Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Long Time...Lots to Update.

School started and the first part of school has our family up to our necks in Fall soccer schedules, new after school schedules, and dance class schedules. So basically I spent September, October, and most of November literally falling into my bed at night.

But I have lots to update! Two weeks ago Bren graduated from full time therapy! Things are so much better that our last few visits weren't really productive anyway. I asked her doctor how this is possible and she laughed and said "well, though I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it myself, it seems as though Bren became a little OCD about being inconvenienced by her OCD and learned to manage it quickly." That's my girl! Basically Bren started using the techniques she learned in therapy to fix the issues that hindered her on a daily basis. She has even turned in a few assignments late, though she then bugged the teacher to make sure the grades were posted asap so she could prove to me it was turned in. My bar isn't covered in pencil erasings and pencil marks, and homework is done by dinner every night. I can't tell you how this has changed our family life! We actually eat together again!

Bren has also taken on an after school job where she walks the neighbor's dog. This time last year she wouldn't have touched her own dogs much less another one.

It's truly amazing how far she has come. I'm so blessed to have had so many prayers and wishes headed our way through the really dark times. Even when I worried that I would have to hospitalize my daughter, I felt buoyed up by your prayers, and I gathered the strength to go on.

Bren will continue to manage her OCD and anxiety, and we will see her doctor if a tune-up is necessary, but we are blessed to be moving forward for now. And that is all I asked for...well, that and to see my daughter's beautiful smile every day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Things are really good!

I'm happy to report that we are a month into 8th grade and Bren is doing fantastic! Her therapist has been amazing in helping Bren and I realize that "stress" is the number one trigger for her OCD and anxiety issues. Basically, as long as she isn't stressed, she doesn't have anxiety and then she doesn't use the OCD behaviors to push the anxiety away.

Of course, completely stress-free is impossible, but we've really worked on ways to deal with stress so that anxiety levels don't become over elevated. We've had only a couple of situations where we needed to really utilize the techniques we've learned, and we worked through those beautifully.

Since her toddler years, Bren has been the type to fix her problems as soon as she could because she highly disliked being out of control. OCD created A LOT of out of control situations for her and for over a year she lost control of her environment and her life. I know this killed her inside. But I also know this is why she is progressing so quickly. Because she will always have OCD tendencies, she will always have to watch her stress levels and check herself with stress gets high.

I'm just so very thankful that I'm enjoying my little girl again as I watch her once again enjoy life. When I sit beside her at night and giggle at the text messages she and her first boyfriend send back and forth, I say a little prayer to my Heavenly Father thanking Him for returning my daughter to me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Medication is on Hold.

We finally got in to the other doctor at our clinic (the one who deals with the medication portion of Bren's therapy.)

I went in prepared for him to medicate the heck out of her, and even though I saw medication as a last last last resort, after this last year I was prepared to negotiate at least some medicine. Instead, he said that since she is not overly stressed right now and she has the control on her OCD instead of it having control of her, he wanted to wait. He said, "We've established the relationship, so we'll wait and see. If it comes back with the stress of school, then you call and I'll have you in that week and we'll see what she needs."

This renewed my trust in him, or I should say he received my trust when I was prepared to withhold it. He wasn't willing to just medicate her into a zombie, and indicated that medicine would be used as I wanted it used: As a last resort.

I can't help but feel as though Heavenly Father is directing me to the right people since he knows the prayers of my heart. Who knows, we may find ourselves back in dark days in the future, but I feel like, more than ever, we have an army on our side.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back Off People...Momma Knows Best!

Things are still going great. Although we are hoping things stay great once the stresses of school start again. Right now we are low stress, and because her issues are stress triggered, then things are good.

Each week Bren and I talk more and more openly with Paula (the doctor) and she helps us through difficulties. Today I brought up an issue I've been having more and more as soccer and dance sign-ups near.

Basically, the only time throughout the school year that I see Bren lighten up, be herself, and smile without worry is on the soccer field or on the stage. As a mother I revel in those moments, especially when I know that it will all vanish later that night during shower time. However, this causes friends and family to comment that if I were to take Bren out of soccer and dance, she wouldn't be stressed with homework overload, and *poof* problem solved! Um, not that easy.

I get their point, I do. But I also know that the stupid teachers will still keep piling on the homework so that they can illustrate their dominance over the teenagers that they can't outsmart and therefore feel a need to bully into submissiveness.

WOW...that just came right out didn't it! Couldn't stop my fingers from typing that if I tried!

