Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Mom The Blogger

I recently attended a local NAMI conference with my mom. I was incredibly touched by the stories of family members who shared their experiences of living with a loved one who has mental illness. I realized that it was important for me, as someone who has mental illness, to understand what my family goes through. It occurred to me that others might want to hear from family members too. As we walked out of the conference that day, I asked my mom if she would share her story with you. She graciously agreed to do so, and I have the privilege of posting it below. I'll admit it's slightly embarrassing for me as she says far too many nice things about me (and I really was not looking for her to do that, honestly!). I love her and appreciate her. She has suffered right along with me and I know countless tears have been shed on my behalf.

Mom's Story

OCD. Our Courageous Daughter. That's what OCD means to me now. I'm so familiar with this disorder because "Our Courageous Daughter" has OCD. However, I never had any awareness of this disorder or that she suffered from OCD until she was in her late 20's, and was married and living on her own. As I look back, I can now see where she had some tendencies of OCD as a very, very young child. My husband and I had never experienced, or even had heard of this until our daughter made us aware of it.
 
OCD was so difficult for many years, for both she and I. She would worry over things, at times, that I couldn't even imagine worrying about, or she would repeatedly ask for reassurance. She would ask me the same thing over and over again, to reassure her that it was ok. I would get to the point where I just wanted to scream “Why are you asking me, if you don't take my word for it, and then you go ask others the same thing!” I called this the "survey said" syndrome.  Now I know why she had to ask so many times, over and over and over. She was not capable of stopping.
 
If our daughter came to our home and I was cooking, I would have to ask her to leave the room, because she would constantly get upset that I didn't wash my hands when and how she thought I should. She would always expect me to wash my hands if I touched the trash can, or something on the floor. The list went on and on. It seemed that I couldn't do anything without upsetting her.
 
As difficult as it was to live with her behavior, it was more difficult for me to see how she was tortured. Yes, I use the word 'tortured.' As her mother I couldn’t do anything to help her. I couldn't reassure her enough, or fix it for her, or take it away, but I could enable her. At times, it was easier to enable than to address the behavior. We would pray together. Sometimes I would go to her house (when she needed me to go) and just reassure her. She would call or come over anytime she needed it. It was exhausting because I knew no matter what I said or did, it wouldn't change for her. As a mother, that is heart-breaking. I missed going out with her as a mother and daughter, as some of my friends did with their daughters. There were so many things she couldn't bring herself to do, like even cook a meal with me. I admit sometimes I was jealous of my friends and their relationships with their daughters, as they would go shopping, cooking, do house projects together, etc. It was ok though, because it wasn't that she really didn't want to do these things, she just couldn't.
 
It became extremely difficult when she decided to go through CBT because I had to watch her work through the pain of it. However, the change I have seen in her since therapy is nothing short of a miracle. When she came to visit my husband and I for a week in Florida this past February, I prayed so much that God would bless her, and give her a great week of relaxation and fun. I wanted her to just be able to enjoy herself, without worrying about everything and being afraid of touching things. I remember the night before she came, I was on my knees, in tears, begging God to bless her because she had worked so hard at her therapy. She had come such a long way with therapy and was getting so much better and putting her trust in God. I didn't want anything to stand in the way of her week. I spent the day before she came cleaning everything in sight. This included rewashing clean sheets (although I ended up using brand new sheets instead), rewashing the mattress cover and the blanket, re-cleaning the bathroom she would use, and even cleaning the shower curtain liner. I guess I was acting like I had OCD too. Sometimes I feel like it rubs off on you. I just didn't want anything to upset her. A mother of a child with OCD will sometimes go to extremes not to cause anxiety.

WOW!! Does God answer prayers. We had such a wonderful week. She came in without asking one question about the place we were staying in. There weren’t even any questions about bed bugs and I was really worried that would be a big issue for her. She went to the pool every chance she had. She went to the beach (and even picked up sea shells and brought them home). She arranged for the two of us to go for lunch and have a pedicure at a gorgeous place. What a treat that was. We even went shopping at the dollar store. Now that's AMAZING. It was such a joy and pleasure to have my daughter there. She had such a good time that she even extended her stay. I can honestly say that when she left, I wished she could have stayed longer. It was so pleasurable spending time and doing things with "Our Courageous Daughter." Thanks to God and to the therapist who helped our daughter have a full life and really live again.
 
