TOPIC 32 HOPE: ARE YOU A CHECKER? I HOPE NOT. How many times to you go back to see if you really locked the door or turned off the stove? We all do it occasionally and as I age and my memory fails, I probably should do a bit more checking. Cranky Old Man does my checking for me before we leave the house: Pills taken, hearing aid in, teeth in, potty visited, telephone on, do-to list and credit cards in your purse, purse on your shoulder, OK good to go. Of course, he is the one returning to the apartment to fetch something before we are really good to go. Still this is not the checking of someone with a really tough OCD problem. That is hell to live with whether you are the checker or love the checker.
Read this for a mother’s account: ocdtalk « ocdtalk.
Here is how this Mom describes herself and her reason for blogging: “I am a mom whose son was completely debilitated by severe OCD several years ago. Our family floundered and then fought our way through a disorienting maze of treatments and programs, desperately trying to find the best help possible for Dan.”
I have carried the label OCD, but am more into perfectionism than checking and although my OCD interfers with my functioning, it does not create nearly the problem for me that my dysgraphia creates. Problems with writing–spelling and getting thoughts on to paper as well as bad hand writing. I did not learn I was dysgraphic until my sons were diagnosed with it. Then I looked back over family history and realized I come from a long line of people with the same quirky brain. Moreover, I know lots of very bright people who can’t do school probably are dysgraphic.
One son got help a lot earlier than the other and that made his life easier. He grew up with a name for his struggles, and as much as he hates it, he can talk about it and advocate for himself. I know I felt less shame when I discovered what made me a poor speller and a faulty punctuater. When word processors came to be, my writing problems did not vanish, but did improve to the point where I wrote and had two books published. Killed the editors–not literally, but both stopped editing right after working with me.
I also know that aging is adding a new wrinkle and that is the mis-typing of small words. The spell check doesn’t catch them and what I am trying to say is not what I write. Now and not are two examples of that problem. I (now not not) use search and find for serious writing efforts to catch that one. But at almost 75, I do not have the time to catch all my errors, nor the money to hire an editor. So my blogging is always an exercise in “good enough.” That is a small form of the treatment, the blogger speaks of–a “Just Do It” approach.
If you read yesterday’s post, you heard me rant against the “Just Do It” gurus. That rant holds as there are things that you cannot just do, particularly on your own. Dealing with a major mental disorder is one. You need what I call an “Extended Care Team.” More about that another time.
Back to stigma. For most major mental disorders, the earlier treated the better. Sadly stigma keeps not only parents from seeking help, but also keeps family doctors, pediatricians, teachers, all sorts of other professionals offering quick reassurance, when a referral for a full evaluation would better serve the child and the family.
There should be no more stigma attached to referring any one for a mental health evaluation than referring them for an eye examination or a tonsilectomy.
STAYING STRONG TIP One of my ways to fight stigma is to talk about crazy as being cruel to yourself or others. That can be consciously cruel or as with those suffering a brain glitch finding–not able to control self and therefore, cannot chose to be kind or cruel. Living with a major disorder in which you cannot just snap out of it or change is cruel to you and to those around you.
In a world where we need each others caring if we are to survive as a race–cruelty is crazy. Being able to practice kindness is my measure of whether a person is crazy, for in the long run, it matters most. By the way, this extends to cultures and societies which often oppress and practice cruelty. What this means is if you were a kind person living in the era when slavery was the norm, you were living with craziness and if you didn’t protest supporting cruelty and craziness. Even if you were kind to your own slaves you were supporting cruelty and that is crazy. End of rant.
Another way to fight stigma is to own up to your glitches and problems. But not just with pie in the sky expectations that because you made it to some degree of healthy functioning, everyone can. A major mental disorder does not always get the right treatment and for far too many the right treatment is not yet on the horizon so it is often a painful and chronic disorder.
If you think you or another you love has this disorder read the Jolly and Grumpy Book. You can link to it below. Meant for kids, but valuable for all.
FUEL MY HOPES: Be kind to me, get kindness badges for you, and help others get and stay strong. Kindness is an Emotional Fitness Exercise. Click here for all 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises.
IMAGE BY: Jolly and Grumpy