Back to the point. So the homework is still going to come hard and heavy, as is the need to be the perfect student. To me as a mother it would seem detrimental to take away the only outlets my daughter has during the school year. So I argue back that I disagree, and think soccer and dance are the moments she is relieved from stress rather than adding to her stress.

But the comments keep coming. "I'd take her out of soccer so she can focus on school." "If she's stressed then perhaps you shouldn't have her in soccer and dance." All said in ways that are accusing and NOT in the least helpful.

Today I bring up these comments to Paula and ask her if I'm doing the right thing...I mean I'm even battling my husband over these issues. And Paula confirms what I already know in my heart: Bren needs those outlets.

Let me explain: Growing up in an abusive house was scary, embarrassing, stressful, gut wrenching, etc. I hated it. It changed me at a very young age and robbed me of so much. It was only when I was on my horse in an arena, competing and focusing on that moment, that I forgot that my step dad was an evil beast. If they had taken away my horse and my outlet, I can honestly say I would have been forever lost spiritually. So I see my own daughter struggle and I see the moments she doesn't feel a need to be perfect and she relaxes and I refuse to take those moments away from her. So screw all of you and your opinions and your snarky comments and your "I'm only trying to help" advice. Until you've lived even a day in mine and my daughter's shoes, and clung to those moments when you're finally in control of your own world, you can kindly keep your "advice."

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Okay, so the end of the school year sucks. It is constant going and coming and parents are stretched thin trying to balance one event after another. BUT...I finally have time to sit down and catch you up...before I head out to my son's 5th grade graduation dance. *see what I mean*

Bren has seen the psychiatrist twice now and things are good. No, I guess I can allow myself to say things are GREAT. I always under report so that I don't get too excited and then fall so hard when something does happen. Bren is making great strides. Do we have a day here and there? Yes, there isn't a fast and easy cure. But those days are fewer and farther between than before.

Why? Partly because so many of you prayed and fasted for Bren, and partly because Bren and her doctor are a perfect match. Paula just knows everything to say to help Bren open up. And boy did she open up! She said things that I had NO idea she was thinking and feeling. And as a mother, hearing her inner most fears, my heart wrenched unlike anything I'd ever felt before. She knows the fears are in her head and impossible, but they still feel real. And because they aren't real, I can't fix them, I can't take them away, and I can't save her from them, and quite frankly that is a really helpless place to be as a mother. But even more, that is a terrible thing to feel as a beautiful and intelligent, and wonderful little girl.

Progress is a good thing. And we'll keep trudging through this until we save our daughter, and Bren controls her life rather than her brain and thoughts controlling her. This is about Bren reclaiming the life she deserves...it's my job to get her there.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You know that feeling you get when something just feels right?

That's the feeling I had today when I met with Bren's psychiatrist for the first time. She was fantastic! And on the very FIRST visit, with her asking me history questions, we think we nailed down the two events that sparked Bren's slow progress to where she is now with her Anxiety build up.

When Bren was born, she was smurf blue and didn't breathe for quite a while. I had to have an emergency c-section due to her being so stressed and in danger. Upon hearing this, Ms. Paula explained that there is ongoing research about the brain retaining information even when the person does not remember. She explained that Bren's brain could have registered and stored a "fight" memory from that stressful birth and was waiting for some trauma to unlock it.

The trauma, we discovered through talking, happened during the birth of my 3 child. Bren had her first anxiety attack after that and refused to spend the night with family members she used to LOVE to stay with. Apparently, when I went into the hospital for the 4 days to have Jase, I had asked the Grandparents if they would please allow Bren and Mase the opportunity to sleep at their own house in their own beds so that there would be stability while Mom was having a new baby. I found out after Jase was born that Bren and Mase stayed all 4 days away from their own home and at another set of grandparents. I wasn't mad, just remember wishing that our wishes had been respected because Bren really needed to learn to sleep in her own bed more and we didn't want her to feel as though we shipped her off while we brought in her baby sister. I also felt like that stability was important. Perhaps that was the Holy Ghost trying to whisper a warning. But after we all returned home, Bren had her first panic attack when my brother came to pick her up to spend the night (several weeks later) with his own kids. She refused to go with him and it got worse from there.

