Dear Mom & Dad, It’s Me – Your Kid with OCD
I know you are watching me. I can see your worried face out of the corner of my eye. It is the same face that greets me in the morning as I count my steps to breakfast and it is the same face that kisses me good night as I stand in front of the sink, unable to feel clean. I know parenting a kid with OCD is not easy.
I hear you guys whispering when you think I’ve gone to sleep, frantically comparing observations, wondering when this nightmare will end.
Trust me, I wonder too.
You tell me to stop. You tell me my behaviors don’t make sense. You say it’s irrational.
Trust me, I know.
I know I don’t need to open the refrigerator three times in order to keep from dying. I know that my hands aren’t dirty as I scrub off the imaginary filth. I am as frustrated as you, when I sheepishly ask you to turn the channel, fearful contact with the remote will cause imaginary contamination to spread.
My brain gets stuck. I am in a loop with no exit. It is like a perpetual itch that has to be scratched. All your rational words can’t squash my uneasiness, only compulsions have the power to do that.
But OCD is like a cruel joke. Like a well-crafted con. “Just do it once and you will feel better,” the OCD whispers. “Just do it and move on.” But there is no moving on. Like a drug dealer offering the first hit for free, OCD clutches my soul and tightens its grip. The more I give in, the more it wants from me. An unsatiated beast inside my head.
I am just like you. A passenger on this nightmarish ride. A ride I can’t get off, even if I tried.
I try to conceal it, I try to hide it away. I am embarrassed. Ashamed. Confused. I count in my head. I make rules I can’t break.
I am a master of disguises, a master of excuses.
Why does he always apologize for things he didn’t do?
I don’t tell you that OCD makes me second guess my every move.
Why does he confess his most disturbing thoughts?
I don’t tell you that OCD takes my worst fears and tries to make me believe them.
Why is his bathroom floor always wet?
I don’t tell you that OCD tells me not to dry my hands.
Why is he so slow to get ready?
I don’t tell you that OCD orders up a sea of compulsions before I even leave my room.
Why does he make that weird hand movement?
I don’t tell you that OCD tells me that simple movement will save us from sure death.
I spoon feed you lies. OCD tells me it is better that way. I serve you excuses and you readily eat them up.
I blow up when you tell me to take out the trash. I throw a huge fit at the sight of dirty dishes.
You tell me I’m avoiding responsibility. You grow increasingly annoyed with me.
OCD tells me I’m avoiding contamination. I grow increasingly annoyed with myself.
I am learning about my inner enemy. I am learning that it is not my fault. Just like Diabetes, I had no part in creating this game. The genetic seed planted way before I ever said my first words. No one would choose to be a kid with OCD.
I am also learning about my strengths. I am learning that OCD is selling me a lifetime of torture. It is selling me a lifetime of pain.
I am learning that I need to ignore the alarm bells. I need to ignore the mental pain. Just like a mosquito bite that will bleed when it is itched, OCD will demand to be fed, unfazed by the damage it creates in its wake.
I am learning to pave a detour in my mind. A detour from the glitch. The old road is worn down, filled with costly toll booths that slow down my world and my mind. It is time for a change, time for an update.
Every itch that’s not scratched is a win. Every urge that is ignored, creates another path in the detour.
This battle with OCD won’t be easy. He is a dictator who won’t loosen his grip. My revolt will be slow. His exile even slower.
You can help me by…
Supporting me, but letting me wage my own war. This is an internal battle of wills, a battle you don’t have the ability to see.
When you point out my losses, you point out the obvious.
When you tell me “not to do it,” I have already told that to myself.
When you get frustrated with me, I am already frustrated with myself.
When OCD comes to you, disguised as me, don’t be fooled.
When I ask you if I should be sorry for something I didn’t do,
tell OCD you aren’t talking to him.
When I tell you a scary thought that doesn’t sound like me,
tell OCD to leave me alone.
When I ask you to repeat a sentence in a particular way,
tell OCD you don’t listen to him.
When I tell you to touch something for me,
tell OCD you are not his slave.
Partner with me, not my OCD, and we can crush him together, one small win at a time.
Your kid with OCD.
Do you have a kid with OCD? What is their biggest strength through this battle? Leave a comment. Do you know someone who has a kid with OCD? Share this article with them.
Other Articles on Childhood OCD:
OCD Rituals are Often Mistaken for Tics in children
4 Things Parents Get Wrong About OCD
Audio Version: 4 Things Parents Get Wrong About Childhood OCD
5 Tips on How to Parent a Child with OCD
OCD in Children: Are You Missing the Signs
Books on OCD in Children: