When Fear Rules !

If Someone Would Only Have Listened !

by on Aug.21, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I received a frantic and very emotional call from a man who was at “his wits end” not knowing where else to turn. His wife, Traci, was suffering from obsessive thoughts that were ruling her life.

He reported that she had been this way most of their marriage, and actually most of her life, but the only treatment she had received was in the form of at least two hospital sessions that ended up to be in-patient programs, basically, the psych ward
. She was apparently on a relatively low dose of an SSRI, he thought is was Celexa, but she was getting worse. What could he do?

I promised to come in early the next morning to talk with her on the phone. I needed to see whether SHE saw her thoughts as a problem, or whether she was being pressured by her husband to call. It is almost impossible to work with an OCD client if they do not feel there is a problem.

But yes, it was a problem, and her thoughts did rule her life. She had never really had any therapy, just medications. Nothing was working and her fears were becoming more bizarre by the hour.

Most of her fears seemed to be related to religious fears and associations. She feared she would somehow be taken over by the devil if she touched things that were dirty or germ infested. However, the intrusive thoughts had grown and festered to the point that being near one of her grandchildren with a potentially soiled diaper would set her off. Then, even if the baby had sat on the floor and had wet diaper, the floor was now so contaminated that she could not be in the same house with the kids. On and on it had grown, to the point that as much as she felt it was all so crazy, she could not stop herself.

Of course, then I find that this started as a child, as early as six years of age where she would have such guilt over any thought that was ever so slightly frowned upon by her family.

The bottom line was , I told her she needed an intensive in-patient OCD program that would regulate her meds and work with her on a daily basis to re-establish some trust in herself and her ability to control her thoughts. I wanted to work with her, but I know this had gone for too long, over fifty years, and out-patient therapy was just not going to cut it. I promised her that I would work with her once she was stabilized to the point that she could work one on one with me, but at this point, the thoughts were so overwhelmingly intense that in-patient was a must.

I know she was disappointed, but yet heard me say I would be there when she got back. She seemed to take heart in that, so I KNOW she wants to have control and get better. I recommended a few specific OCD treatment centers.

It reminded me of a few of the newer children I am working with who are experiencing OCD symptoms. Each one was so different, yet they were the same in that they felt controlled by their obsessive/intrusive thoughts. Whether germ related, thoughts of the devil or evil, sexual obsessions or a child who could not talk due to obsessive fears that something evil would come out of her mouth, these kids were suffering and many of the parents just wanted to treat the symptoms. “Maybe if you just put him on medications, he would stop thinking these weird things”.

These kids, each one of them, were reacting to conflicts, angry emotions and issues that they did not know how to deal with. It was their anger and frustration, and not knowing how to deal with their conflicting emotions that caused guilt feelings, and the guilt feelings led to them feeling they were bad, and therefore something bad would happen to them….or that they would do something bad to another.

These children can be saved from a lifetime of pain if they are worked with now, not just with medications. Here is a unique and novel idea, let’s listen and find out what the children are actually feeling and thinking !

I wonder if someone had heard Traci and took time to feel her pain many a year ago, would she be going through what she is now ?

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