoughts, leaning into anxiety and resisting urges. I have the simple job of staying calm and staying connected to my son as he struggles and evolves. While these tasks might be simple, they are not easy.
You and your child with OCD have simple jobs.
The problem is that they are not easy to execute.
2. Finding resources to help me parent my college-aged son with late-onset OCD was difficult. It took almost three years to arrive at a diagnosis. (And please remember, I'm a physician!) I tried to find parenting help but most online communities address the needs of parents of kids with early-onset OCD. Parents' relationship with their kids evolve as their kids get car keys and credit cards. The average age of onset of OCD is 19.5 years, so I cannot be alone. That's why I formed this community.
The average age of onset of OCD is 19.5 years.
3. Finding the resources that would help my son manage his brain proved to be problematic, too! Interventions that help with some brain conditions like depression can make OCD worse. Many healthcare professionals have a limited understanding and training to treat OCD. I tapped into my own medical training to review and interpret the OCD medical literature and identify evidence-based interventions.
Many healthcare professionals have a limited understanding of OCD.
Find the right help for your child.
Here are three things I believe:
1. Your child is not broken. No parent or child wants OCD. Unmanaged, OCD can turn families upside down and ruin lives.
However, I remind you that your child with OCD is having a HUMAN experience to which we can all relate. Yes, it's several standard deviations from the mean. Still, think about the times you believed the lies your brain offered you. Do you wear a lucky jersey when you REALLY want your team to win?
Every brain--even the finest brains on our planet--has both gifts and glitches. Our job as parents is to help our kids evolve into the best versions of themselves no matter what. AND I remind you that you have an amazing kid!
If your kid had a hard time seeing,
you would not think of them as broken.
You would get them glasses.
2. The skills our kids master get to the other side of OCD will help them manage other life challenges. I coach high-performing adults without OCD who have difficulty constructing lives that work for them. For years I've helped them learn the very same skills my son is mastering. I just didn't name them. Now I can list them.
The skills that your child masters to manage OCD transform lives.
Many adults will never learn them,
and then wonder why they can't get what they want.
3. One day OCD will be cured. Right now the focus is on managing the OCD symptoms so that our kids can get on with their lives. I predict that within out kids' lifetime, we will learn enough about the brain to cure OCD.
What if OCD is not a barrier to a successful adult life?
What if, instead, learning to manage OCD paradoxically positions your child for a rich, meaningful and purpose-driven life you always imagined?
I can imagine a day in which my son tells me, “Getting OCD is the best thing that ever happened to me. Now that I’ve learned how to manage my mind, I know I can do anything. ”