As many of you know, I’ve written a book about my son’s journey through severe OCD. As a result, I’ve had speaking engagements and interviews where I’ve enjoyed meeting people and discussing different aspects of the book. One comment I get a lot focuses on how lucky I was to have a supportive husband throughout our ordeal. We were truly “on the same page” and worked together as a team to help our son as best we could. We’d bounce ideas off each other and collaborate on each decision that had to be made.
And it was still so difficult.
Not surprisingly, these comments impress upon me how truly lucky I was, and am, to have had the unwavering support of my husband during such trying times. And then, of course, I think of the flip side…….what if I’d been on my own?
The reality is there are lots of single parents and caregivers who have children or other family members who are struggling with OCD or other illnesses, and so many of them have no choice but to “go it alone.” And then there are families with two parents under the same roof, but they don’t see eye to eye. In some instances this might even be worse than being a single parent, as there is likely friction and disagreement every step of the way in their child’s journey.
If I’d had to navigate my son Dan’s journey through severe OCD without my husband, would things have turned out as well as they did? Maybe; I really don’t know. What I do know is that I would have been a lot worse off mentally and emotionally (I wasn’t doing so great at times even with Gary’s support). Talk about feeling alone.
My heart goes out to all parents and caregivers who are struggling, on their own, to help their children or other loved ones. While there is no substitute for a supportive partner, there are people who can help you. Friends, other relatives, and therapists might be able to relieve some of the loneliness and confusion. When those close to you ask, “What can I do to help?” it’s important to give an honest answer. Maybe you just need a shoulder to cry on, an understanding ear, or an hour off so you can do something for yourself. Communicate with those who care about you! Some people also find blogs, forums, and support groups beneficial.
In the end, so much about a family’s journey through severe OCD is lonely, even with the support of others. And of course, the more limited the support system, the more difficult the journey will likely be. So let’s all keep helping each other, as much as we can, as we navigate the turbulent waters of OCD.
It’s so much easier when we do it together.