Ms. Paula explained that while no harm was meant to Bren in keeping her while we were in the hospital, she was a child that woke up several times at night even at 4 with bad dreams and would crawl into bed with us. At anyone else's house, she didn't get that privilege, and spending 4 days away from Mom for the first time, in a house that was not her own, and knowing that her mom was in the hospital, could have been the trauma that sparked her brain to begin reacting to stressful situations. Because literally, after that time, it took Bren up until 2 years ago to be comfortable spending the night at someone's house, and even now it has to be someone she REALLY knows or she won't do it.

It wasn't anyone's fault, it's just that the brain could have retained that stressful memory from birth and that traumatic situation could have set it off. It made total and complete sense to me because that was the first time I remember Bren freaking out and clawing her way out of my brother's car to get to me, and she would cry and beg me to not make her spend the night away from home even at her grandparent's or cousin's houses.

So I guess by the time this initial meeting was over, I felt like we had a good grasp on the the orientation of it all. Now we just need to control it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changing Directions

The last two weeks have been uber super duper hard. Things are progressing too fast.

After calling our therapist, she and I both realized that Bren is beyond just therapy. We are in need of a psychiatrist and medication.

This rips my heart out to see my little girl disappearing before my eyes. I know she's still here, but she's not the same Bren she was just a few months ago. But I'm in a better place tonight, so I have a better handle on things and can focus more.

One of my dearest friends, who apparently knows me better than I thought, called me to talk yesterday. She knows that when times are tough I completely separate myself from the rest of the world and take on the battle all by myself. I don't do "needy" and I don't do "dependence." So as we are talking and I'm telling her "I'm fine really" she stops and says "okay, let's just say it, let's say what you're thinking and let's get it out there." Then she says the ONE thing that if it were true, would kill me literally. But then in the same breath she makes me realize that what I'm fearing is NOT happening. I hadn't said it before then because even thinking it closed my throat down tight and stripped the breath from me. But once my friend put it out there like that it became less scary, and I could think more clearly. She gave me back the control that I was losing, and the last two days were better days because of that.

Bren still had hard times, and will continue, but now I'm in a better place. God gave me this little girl because He knew that I was strong enough to hold her up and hold up the rest of my family while we endure this and then survive it. BUT, I have been forced to embrace the help of others so that I can continue to stay strong and get my family through this. For that I am so very thankful for my dearest friends, and their willingness to to hold me when I cry.

I also want everyone to know that my little family feels your prayers and we cannot thank you enough, because there have been moments when the only thing that carried us through were the lifting power of your prayers. Thank you dearly!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Morning.

The sun came up today. That's something. I don't think I could take another rainy day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Heavenly Father...

I can't do this anymore. I'm exhausted and worn out, but most of all my heart is breaking for my little girl. I really think I'm at my breaking point.

Tonight was such a bad night. I suck at this. Bren seems so out of control and the things she says are just beyond my understanding and I'm watching her little sweet mind unravel and then I feel myself slowly unravel at the thought of her pain.

I need help. I need some divine intervention to give me the strength to pull through this. I need to be strong for my daughter. And yet THIS was the last thing I am capable of protecting her from. How can you protect a little girl from an illness that is in her head?

Bren and I can't keep going like this. Mornings are rough, evenings are terrible, and I can't fix it.
Even my younger two are starting to suffer from all the strife and tension that we are enduring.

My family is strong and we've pulled through a lot, but this is HARD. And when I pray 40 times a day I need to know my prayers aren't just hitting the ceiling. I need to know they are heard.

Dear Father, you know I get mad at you sometimes. But you also know that I am still on your side and I am fiercely loyal. And I know right now I'm having one of my "moments" and I'm weak right now. Tomorrow I may be strong again. But tonight, I need you to just give my baby girl a moment of peace, a moment of compassion, and a moment of comfort. I'll find my own peace in that.

Loyally Yours, even when I'm mad,


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Worst Thing: The Sequence Questions

I think through all of this, the "sequence questions" are the hardest. Let me explain.

Bren will come to me SEVERAL times a day with a question. The questions all work the same, but with different beginnings. For instance: "Mom, I have a question. Last week when we were gardening I was wearing my flip flops. Then when I came in they touched my black shirt. Then I accidentally laid my black shirt on top of my gym bag. So if there was gross stuff in the garden, then is there gross stuff on my bag? And if the bag touches my elbow is that okay or do I need to wash it?"

By the time we've gone through these scenarios 5 or 6 times a day, two things are very heavy on my mind: First, I'm absolutely exhausted from hearing them so I can only imagine how exhausting it must be for her to need them answered, and then my almost 14yr old should be able to process things like this so I'm standing there looking at her, both of us scared to death for different reasons.

