If you haven’t read my previous post OCD in children, you should start there. Today we are going to talk about OCD in young children, which is a little different from my story. This is my daughter Anna’s story. Maybe I should say this is the beginning of my daughter Anna’s story, and how she came to be diagnosed at five years old with OCD.
I’ve mentioned before that I believe OCD is better described a symptom of severe anxiety. It’s what we do to try to calm the anxiety or feel in control of our world. So why would a five year old have any reason to be anxious or worry? Well, much like my past, at only five, my daughter has a dark past of her own.
When Anna was only two years old her dad and I started going through a divorce. Every child reacted differently, but Anna was the only one who couldn’t truly understand. Yet at two, Anna started having night terrors. She would wake up in the night screaming and inconsolable. Did she understand that her dad was gone? Could she feel the tension in our home from my zombie like state, and constant crying? I think she could. I think at only two Anna was sensitive enough to understand that things were not okay. Children suffer more from divorce than anyone will ever understand (unless they have been that child).
After our divorce Anna had a really hard time during drop-offs. She would cry, kick, and scream. It was so hard for her to leave one parent and return to the other. She also grew very attached to her dad’s girlfriend. So when her dad and I remarried, she gained what she had always wanted (to be with both parents all of the time), but also lost someone she had grown to love in the process. This was very difficult for Anna to endure. Nothing in her life for these four short years had been consistent. Everything in her life was always changing.
Anna was and still is very scared of being left behind. When we are at a store or any public place if she feels like we are getting too far away from her, or if we turn a corner without her noticing she will freak out, and say we left her. Even though we have never left her behind in a store or anywhere else.
Anna is also very sensitive to what people think of her. When most children do something funny and everyone laughs, they repeat that action again and again. Anna isn’t like this. When people laugh, she thinks they are laughing at her and gets very frustrated.
This past September Anna’s grandmother passed away. It was after this that she started trying to control her world in obsessive and compulsive ways. Anna came to me one day, and told me that the voice in her head told her to count the stairs, and that if she didn’t she had to go back and do it again. She also counts her steps to and from each room upstairs. Sometimes she will count how long it takes someone to do something for her.
Initially, this didn’t bother me. She told me about it, which meant she wasn’t embarrassed, but it didn’t seem to be causing any issues. That’s until she started telling me that she didn’t want to do it anymore, but the voice wouldn’t let her stop. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to do something she didn’t want to do, so I tried to help her, but it wasn’t working.
One day I heard her going up the stairs when she started screaming “I don’t want to do it anymore”, “you can’t make me do it” and “I hate you, I wish you were dead”. That’s when I knew we had a problem. Anna was so annoyed with counting that she was yelling at the voice to stop. Of course the voice is her own, it’s her own thoughts, but she didn’t understand that.
I called a counselor and we got her scheduled for an appointment. She has been to a few appointments, and had testing, and evaluations, and now we have a diagnosis of OCD.
We are starting with behavioral therapy, and I will be trying some essential oils on her as well. I will keep you updated and let you know, what works and what doesn’t.
So if you had any doubts about OCD in young children, now you know it’s real.