My Dearest Julia,
We are going to do things differently. We are going to communicate. I am not going to allow you to give up on yourself. You are a courageous, smart, loving, wonderful person who has a big problem but a problem, believe it or not, which has solutions. You must be willing to, at least, try. I know you don’t feel courageous but courage is not the lack of fear but how you react and cope with the fear.
I know how impossibly difficult it is to discuss your OCD so I want to correspond with you via email until we are able to have a personal, face to face, dialogue. I am only trying to help you the best I know how. I have extensively researched, spoken to experts and corresponded with countess others suffering from OCD. From all this information, I’ve learned a lot and have come to some conclusions.
I realize you feel helpless against your OCD, the intrusive thoughts and need to act upon them. This I now, more fully understand. You must try to understand, too, that I don’t see things through the eyes of OCD so I upset you unintentionally.
I’d like to begin with what I have learned about the brain and OCD. It is not your fault you have OCD. You, and all OCD sufferers, brain chemistry and structures are different than people without OCD. Put in simple terms, 2 parts of the brain are bound together where there should be space in between. Your brain sends a signal and it gets stuck or locked and can’t be further processed. Then that thought gets amplified over and over in a non logical way. It gets stuck or locked. The way to make it better is to re-wire the connections in your brain. I can show you pictures of brain scans proving this fact.
Just so your clear, obsessions are thoughts and compulsions are the actions you take relating to the thought.
Remember when your sister, Carmela, could not speak because the speech part of her brain was damaged? The only way for her to be able to speak was to re-wire the connections around that part of her brain. The same is similar for you. You have to re-wire those connections so that the thoughts and actions will no longer be “locked.” I have learned there is more than one way accomplish this task. As you know, the most popular and most used is exposure therapy. But, there are also other ways which offer really good results.
One person describes OCD this way, “I compare OCD to a spider spinning a web at warp speed. The center of the web is the triggering event. Every intersection of the web is another possibility OCD creates in my mind, and it can grow infinitely. Feeding the spider by acting out the compulsions only makes her spin faster, until the web is so large, the spinning so out of control, the situation so infinite and sticky that all I can do is collapse in a sobbing heap of submission. How do you stop when you get to that point? How do you know what’s real and what isn’t? I want to stop being afraid. But I’ve always been afraid, though the crippling nature of contamination fear is new to me. This is not the first time OCD has prevented me from enjoying life, but it is the most severe. It is hell. I just want my life back more than anything in the world.”
She also says, “I f’—ing hate this disorder. It takes everything… I deeply resent the fact that I have to struggle painfully with shit that is completely normal for everyone else.”
That is all for now. I am going to email you often and I expect some response each time. I adore you and want only what is best for you. Sometimes, I may say things you don’t want to hear as you may to me. The point is to communicate. Since your not in any kind of therapy program, we must create our own. This is non negotiable. It will be difficult at times, and I will be here for you every step of the way.
I will listen and respect you at all times. There will be things I am going to require, things for which you may not agree but they will be required, none the less. If we work as a team it will be much better than if we don’t. You must remember, though, I am the mother and you are the daughter. I need you to trust me. And, things in our lives will improve.
Your loving mother,