Don’t Say It’s Not About OCD

Blake sits in his chair looking intently at the therapist. He’s just begun coming with us to sessions and he’s questioning the therapist’s approach (because, well, Blake knows better than the therapist – or mom and dad).

“I don’t understand why my parents are rubbing a tissue on the dogs and putting it on my bedroom floor if I don’t show up for dinner,” he says. “If they wanted me to come to dinner, they just could have told me.”

Well, actually, we did tell him we wanted him to come to dinner. He just wasn’t making it on time most nights.

“But why the tissue?” he wonders.

“Well…” the therapist starts. “Your parents have noticed that there are some behaviors you have that are related to OCD. And they are concerned about them.”

“What?!” His head swivels in our direction. “You’re concerned about them?! Why didn’t you ever just tell me?! Why did you ever let me leave treatment, then?! Frankly, I see nothing wrong with what I do. Dogs are not cleanly and it’s disgusting to have anything from them in my room!”

Well, actually, we did tell him we were concerned about his behaviors and that we encouraged him to be in treatment, but he refused.

As the conversation heightens, the hubby starts to get antsy. He steps into the process.

“Look, I don’t think the primary issue is your OCD right now, Blake. I think your sleep is a huge issue, and your functioning on a day-to-day basis.”

At one point Blake leaves the room in frustration and our therapist looks at the hubby and I.

“Please don’t say it’s not about OCD,” he asks us, “because I’m not so sure it’s not. Blake has a lot of OCD behaviors that he thinks are normal. I don’t want to normalize those and have him think they aren’t a problem.”

When we leave the room, I begin wondering about what our therapist said. Other professionals have pointed to Blake’s depression in recent years, not so much to the OCD. What is he seeing? So, I observe, and I begin to notice what I’ve stopped seeing in the past four years:

  • Walk into bathroom, wash. Walk out. Walk back in. Wash again.
  • Open car back door. Seat is too dirty. Sit up front.
  • “Mom? What is that on the floor?”
  • “Mom? What is that in the box?”
  • “Mom? Is that color normal?”
  • Open car back door. Seat still too dirty. Sit up front.
  • Say prayer. Pace. Say prayer again.
  • Carry squirming cat downstairs, while holding said squirming cat as far as arms will extend away from you.
  • Open car back door. Seat still too dirty. Get a towel and clean seat before sitting.

Blake’s OCD is still very much there. It’s just been quieter. And he’s accepted it as normal (at least he seems to have). How is it connected to his deep, deep depression? That will be an answer we will have to watch unfold.

 

*Good Morning!

*On the eve of the annual conference of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), which is taking place in Chicago, I am re-posting this entry from a while back. OCD is a serious disorder that can profoundly affect lives. Knowledge and treatment can make a world of difference.

This is a piece I wrote for myself about three and a half years ago – before I started writing this blog.  It reflects the feelings I felt at seeing my son stuck in an OCD ritual, and my struggles with a public that often does not understand that OCD can wreak havoc on lives. 

Image courtesy scottchan@freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy scottchan@freedigitalphotos.net

“Good morning!” I say in my most cheery voice as I open the car door and a load of kids tumbles out. I’m working at morning valet at my son’s school, a volunteer position I’ve helped with for the past four years. “Have a great day!” I wish them as they enter school for the day. Across the parking lot, I catch sight of my own son, standing by my car.   I can make out the brown curls on the top of his head, which is bowed in prayer. I check my watch – 20 minutes have passed since he began this process. Twenty minutes on a prayer that reasonably ought to take less than five. I can see him repeating the same motions he’s done over and over already. I even think I can see him mouthing the same words.

Enough already,” I think to myself and begin to walk in his direction.

“Be right back,” I tell my fellow volunteers as I leave my post. When I get to him, he doesn’t acknowledge me. He’s deeply, fervently in prayer.

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.net

“Hon,” I ask, “can I help in some way?”

Absolutely no reply. His lips move at rapid-fire pace and he’s planted in place. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“It’s time to go in to school now,” I tell him.

“Mom! I was almost finished! Now I have to start it all over!”

“Honey, you’ve been saying the same prayer over and over for the last 20 minutes. It’s enough. Go join your friends before school starts.”

