Friday, December 14, 2012

VERY Helpful Article!

For those of you with kids who struggle with homework obsessions, you have to read this!

A Slight Regression and A Year in Review

Well, I guess you get two whole posts in the year of 2012.  Sorry.  This was a super busy year.

Here is an update on our journey of obsession through 2012:

1.  Thank goodness for soccer!  Bren's favorite sport continuously kept her exposed to playing in grass fields where flocks of Canadian geese felt the need to fertilize. :)  She loved the game so much and it kept her brain busy enough that she never even hesitated to pick up the ball and throw it in.  And let's not even discuss the mess that was in her cleats after.  But somehow she grew less and less concerned with it and that led to a more relaxed Bren in all outdoor settings.

2.  As many of you know, we made the decision to put Bren in private school for high school, for many reasons.  And quickly found out that this decision would NOT be popular with my public school teacher friends, but then I realized that if they truly cared for me and my daughter they would have supported me rather than berate me.  So after having to clean out some of my friends, Bren started her private high school.  The uniforms helped to alleviate the 7 clothing changes in the morning.  And because it is an all-girls school the need for perfection is gone.  Oh I know, girls shouldn't base their self worth on what boys think.  Absolutely!  But until you have a perfectionist child that over thinks EVERYTHING, you don't get to comment.  And I say that as politely as I can.  Once again, we saw Bren relax even more.

3.  Overall, we saw Bren take HUGE steps forward.  This last Thanksgiving we were at a friend's house and as I walked to the car I stepped in doggie doo.  A year ago, this would have sent Bren running and screaming, and probably leaving me no other choice but to throw the infected shoes in the trash.  But Bren was happy when I asked for a grocery bag and tied it around my shoe and drove home where The Hub then washed it for me.  Thankfully I was allowed to keep my shoe because they are one of my faves!

4.  As the year draws to a close, we have seen new stresses enter into Bren's life that have caused her a slight regression.  As with all obsessive-compulsive-overthinkers, everything is a potential stress that leads to over-thinking which leads to compulsive behaviors which leads to obsessions.  The stress of making new friends and playing on two brand new sports teams, all of which she knew no one, proved to be a bit much.  For the first time ever, Bren is lacking confidence on the soccer field, is unsure of herself in all social settings, and is an emotional wreck.  I know hormones are also wreaking havoc and adding to an already ugly stress storm, so we have decided to go back to Dr. Paula for a little tune-up until things settle down again. Bren doesn't quite recognize when she's obsessing on her own, but if we discuss it and she thinks about it, she will say "well that makes sense." We've also noticed that sometimes her brain won't shut down so that she can sleep at night, so we've had to help her by giving her small doses of medication to help her sleep.  She is NO where near the dangerous behaviors she once had, but we don't want her to end up there either.  It's precautionary. :)

All in all, we have been very blessed this year with great progress!  Will this fight ever be over?  Probably not.  But it sure does have its easier moments!  I'm very grateful for this journey and the insight into my little girl's brain.  Sometimes it absolutely exhausts me, but then I think of how exhausting it must be to have a brain that never stops over-thinking things.  I can't believe how strong my daughter is sometimes!  How hard it must be, and yet how awesome her attitude is toward getting help and recognizing and understanding her illness.

She isn't quite ready to come out and speak openly about her OCD, but she wants to someday help other youth recognize and understand their disorder.  When that happens, LOOK OUT!  She's going to make a huge difference in a lot of people's lives!

Merry Christmas to everyone!  And may 2013 bring you all the joy and happiness that you and your family deserve!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Update of 2012

If I've learned anything through this journey/discovery with Bren it's that I really never knew what was going on in that little girl's head her whole life until now. I approached every single ordeal as I would any other child, and quite frankly, that was wrong of me.

Bren's brain and line of thinking is so very different from the average person. She sees things in a completely different way than most people would, and approaches things in ways I have trouble understanding.

Here are our latest struggles/discoveries:

1. I've noticed lately that Bren has been putting it "out there" that she is not fond of the 4 year college track. At first I thought, well no one is, but then I realized that what she was really doing was beginning to lay down the logic that justified college being a poor choice for her. That's how Bren thinks...logically. And once she begins to legitimize a path of understanding (her understanding) there is very little that can be done to reverse that, short of miracles and hard work. So I, as her mother, the one who knows her best, began thinking that perhaps I need to peak her interest in degrees/careers that work best with her. Now many...MANY...have come forward and said "it's too soon, she's so young, she'll change her mind a thousand times..." but what they don't know is that Bren doesn't change her mind. She's never just changed her mind. When her mind has changed it's been after very carefully thought-out reasoning that "allowed" her to realize that perhaps the other should be better considered. Yeah, I makes me tired just thinking about my brain working that hard. But her brain works like that ALL THE TIME. So I've started listing ideas and interests that require degrees that would draw her attention and the need to consider them. I have to plant the seed now because the "other plant" is already growing. And while some would say, have said, "you can survive and be very successful and not go to college," they, again, don't know Bren. Once she realized how smart and talented she is, and that with a degree she could literally do ANYTHING, she will never forgive herself for denying herself that pathway. Never forgive herself.

2. Another struggle we are facing is that everything Bren touches turns to gold. Figuratively speaking of course. The child excels at every single thing she tries. Until now. For the first time ever, she is faced with being merely "average." Now, how can you prepare a child for being average, and like everyone else, when the child has never performed average on anything?? (As high school placement tests are coming in, we are discovering that perhaps we have a larger IQ on our hands than we ever imagined.) So this week volleyball tryouts occurred, and last year when she tried out she made the A team even though she had NEVER touched a volleyball before the week of tryouts. See what I mean, the child has this way of making it happen, and if you could see inside her brain it was working overtime during tryouts, laying down the logical path that would get her to A team. I know you think I'm exaggerating, but let me give you a snip-pit of something she told me during tryouts last year: "I could see that the coach wasn't looking for silly girls, she wanted maturity....and while I was serving I noticed that my serves were breaking right too far, so I stepped to my left a few feet to adjust where they landed...there are a lot of girls that are bigger than me so I am going to have to prove that I have the power they have in spite of my size so I adjusted how I approached the..." See...everything is logic. Anyway, back to this year, tryouts were this week. Now keep in mind that Bren had decided she would not tryout for volleyball this year, because unlike soccer, she never could wrap her mind around the fact that she wasn't "perfect" at it. She's not used to being average. So The Hub and I, very cunningly, tried to persuade her to tryout again because we realized the need to her to experience what it's like to struggle and work at something. She agreed to tryout and yesterday she discovered she had not made the A team. HOLY HELL! You would have thought the world came to an end! Now keep in mind that the only reason this child is reacting in this way is because to HER this is a sign of failure, her own pressure of perfection has caused her to excel or find a way to excel at everything she puts her mind to. It's never about her being snotty or spoiled...she suffers way too much to be labeled as such. Talking her down last night was exhausting, but I think I'm slowly getting through to that mystery brain of hers that being average is not a sign of failure, it's a sign of being normal. She had a "smile" of some sorts on her face this morning headed to school, and I'm sure she will be happy with her friends on the B team this season. But NOT until her brain lays down the logic for her to see how B team will be beneficial for her...literally not until then.

Sometimes I think that brain of hers is another entity altogether, and quite often works against her on purpose just to make her miserable.

As for her anxiety, it rarely rears its ugly head. And the washing and germ phobia has all but vanished for now. But as I'm learning with the OCD brain, there is always something to obsess about and control, and therefore there is always something for Bren and I to wage war against.

But we are pretty strong fighters, so there isn't much we're scared of anymore. :)