There’s Nowhere Else…

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

Please be aware, short reference to suicidal ideation below:

I can see her waiting patiently out of the corner of my eye, as I listen to the social worker’s voice on the other end of the line. She can’t see or hear me; my camera is off and my mic is, too. I can see the fuzzy blackness covering the square that would be me in this telehealth call. She looks uncertain about what to do as she waits. The social worker on the phone talks on, giving me updates and directions. I dutifully take notes, painfully aware of the time that has lapsed since I darkened my screen and left this mom, mother of one of my young patients, waiting. I hang up the phone. Six minutes have gone by. I turn my camera and mic back on and she looks at me with concern and with what I imagine is a question that hangs between us.

“Is everything okay?”

It is not like me to abruptly leave a therapy session, and the call came in so early during our meeting I hadn’t yet been able to tell her. This has been a week unlike any other. I’ve told each and every patient or parent that I might be interrupted. I’ve mastered the drill by this point – a family member is having a health crisis; everyone is safe; doctors call me unexpectedly and I have little control over when that happens; if it happens, I’ll turn off my camera and microphone, take the call and return as quickly as I can; please forgive me if it happens. But this time, I had no opportunity to share, the call came so close to the beginning of our session. Then I tell her more than I’ve told any other person I’ve met with this week, pausing only for a millisecond in my head to debate whether it is appropriate.

“My son is in the hospital,” I say. Now it is out there. “I deeply apologize that I didn’t have the chance to tell you that I might get a call.”

“Was it planned?” she asks.

“No,” I answer, “though things are stable. I just get calls from doctors and I don’t have any say when they do that. I’m so sorry that this took from our time. I will make that time up.”

“Are you sure you’re up for being here? We can reschedule.” I see the caring and concern on her face.

“Honestly, there’s really not anything else for me to be doing right now. If I wasn’t working, I’d be sitting around waiting for time to pass,” I tell her. Then I lean in to the monitor, “Right now I’d like to be here with you, if you’d like to be here with me, too.”

She decides to continue and this honestly is exactly where I want to be.

Blake has been in the hospital for eleven days as I write this. For those of you who’ve followed this blog, you’re aware he’s struggled with depression and OCD. At times, it has been confusing which is more pressing. He’s been open, for the first time in a long time, to participating in treatment. He’s been working with a couple therapists and a psychiatrist. While he’s been the driver of his treatment, he’s also felt little hope or joy. He’s found nothing he wants in life. Depression is a thief that way; it robs us of seeing any possibility life might hold for us. Still, he continued on, trying a new antidepressant. Then, OCD’s intrusive thoughts took hold, constantly locking him in a fight against the torment. Simultaneously, his muscles started twitching uncontrollably, making him that much more uncomfortable. It took a while to realize that the twitching was a likely a side effect of his medication. The entire experience led him to hatch a plan to end his life – a plan he luckily shared with my husband and I, and later with his therapist.

Now our journey will take a new direction. Blake is scheduled to begin a Partial Hospitalization Program for OCD and anxiety shortly. He has never had treatment this intense ever in his life, and he is understandably scared. I have never had such brain fog in my life as I have this week, nor have I ever recognized so starkly the incredible beauty and supportiveness of those around me. I’ve had little energy to interact with others beyond what I “must” do, but those interactions have made me appreciate the power that exists in supporting one another.

And so, dear reader, thank you for coming to visit with me today. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here with you, if you’d like to be here with me, too.

17 thoughts on “There’s Nowhere Else…

  1. Maureen

    Keeping Blake and your family in my prayers. I follow your blog as my son suffers from OCD too.

  2. Dear Angie,
    I want you to know up front that this is Paul K writing… The guy who is in his late 50s and has been in treatment for OCD for 31 years. It breaks my heart to get this news. You, Blake, and all who love him are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so grateful that Blake was willing to share that he was making plans. As I’m sure you have already considered, this sounds like a cry for help from Blake… probably the loudest cry for help that he knew how to make. Clearly if he had not shared what he did, things could be far far worse than they are. My father had severe unipolar depression for about 2/3 of his life (best guess). When I was 17 (not old enough to understand what depression really is) he did basically the equivalent of what Blake has done, and he too ended up in the hospital getting a more intense level of treatment. He succeeded in working his way through that nightmare (I don’t know what else to call it). Sadly he continued to battle with severe depression for the rest of his life. But that’s not the issue here. What I want to emphasize is that my father succeeded in getting through what Blake is going through.

    My hope is that this incredible challenge will lead to new treatment for Blake that helps him far more than anything else that has been attempted thus far. There is no escaping the pain and heartbreak of your current situation, but as you work through it there is hope that Blake will continue moving forward towards a far better quality of life…One small step at a time. That will also mean a better quality of life for you and your entire family.

    I will continue to hold your whole family very tightly in my thoughts and prayers. I also want to share a bit about my mother in closing: She passed away last December at age 95 and was by far the most important role model in my life. She stood by my father through all of his struggles, and they raised three sons at the same time. She had incredibly strong Faith, and I am convinced that her Faith is what allowed her to lead a full and satisfying life even while caring for my father…and then me! She supported me and shared her wisdom with me until the very end of her journey in this life. And I like to believe that she continues to support me now. The most important gift she ever gave me were the following words: “God Has a Plan“. Or if you prefer: “The Universe Has a Plan”. Now as my own journey continues I try hard to keep those words close to my heart. I hope you will find them useful as well.

    Never forget to take care of YOU Angie!
    Blessings and Peace,

  3. Angie,
    I have been meaning to recommend this book to you (if you are not already aware of it) for a long time. I have only read about four or five books about OCD treatment from cover to cover (along with countless other self-help books)…

    …but THIS book has been the most useful to me BY FAR! It was written by an intelligent man who has been suffering with OCD for over 30 years, and co-authored by his psychologist who apparently is very highly regarded in the U.K. I have this book on audible, and I have listened to it at least five times. When I’m going through a rough patch it is the first resource I turn to to get myself back on track. It describes ERP therapy from the perspective of both the patient and the doctor. I hope someone who reads this blog will find it useful as I have.

    (I’m now going to attempt to place the link to the book on Amazon below)

    1. LOL well, as a former software developer the “glitches“ in WordPress never cease to amaze me. The email I received (of my own comment) describing the book that I like DOES NOT show the link to Amazon.

      However when I go directly into WordPress and browse Angie’s blog I CAN see the link.

      For the sake of simplicity here is the title of the book so that everyone can find it if they want to:

      On Amazon, the title appears in two ways so here they are:

      OCD, Anxiety and Related Depression: The Definitive CBT Guide to Recovery


      The Definitive Survival and Recovery
      Approach for OCD, Anxiety and
      Related Depression By Adam Shaw and Lauren Callaghan

      1. If you have access to Audible (or are willing to try a 30 day free trial with your first book free)… I have found it very helpful to listen to this book rather than read it myself. The narration is excellent, and I have about 30 bookmarks set up so I can jump to the most useful or inspiring parts of the book. (Just my personal opinion. I have a hard copy of the book as well but I have never needed to use it.)

        Thinking of you and hoping you are making steady progress.

  4. Angie, You, Blake and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. What I really would like to do is give you a big hug, but since I can’t do that, know that I’m wishing your family strength and courage as Blake tackles the PHP program. I’m hopeful this will be a turning point for the better for him. You are an amazing mom and your support will help him through! Just try to take care of yourself too.

  5. Angie, I read this at lunch and I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. I lack that gene that lets me easily say the right thing to people in pain. Please know that you’re in my thoughts. I hope things improve soon.

  6. Hi Angie, In reading this, I felt so sad for you and your family that Blake’s struggles have come to this point. And I felt incredibly grateful that he shared this information with you. Thank goodness you were able to intervene. I remember that you blogged earlier about calling a crisis line and told us about that experience, which was helpful to read. Thank you for your honesty in sharing this account as well. While I am so sad, I am also hopeful that Blake will finally receive life-changing treatment.

  7. Carla Stucky

    No words but just a hug from another parent who partially understands, although our son who struggles with OCD, hates life, has no hope, constantly needing reassurance and making statements about life needing to end, has told us he will not end his life while we (his mom and dad) are alive. He has tried intensive outpatient treatment in St. Louis which definitely helped but he didn’t continue to do his homework and is stuck in so many painful ways. I come short of praying for a rock bottom to force him into treatment but perhaps that is the hope and light he is searching for. How much can a heart break, mend, and break again? As long as there is breath, there is hope.

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