Ugh, this is so freaking hard some times! My beautiful, healthy, talented, and intelligent daughter shouldn't be fighting things like this!

“It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.” - Sally Kempton

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Houston...We Have Progress!

It's small progress, but progress nonetheless.

Bren finally saw a therapist on Tuesday. As I mentioned before, this therapist specializes in behavior therapy rather than medicating first. And again, I realize that medication might be in the future, but for now, we would rather try to get there without it.

I asked Bren about the visit afterward and this is what she told me:

Bren has stress related OCD. When she stresses about something, she moves to compulsions to push the feelings and thoughts of her stress away. They are going to focus on helping her deal with stress rather than push it away. For now, they are using the EMDR treatment, and Bren has little seeds taped behind her ears. The tape lasts a week or more, and the seeds are set on top of pressure points. When she feels stressed and wants to react, she is to squeeze the seeds and apply pressure and take deep breaths for 2 minutes, or until the need to react passes. Another thing they are doing (and by they, I mean Bren and her therapist together) is placing Bren on supplements rich in zinc. I am researching this as I write, but I'm seeing where this thought process is coming from. Apparently there are many stress related disorders inversely related to zinc deficiencies. So we will have to see whether that helps or not.

For the past two days, I have noticed Bren nonchalantly pinch her ears and take deep breaths. I also noticed that she did it more than I thought she would, which means she was dealing with stressful moments throughout her day that drove her to the handwashing or other compulsive behaviors. Bren is also expected to keep a daily journal, documenting all her emotions and stresses throughout her day.

I think this has helped tremendously as yesterday she was writing in her journal and said, "Mom, yesterday and today I only washed my hands 2 times at school!" The look on her face of accomplishment was something I hadn't seen in a while and after high-fiving her and celebrating I quickly ducked in the other room to celebrate privately the return of my confident, happy little girl, even if it was for a moment.

I know we aren't healed. I know that this is only a stepping stone along our way. But to see even an ounce of progress, even a fleeting moment of confidence back in Bren, makes the journey bearable and renews our strength.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today could not have come fast enough...

Today is the appointment with our therapist. And honestly, it needed to have been a week ago.

Bren's hand washing has progressed to a terrible level and now she is struggling with skin conditions. And the questions she needs answered about germs and such are just so heart wrenching. How can a child so brilliant and well rounded suddenly have such elementary questions about day-to-day life?

Anyway, I'm just thankful for today and for the healing to begin. I know the road will still be tough, but at least we have a plan. Plans are good.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sometimes...I don't feel like I'm the right Mom for the job.

Tonight was a hard night. On nights like tonight, I don't feel like I'm the right mom for this. Like I make things worse in the heat of the moment because at the end of the day, I'm a little broken too. I just hate how one night I'm hugging her through the shower curtain (to maintain her privacy of course) because she needed me to help her stop washing, and the next night we're yelling and mad because no matter how hard I try, I CAN'T GET HER OUT OF THE SHOWER! We went through an entire bar of soap in a week, and there's never any hot water for our other two children. Of course I try to put them in first, but it depends on schedules and sometimes all that is left is cold water after her 45 min shower.

I try to just shut it off, but she is always covered with soap so there is never an okay time to shut off the water and it just turns into a fit and we both go to bed exhausted. Then just a few hours before she kept clicking my phone to see the time. I asked her what that was about and she was timing herself to read for 30 min. I told her just to read and then look at the clock after a long while, not every minute or so because it wastes battery. I also mentioned that the teachers never expect the students to read EXACTLY 30 min., and that if she reads 25 it's fine. Yep, that was a waste of words. She isn't about to just read 25 min. when the assignment is 30!

I know this is going to be hard for both of us. I know. It's just that on nights like tonight, I can't seem to muster up enough energy to be as hopeful and confident as I am on other days. And sometimes I just don't feel qualified as a mother. But one day at a time, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization & Recovery

Now that we've nailed down a behavioral therapist the waiting for our first appointment is terrible. I am glad, however, that I was able to speak with a close friend who directed me toward cognitive behavior therapy so that I did not find myself thinking that my only choices where prescription happy psychologists. Despite my husband being a doctor, we are not a highly medicated family. We prefer to use medication only when truly necessary and my first days of search results had a bunch of recommended medications for OCD patients. I'm very thankful for the education my friend gave me.