“I have NOT been saying it over and over. I keep messing up or skipping parts so I have to start again and get it right. I almost had it this time and you interrupted.”

“I don’t think the point is to get it perfectly right. I think it’s about what’s in your heart. You-know-who is just trying to trick you.”

I say this last part in reference to his OCD, which we’ve known he’s had since he was 7. He is nearly 14 now.

“Really? Do you think so?” he says sounding just a little bit hopeful.

“You know that’s the truth. Come on, you can fight this.”

“No, no, no. I have to get it right,” he says. “Just let me do what I have to do.”

“Come on, honey. Stop and go to class.”

“Mom!!!”

“Fine! It’s your OCD. You handle it the way you see fit.”

I throw my arms up in exasperation as I walk back to the waiting line of cars. He goes back to his prayers, trying to finish before he is tardy to class. My heart is heavy as I watch him being caught up in this cycle…trying to get it just perfect and falling short over and over again. I want to make this better for him, want him to be able to go hang with his buddies who are all together before school begins, but I am just an interruption to a process he feels he must go through.

Not long ago I saw a segment of an interview of Howie Mandel by Larry King. Larry was asking Howie about his OCD. At one point Larry looked at Howie and asked, “It’s not a severe mental illness, is it? I mean, it’s not depression.” Larry went on to talk about how we all have a little OCD and how he has all his vitamins and medicine lined up in a certain order and takes them in that order. Howie did his best to explain how OCD can severely impact someone’s life, but I never really felt that the point hit home.

I think Larry’s question reflects what we see in the media about OCD. People with OCD are portrayed as quirky, silly, and super organized. Maybe they are controlling and bothersome. What we miss seeing is the anguish and the suffering. We do not understand how OCD can hold an individual – and entire families – hostage to it. If we can ask the question, “It’s not a severe mental illness, is it?” then we have never witnessed a child with hands so bloody and oozing from over-washing that they wince with pain if anything brushes against them. We have not had a family hike interrupted by the un-ending screams of a child who is certain he is about to die because there may have been a Lyme disease carrying tick on the shrub that brushed up against him. We have never had a sheriff’s deputy come over to us in alarm because our child is screaming so horrifically that they sound like they are being torn limb from limb. We have never had a family meal interrupted over and over because our teenage son has to stop eating to repeat a ritual before he can go on eating. And we have never seen a 13-year-old boy reduced to an exhausted crumpled mass in his mother’s arms after fighting off the demon in his own mind.

“It’s not a severe mental illness, is it?”

Yes, sadly, OCD is a severe mental illness, and it attacks the things that are most precious to a person.   People think our family must be very religious because they see our son in prayer all the time. What they do not realize is that the religion our son practices bears little resemblance to any religion we practice in the home – or that anyone practices anywhere for that matter. His practices are born out of a fear that OCD gives him – a fear that something awful will happen if he doesn’t get things just right. What used to be a source of enjoyment, connection and deep meaning for him – and for us all – has become a source of endless doubt and a cycle of torturous repetition that has long lost its original intent.

Yes, there is treatment. There are terrific, highly effective treatments – and my son is in treatment now. He has beaten OCD to a pulp in the past. With this relapse, he is a teenager, in the throes of puberty and determined to be independent of what Mom and Dad want for him. So we wait, with hope that the day will come that he will decide that he loves himself more than he loves fighting us. We wait for the day that he turns his strong-willed nature against the OCD that currently holds him in its grasp and moves toward a freer life. But it’s going to be one heck of a war when it comes because, yes, OCD can be severe – and it grows in strength over time. In the meantime, our family will be here, honing our skills so that we can back this boy up when he is ready to fight.

For more information and to find help, visit the website of the International OCD Foundation: https://iocdf.org/

“I’m In an Exposure”

Image courtesy Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

“Hey Mom, I’m in an exposure right now,” Blake informs me. He sounds just the slightest bit excited.

“Really?” I ask. “What are you in an exposure for?”

I’m curious about this statement. Blake hasn’t talked about “exposures” in years. Certainly I haven’t heard anything of the sort from him since he refused treatment for his OCD just over three years ago. Exposures are an integral part of evidence-based treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The person with OCD places themselves, often with the support of a therapist, in situations that would normally provoke compulsions/rituals, but chooses not to pacify the OCD by performing those compulsions. Gradually, the OCD sufferer adjusts and learns to cope with what might have previously felt intolerable.

