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A Letter to My Child as She Fights the Beast of OCD

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To my daughter who battles the darkness of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at a mere 8 years old.

I see you, I see your struggle.

I see the worry in your body language, I see it in the quiet of your eyes. I see it in the way you escape to your room and beg not to talk, when you joke that you are simply being antisocial. I see it in the way anxiety also has the opposite effect, when you wake me up terrified of the nighttime because your stress is at an imploding level. I see it when you tell me your deepest worries and then watch waves of comfort wash over as I reassure you that it’s totally understandable and I still love you. I see it in the way you force down any bit of liquids or foods to help me feel better, only to throw it up a few minutes later cause your stomach can’t handle the stress anymore. I see it in the way you beg me to stay by you every waking moment, like how you sit on the bathroom floor waiting for me to finish showering.

I see you, I see your struggle.

I see how your familiar world was turned upside down by a pandemic that came roaring in like a monster at dusk. The world became dark and sunrise refuses to come. An invisible monster called Corona is lurking everywhere. Everything that was familiar to you was suddenly no longer allowed. A grandparent’s warm touch was now forbidden.  Your friends and those you love are suddenly only viewable from an electronic screen. Dance lessons disappeared. Life changed in what seemed like an instant and your anxiety wasn’t OK with that.

I see that, and I feel it too. But I am a grown up and you are an innocent, beautiful and brave little human who just can’t process it all.

I see you and I see your struggle.

I see your mind on fire, I see everything feeling so heavy on your tiny shoulders. I see you fight sleep, I see your eyes heavy, but if you close your eyes you might think more and you can’t handle it right now. So you have the lights, TV and your tablet on all at once cause quiet and dark is even more overwhelming.

I see you, and I feel your struggle. I feel it cause I’ve been there. I’ve not only been there but I am here now with you. You are not alone, you are not misunderstood. I only wish I could give you a magical pill to make the pain go away. But I know it doesn’t work like that. This takes time and an alarming amount of effort to counter the fires of anxiety at work in your mind.

I see you and I wish I could take your struggle.

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I see the tears fall from your eyes like an unexpected summer storm. The pain is squeezed out of you with every heartfelt sob. I try to wipe up all the puddles of pain as quickly as I can so you don’t get totally soaked. I can visualize the pain wrapping you tightly so I grab you and hug you harder.

I will fight the pain for you and with you.

I think, if I wipe up the pain quickly and squeeze you harder than the hurt maybe I can make you better. I only wish it was that easy. I know it’s not. I’ve seen other family members struggle with the strength of OCD and the heaviness of anxiety. The pull is strong. It’s not a one and done. That’s what people don’t understand, the physical restrictions of OCD. I can’t tell you to just stop, because if you could I know you would in an instant. If only it was that easy. 

But I won’t ever stop fighting the beast in the storm. I won’t ever give up on you. I won’t stop trying until you are you again and you are happy with you. We’ll find you in this darkness. I can still hear your voice; you’re not that far away.
I see you, and I know you’re there. 

Getty image by vadimguzhva

Originally published: July 9, 2020
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