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Vicky

Some questions....

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This past week has been pretty hellish - we have gone from being a family who never really fight to arguments every night. My 14 year old daughter who has recently been referred to counselling for presenting with OCD symptoms seems to be getting worse on a daily basis. How possible is it for symptoms to increase daily?

Her bedtimes have been getting later and later, to the point where we are lucky if she is in bed any time before 1am now. We are so worried about how this will affect her ability to function at school. 

Tonight, as her bedtime routine/rituals take up so much time I suggested we remove her mobile phone at 9:30pm to allow her time to do what she needs to do before bed. This has caused no end of issues tonight - she can’t seem to accept that in order to fit everything in before a certain time she is going to have to sacrifice some of her own leisure time. Is it wrong of me to remove her phone at a specific time, by allowing her to do what she wants in the evening before she begins her compulsions - by not setting any time boundaries am I enabling her? I just don’t know - this is all so confusing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

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Hi Vicky :)

Yes unfortunately symptoms can increase quite quickly when you are doing lots of compulsions. OCD always wants you to be more sure, more careful with every compulsion, because with each compulsion sufferers buy into the belief that they are keeping them or someone else safe somehow. This makes messing up a compulsion (i.e. not doing it perfectly) feel very critical indeed. It also increases feelings of anxiety and doubt, increasing the need for further compulsions. 

It's really easy to get in to conflict over OCD. When I was younger I would put off going to bed because of how tiring and stressful the rituals were. This obviously made me more tired and less able to do the rituals the way I wanted, making it worse. It is possible that your daughter is adopting this strategy and therefore taking her phone away could be particularly upsetting. To ease conflict it would be best to build a strategy for combating OCD together. Is your daughter aware that other people her age have similar issues? Is she aware that CBT can help her ignore the OCD bully? Perhaps opening a dialogue about these things can get you working from the same page :)

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Hi Gemma,

thank you you so much for your reply - what you say definitely makes sense regarding the worsening of her symptoms.

I ordered the book - Breaking Free from OCD, it arrived yesterday and it’s very informative. My daughter and I have spoken at length about how many other people her age suffer from OCD and have gone through some of the book together. We had a long chat today about what happened last night and she has made me aware of the fact that she is really worried about facing this head on, so I think that’s where the way she reacted last night came from - her actions were born from fear of treatment. We have talked about CBT and hope that we hear from the CAMHS team soon but I have been told it could take up to four weeks if not longer 😕 

She really scared me last night - she has never shown any signs of self harm but she got so angry last night she marked her arm with the sharp side of a comb repeatedly. She seemed very remorseful and regretted her actions but what I found most worrying is she said it was like she couldn’t control what she was doing and now I am left thinking I can’t trust her to not do something like that again :( 

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It's completely natural for her to be worried about facing OCD, it can be really scary to imagine not doing the behaviours you think keep everyone safe. But be reassured that with the support of a therapist your daughter will feel secure enough to challenge her problems at a rate that is comfortable. She won't be pressurised into going beyond what she feels comfortable with at all :)

With regards to the self-harm, although it can happen, I have hit myself before, it's not the best. I imagine she was feeling emotions that felt very overwhelming to her. Talk to her about what might be a healthier way to deal with the emotions, because in the end it is OCD that should suffer not your daughter. Perhaps she could call OCD names out loud or punch a cushion. If you become more concerned, you could always talk it through with her gp and see what they say. 

I'm glad the book has been informative, just keep working at it gradually for now and hopefully the referral to CAMHS won't be too far away x

 

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I'm sorry your daughter is struggling so much.  Some great advice from Gemma here.  Just wanted to say I think it will help her massively that she has so much support from you and to feel like she is able to talk honestly with you about it.  That will make things so much easier for her. It may seem like an impossible task right now but she can get better from this and it is great that you are looking at solutions now at a young age. Stay strong - feel free to come to the forum for support or help any time x

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Thank you again Gemma for your advice and words of support - it feels great to know others understand and want to advise. 

X

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3 hours ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

I'm sorry your daughter is struggling so much.  Some great advice from Gemma here.  Just wanted to say I think it will help her massively that she has so much support from you and to feel like she is able to talk honestly with you about it.  That will make things so much easier for her. It may seem like an impossible task right now but she can get better from this and it is great that you are looking at solutions now at a young age. Stay strong - feel free to come to the forum for support or help any time x

Thank you so much @gingerbreadgirl It means a lot to hear that - whilst I’m doing all I can to support her it’s such a scary time, I find myself worrying that I’m not doing all I can and feel so awful in moments of weakness where I’ve let anger and frustration get the better of me x

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