“Today is a special day, religiously,” Blake tells me. “I don’t know if there are any special observances I should be doing beyond what I’ve already done. I’m feeling pretty anxious, but I’m not giving in to it. I’m allowing myself to tell myself that I’m doing the best I know how and that has to be good enough.”

I know this is tough for him. We’ve been held captive in the house, at times, with Blake paralyzed over not knowing how to handle some religious observance (he is more religious than the rest of our family, having embraced religion about five years ago. OCD loves to mess with that and his obsessions and compulsions often revolve around religion). I tell him that I recognize this must be tough and that I’m glad he’s happy he’s made the choice not to give in to his OCD this time.

Blake is still struggling with depression and having difficulty with motivation. His OCD lingers mostly in the background, rearing its head from time to time. Yet, at moments lately, I see mini breakthroughs. He is more willing to talk about feeling anxious – something he would have become furious about in the past if I would have mentioned it. Just yesterday I heard him repeating a prayer as I sat next to him.

“Are you supposed to repeat that prayer at certain times?” I inquire. “I notice you just said it a second ago.”

“No,” he says.

“Oh, it’s an anxiety thing?”

“Yep, it is,” he replies – with no defensiveness.

That little exchange would have been unthinkable even six months ago. Perhaps he’s a little more mature. Perhaps I’ve learned to be less intrusive, to have less of that accusatory tone in my voice. Whatever it is, this little window of openness is nice.

As for the exposure he self-imposed, we never spoke of it again, but I’m pretty sure it went well. He went off to babysit our friends’ children, came home later and proceeded with his day. There was no frantic calling of religious authorities or begging me to text someone who is in the know. Maybe that is how Blake’s war with OCD will be won, with little hand-selected battles he feels ready for. If so, I’ll cheer him on quietly each time he takes one on.

 

What Just Happened?

Image courtesy smokedsalmon at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy smokedsalmon at freedigitalphotos.net

Life in our family has been a whirlwind of late.  College acceptances for Michael and trips to see those colleges; proms and graduation preparation; home-school adjustment for Blake (and for me).  I have barely had time to sit down and think – not to mention sleep.  And then, last night, everything came to a rapid crash.

The hubby and I came in just past 8:30 p.m after an early dinner with friends.  Michael was out at a high school prom and Blake had stayed home alone.  As we stepped in the door, Blake peered around the corner at us from the bathroom.

“You wouldn’t believe the night I had!” he exclaimed.

The right side of his face was red and bloody.  A piece of his front tooth was missing.  The bathroom floor was covered in vomit.

“Why didn’t you call us?” I asked.  It turned out the accident had just happened.  Blake was fuzzy on the details, but he’d fallen asleep, woken abruptly to let the dogs in the house, and had fallen, face first, onto the concrete in the backyard. He then proceeded to throw up before he could make it to his intended target, the toilet.

“We’re going to the ER,” I said.

“I need a tissue first.  Where can I find one?”  I told him where and he walked the opposite direction.

“Blake.  That’s the wrong way.”

“Oh yeah.”  He turned around.

When he returned, the hubby and I readied to head to the hospital.

“I have some prayers to say first,” Blake said.

Really? Prayers now?  Even with a head injury, the rigid adherence to religious ritual.  We waited.

At the hospital, the doctor confirmed what we thought – a concussion.  It was a borderline call as to whether Blake needed a CT scan.  Blake did NOT want his head irradiated.  That meant we would be waking him every one to two hours all night.  Blake was just fine with that.  The hubby was posting the photo of Blake’s scraped-up face on Facebook.

“You’d better call your mom if you’re gonna post that,” I said, “or someone else is going to tell her first.”

Sure enough, my sister-in-law contacted me soon after the post appeared.  I shared the details with her, right down to the prayers that delayed our leaving.  My sister-in-law is religious – one of Blake’s guides and reality checks for OCD vs. real religious practice.

“Prayers?” she wondered. “What prayers did he have to say?”  Of course, she informed me of what I already knew – the prayers could have waited.  “Happy Mother’s Day!” she said.  Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

Good Morning!

