Before We Knew It Was OCD

Image courtesy Chris Sharp at
Image courtesy Chris Sharp at

I recently came across a folder that was from when Blake was first in treatment for his OCD.  He was 7-years-old at the time.  The folder is full of therapy homework assignments, including exposures we were to do to feared/OCD provoking items.  It is interesting to look back through and see what OCD issues there were in the past and recognize that many of these are no longer a part of our lives.

One task the therapist assigned me at the very beginning of treatment was to document things we had seen at home that may have been possible indicators of OCD before we actually realized he had OCD.  One entry in particular still affects me today.  It took place when he was 6.   I wish that I had realized then what I was dealing with.

“In February or March of 2006, we noticed Blake would be sitting at the dinner table or some other place and he’d seem far off in this thoughts.  Then he’d start to cry quiet tears.  He wouldn’t say what was going on, but he was clearly tormented.  He said he couldn’t say what it was, but that it was bad.”

I remember this time well and I can recall the terror at wondering what was so horrible that my son couldn’t tell me about it.  I worried that someone was hurting him; I was concerned that they threatened horrible consequences if he told.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  If someone was hurting my baby, then it had to stop.  Little did I know that it was his own mind.

“A couple months into this, I begged and coaxed him to say what it was.  I told him he was frightening me and I was worried about him.  He finally shared that he had copied a trademark (he had drawn one) and he was worried that he was going to be taken to jail for this (because it is illegal to copy a trademark).  He’d been afraid to tell us because he was afraid he’d be taken away from us and never see us again.  He was afraid we would have to tell the authorities.”

I remember being flooded with a sense of relief at the time – nobody was hurting him.  I could explain to him that he had done nothing wrong and that he was worrying needlessly.  I thought that this explanation would make it all better.  Little did I know then the extent to which he was being assaulted by “bad” thoughts in his mind.  We were just seeing the beginning of what was to come.


6 thoughts on “Before We Knew It Was OCD

  1. Once again, I can relate. I had similar thoughts when Dan was having a “tough time” in his early teens. I thought someone was hurting him in some way.That “someone” turned out to be OCD.

    1. I don’t think there is anything that prepares us to imagine that our child could be being assaulted by their own brain. I always worried about caregivers, etc. Now I know more – all us parents who’ve been through this do, right?

  2. One of our ah ha moments came when my loved one who was 6 or so at the time was sitting on the couch crying. Unable to speak. Unable to tell me what was wrong. They were paralyzed that they might say the “wrong” answer. It truly scared us to the core. We found help shortly after that, but I think that was rock bottom.

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