Welcome to our mom and pop support group!! Here’s a brief look into what got us started…
The sole purpose of this blog is to give an open forum for other parents just like my husband and me to share experiences, ideas, fears, hopes, resources, and generally just bounce things off of other parents affected by OCD and related disorders.
Let me begin by coming totally clean on my training in the mental health field. I have absolutely none. Any knowledge I have gained has come strictly out of desperation to learn anything and everything from any source I could find. To simply understand this disorder and help our family live day to day with minimal disruption, became a quest for information that I could have never imagined. There was just no help out there for parents of the very young child (even toddler) with this very misunderstood, disruptive disorder. I found tons of help for adults suffering from OCD, and quite an impressive amount on adolescents and teens with OCD, but virtually nothing but a couple of letters from desperate parents to several OCD related websites on the really young, which is what we needed at the time. My hope is that my story can help you feel some comfort in knowing there are other parents struggling to diagnose and treat their little ones and to know that life can go on for your whole family. My purpose is not to air my daughter’s dirty laundry, but to, possibly, by recognizing some little similarity in behavior, help to “turn the light on” for your family. By diagnosing and acknowledging, you’re well on your way to treatment and getting things under control in your household. Also, this will give your troubled little soul some of the comfort and peace that they deserve.
Just imagine how frustrating it must be when you are not sure why you just need to have things the way you do, but can’t articulate it. As a small child, you are possibly even getting disciplined for your little quirks and will probably have to do them again and again not because you’re being defiant, but because some portion of your actions are required to complete a ritual that you can’t explain to anyone, and probably don’t even understand yourself. You just know it has to be done, punishment or not, like scratching an itch. How incredibly tragic to be blamed for something so totally out of your own control.
Our daughter was formally diagnosed at the very early age of three by, first, her pediatrician who referred us to a child psychologist after we explained a number of episodes, sequencing, and rituals, that were pretty much a normal part of our every day life. Most of them included me, since I was her primary caregiver, but many entangled her older brother (ten yrs. older), or her daddy. After seeing the psychologist for about six visits, he referred us to a child psychiatrist who also confirmed the diagnosis. Since she was so young and we were already applying all the tools given to us to aid our toddler in working through her symptoms, her new dr. (with whom we would be developing a very close relationship) suggested that since her OCD was so severe and the better part of her (and our) day was taken up in rituals, it was time to consider medicating her. This was honestly one of the darkest times of our lives. Having to make the choice to medicate your toddler for something as intangible (by many counts) as a brain chemical imbalance. And knowing that she will be medicated for the rest of her life, with criticism by many of even the closest friends and family, throughout her life.
This was fairly uncharted territory for not only us but for the medical community as well, since she was the youngest diagnosed case of OCD on record as far as our psychiatrist was aware. This brought up its own set of challenges with finding meds and dosages to treat her. After several attempts, we landed on Zoloft, and it was as if we’d “flipped a switch“! The cloud rolled away from over her little head and the troubled expression cleared from her face. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful we felt that we’d made the decision to go ahead with the meds. We still had plenty of challenges that I will address in my posts, as well as what brought us to the doctors in the first place, so they will be easier to locate and comment on.
She is now in her teens and I am happy to report that she is dealing successfully with everyday life. She’s a precious, beautiful, sweet, girl, a great student with supportive friends, and has learned to work her way through her symptoms as they evolve, wax and wane. She sees her doctor every three months, mostly for med adjustments, unless she needs him more often, which rarely comes up. We have a VERY open relationship and talk freely about her symptoms and any problems that she might be having.