OCD TherapyPosted by Phil Cardenas on Mar 03, 2012
by Janet Singer
At the age of nineteen, my son Dan spent nine weeks of his summer at a world-renowned residential treatment program for those suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. We didn’t force him to go; in fact it was just the opposite. He couldn’t wait to get there as he was determined to free himself of OCD, which at the time was severe.
Exposure Response Prevention Therapy
It all made sense to me. My son had a debilitating illness that was fortunately treatable. So off he went to get treatment. That was four years ago and at the time anything and everything to do with OCD was new to me and my family. As the years have gone by and I’ve become an advocate for OCD awareness, I now realize that Dan’s behavior was not necessarily the norm. It seems that many teenagers and young adults with OCD are not as gung-ho as Dan was to dive headfirst into Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy.
I’d like to make it clear that I’m not talking about recovery avoidance here. What I am talking about is recovery apathy (you won’t find any information on this anywhere; I just made it up). Recovery apathy refers to those OCD sufferers who do not necessarily avoid treatment, yet they don’t embrace it either. Maybe they see a therapist regularly or have been a few times. Maybe they’ve started ERP Therapy but rarely do their “homework.” Maybe they don’t see the point. Maybe they are scared. Maybe they don’t want to be any different than their friends. Maybe they think their OCD isn’t “that bad.” Maybe they aren’t invested in therapy because their parents make them go. Whatever the reasons are, I would like to address this issue of recovery apathy.
Let’s say you fall down on a pile of gravel and end up with a deep wound on your knee. You put some antibiotic cream on it, but a few days later it is even more sore and swollen. You go to the doctor who diagnoses you with an infection and gives you a prescription for oral and topical antibiotics. You fill the prescriptions, go home, and start the antibiotics.
By the next day your knee is much better, and since you don’t really like taking pills and the antibiotic cream stings, you stop both. You figure the wound isn’t that bad and it will get better on its own anyway; after all, it’s not much worse than a scrape. It starts to flare up again so you take a pill here and there, and put the cream on your knee one more time. By the next week, you have a high fever, the infection has spread, and you are in a pretty serious situation.
If only you had followed through with the prescribed treatment! Of course this is an analogy to what happens if you are not committed to your therapy for OCD. It is known that the longer an OCD sufferer goes without proper therapy, the harder the OCD will be to treat. And just showing up (at the doctor’s or therapist’s office) is never enough. You need to do your “homework.” I regularly follow many blogs written by OCD sufferers, and every single one of them, at one time or another, has said, “If only I had gotten the right treatment sooner…” Most of these people either were undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or mistreated for many years. We can’t go back in time, but if you have OCD, the time to get serious about proper treatment is now.
I know that, for lots of different reasons, it can be hard to get motivated to fight OCD. And there is no question that motivation is important. But instead of waiting around for motivation to come to you, I would like to suggest just taking action. Commit to starting therapy and giving it your all. Often action is what leads to motivation, instead of the other way around. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.
I am so thankful my son Dan took action. He would not be a senior in college now, living life to the fullest, if he hadn’t. To me, the only thing worse than seeing a loved one suffering from a severe disorder is seeing a loved one suffering from a severe disorder that you know is treatable. Please, if you are dealing with OCD and you have recovery apathy, just take the plunge. Your motivation, and your freedom from OCD, will follow.
Beyond OCD is a non-profit organization and the world’s leading resource center for information on obsessive compulsive disorder for sufferers, families and friends, educators, clergy the media, and mental health professionals. The group is dedicated to helping people break free of OCD – there is life Beyond 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.