sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for June, 2013

Overcoming OCD: Helping My Daughter Get Her Life Back: part three, week 2

Read the early two entries to follow the story….

Week 2:  Continuing to sit in the car

I was home again on Monday  and Abby continued to sit in the car, but no seat belt on yet as it is a source of large anxiety (over 10 on the scale of 1-10).  We would talk about the next step and have her think about touching the seat belt or us touching it as well as have her look at it.  We also just spent time in the seat doing something fun, like me reading a story she was writing outloud.  The goal being to make sitting in the car a positive easy experience for her.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

She did not move past sitting in the car onto any other steps other than allowing her younger brother to sit in his seat next to her. This was stressful to her at first and he only stayed in the car for part of the time.   My husband and I began talking about what we needed to do if she would not progress to a next step.  Something we had done a week ago when she was refusing to participate.  We had even come up with a drastic plan to not allow her on the computer until she completed a step.  Yet, this was her primary way of engaging in life and after many weeks, months really of her not being able to touch her computer unless she went though a long- weeks long washing process but would then not be able to touch it again after bumping something.  And so it felt drastic.  We also could not agree as I did not want to take Skyping with her cousin away because it truly was the most valuable part of her life right now and the most real part of her life.

And reading my last entry when I wrote how Abby decided to touch her dog after seeing her cousin hugging her dog- over the internet, only reaffirmed my belief that we must keep this precious time on the computer with her cousin intact.

Sunday, the new  miracle day

I worked on Saturday but Sunday I only had to go in for 2 hours.  I decided to take Jason to the swimming pool that afternoon.   We both said outloud that we wished ABby could come with us as she loves to swim.

Abby was having an really bad time because we had told her that I had spoken to my brother about her skyping at first with her cousin in the car so her cousing could help motivate her to take steps to putting her seat belt on and being able to go places in the car.   This is something Don and I had talked about and I had spent a lot of time talking to my brother who agreed with me that his daughter could be very supportive for Abby as she wasn’t likely to pitty Abby, something ABby did not want and could remain calm and objective and also help her as they have a shared interest in seeing each other in July- just a month away at the Kids Dog Camp run by my sister (their aunt).   Abby was mad about this idea and did not like it at all.  She was upset and crying when we left.

Jason and I enjoyed swimming and then I checked my messages before we headed home at 4:45 when the pool closed.   I got a text that Abby was in the car with her seat belt on.


Really- did she put it on herself?

Before I could get an answer, he told me that she had given him a big hug!   I told this to Jason who got very excited.  He has been a big cheer leader for his sister and so excited over the progress she has been making.

I get goose bumps remembering this.  She spontaneously hugged her dad.  I later learned that he was on the phone with a company getting information on ordering a part for our stove and she just came up and hugged him.  He had to tell the woman on the phone to hold on a minute.

I was never so glad to be going home (other than last Saturday) but this time with the potential of a hug from my daughter.  My last memory of hugging her being in January when she was in a fit of panic and fear late at night after her worst episode of rage and severe depression. The night we almost had the ambulance take her to the psychiatric emergency room.  A very sad yet touching memory of my last hug from my now 11 year  old daughter.  A girl who just 5 or 6 months ago was sleeping in a bed next to mine and always a snugly, hugging,and loving child had not been able to hug anyone in her family for months.

The best hug ever

We got home from the pool and Abby and Don were outside in the car, showing me that she could sit and put her seat belt on.     I changed and  approached Abby about a hug.  I got the biggest, strongest embrace ever and it felt so good to hold her.  I  didn’t want to let go.  Would I be able to hug her like this again?  With OCD, you never know, she might be able to do something one day but not the next.  Now I know what I can picture in my mind when things are challenging with her, I will just recall that wonderful long awaited hug.  I am sealing it into my memory now as I write this and remember vividly the wonderful hug.

The week continues

Today she awoke very happy and enjoyed time with her younger brother. She asked me about going out to the car.   She agreed for her brother to come with us and we all buckled in the car.  We talked about the next steps. She decided bringing Olvie in the car was the next step and also she did not want to rush this process.  I was eager to work towards me sitting in the driver’s seat while she was in her seat but this is another area of great stress to her.  As I write and reread what I am writing, I believe that is Abby’s higher self talking about not rushing it.   We are eager but we can breath and take some time as long as she continues each day.

Monday, I often get time to myself.  Something I have found a necessity for some time in order for me to refuel and engage in writing and my areas of interest.  As an introvert with two very energetic children and a teenager with intense needs, I find it not only helpful but mandatory for me to go out of the house alone and to have time where all I need to worry about is my own needs in the moment.   I am not an extreme introvert and so I am often at a coffee house or a restaurant with WiFi with my lap top.  On occasion, I have gone to a move by myself, a treat I would never had enjoyed prior to having kids.  Today, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to head somewhere outside my usual path.  I went somewhere I had been many times before but never by myself.  And here I am 6 hours later, still here and having now written two blog entries in addition to working on other things.

Tomorrow will be another day and I will be home with my children and continuing to help Abby to fight her OCD, to push out of her comfort zone and to gain control of her life again so that she can really live her life again.


Overcoming OCD: Helping My Daughter Get Her Life Back…part 2 (week one)

Please read the prior post to follow the story.

