Caring for a child who has a severe mental illness is exceptionally difficult. Conducting daily life with a child suffering from OCD, who appears perfectly normal to the outside world but is plagued by behaviors which are illogical and debilitating, seen only by those closest, is nothing short of a seemingly hopeless task. The reality is, along with the child afflicted with OCD, it is the entire family, or the single parent, who gets mired up into the child’s irrational world. When it comes to different levels of enabling; where do you draw the line between maintaining any semblance of peace verses total chaos? What degree of enabling is acceptable?
My daughter of 12 has severe OCD with exceptionally debilitating germaphobia. Among other issues, as with many childhood OCD sufferers, she is morbidly germaphobic of her school. The rituals to rid herself of the germs supposedly obtained at school are simply horrid. She believes she and all related must be decontaminated after school every day. These rituals are seemingly endless, take hours to complete and cause her physical and emotional pain. However, any deviation from these rituals catapults her into a ostensibly eternal, stress induced frenzy. Having dealt with the myriad of her OCD symptoms since before the age of 4, I’ve learned the hard way that there are no simple answers to the “enabling” question. To add insult to injury she also has recovery avoidance which literally leaves me alone to fend for our lives. I am continuously seeking solutions for her recovery. The bottom line, however, is that I’m on my own, everyday, to make the “fence” decisions in an effort to grapple with her monstrous malady.
When is any level of enabling acceptable? Dealing with OCD is hard enough but doing so within the multifaceted phases involved with childhood and puberty can be an exceptionally discouraging endeavor. Childhood OCD is certainly unique in many ways from adult OCD. The invisible fence the adult must teeter, between whether to enable or not, is infinitesimally thin. However, my experience has proven, one side of this phantom fence allows for some modicum of enabling and the other side allows for none. I must say that I enable her the very least I feel possible at the particular time. However, my experience has proven if all enabling ceases, her grades plummet from A’s to F’s and inpatient psychiatric wards may well, again, be part of her immediate future. Conversely, while the other side of this illusive fence professes to not allow any accommodation to the OCD as it shall certainly propel the disease yet further into the deep chasm of the OCD inferno. The conundrum is simply that the middle of the fence seems to get more & more miniscule, and at times, appears non-existent.
Therefore, one must ask, is there a middle ground to enabling or is it simply an invisible fence I must teeter upon minute by minute?