My son wrote an essay on teen mental health for his eighth grade health class. Being a writer, I proofread everything my kids write. Well, I was blown away by my son’s honesty and bravery. I asked him if I could share it on my blog. He unequivocally answered, “Yes.” I can write essays up the wazoo asking people not to make a joke out of OCD, not to take this devastating condition lightly. I can write about parenting a child with OCD, but I can’t really get across the reality of it. For that you need to be inside the mind of someone who battles OCD every second of every day. I hope my son’s words enlighten people. (There’s very good practical information at the end, as well.) I’ve simply copied and pasted his essay below…
TEEN MENTAL DISORDERS
What is OCD?
OCD is a mental disorder that affects about 1% of the teen population. About 1 in every 100 teenagers suffer from OCD or other anxiety disorder. Many people mistake OCD for liking things neat. Many will say “Oh yeah, I have OCD because I like my house clean and neat.” Well they are wrong. They are just neat. Having OCD makes you stay up until 4:00 in the morning just cleaning, or not being able to go to bed until you feel everything is clean. Or cleaning things over and over again because you think they are still not clean. Many will also say “Oh my gosh, this tear in the paper is bothering me so much I’m so OCD right now.” That doesn’t even make sense. Many people mistake OCD for what it really is. And it’s nothing to joke about.
OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is an anxiety disorder. It gives you unwanted, uncontrollable thoughts. These can include sexual, violent and/or disgusting thoughts or images in your head that you don’t want and that you cannot get rid of. It also makes you have to do rituals that you feel compelled to do. First, you have an obsession. Then you get anxiety if you do not complete this ritual. Then comes the compulsions (doing said ritual even if you do not want to). Then comes relief (when you complete said ritual). It causes your brain to get stuck on a thought or urge, and it is almost impossible to get rid of it.
Other times, it can make you check things repeatedly. Like checking your door to make sure it’s locked, even though you already checked it 20 times and know it is. Or making sure you turned off your sink, even though it was off the last 15 times you checked. These things are time consuming and very much distress you. It can also make you think that if, let’s say, you don’t turn the T.V. on and off and then on again, something bad will happen to you. Or maybe it will make you feel that if you don’t brush your teeth in a certain way, all your teeth will fall out.
OCD often causes stress or discomfort if a ritual is not completed right. Then there’s, what I call, routines. That is when, like I’m doing during this essay, whenever I make a comma, I have to write the word after the comma, delete the word, then write it over again. Or it will maybe make you feel that you have to align all your pillows and blankets and anything on your bed before you can get in it. If these routines are not completed correctly, you will feel very anxious and will not be able to get your mind off of it until you complete it. OCD takes up time, stresses you out tremendously, and interferes with many things you have to do. You may also have to repeat other things many times until you feel that you don’t have to.
Often, OCD comes with other mental disorders, such as ADHD, many phobias, kleptomania, and/or eating disorder. Also OCD can make you hoard objects, such as if you throw something away, something bad will happen to you. It makes you think the impossible will happen. Usually the common with OCD “what if” will run through your mind.
How to treat OCD
OCD can be treated in many ways. The best way is to see a therapist. You can also try medication, but I have never tried this because I fear it will harm me or increase my anxiety. And I’m scared of side-effects. There are many others way a therapist may come up with to cope with OCD.
OCD has many symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Fear of contamination
- Uncontrollable and/or unwanted thoughts
- Checking things many times to make sure they are off or on or locked, etc.
- Extreme stress or anxiety when things are not in perfect condition or in the right place
- Fear the worst or impossible will happen
- Having “what if” thoughts running through your head
- Anxiety about things not being perfectly clean
Why Did I Choose This Topic?
I chose the topic of Teen Mental Disorder because I myself suffer from OCD. I feel the need to educate people on this disorder because many people do not understand it and mistake it for other things or make pointless jokes about it. Every day OCD affects me. It takes up so much time and it stresses me out very much. I can’t do things I would really like to. I also suffer from anxiety and an eating disorder. I worry about the most pointless things. Sometimes I worry about being worried. I have major anxiety and I like to educate people on that. And with the eating. I don’t think I’m fat, it’s not that. OCD makes me worry that my food is contaminated, so the best way to avoid anxiety is to just not eat much. I also worry I will have an allergic reaction to it, even though I know what I am and am not allergic to.
So in conclusion, I chose this topic because I feel it is important to educate people on this disorder.