Overcoming OCD: Helping My Daughter Get Her Life Back

 The Start of the Plan-  Week One

Following the Plan of Taking Steps to Abby Getting in the Car

Day two

I fed Abby her breakfast as usual and gave her the medicine and supplements that she takes. I reviewed the plan for her to begin her steps or we would not accommodate.  She ate and then disappeared in the basement on the computer.  She skipped lunch and intermittently, I would ask her if she would like to go out and do the step, reminding her that the first step only involved standing with the car door open and looking into the car where she sits.  She continued to refuse.

She came to me about 5 and said that she was hungry.

I calmly stated, “How about we go outside?”

She agreed and “only because she wanted to be able to take a bath the next day.

There is quite a ritual to her hour bath (OCD means of her cleaning herself of “contaminants”) and then shower immediately following with help pouring shampoo, conditioner,and soap- and in that order.

We walked out to the car and I opened the back door.  We talked about her touching the floor with her foot and I asked her what number (anxiety scale of 1-10) would it be for her to do so as well as to sit down or touch the seat.    She told me she had no anxiety looking at the seat but everything else was a 10, very high level of anxiety, to even think about them.  We remained outside for about 15 minutes.

Day three:

The next day, she agreed to do the step outside with the car after she ate breakfast.  I will add that we also have been doing some exercises to help reintegrate her fear reflex. Exercises given to us by a Movement Specialist who assessed Abby and worked with her for a time on the exercises, until Abby began to refuse to participate.  Outside of Abby’s OCD, she can be very stubborn and so that combined with the OCD is a challenging combination.

Day three went well with her putting her foot up onto the floor inside the car and we talked some more.

Day four: Absolute resistance

Need I say more?

I went to work on this day.  I work part time- prn hours meaning it changes all the time, some weeks I don’t work at all and others I work anywhere from 3-25 hours.

So she was home with her Dad and she refused to do anything with him.  He did not accomodate her in getting the food for her in the way OCD wants us to.  She somehow found a way to get the box of forks from the kitchen closet with her foot and open it with her feet and take out a fork to eat.  He made her food and put it on the table as we would for our other children.  I think she did the same to get a straw out of the cabinet above the kitchen counter.  She is only about 4 1/2 feet tall!   I think he told me she stood on a step stool.

Day five: resistance continues

Again, I was at work in the morning like I was the day before and again she continued as she had and refusing to go out to the car with her dad.

Day six:

This was Saturday.  I am now working full days on Saturdays.  I was at work from before 8am until almost 6pm this day.  I got updates from my husband via text.

She had refused in the morning and then was on the computer Skyping with her cousin, soemthing she does at least weekly.  Her cousin who is a year and half younger than her and lives 600  miles away have been skyping once or twice each week for over a year. They are best friends.  And throughout this entire crazy experience of her OCD and especially over the past 4 months with the worst of her OCD, time on the computer with her cousin is the only thing she has looked forward to and made an effort to participate in- or wanted to participate in.

After her time on the computer, she agreed to work with her dad and go out to the car.

I wish I had saved all the texts to share here.  He told me, “our daughter is sitting in the car”

I couldn’t believe it!  Wow- so that was the next step- we didn’t imagine that would come next.

And then he told me that she wanted to touch Olive, our dog, with her hands, something she had not done in over 4 months.  She told us she saw her cousin hugging her dog when they chatted on Skype (or it might have been Google Chat- they have done both).  Thank goodness for long distance visual communication!

The next message I got was something like this…

“she is hugging Olive on the floor and can’t get enough of Olive and Jason (her 4 year old brother)”

And he sent me a picture of her sitting on the floor, hugging Olive.

I felt like I was going to cry!  It was about 4 or 5 pm and I was entering information on the computer to finish up at work.   I have recieved many phone calls and text messages at work over the past 3+ years and many urgent ones, frantic phone calls from Abby demanding I come home now and reports from my husband on how difficult the day was going.  Early on, more than three years ago, I had to leave work to meet my husband and kids at Walmart to help calm my daughter down who was in a rage in the store.  Something very unusual for her as she usually hides the OCD in public.  This was very early in her diagnosis when she was 8 and before gluten was out of her diet.

Back to Abby sitting on the floor and hugging Olive…

It sounds simple, but this was huge!  She allowed her dad and brother to pet Olive and she continued to pet Olive.  Usually, us touching the dog would have made the dog “contaminated” according to OCD and then Abby would not be able to touch Olive again.

I came home from work that night and Abby told me that she was going to continue to pet Olive and not stop.  She even said later that night that she was having anxiety about petting Olive but she was going to face it.  Wow!  Yes, she said that.

She then sat down in a kitchen chair for dinner!  Again, hadn’t done this in a long time and before she had her own chair that only she could sit in or it needed cleaning before she sat in it. I did explain that  this OCD was complicated with many rituals and false beliefs, right? Yet writing it all out now, makes me realize this even more myself or at least see it from a new perspective.

Day seven:

I worked a half day on Sunday.  She was unable to do many of the things she did the day before. OCD has a way of flaring up when she faces it and defies its rules.  We have seen this before after she has overcome many things and made several big steps at once.  Yet, this seams to be how Abby moved forward: several giant steps forward and then a big step back.

We were not surprised yet my husband was frustrated.  He is very linear and it is easy to get caught up in the need to make steady progress forward.  Yet, we have both learned this is part of the process.  Trusting the process and trusting Abby to move forward in her way is a challenge.  Despite many reminders about this, it continues to challenge us.  I am grateful to others who write about their OCD and parents of kids with OCD who write about it like OCD talk which helps me better understand and continue on this path of helping my daughter in her recovery.