I found this piece of writing the other day.  It is something I wrote for myself about two years ago – before I started writing this blog.  It reflects the feelings I felt at seeing my son stuck in an OCD ritual, and my struggles with a public who often does not understand that OCD can wreak havoc on lives. 

Image courtesy scottchan@freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy scottchan@freedigitalphotos.net

“Good morning!” I say in my most cheery voice as I open the car door and a load of kids tumbles out. I’m working at morning valet at my son’s school, a volunteer position I’ve helped with for the past four years. “Have a great day!” I wish them as they enter school for the day. Across the parking lot, I catch sight of my own son, standing by my car.   I can make out the brown curls on the top of his head, which is bowed in prayer. I check my watch – 20 minutes have passed since he began this process. Twenty minutes on a prayer that reasonably ought to take less than five. I can see him repeating the same motions he’s done over and over already. I even think I can see him mouthing the same words.

Enough already,” I think to myself and begin to walk in his direction.

“Be right back,” I tell my fellow volunteers as I leave my post. When I get to him, he doesn’t acknowledge me. He’s deeply, fervently in prayer.

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.net

“Hon,” I ask, “can I help in some way?”

Absolutely no reply. His lips move at rapid-fire pace and he’s planted in place. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“It’s time to go in to school now,” I tell him.

“Mom! I was almost finished! Now I have to start it all over!”

“Honey, you’ve been saying the same prayer over and over for the last 20 minutes. It’s enough. Go join your friends before school starts.”

“I have NOT been saying it over and over. I keep messing up or skipping parts so I have to start again and get it right. I almost had it this time and you interrupted.”

“I don’t think the point is to get it perfectly right. I think it’s about what’s in your heart. You-know-who is just trying to trick you.”

I say this last part in reference to his OCD, which we’ve known he’s had since he was 7. He is nearly 14 now.

“Really? Do you think so?” he says sounding just a little bit hopeful.

“You know that’s the truth. Come on, you can fight this.”

“No, no, no. I have to get it right,” he says. “Just let me do what I have to do.”

“Come on, honey. Stop and go to class.”

“Mom!!!”

“Fine! It’s your OCD. You handle it the way you see fit.”

I throw my arms up in exasperation as I walk back to the waiting line of cars. He goes back to his prayers, trying to finish before he is tardy to class. My heart is heavy as I watch him being caught up in this cycle…trying to get it just perfect and falling short over and over again. I want to make this better for him, want him to be able to go hang with his buddies who are all together before school begins, but I am just an interruption to a process he feels he must go through.

Not long ago I saw a segment of an interview of Howie Mandel by Larry King. Larry was asking Howie about his OCD. At one point Larry looked at Howie and asked, “It’s not a severe mental illness, is it? I mean, it’s not depression.” Larry went on to talk about how we all have a little OCD and how he has all his vitamins and medicine lined up in a certain order and takes them in that order. Howie did his best to explain how OCD can severely impact someone’s life, but I never really felt that the point hit home.

I think Larry’s question reflects what we see in the media about OCD. People with OCD are portrayed as quirky, silly, and super organized. Maybe they are controlling and bothersome. What we miss seeing is the anguish and the suffering. We do not understand how OCD can hold an individual – and entire families – hostage to it. If we can ask the question, “It’s not a severe mental illness, is it?” then we have never witnessed a child with hands so bloody and oozing from over-washing that they wince with pain if anything brushes against them. We have not had a family hike interrupted by the un-ending screams of a child who is certain he is about to die because there may have been a Lyme disease carrying tick on the shrub that brushed up against him. We have never had a sheriff’s deputy come over to us in alarm because our child is screaming so horrifically that they sound like they are being torn limb from limb. We have never had a family meal interrupted over and over because our teenage son has to stop eating to repeat a ritual before he can go on eating. And we have never seen a 13-year-old boy reduced to an exhausted crumpled mass in his mother’s arms after fighting off the demon in his own mind.

“It’s not a severe mental illness, is it?”

