Getting Help for Our Children

Posted by Phil Cardenas on May 06, 2013

by Janet Singer
 

I follow a lot of blogs written by OCD sufferers. I find them interesting and educational, and they often provide me with a firsthand glimpse into the world of someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. As a parent of an OCD sufferer, I am particularly drawn to posts that deal with family matters.

These blogs are written by adults of all ages, and many of them acknowledge having had OCD since they were children. They wonder, sometimes bitterly, why their parents didn’t seek out help once they realized something was wrong. Even if they didn’t know their child was suffering from OCD, these parents knew they were suffering from something. Wouldn’t a visit to the doctor have been a logical first step? They have a point.

I know all about stigma surrounding mental illness, as well as the guilt and embarrassment a parent might feel. But we are talking about our responsibility. We are talking about our children. Allowing our own emotions to hinder our child’s treatment and recovery, to me, is unacceptable, especially since it is well-documented that early diagnosis and treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder greatly improves the chances for recovery. The longer OCD is allowed to fester, the more entrenched it can become.

While I admit it is difficult for me to understand the choice to not pursue treatment for a child, I am aware that it happens, and I know enough not to judge others. I try to envision the possible reasons for this behavior. Are parents fearful of the treatment themselves, or how their child might react?  Do they think nobody can really help their child? Do they think their child will be worse off with treatment than they are now? Are they dealing with mental illness (either diagnosed or not) themselves and are afraid of being “found out,” or at least questioned? Are they afraid their child will be “forced” to take medication even if the parents oppose? Do they feel that what’s going on is “nobody’s business” and prefer to handle (or not handle) things on their own? Are they in denial? Is the idea of a child with OCD so overwhelming to them that all they can do is nothing? These are all speculations, and the list could go on and on.

As is the case in many situations, that crucial first step is often the scariest and most difficult one to take. But it needs to be taken. The reason treatment is not being pursued at this moment is not what matters. What is important is that we, as parents, act in our child’s best interests. It might not be easy, and in fact might be the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, but it must be done. Whatever obstacles parents are dealing with in moving forward with treatment for their child must be overcome. If you are a parent in this situation and feel alone, please consider reaching out to another family member or close friend for support as you move forward. And, of course, Beyond OCD is always available for encouragement and assistance.

The time to pursue treatment for your child who is suffering from OCD is now. Even if you truly believe things are not “that bad,” OCD rarely goes away on its own. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting the appropriate help for your child. While it is true that therapy is often hard work, it is worth it, as recovery from OCD is possible. When your child is older, he or she won’t agonize over why you didn’t get him or her the proper help earlier, but rather will be thankful that you cared enough to step out of your own comfort zone for his or her benefit. So please take that crucial step for your child, and for you, today. You won’t regret it, and your whole family will become healthier and happier as you move forward in the fight against OCD.

Janet Singer, an advocate for OCD awareness, is published regularly on various mental health web sites. She explores all topics related to OCD and shares what helped and what hurt in her son Dan’s recovery from this devastating disorder.  While there were many lessons learned along the way, Janet feels the most powerful one of all is that there is always hope. She is committed to getting the word out that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. You can read more about Dan’s story and follow her personal blog at: http://www.ocdtalk.wordpress.com/. Janet uses a pseudonym to protect her son’s privacy.

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