OCD and Lost Time

by digitalart freedigitalphotos.net

by digitalart freedigitalphotos.net

My friend “C” over at OCD to the nth Degree recently wrote a great post discussing her years lost to OCD:

 “So, the lost years were when I was 23-24, up until I was about 25 when I started treatment for this baby. These years were very crucial to my career and educational development. Instead of spending them on those things, with all my focus and energy, I was simply trying to make it to the next day.”

My guess is that many other OCD sufferers can easily relate to this post. So much lost time!

Then again, as with so many things, it all depends on how you look at it. “C” admirably views her years of suffering from a different perspective:

I also am adamant that there will be a greater good from all that suffering during those young years. Maybe the intimate details of my exposures–the things you read about on here that I don’t discuss in detail in my closest relationships–will let someone gain back my lost years. You could call them “the found years”.  And then their life will help someone else’s life. And the ripple effect and the pay-it-forward effect happens.

Sometimes we can look back at the adversity in our lives and find some good in the aftermath of our pain, just as “C” has done. When I think of my son Dan’s “lost years,” filled with so much anxiety and terror (for him), and heartache and sadness (for me and my husband), I have to admit I have trouble thinking of many positives. The truth is I wish Dan never had to struggle with severe OCD. In fact, if I had my druthers, I’d wish OCD didn’t exist at all – for anyone.

But, like so many other things in life, this was, and is, out of my control. As the saying goes, “It is what it is,” and Dan (and I) needs to accept his “lost years,” and not dwell on them. This isn’t always easy, especially for those with OCD who can be “experts” on ruminating about the past as well as contemplating the future.

Perhaps some of the positives that have come out of Dan’s “lost years” include the lessons he learned during therapy while fighting his OCD: The past is done with and the future is uncertain and, to a great extent, out of our control. We need to concentrate on the present, the here and now, and make the most of this time. Whether you have OCD or not, I think we all should, as of right now, strive to live the lives we want for ourselves. If we don’t, there is a good chance we might look back at “now” and see it as “lost time.”






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12 Responses to OCD and Lost Time

  1. Jane Garner says:

    Right now my son is in his “lost years. He just spent 5 days in the “psych ward” getting his medication adjusted. He came home very frustrated and angry saying that he is never going to get better and that no one cares about him. My husband and I are heartbroken. We have tried everything that we can think of. We have had him in treatment centers where he underwent ERP. Then he came home and the ERP was not continued because there were no therapists that he could see who were trained in this method.

    I am convinced that if our son had had the proper medications along with ERP therapy he would be much better today. Now the doctor is telling us that he is border-line schizophrenic.The next thing we are going to try is the TMS procedure.

    Our son often tells us that he wishes he had never been born. His OCD is the monster and he is the victim.

    • Hi Jane, I am so sorry things are so tough right now for you and your son. I don’t know anything about the use of TMS for OCD, but I agree with you that if your son could keep up with ERP he would be much better off. Have you contacted the IOCDF about therapist referrals? A shortage of qualified therapists is a big problem, and if there are truly none in your area, perhaps you could be creative (Skype with a therapist, use self-help ERP Workbooks, etc). Ideally, continued therapy is the way to go, but I know it isn’t always possible. Your doctor saying your son is “border-line schizophrenic” reminds me of experiences we had with my son: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-connection-between-ocd-psychosis/00018989.
      Please do not lose hope. You know what the right treatment is for your son, and there are people who can help your family get to where they need to go. Thank you for sharing and please keep in touch. I will keep you in my thoughts.

  2. Oh, this post touched me, Janet. Thank you. Yes, so many things can make it seem like we’ve “lost” time. It certainly feels like OCD and depression have stolen a lot from me. But as you say, there are lessons that can be learned. And one of them is to be grateful for the present and live the best we can now.

  3. 71 & Sunny says:

    I go back and forth on this. On one hand, I do feel like I lost 13 years. But on the other hand, what I endured and learned through those years and through recovery, have in many ways, become a blessing. It’s a part of my history and it’s a part of who I am.

    • I understand what you are saying, Sunny, and my hunch is Dan feels the same way, to some extent at least. I was on the outside looking in, so I have a different perspective. Of course, on any given day, I can change my mind :). If Dan hadn’t had severe OCD, I never would have become part of this wonderful blogging community!

  4. 71 & Sunny says:

    Janet, when did you write that great article that you linked to in your post? It’s the first I’ve seen of it!

  5. I don’t have OCD but I have ADHD and Aspergers and depression and anxiety, and I definitelly have had my lost years. In fact, I am just now getting over them. Sometimes it makes me sad that a giant monster swallowed so many years of my life. But maybe everyone has “lost years,” years that they wish they hadn’t made so many mistakes or that they wish they had taken more (positive) risks. You’re right, the best thing we can do is work on today, and live life as fully as possible.

    • Thanks for sharing Angel (if I may call you Angel :)). I think you make a great point – so many of us (maybe everyone) have experienced those “lost years.” It’s how we live our lives right now that really matters.

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