The Other Big Picture

I’m still thinking about The Big Picture. When I wrote this post last week, it stirred up memories of the last time my husband and I had reason to use those words. It was when we were deciding whether to give into Dan’s pleas and let him stay at the intensive residential treatment program he was at  for the summer instead of going back to college.

I wrote about this part of Dan’s journey in the post, “Get Him Out of There.” (The title may give you a clue as to our final decision). Dan had already spent nine weeks in this program doing intensive Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. He was headed in the right direction, but there was no question he still had a long way to go in his war against obsessive compulsive disorder.

In fact, we had already made preparations for the next battle in that war when Dan’s doctors convinced him he should stay at the program. We had met with Dan’s academic advisor at college, had connected with a therapist near his school who specialized in OCD, and had relocated our family to be near Dan and support him. Still, the doctors wanted Dan to stay in the program until his OCD was totally under control. That meant not being able to go back to the college he loved.

So what does all this have to do with “The Big Picture?” Well, after seeking advice from other therapists, one of them a close friend who knew our family well, we understood how narrow-minded the doctors were at the clinic. To them, it was all about the OCD, and nothing about “The Big Picture.” On my post entitled OCD about OCD, I recount that in his argument to stay in the program, Dan said, “If I go back to school I won’t have time to concentrate on my OCD.”

Exactly! And this is why we insisted he leave the program. It was time for Dan to stop focusing only on his OCD, and concentrate on his whole life, “The Big Picture.” What did he want for himself? What was important to him?  How was he going to achieve his goals and build the life he deserved? Sure, he still needed to fight his OCD, but he also needed to live his life. Like all of us, he needed to focus on his hopes and dreams.    Because when you think about it, these hopes and dreams, this “Big Picture,” just may be the biggest motivators in the fight against OCD.

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10 Responses to The Other Big Picture

  1. Tina says:

    This post blew me away.I think somehow I needed to read this tonight. I also went back and read the other two posts that you wrote about the decision to take your son out of the residential program.

    You are right. OCD is part of our lives, not all of it. Sometimes I lose sight of that. I get down because I feel like my whole life is mired in OCD.

    But there is much more to my life, of course. I just need to pay attention to it. OCD is something I live with, not my life and not who I am.

    This is tough for me. I feel bogged down, and the more I learn about how OCD has affected/is affecting my life, the more depressed and anxious I get about it. Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of therapy for it. Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of making changes (or trying to make changes) in how I use my time, how I do things, how I think. But I have got to look up and see the Big Picture.

    Thank you so much for writing this post, and your other posts. You are a blessing!

    • 71 & Sunny says:

      Hang in there Tina. I found that at the start of therapy the OCD got much worse for a while, because I was actively fighting it for the first time. It really does get better if you keep at it.

      For quite a while after starting therapy, I felt like I was nothing but OCD. It felt really strange, kind of like the rest of the world stopped. Just my opinion, but I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing in the beginning stages as you are really just learning how to incorporate behavior and cognitive changes in your life and that takes tons of time, effort, and focus. After a while, I found a rhythm to the process of fighting OCD while living a (somewhat) normal life. As you know, I still have my challenges and frustrations, but I’m now in a much better place to pursue my life goals while simultaneously attacking the OCD.

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Tina. I also find your posts incredibly enlightening….I know sometimes I make OCD and therapy seem so “cut and dried” and your comment reminds me that it is never simple…..

  2. 71 & Sunny says:

    It is easy to feel like you are nothing but an OCD patient. I’m thankful that my doc helps me to focus on what I really want out of life and she uses that to motivate me to work on the ERPs. More than once, she would draw a circle and cut it into slices that represent different parts of me, the OCD being just one slice of the pie. Although I often feel like the OCD is a whole other pie that just sits on top of the pie called “me.” ha ha I have no idea if I’m making sense here!

    • ocdtalk says:

      You are making a lot of sense, Sunny (and also making me hungry for pie 🙂 ). I wish Dan’s doctors at the residential program had been more like yours, but we did end up finding a good therapist who definitely looked at “the big picture.” Thanks for your insights!

  3. Tina says:

    Thank you, ladies. I love the image of the pie being cut up, and that the OCD might be its own pie on top of the me pie. 🙂

    I’m grateful that my therapist, too, wants me to work on what is most important to me in life. This Friday we’re going to go into more of that during our session.

  4. Lolly says:

    I love this post so much. I have been meaning to comment for days, just getting around to it now. For me, I have to be mindful to concentrate on the big picture. My OCD therapy is up to me at this point, since I am doing well in my treatment, and sometimes when I have weak moments my first instinct is to jump to the phone and make an appointment.

    If I am going away and fear I won’t be able to handle it because of my OCD and anxiety, I want to jump to the phone and make an appointment.

    I have learned to trust myself and learn to live. I have “learned” that I have really learned so much and I have to focus on the big picture, the rest of my life, focus on focusing outward and not letting my OCD get in the way of my life.

    Again, loved this post. I have to say, for a non sufferer, you amaze me! I look forward to reading all of your posts, and you are truly an inspiration to me. Dan is so lucky to have a mom like you.

  5. ocdtalk says:

    Thank you so much, Lolly. Your comment means a lot to me, and I’m so glad the post resonated with you. I feel so fortunate to have connected with such a wonderful group of bloggers…….you inspire me as well!

  6. My 10 year old son suffers from OCD. His twin died 2 1/2 years ago while they were outside playing. He died unexpectedly from a ruptured brain aneurysm that we never knew he had. Kyles OCD started getting noticed about 6 months after his twin died. But truth be told, Kyle had OCD symptoms since he was a toddler. Back then it just seemed like he was the smarter, neater, more organized of the two. We have been at our wits end. My husband is a loving father with a very strong NY personality. Our family has not only been broken by the unexpected death of our son, we have been watching helplessly as our surviving twin is spiraling out of control. We have been in therapy for about 3 months. Not sure this is the right therapist. Just wanted to write and say THANK YOU! for the first time I feel hope. I don’t know where we are going from here but atleast I don’t feel alone and there are resources to be found.

  7. ocdtalk says:

    Hi Melissa, Thank you for commenting. I am so so sorry to hear of the tragic loss of your son, and now dealing with your other son’s issues with OCD. I cannot even begin to imagine your heartache, but as far as the OCD goes, there is so much hope, as it is definitely treatable with the right therapy (ERP Therapy). You sound like a loving family who has been through way more then their share of grief. I’m sure you will find the right path for your son and if there is anything I can do to help you out, please let me know….

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