The therapist we chose fit out needs to a T. First, she was of the same faith as our family. That was really important to us since I've heard of counselors and therapists not giving advice that was conducive with religious practices. Second, we discovered that this therapist uses a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Recovery). Once she told me, I began immediately reading up on it so that I knew exactly what she was going to be doing to help my daughter.

Some of the first comments I've read were that not everyone agrees with this technique. However, the government uses is with soldiers coming back from experiencing traumatic events.

This is how it works (from the EMDR website):

The EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, or tactile stimulation, which repeatly activates the opposite sides of the brain, releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.
The therapist works gently with the client and asks him/her to revisit the traumatic moment or incident, recalling feelings surrounding the experience, as well as any negative thoughts, feelings and memories. The therapist then holds her fingers about eighteen inches from the clients face and begins to move them back and forth like a windshield wiper. The client tracks the movements as if watching ping pong. The more intensely the client focuses on the memory, the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed by the eye movements, resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings.

I'm very anxious for the first appointment. This therapist believes that it is most beneficial to do the first treatment the very first visit, instead of wasting the first visit with just an initial interview. So I'll speak with my daughter after her first visit on May 10th and hopefully have more information to report about her first treatment.

As for Bren's progress, there is none thus far. She is still battling through this with major setbacks from day to day. But I'm grateful for a beautiful and bright daughter that has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and knows that she indeed has amazing self worth and a divine nature. I truly believe that it is our foundation in the Gospel and the Savior that has kept our heads above water so far and am thankful that we at least have that to keep us grounded in our faith. Even on our darkest days, there are little rays of light that keep us going.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Setbacks,Twists and Progress

Last night was a HUGE setback. We have to set limits to monitor Bren's rituals, and showers are set for 15 minutes without discussion. We go in periodically and remind her of the time left. Last night The Hub went in and let her know that she had 10 minutes left. She yelled that she still had to shave. Fine, whatever, ten minutes. So then he goes in to let her know she has 5 min left and she starts freaking out that she hasn't washed her hair yet, and he starts asking her what she's been doing and things just don't sound right or add up so I go in and look into the shower and find her with dry hair and both hands FULL up to the elbows with soap suds. She had spent 10 minutes in the shower washing her hands. My heart split into.

Everything I'm reading says that we can't accommodate her rituals and fears and to set firm boundaries. But we're now in new territory because Bren has never ever lied or hidden anything from us. We're a very open family. And I know it is natural for teenagers to hide stuff and keep secrets, but like I said, this is new territory with her and we'll just have to adjust now that I understand that I can't rely on her being honest with me.

One good thing that happened is that we finally have our first appointment date with a behavioral therapist. We are moving forward with a treatment called EMDR. (I'll post more on this tonight)
It is frustrating though that we finally have amazing insurance only to find that most therapists do not accept insurance. Now I guess is a good time to rearrange the budget to help pay for the therapist.

Yesterday I was talking with a client at work and she mentioned that she was going to school to become a therapist. I asked her what she intends to specialize in and she said OCD and other disorders in teens. After some inquiry, I discovered that she suffered from OCD growing up. Our talk lifted my spirits as she is now a highly functioning adult and rarely has occurrence. Her last words to me were "don't worry, she'll be okay because you're being so proactive." I can only hope and pray that what we are doing is enough to ensure that she will indeed "be okay."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Understanding My Role.

As we wait to hear from a potential therapist, our lives still go on. Last night was a hard night, but I am seeming to learn more as I go.

Since yesterday was such a beautiful day, I sent the kids out to play. Because it has been rainy the yard was still a bit muddy so the ball of course became dirty. But I was happy that they were at least getting some sunshine.

Once the kids came in and we ate Easter dinner, we settled in for a movie. It had been a great day, church was amazing as always on Easter Sunday, and the kids were getting along. But sometime during our movie I could see Bren's thoughts start to wonder. I looked down at her hands and saw the rough skin and raw patches from her hand washing and my heart broke just a little more. I asked her what she was thinking about and it opened the door.

Apparently, playing in the semi-muddy yard proved too much for her in the long run. Though she had fun with her siblings during the day, the possibility of what was mixed in the mud weighed heavy on her mind.

As we talked through all the rational options, I came to understand my role as her mother. She needs me to reassure her, to keep her fears at bay despite how real they seem to her. It's my job to help her sort through the fears. And I know this because Bren came right out and asked me to help her. It was all I could to not to lose it in front of her when I saw the pleading in her eyes, but I held it together and promised to always be there.

