Inside the Mind of OCD by My Son

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

 

ocd2

 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.

 

Symptoms

 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.

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16 thoughts on “Inside the Mind of OCD by My Son

  1. Barbara Mars says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to read – on a deadline today, so later.

    Seeing a new therapist, OCD specialist, we must tawk!

    Best, Barbara

  2. Kathy Barstow says:

    thanks for sharing this thought provoking essay, and please thank your son for me too. He seems to have a really good understanding of OCD and is able to explain it in such a way that it feels real. l can feel his frustrations.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. OCD sufferer says:

    Suffering from OCD myself, I feel his pain. I hope that someone is encouraging him to seek help that may INCLUDE medication. His fear that medication may harm him or make his anxiety worse is a part of his OCD. I HAVE THE SAME OBSESSIVE CONCERNS ABOUT MEDICATIONS. But there are many medications that have very few side effects and will likely help him tremendously. He doesn’t have to live this way, if his OCD is not under control with therapy alone (and from what he writes OCD is clearly greatly affecting his quality of life), it’s time to take a step as his parent and talk to him about his concerns with medications. You need to be the voice of reality, since when we are in the midst of these thoughts, we cannot be trusted to make rational and healthy decisions for ourselves (especially a teenager). I can’t imagine trying to cope with this debilitating disease without all the tools available to me as a patient. There is hope and there is help, we just have to choose to take it.

    • stephaniekepke says:

      Thanks so much for your input – I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment, especially with your unique insight as an OCD sufferer. I agree with you about the fact that his OCD amplifies his fear of medication. We’ve actually been talking to him about medication for five years. We have come close at times, but in speaking with his therapist, we decided to put it off. Part of the complication with medication is that he’s over thirty pounds underweight. Many medications affect appetite and if there are any side effects, they would be more pronounced in such a slight child. That said – we have told him many times that medication could help him very much and we’re going to revisit the matter with his psychologist and get a referral to a psychiatrist. Thank you again so much! Wishing you relief from OCD and much happiness!

  4. Barbara Mars says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Great job by your son! The essay was well written and so informative – and I can totally relate to it! As you know, it’s so healthy for him to embrace his condition and educate others about it. I’m sure you are very proud 🙂

    Best to you,

    Barbara

    • stephaniekepke says:

      Hi Barbara! I’m not exactly sure what I’d be attending, but it sounds fun! And, if you’d be there I’d love to finally meet! I’m so sorry if I’m being ignorant and I’ve forgotten something – things have been very hectic lately and I, along with two of my boys, have been sick. And, as you know – Joshua had surgery (thanks again for your well wishes!). So, my brain is a bit of a sieve lately!

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