Sunday, July 13, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook 7/13

Outside my window:

It's cloudy and ugly with rain and a morning thundershower expected any minute, hence I'm home from church with my storm-phobia 7-year-old daughter, who is watching a Wild Kratt's library DVD to get her mind off the "dark skies".

Wild Kratt's library DVDs mesmerize my kids. That show came out after we got rid of cable but one of you actually told me about it. I think Teri from PA? A couple years later the DVDs appeared at our library and my kids have been hooked ever since. You would smile if you heard them all sing that theme song together, to which they've learned every word. Once, when we were all in the emergency room for an ailing Paul, the staff put Wild Kratts on the ceiling TV, and my kids proceeded to sing their hearts out without shame, and none too softly either.

It was our plan to force Mary to church, because a forecasted thunderstorm doesn't mean we actually get them. Much emotional energy on the parents' part is required to force the issue, and we've had that energy several times, but not this morning and not usually for church. It would mean drawing attention to ourselves as she cried or possibly screamed going into the building, depending on how menacing the skies looked. And of course, there was that time she did throw up at church because of panic over the rain and thunder/lightning.

And the excitement doesn't end there. Peter has had two instances of heat exhaustion because we recently increased his Prozac for OCD from 10 mg to 20 mg, which decreased his body's ability to sweat to cool off, but improved his OCD. Antihistamines will also decrease the body's ability to sweat, and without Peter's allergy medicine he gets asthma so the two medicines together are a problem (at this higher Prozac dose), at least in the summer humidity.

So last night he threw up after being at the park, but he's fine today. He drinks enough; it's about the sweating to cool off. It just doesn't happen like it should. This week we may go back to the doctor and have it decreased down to 10 mg for the duration of the summer, or rely on water mist bottles to cool him off. Low doses don't usually work for OCD, but for Peter they do, thank goodness. The usual dose for OCD in teens is 10 to 80 mg. It's lower when Prozac is used for depression.

Each time someone throws up Paul's OCD goes crazy because his comes with a vomit phobia; he does rituals to prevent a vomiting incident. He watches his sugar and his fat and does other things to prevent the possibility, drawing from all his knowledge about the various causes of vomiting. There are 3 causes of vomit phobia, one being OCD, another being agoraphobia, and the other being associated with social phobia. Go here if your child excessively fears vomiting.

Yes, I live in an insane asylum. Thus, no energy today to force Mary to church.

I am thinking very grateful I am for having joined an OCD online support group. Through the group I have found the boys a very good psychologist working out of Cleveland, over an hour away, who takes our insurance through a hospital program. He is excellent and specializes in Scrupulosity, which is a subset of OCD dealing with a distortion of religious and/or moral views. He is Jewish, and when a therapist has different spiritual views than the patient, they are trained to bring in the patient's Pastor or other faith "expert" to help the patient experience complete comfort with all aspects of the therapy.

This therapist uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Exposure Response Prevention therapy, which are the only therapies proven to beat OCD. There is no cure, but these therapies are the closet thing there is to being free.

Exposure Response Prevention therapy, or ERP, is exposing the patient to his or her worst fears, through graduated exposures, until the patient has habituated the mind to the thoughts or fears, so they become mere background noise to be ignored. Mindfulness training is included, so the patient can allow thoughts to come and go, not reacting to them. It is the reaction to the fearful thoughts that is the problem, not the thoughts themselves.

This is the same therapy (CBT and ERP) that is used for most anxiety disorders, and the same therapy Mary will need for her storm phobia, and for agoraphobia if it turns out she has that.

It is boot camp for sure and things will get worse for the boys (and consequently for us) before they get better, but being free is worth the sacrifice, to be sure. The boys will need every once of spiritual and mental strength they've got to persevere and succeed. They start in August and I have an initial meeting with the therapist at the end of July. It is not unusual for therapy to last up to a year but it depends on the patient. It is usually once a week.

If you or your children or a member of your extended family has OCD, please visit this support group. Many people do not know about ERP because not all therapists are trained in it. Some people suffer for years unnecessarily. There may be a period of denial and/or fear over the treatment because it's a scary concept to be exposed to your fears, especially for those with anxiety disorders, but be patient and have your relative lurk around the support group. I think eventually they will gather the courage to say, "I want to be well."

Another problem is that OCD can be horribly embarrassing because sufferers sometimes spend hours on their rituals. Many people keep it a secret for years. My son Paul has contamination OCD and spends 20 minutes brushing his teeth. That's mild compared to some of the behaviors one encounters, including compulsive checking, compulsive asking for reassurance, compulsive cleaning and arranging and counting, compulsive religious rituals or distorted religious beliefs, irrationals fears of harming others (Peter also has this type), irrational fears of being gay or being a child molester, etc. OCD people are the last individuals to do any of the things they imagine or fear. OCD attacks what is most dear to a person and is a horrible thing to suffer.

If you know someone who needs help and who has severe OCD, here is a list of intensive treatment centers in the United States (and a couple in the UK).

I am grateful for...

~ Peter's corn is finally growing, though not as high as the local farmers' yet. We have quite a few corn farms around us.

~ We had more sun this week and Mary was mostly happy, until the evenings and until this morning. The clouds tended to get organized just as it was time for me to make dinner. But still, these last 5 days there was a big improvement and she went in the van twice voluntarily with only some tears.

~ the tiny toad Peter brought back from the park. He gave it to Mary this morning and that was the only thing that coaxed Mary out of bed at all. I loved Peter so powerfully at that moment.

~ that Sheila, our Compassion child from Uganda, was able to get roofing and housing repair supplies. She is such a dear girl and writes her own letters in English, at age 15.

~ lo and behold, we saw a small fawn in the neighbor's yard two days ago. That's never happened before. It got lost apparently, having come into the neighborhood from the surrounding woods. Paul tried to get a picture for the library photo contest but I'm not sure the focus is good enough. It was sure thrilling though.

~ that God holds us together in the palm of his hands, and that his mercies are new everyday.

~ That at long last, my boys will get the help they need. Our pediatrician was not helpful in knowing what therapy is needed for OCD. It took me finding the right connections and I thank the Lord to have finally found them.

Have a good week, friends!


Anonymous said...

Anxiety is such a difficult thing, especially in one's child. I remember when my autistic son's anxiety/obsession was CCTV cameras. He still doesn't like them, but can manage to walk down a street now without glaring at every passing vehicle, especially vans (as they sometimes have CCTV).

It even got to the stage where he insisted on having the curtains closed while eating, as 'someone might look at me' through the window. I would refuse most of the time, as experience has shown me that for my son this is what will bring the 'negative' obsessions to an end. Eventually. Sometimes when I was tired I would just give in. It is so draining to 'fight' your own child. You have my every sympathy and you have my continual prayers.
Sandy x

Beth said...

It sounds like you have had quite a summer with OCD. Praying that you have strength for each day and wisdom to know how to handle this.