One of the most loving and productive things someone can do is to educate themselves about OCD. Reading books and going to therapy for a few sessions with my daughter were some of the best things I did. I also got to understand the disease from the therapist’s point of view. I used to think, “Why is she not trying or why is she giving in on this?” I learned that her brain was wired differently and it’s not that she wasn’t trying hard enough or she didn’t care, but she really couldn’t do these things. After, it was easier to help my daughter because I got less frustrated, and I learned how I could help her by just loving and supporting her, and listening to her, and even just hugging her while she went through the anxiety.

I thank God for His grace and mercy and for "Our Courageous Daughter."

THANKS MOM!

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Sunny's Mom.

    Sunny, you are very blessed. As I'm sure you already know that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anxious Gal! Thanks for encouraging my mom - I'm sure she'll appreciate it.

      I am blessed, beyond all measure. Sometimes, though, I do forget that.

      Delete
  2. I have tears in my eyes now and a full heart. This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post and so eye-opening to the effects of OCD on the family.

    Sunny's Mom: You write beautifully. Now I know where Sunny got her open heart and beautiful way of wording things. Sunny is lucky to have you.

    Sunny, Thank you so much for sharing your Mom with us. And be proud of all that you've accomplished and how far you've come in your OCD journey.

    Blessings to you both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Tina. It's funny, because my mom really didn't think that she had anything to add to the OCD conversation, but I knew she did. She's just been through too much of it with me to not have something to say about it.

      I AM proud - of my mom! She comes from a family where very little was known about mental illness and even less was said. She took the time to educate herself and now she can be a source of comfort, support, and education to others. That is so cool. I think the best part is that she has no shame or embarrassment about my mental illness. She accepts it for what it is - an illness that I have no control over. Well, I can control my reaction to it, but I think you know what I mean! It's freeing to know that you are really accepted with all of your abilities and your limitations. : )

      Delete
  3. Sunny's Mom: This is an incredibly inspiring post. Knowing that there are people in the world who love, care, and support as much as you do is truly moving. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah. What a sweet thing to say to my mom. Thank you for your kind words to her.

      This is to everyone who commented: I spoke to my mom earlier this evening and she said she read the comments and she literally cried while reading them. She also asked me, "Do you personally know any of these people? I cannot believe how incredibly loving and compassionate they are." I told her no, I've never met any of you in person, but I truly do feel like you are all my friends and I'm INCREDIBLY grateful to be blessed with all of you.

      Delete
  4. This is so, so, so great! I'm going to send the link to MY mom!!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. Elizabeth, thank you. My mom still doesn't think she wrote much of anything. ha ha

      Delete
  6. As a mother whose son has OCD, I certainly relate to your mom, Sunny. You mention in one of your comments how your mom has no shame or embarrassment about your OCD. Of course she doesn't. In fact it is just the opposite. We mothers are proud and honored to be the parents of such courageous,loving "children." I think we, more than anyone, know that those with OCD are so much more than their disorders. Thanks to you and your mom for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janet. I figured you would really be able to relate given all that you and your family have gone through.

      I guess sometimes we're just so embarrassed about ourselves that it's always surprising that someone else doesn't feel it about us too. But it is so incredibly freeing to just be who you are. That is one of the things I've worked extremely hard on through my time in CBT. It has paid off and I feel so much better about just being myself.

      Thanks for your insight!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for writing. My daughter, jackie, also has OCd and it was helpful to hear from another mom.

      Delete
    3. Hi Ronda! Thanks for encouraging my mom.

      Yes, I "know" Jackie. I really appreciate a lot of stuff that she's written on her blog. She seems like such a sweet lady.

      Delete
  7. That was very touching. Sunny, you are so lucky to have such a kind and loving mom. Hearing it from your mom too, helps me to really believe that my therapists are right- i am more than my ocd.

    Thanks, Sunny. What a great idea you had!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very kind Karin. Thank you. I truly am so lucky to have her. In fact, I've been surrounded with many kind people that I don't deserve. But I'll keep them!

      You're are right - you are WAY more than your OCD. You are the wonderful, unique, beautiful, and gifted person that God made you to be!

      Delete