Please read the prior post to follow the story.
The Start of the Plan- Week One
Following the Plan of Taking Steps to Abby Getting in the Car
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.
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.
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.
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.