As we enter this season of college and high school graduations, I’d like to share a post I wrote in May 2012, shortly after my son Dan graduated college…
A few days ago my son Dan graduated college. My last post touched upon what this milestone means to me, and this past weekend we had a wonderful celebration with lots of relatives and friends. A well-deserved gathering to honor the graduate.
The days, weeks, and months ahead will be a time of transition for Dan. I am keenly aware that the upcoming changes, by their very nature, will be stressful. He won’t be in school anymore, or living with his three best friends. His girlfriend won’t be nearby. In fact, none of his friends will be around when he comes back home. He’ll have lots of decisions to make – decisions he has never had to make before. What types of jobs will he apply for? How will he approach his job hunt? Where will he live? What are his short-term goals? His long-term goals? Dan, like other graduates, will basically be building a new life for himself, and though that can be stressful and anxiety provoking for anyone, it is often even more so for those struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the “doubting disease.” So much uncertainty!
But there are ways to make this transition easier. I think one of the most important things to do is to prioritize all of these decisions, and just take one thing at a time. Focus on what is most important, and deal with that first.
Also, making major life decisions can be difficult for those with OCD and I think it’s important for those with the disorder to make sure their decisions are based on what they really want, not on what their OCD is dictating or what they feel is the “right” thing to do. Of course, depending on the severity of the OCD, this might be easier said than done, and that’s why having a support system in place is crucial. Therapists, family, and friends should all be aware of the changes going on and be there when needed.
Eating well, exercising, and taking care of ourselves in general are always important, and even more so during times of stress and change. Yet so many of us don’t make this a priority. Carving out some time for enjoyment, even if it’s something as simple as socializing with friends for a short time, can have a positive impact.
Dan’s OCD first became severe when he was a freshman in college. This was also a time of major transition for him. Will it happen again during this time of change? The answer, of course, is “I don’t know.” I do know he now has the insight, skills and tools to fight his OCD – all things he didn’t have back then. Still, the future is uncertain. I, and hopefully Dan, will choose to embrace this uncertainty instead of worrying about it, and live each day to the fullest, as he moves on to this exciting new chapter in his life.
Congratulations to all the graduates out there and I wish you all the very best!