I always knew my role as a mother was to be there for my kids, no matter what. And not I understand that even more now.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Journey Begins...

I'm going to begin this as bluntly as possible. Three nights ago, our world fell apart as it became crystal clear that our oldest daughter was suffering from moderate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As of now she has not been diagnosed, but you know OCD when you encounter it.

For two years now, Bren has been obsessed with washing her hands. It started in 6th grade. (this will matter later on) For the first year we really worked on trying to help her stop and thought it was just growing up and puberty mixed with tween-age difficulties. But as the year passed, I realized more and more that though she could gain control for a while, she would fall back into her hand washing habit rather easily. As a mother, it is devastating to see your daughter's hands so raw from the harsh scrubbing. But no matter how I asked or how I pleaded, Bren couldn't tell us why she was scrubbing her hands so frequently. Household restrictions were placed on soap usage and we began monitoring her hand washing as a daily ritual. This was just a stage, and that is what we clung to.

Fast forward to 7th grade. From the beginning of the year I noticed that Bren had added some more quirks to the mix. Suddenly, if a shoe touched her bed, she refused to sleep in it. The entire bed must be stripped and washed before she would relax and sleep in it again. We also began to notice that her homework was taking her 3-4 hours a night. I assumed that her middle school teachers were crazy tyrants, loading on the homework, but after conferences with the teachers and conversations with other parents, I realized that she was the only student working this long and hard. This led us into an investigation as to why she was doing so much. What we found was yet another harsh reality.

What takes most students 30 minutes to complete, will take Bren an hour to an hour and a half to finish. Why? Because every word must have the same shade of pencil markings. If a word is lighter than the others, then she will erase the entire paragraph, not just the word, and fix it. If a letter isn't written just perfect, or looks the least bit wrong, she will erase the entire paragraph instead of just the one word or letter. My counters and tables became cluttered with piles of eraser shavings. And because she wrote so darkly, my white countertops were stained each night with pencil. My heart broke a little more each time I broke out the cleaner to clean up the mess she left behind, and I wiped away the evidence of her obsessions.

Recently, she started showering for 45 minutes. We literally have to go in and turn the water off, which results in screaming and yelling and tears, from all of us.

Up until this week, Bren had never really opened up about the "why" though we spoke to her about the things she was doing quite often. We hoped we could get her to talk one day, but hadn't pushed her. Don't get me wrong, we fought often about the things she was doing, but we could never get a "why" out of her, and we fought more about the inconveniences of the events for everyone involved. I know that seems selfish, to fight with your daughter suffering from OCD about her inconveniencing the family, but we haven't always understood that it was OCD, so please keep your judgments to yourself unless you have walked in our shoes.

The other night, everything just went wrong and it all came to a big fat head. There was a huge argument over her rituals, and then she just started talking. And the more she talked, the more my heart crumbled into a million pieces. Now I have seen some terrible things, and I have experienced fear. But until you hear your own child coming undone from their own uncontrollable fears, you don't truly know helpless fear.

And then, as I sat on the floor in the locked bathroom, crying my eyes out in pain for my child, so many memories poured in on me and I began to drown. I remembered everything that happened to me as a child, sitting on the bathroom floor, and I saw myself doing what I learn to do in those times of desperation and fear: I touched each of my fingers the same, and completed the circle around my nail bed until they were all equal. In that quiet moment, I understood that OCD is apparently genetic. Of course there are other things I do, though I've never really noticed, such as checking the doors at night even though I know I've already locked them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hindered in any way with my habits, I just recognize their existence. Bren is struggling far worse than I ever did, despite out complete opposite childhoods.

The next morning brought us new hope. With tear stained cheeks, I called a friend and asked for help. Help is not something I am accustomed to asking for, but I knew this was beyond my control. And that is where we are now in this journey...in the very early steps. My friend knows of a very knowledgeable therapist that deals with behavior modification for addictions and those with OCD. We are trying to figure out the payment portion, as most therapists do not accept insurance. But I have faith in the Lord and know that He knows that my sweet Bren needs this help more than anything. I also know that He gives us nothing that we cannot handle or that He is not willing to help us endure, so I know she will have a very successful and happy life. I just need to help her through this trial in her life.

So this is the beginning of our journey. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a life changing condition that can destroy a life if not properly managed and monitored. This is our story about living with OCD. Thank you for coming along for the ride.