Many, many of us with OCD tendencies joke about that! Our name appears to be legion.
But what happens when OCD crosses a line and is not a joke? What about when you cross the line from sometimes going back into the kitchen to make sure, one last time, that you turned off the oven and wind up in a place where OCD immobilizes you for hours? What then?
What happens to those whose OCD becomes life-dominating, keeping them from much productive activity?
I am still new enough at this journey to say “I don’t know what happens then . . .”
Our beloved son has OCD, along with autism. The autism is manageable, even endearing. The OCD . . . well, I wish I could jerk it out by the roots.
The OCD has only recently become unmanageable. Our son will get on a perseveration (obsessive thought sequence) that will spin him into an emotionally volatile state. He doesn’t seem to be able to move from that state, regardless of consequences imposed.
He gets to a place where he believes some injustice has occurred, with him being one of its victims, and he can’t let it go. He becomes angry about events that are real enough, but on which he has placed an interpretation that would not occur to most of us.
So it is not schizophrenia, as schizophrenia operates in a fictional world. Our son’s world is real enough–it is just that his interpretation of it makes it unbearable to him. I believe his autism contributes to the OCD interpretations. That is probably why it is hard to “logic” him out of them.
His autism already makes it difficult for him to perceive the world the way most others perceive it. And his autism makes it hard for him to trust anyone, even his mother, who tells him his perceptions are not accurate and should be set aside.
I am working with his special needs college and his psychiatrist to help him. There doesn’t seem to be a standard protocol for this yet. As a Christian, I just have to term it “life in a fallen world” and stay in prayer about it. There is definitely not a “one size fits all” solution for this, much less a magical solution that can occur without a lot of hard work and effort.
I guess, with each successive generation, we are just one step further removed from Eden and the perfection God created. The genetic mutations seem to become more and more pronounced.
I know some things that will not change. I will not stop imposing consequences for sinful statements our son makes, even when OCD-driven. I can’t. I have seen the fruit that grows in far too many families that “cave” and allow their special needs members to drive the family agenda because it is “easier than fighting the tendencies.” Sure it is easier. But, ultimately, deadlier, too.
We had a family friend who died a couple of years ago after a lifetime of letting her OCD daughter control her by way of threats to cut herself or commit suicide. Now that fifty-ish daughter, who has never worked any job for long, is all alone in this world. Her brother and her father (the parents were divorced) are, quite understandably, not able to help her in her world, in which she thinks saying, “I will cut myself if you don’t do things my way” is a legitimate option. Her story has always been heartbreaking but is totally so now.
I will not allow my son to take our family into such territory. Something I say to him every day is “I do not live in OCD-land and I am not going there with you.” Sometimes I add that it would be a waste of my time. It would. But it would also be unkind to him, ultimately, to let him dominate me in such a sinful way. Whether it seems sinful to him or not, it is sinful to cave in to such impulses. Man was not created to live immobilized by perseverations.
No, there is a better way.
And we will find it. So help me, God!