3 Things I Want Kids With OCD to Know

Three things I want kids with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to know:

1. What you have is a real illness.

I could go on and on about how the anxiety makes you feel like you’re going to pass out, how the urge to do a compulsion is so strong it feels like you have no choice, how the guilt you feel for having these horrible-awful-horrendous-terrible thoughts makes you feel like the worst person on Earth, how out of control you feel when you have those thoughts and those compulsive urges.

2. You have treatment options.

Chances are, you’ve been prescribed one or more medications with hard-to-pronounce names. These are most likely a class of drugs called SSRIs, which stands for Selective Seretonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. They are often used for depression (which goes along with OCD). I don’t like telling people what to do in their personal lives, but I’m telling you from my personal experience, take your medication exactly as directed. I’ve gone off my pills without telling anybody (not recommended) enough times to realize it’s one of the worst ideas out there. Medication alone works for some people, but for many with OCD, a type of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention, combined with medication and family education and support, makes all the difference in the world. ERP sounds terrifying, but I can’t even begin to describe how much it has helped me.

3. How you feel at your sickest is not how you will feel forever.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, it’s going to be OK. I don’t want to sound too cheesy, but it gets better. I once had 400 OCD thoughts a day, in addition to the endless compulsions. But I found a different therapist and started ERP. I got on better medications and learned positive coping methods. I honestly didn’t think I’d live this long (or be on the road to recovery), but now I’m set to attend college in the fall. You don’t even know how much better it will get.

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