Yes, sadly, OCD is a severe mental illness, and it attacks the things that are most precious to a person.   People think our family must be very religious because they see our son in prayer all the time. What they do not realize is that the religion our son practices bears little resemblance to any religion we practice in the home – or that anyone practices anywhere for that matter. His practices are born out of a fear that OCD gives him – a fear that something awful will happen if he doesn’t get things just right. What used to be a source of enjoyment, connection and deep meaning for him – and for us all – has become a source of endless doubt and a cycle of torturous repetition that has long lost its original intent.

Yes, there is treatment. There are terrific, highly effective treatments – and my son is in treatment now. He has beaten OCD to a pulp in the past. With this relapse, he is a teenager, in the throes of puberty and determined to be independent of what Mom and Dad want for him. So we wait, with hope that the day will come that he will decide that he loves himself more than he loves fighting us. We wait for the day that he turns his strong-willed nature against the OCD that currently holds him in its grasp and moves toward a freer life. But it’s going to be one heck of a war when it comes because, yes, OCD can be severe – and it grows in strength over time. In the meantime, our family will be here, honing our skills so that we can back this boy up when he is ready to fight.

When Prayers Sabotage a Day at the Races

Image courtesy debspoons @ freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy debspoons @ freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve written about prayer on this blog a number of times.  That’s because my fifteen-year-old son, Blake, has a form of OCD called Scrupulosity.  Basically, his biggest concern is following religious rules perfectly – even over the top – to avoid making a “mistake” or offending the Almighty.  He has other OCD symptoms, as well, including contamination fears (just try to get him to hold a dollar bill), but it is the rigid adherence to “his” religious rules that are so difficult for our family.  I call them “his” religious rules, because they truly are his alone, and they defy what I was taught, and continue to learn, about religion.

A few days ago, our family decided to join friends at the horse races.  It is something we have never done together before and Blake and his older brother, Michael, were well aware of our plans.

“Be all ready to leave the house at eleven am,” we told them both the evening before.

The best laid plans, however, do go astray.  I woke Blake at nine am, knowing he has a series of rituals he feels he must do in order to get out of the house.  He got out of bed and headed into his bathroom to shower – or so I thought.  At 9:30, he was fast asleep again.  I woke him again.  He promised to get ready. At 10:00 am; he was still asleep.  At some point, he managed to shower and dress, but he couldn’t seem to leave his room.  My husband and I found him planted on the floor in front of his space heater.  We took the heater away.

At this point you are probably noticing that we’ve got more going on here than OCD.  You would be correct.  We’ve also got a young man who doesn’t follow directions and a mom and dad who are trying to learn the best way to correct this issue.  The point is, though, this delay in getting ready created the perfect OCD/Scrupulosity storm because by the time Blake finally made it downstairs, it was time to leave. But, WAIT, he hadn’t said his morning prayers!!!  As we got into the car and drove away, I noticed that Blake had a prayer book tucked under his arm.

When we arrived at the track, Michael, the hubby, and I all got out of the car to meet our friends.  Blake got out of the car, prayer book in hand (and some ritual items, too).  It’s a big prayer book, by the way.

“Blake, the prayer book doesn’t belong at the race track.  Leave it in the car,” I directed him.

“But I haven’t said my prayers yet.  I have to say them NOW!”

“How long will that take?” the hubby asked.  “Maybe you can do it here at the car and then we can go in.”

“Twenty to thirty minutes.”

“No,” I say.  “Our friends are waiting for us.  It will have to wait until we are finished for the day.”

“That’s not going to work,” Blake insisted.  “I have to say the prayers now.”

“Blake,” I say – and I was getting angry – “you had the opportunity to say your prayers at home.  You had two hours before we left the house.  If your prayers were that important, you would have taken the time to complete them at home instead of going back to sleep.  Now we have friends waiting for us.  Put the prayer book and everything else back in the car.  You can say your prayers when we leave.”

“That’s not going to work,” he insisted.

My hubby reinforced the notion that prayer books do not belong at the race track and that he must wait until we were finished.  Blake continued to hold his ground.  I lost my temper, told him he could just stay at the car all day, and walked toward the track entrance.  Hubby stayed at the car and tried to talk some sense into Blake.  Michael hesitated, not sure where to go.  I could imagine the thoughts in his head.

