Compulsive behavior can be difficult to handle. Especially when you add the ever foreboding "obsessive" to the term. Then you are really in some trouble. Now, I certainly do not take this disorder lightly. I have two persons very dear to me that suffer horribly from it. I do count it as a blessing that, among so many things that I do carry around in my Samsonite that have become part of my daily life, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not one of them. Whew. If that were, boy I don't know how well I would fair.
I have read that this disorder, if gone untreated, tends to worsen with time. So that means, as you struggle through your life with many issues, you can look forward to this one growing in intensity. Of course that is if you do not treat it. But my question is this - What if you start at the age of, say... 5? What then? Does that mean by the time you are 10 it will be unbearable for you?
I seriously worry about my youngest, Gavin.
So here is how it is for this monkey: this last winter he had to wear gloves with bag-balm on his hands while he slept because he would excessively wash his hands throughout the day that his hands were so badly dry and cracked it would bring tears to your eyes.
We had to teach him that just because he touched the bare part of his leg about 3 inches above his knee he did not need to wash his hands, or many other scenarios that did not require hand washing as well. As we started to feel as though we were getting a handle on it, this behavior started to seep into other areas. Sort of like when you are cleaning up a puddle of water with a saturated towel, it doesn't absorb the problem, it just pushes the puddle in another direction. He has stopped paying as much attention to what he does that requires hand-washing and has started paying an inappropriate amount of attention on what others are doing and whether they should wash their hands because he may or may not come into contact with their "germies" (his words) Don't misunderstand me, he is acutely aware of what he does and whether it is hand-washing worthy or not, he is very careful...but now...wow, he is the nose picker police. He goes around asking anyone that he sees put their hand near their nose, "Did you pick your nose?" His anxiety associated with it is extreme. I mean he doesn't cry and freak out or anything like that, yet anyways. I worry that that is the next step...unless we can get a handle on this.
Teaching him skills to cope with his obsession and redirect the thought process can be tricky. Using skills that are part of virtually any form of therapy. Teaching him to be mindful of his personal body and notice when the anxiety starts to grow and then challenge his interpretation of his experience, like, Is this a circumstance where I (or another person) have come in contact with germs? If so, is it enough contact to require me to wash my hands? (or ask another person to wash theirs?)
Well anyways, I suppose I am thinking about this because I wonder, do I recognize this in him because I am very much aware of disorders and how they manifest themselves and there is a bit of guilt knowing that I willingly reproduced knowing that I have so many awful habits to pass onto my kids? OR did I recognize this about him because I am worried sick about him picking up anything that resembles a mental illness? Hmmm. Maybe they are connected anyways.
I am doing the best I can to raise these monkeys and . . . I need to do better.