This is my fourth post this week on life with our son’s OCD (hey, maybe I have OCD, too!).
Something he just said to me tonight astonished me. I have often wondered why he will not self-censor, even when he knows he will have consequences for some of the mean, hurtful things he says. Turns out he . . . thinks it is lying if he does not say everything that comes to his mind!
Wow, that is enlightening about OCD, isn’t it? Not particularly helpful in coping, but enlightening.
I can think of numerous times I have seen supposedly normal adults say similar things.
For example, just yesterday a veterinarian friend of mine posted a picture of herself on Facebook, taken while she was stroking a dolphin. This was a bucket list item for my friend, an almost holy moment for which she had waited her entire life. Yet one of her “friends” was unable to refrain from posting her disgust that the dolphin was kept in captivity.
Really? We can justify timing it so that we share our convictions which differ with those of a friend at the moment in that friend’s life when we can most deflate her and/or publicly humiliate her with our pronouncements? And we feel very self-righteous as we do this?
Yet, I am almost certain there was OCD involved there, a compulsion to speak that this woman could seemingly not overrule.
Another friend had just dropped her daughter at college almost a two-day drive from here. As she posted about it on Facebook, obviously missing her daughter and needing comfort, another “friend” went on a rant about her own time at that particular college, stating that the only thing she ever found positive there was meeting her husband.
Really? You have to say that now?
If that is OCD, no wonder it is hard for people with OCD to make and keep friends. It seems as though they constantly choose the OCD over the friends. There is no contest between them, apparently.
Yet, of course, there is more at play here than meets the eye. It is just a question of how we can show compassion without letting someone run us over constantly with a verbal steamroller. That would not help anyone.
A practical example is a cashier at my local grocery store. She visibly turned her nose up at a package of shrimp steamed in Old Bay seasoning that I brought to her line one day. She then actually double-bagged her hands in order to not touch the package as she rang it up. At first, I thought she had sneered at me and began to wonder what I might have done. When she put the bags on her hands, I recognized the OCD in play and asked about her reaction. She readily admitted to having a gag reflex with shrimp.
Now . . . how do you have a career in a grocery store if you visibly turn up your nose every time a customer buys shrimp? But more importantly, how do you have any career anywhere if your OCD is so disabling that you have big red flags all around you as people see you trying to do your job and stalling out while you double bag your hands?
I have no answers, but only questions. Questions worthy of lots of research and reading.
My son’s social worker/counselor once told me that Sigmund Freud had done a great disservice to mankind by telling us that things get better for us psychologically if we talk about them. He introduced “talk therapy” and the human race has not shut up since, saying some vastly inappropriate things that should better be left unsaid.
It does help to talk about many things, but the social worker was referring to some of her clients who had broken the law, crossing lines sexually. And they seemed to believe that their obsessions and compulsions would get better if they talked about them, if they described them to her. Not wanting to take a mental mudbath, she told them that no human being needed to be on the receiving end of such dreadful confidences. She said it was unfortunate that they felt they needed to talk through them because no amount of money would compel her, nor any other counselor, to be on the listening end of what they wished to say . . .
She made a stand that families dealing with OCD need to make. Even when the topic is milder than sexuality, OCD pushes people to “overshare” and drives other people away.
I remind my son of that regularly–that I don’t need to know every thought that comes to his mind and that, in fact, it is cruel to inflict many of his negative thoughts on me as I try to stay motivated to help him go the distance in life.
There is balance to be found somewhere . . . and I will find it one day, with God’s help.