I’m just going to get it out there, here and now. Parenting a child with OCD is exhausting. I, actually, still feel guilty to even write such a statement about my own child. We all knew, as we became parents that it would, at times, be an effort-filled endeavor for many years to come. I know I, personally, accepted this fact readily and even excitedly. Was I simply being naive or was it that I had no idea what was to come?
I ask myself, how I can possibly complain about how indescribably difficult it is, every day, 365 days, each year caring for and sharing a home with an OCD adolescent. I’d say to myself, isn’t she the one who’s really suffering? Isn’t she the one who must complete these seemingly endless rituals and contend with those ever-present, illogical thoughts? Isn’t she the one who must take the medications and cope with the side effects? Don’t I have it easy compared to her? So, how can I reasonably profess my exhaustion at days end without feeling a sense of guilt?
As the years of raising my daughter, Julia, alone have passed and her illness has contorted into it’s ever so many presentations, I’m only just beginning to understand that it’s not only alright to be exhausted its imperative to recognize how I’m feeling. I must admit, always, over these past ~9 years, I thought I was to forever be my little families rock, never allowing myself any attention. I reasoned, any strength I take to do for myself depletes the little I have left within to contend with Julia and her little sisters daily care. But by solely focusing on their needs, Julia’s doctors, schools and day-to-day living, the precious moments, days, weeks, months and years still continue to pass… indifferent to my plight.
I have recently “come-out” with my story through blogging and joining support groups for caregivers and sufferers, alike. I have learned so much from others on both sides of the OCD fence through these faceless interactions.
By actively involving myself in dialogs with OCD sufferers, I’ve managed to see a more well rounded view of this disease from both the young and old. They have been patient enough with me to carefully explain how life is perceived through their personally OCD clouded eyes. This insight and willingness to help me understand now allows me to better communicate with Julia and better be inside her head while she’s trapped within this ever-sticky spider web disease.
Having only spoken of such matters with medical specialist and a few close friends over these years, I have just realized I was severely lacking one crucial element. The element of compassion and understanding to only be derived through a community who knows these struggles first hand! Through my interactions with parents from around the world coping with raising an OCD child, I’ve gleaned yet another perspective all together. To my surprise, other parents so freely spoke of their confusion, frustration and exhaustion. Meanwhile, the others listened, asked questions and comforted them. They gave them, as well as myself, “permission” to be real to real feelings about their personal struggles. It’s been through these experiences that I now realize all I’ve been missing.
For all of you out here facing the day to day’s with your children, I implore you to reach out. Reach out to people who “get it.” You will gain a new rejuvenation. A new way of releasing yourselves from the ties that bind. A new way to comfort and console yourselves. We all have so much on our proverbial plates, let the strength of the many provide the support to those of us who really need it, whether we recognize it or not. You may be surprised to realize that you can, conversely, help others by way of your experiences, as well. It’s like a balancing of nature. It’s too much to bear alone. Remembering, OCD is a families disease. A disease where all involved need care and compassion. This is how we can each awaken to every new day and lay our heads down each night with the empowering knowledge that we are not alone.