Gee, another family outing ruined by OCD…”

I turned back to see the hubby gesticulating wildly with his arms.  The movements got bigger and bigger.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him get this angry with either of our boys.  It wasn’t going well.

A few minutes later, the hubby and Blake came walking toward us.  Blake had the prayer book and all his paraphernalia.  It was obvious who’d won this one.  I was furious.  I started to speak, but the hubby just motioned at me to continue toward the track.  I fumed silently for nearly half an hour.

Our day ultimately turned out well.  That is, we all enjoyed our time with our friends at the track.  But beneath it all, OCD lurked.  Combine teenage lack of responsibility with the unyielding rules that prayer absolutely, positively must happen by a certain time (and in a certain way) or the skies may fall in and you have the potential for high conflict.  Blake was willing to spend the whole day in the parking lot by himself in the name of the prayers that HAD to be said, and to let down the rest of his family members and our longtime family friends. What troubles me more, he saw no problem with his behavior.

I think our family will need consultation with one of our religious mentors.  I can understand that prayer is important, but I don’t think that it is so rigid that it would have us not meet our obligations to friends and family.  To me, those are what we must nurture in life.  We will see what the religious experts say.

 

 

Prayers and Car Doors

Photo courtesy sixninepixels at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy sixninepixels at freedigitalphotos.net

“Mom, can I borrow your phone?  I need to look something up.”

This is a familiar request from Blake.  At fifteen, he still rejects the notion of carrying a cell phone with him.  He has no problem borrowing my smart phone, though.  I know better than to ask what he wants to look up.  It’s usually a religious question, or a prayer.

“Sure, honey,”  I say. “Bring it over to me when you’re finished.”

I head to the waiting line of cars.  I volunteer at Blake’s school each morning in the valet line.  It’s a student drop-off system that I coordinate.  The goal is to keep the parking lot freer of cars.  I see it as a chance to say “Good morning!” to lots of fresh faces and, hopefully, brighten a few mornings.  It’s busy this morning and the time slips by before I realize that Blake has not returned my phone yet.  When there is a break in the traffic, I find him still sitting in the back seat of our car.

“Are you done yet?” I ask him.

Then I see his face.  There’s panic covering it.  His forehead is furrowed, his eyes are wide.

“Not even close!” he blurts out.

I try to ask what is going on, but before I can, Blake is begging to go back home.

“I can’t stay here!  I have to go home!”

“What is it?”

“It’s a prayer.  There’s a prayer I have to say and I can’t remember it.  I forgot to bring I with me.”

“You can say it later, when you get back home.  Go to class now, honey.”

“No!  You don’t understand!  I can’t eat! I can’t go to class!  I can’t do ANYTHING!!!!”

“Blake, God will forgive you for missing a prayer.  Religion isn’t supposed to stress you out or interfere with you meeting your obligations to home and school.”

“No!  You have to take me home!  Or can you go home and bring it back?”

“No, Blake.  You can get the prayer after school.”

“No!  I can’t!”

“Blake, I have to go back to my responsibilities.”  I suggest to him that he call his uncle or the religious leader who has been mentoring him, and I go back to back to tending to the students.

When I see him, several minutes later, he is calm and on his way to class.

“I found the prayer online,” he says.  He’s fine.  I’m rattled.  My phone chimes.  I have a text from the religious leader.  He saw a missed call come in from my phone.

“Is everything okay?  I’m in a meeting,” reads the text.

“Yes.  It was Blake,” I write back.

“I’ll call later.”

I cry tears as I open car doors.  It just feels good that someone cares enough to text back.

Later, the religious leader and I speak and I tell him what happened – the panic, the refusal to go to school.

“That’s not religion,” he concurs.  “Religion is not supposed to impede our lives.  It is supposed to lift us up.  If some religious task, like doing a prayer, is making us panic, we have to move on.  I’ll be seeing him in the next few days.  That’ll give us a chance to talk about this.”

I am grateful that we have this man in our lives.  I still barely know him, but he has reached out plenty to Blake and our family.  When we chose to find a religious mentor for a child with OCD in the form of scrupulosity, we didn’t know if it would help or hurt.  So far, the guidance he is giving is sound.  He is learning to recognize what is OCD and what is religion.  Perhaps, one day, Blake will recognize the same.