Why I Keep Talking About OCD Awareness Week

I know I already posted today.

Yes, I still feel guilty.

But I haven’t reversed my position… yet.

However, since I already have Friday’s “What the frak?” post planned thanks to the events from Wednesday, I wanted to squeeze this in.

It’s still OCD Awareness Week and I haven’t mentioned anything about it here since I told you the  Top 10 Things People Say About OCD That Are Likely To Hit a Hot Button.

I know some of you might be groaning.

“Seriously Kelly, more OCD information? You don’t even have OCD!”

No, I don’t.

But the post I wrote and the links within did something amazing:

It helped a mother realize the quirks her daughter suffers from might not just be quirks after all.

It validated her concerns, forcing her to face them.

I wrote a long email to her, because she asked for help. I told Bobbi about this and had her read it to make sure I didn’t write anything incorrect about OCD.

obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD

In the true irony of OCD, this set Bobbi off into what I refer to as an “OCD loop“. This is where a thought becomes lodged in her head, causing high anxiety. Then she feels compelled to do a ritual to make herself stop or to reassure herself she did the right thing.

Over and over and over again.

Sometimes it tosses a panic attack in for fun.

Try to keep your eyes from glazing over with this very brief bit of information.

Woman anxious from OCDA way to help someone with OCD deal with these is via ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) therapy. I typically call them exposures and it is a way to figure out what the loop is really about so you can “expose” them to either: A) what would happen if it came true or B) get them to short circuit the thinking by “proving” the irrational thought truly is irrational.

Bobbi recognized she was caught in an OCD loop, but she could not climb out of it.

Luckily she trusts me and told me.

I managed to do an exposure with her without her knowledge. Over instant messenger.

It is a testament to both A) how lost she was in guilt and blame in her loop and B) how good I’ve gotten in five years of doing exposures.

Only curse words and names were changed. Italics are an explanation into what is going on. Imagine heavily laden sarcasm coating my words during the latter half.

Bobbi: Need to shake the OCD. Driving me a little crazy tonight.

Kelly: Smack that frakker.

B: Workin’ on it.

K: You need to slap it silent.

B: Not a damn thing I can do about what’s going on in my head.

K: Sure there is.

B: No, I meant, nothing I can do if the “what if” is right. (She admits there isn’t a solution so she cannot find a way out of the loop).

K: What is it Bobs? (I ask for the obsessive thought.)

B: So sitting in discomfort, that’s okay.

B: I’ve never made a definitive statement to a parent about his or her child’s possible mental illness.

B: I’ve never felt so certain in my own intuition to do that.

B: I did today.

B: And, of course, I’m terrified that I’ve overstepped, overstated, labeled a child with something, and frakked everything up. You know. (She has now given me the fear and why it is causing her anxiety.)

B: But I said what I felt was true. And I have to stand by that.

K: Oh wait, you mean about Jane’s kid having OCD? (I thought we were discussing something else entirely and finally “get it”.)

B: Yep.

K: So what is the worst that will happen?

K:  You’re wrong? (I want to see how deep the rabbit hole of guilt goes.)

B: I’m wrong. I’ve overstepped my bounds. I have no business doing what I’m doing. I’m actually doing more harm than good. I lose my credibility and people think I’m lying.

B: But it’s ridiculous, and I know that.

K: No listen.

K:  What will the mother do if you were wrong?

B: Because IF I had been completely off base? You’d have told me. (She is looking for reassurance, which is natural for a person to give, BUT you don’t want to do this for an OCD loop).

K:  I’m not validating.

B: I know.

K: What will Jane do if you’re wrong?

K: Research the heck of out OCD?

B:  I am.

K: Yeah, that’s bad.

K: Ease fears about her daughter if that isn’t diagnoses and possibly find out what is? Yup bad too.

K: Darn, if you’re wrong and overstepped, you’ve only pushed her to seek answers.

B: I know that. (She confirms the thoughts are irrational so I move on.)

K: And you sent the email?

B: You sent the e-mail, I didn’t.

K: Wait, what?

K: You didn’t send the email?

B: I don’t have her e-mail address, love. And you wrote it first person.

B: Why would I have sent it?

K: So let me get this straight. YOU did NOT send her the email?

K: You didn’t even write it?

B: No. You never told me that I was supposed to send her an e-mail.

B: YOU wrote her an e-mail.

K: Whoa whoa..


K: If I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds like I wrote and sent an email.

B: Damn, that was good. I didn’t even see that one coming.

If you are curious, no, the mother wasn’t upset about the email.

Instead she was gracious. Thankful.

Glad to have someone to talk to.

Glad to have some answers.

When I jump on my soapbox, whether for mental illness, homosexuality, or bullying it is for a single thing:

The one person my post could make a difference for.

Update: Bobbi was curious how Twitter was talking about #OCD… It pushed her hot buttons and resulted in an informative rant about more OCD misconceptions. PLEASE READ.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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8 Responses to Why I Keep Talking About OCD Awareness Week

  1. ocdtalk says:

    Great post once again…….thanks for sharing (and allowing me to procrastinate….I should be packing 🙂 )

  2. Masterful. I’m impressed! That was great information — especially the part about validating, it’s so instinctive to latch on to an opportunity to validate. My little social work soul loves what you did here and how Bobbi recognized it in the end.

    • Amy – it is very instinctive to validate and comfort. And for most things, it is wonderful to validate. That’s the tricky thing with OCD, your gut reaction to “help” doesn’t help at all, and can actually make the OCD worse.

      It’s my main annoyance with Glee. They often show Will validating Emma. There have only been a handful of times he’s done exposures.

      It took me a while learn how to override those instincts when she’s looping.

      Usually she can tell I’m doing an exposure (it is usually very overt and obvious what I’m doing, so she’ll often fight me on it) and groans but still does the steps with me.

      She was so lost in the loop and worried this time, she completely missed it until I smacked her in the head with it – making it work even better than I’d planned since she’d argued so emphatically that I had done the email, not her.

      This exposure had the atypical benefit (most of ours are done verbally) of being there in black and white font to read as needed if she felt anxious again.

      I’m so glad you found it useful. Hopefully this information will come in handy if you bump into a child or parent with OCD.

  3. You are a spectacular friend.

    Just validating that.

    Because hopefully you already know…

  4. That was quite the roundabout. Who knew you could tell someone something without doing anything at all.

    And this is the beauty of blogging responsibly.

    Which you do.

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