I was recently reading Ellen’s OCD Blog, and in her response to a mom whose son has severe OCD, Ellen says, “…what kept me going is knowing that people cared, that people could still see who I truly was, even when I couldn’t.”
This comment resonated deeply with me, and in many ways, sums up much of my family’s journey. I’ve previously written about our son’s stay at a residential treatment center, and how my husband and I felt left out of all aspects of our son’s care there. This, of course, brought up a host of concerns, perhaps none more troubling than the fact that the staff there really didn’t know our son. How could they? They met him in the worst condition of his life, consumed by obsessive-compulsive disorder, a shell of who he really was. They knew how to treat OCD, but they didn’t know Dan. I don’t want to get into all our issues here, as I’ve written a few posts on this topic already, but you can certainly check some out if you are interested.
What I find so powerful about Ellen’s comment is that it comes from a person with OCD. It seems so obvious now, but I don’t think I have ever really tried to look at the impact of our involvement from Dan’s perspective. Of course we all know having encouragement and help are of the utmost importance for anyone who is struggling. But to have the love and support of those who know you best, of those who know who you really are, before OCD took over your life, has got to be a huge source of comfort. While he might have felt lost while in the throes of severe OCD, perhaps it was a little easier to bear just knowing that his family knew who he truly was, and that we’d do everything we possibly could to bring him back to himself.
I hear comments all the time: “I don’t recognize my son.” ” “My daughter used to (insert all wonderful things here) and now all she does is (insert negative things here).” “My wife was an awesome mom and now she won’t even go near our daughter.”
It is so difficult to watch those we love turn into people we don’t know. But, really, that’s not what’s happening. Our children, our spouses, our parents, are all still themselves, under the mess of OCD. We need to keep reminding ourselves of this fact, and more importantly, remind them of it as well. We need to let our loved ones with OCD know that we know who they truly are, and that they will be back.