My Dearest Julia, We are going to do things differently. We are going to communicate. I am not going to allow you to give up on yourself. You are a courageous, smart, loving, wonderful person who has a big problem but a problem, believe it or not, which has solutions. You must be willing to, at least, try. I know you don't feel courageous but courage is not the lack of fear but how you react and cope with the fear.

I know how impossibly difficult it is to discuss your OCD, so I want to correspond with you via email until we are able to have a personal, face to face, dialogue. I am only trying to help you the best I know how. I have extensively researched, spoken to experts and corresponded with countess others suffering from OCD. From all this information, I've learned a lot and have come to some conclusions.

I realize you feel helpless against your OCD, the intrusive thoughts and need to act upon them. This I now, more fully understand. You must try to understand, too, that I don't see things through the eyes of OCD, so I upset you unintentionally.

I'd like to begin with what I have learned about the brain and OCD. It is not your fault you have OCD. You, and all OCD sufferers, brain chemistry and structures are different than people without OCD. Put in simple terms, 2 parts of the brain are bound together where there should be space in between. Your brain sends a signal and it gets stuck or locked and can't be further processed. Then that thought gets amplified over and over in a non logical way. It gets stuck or locked. The way to make it better is to re-wire the connections in your brain. I can show you pictures of brain scans proving this fact.

Just so your clear, obsessions are thoughts and compulsions are the actions you take relating to the thought.

Remember when Carmela could not speak because the speech part of her brain was damaged? The only way for her to be able to speak was to re-wire the connections around that part of her brain. The same is similar for you. You have to re-wire those connections so that the thoughts and actions will no longer be “locked.” I have learned there is more than one way accomplish this task. As you know, the most popular and most used is exposure therapy. But, there are also other ways which offer really good results. One person describes OCD this way, “I compare OCD to a spider spinning a web at warp speed. The center of the web is the triggering event. Every intersection of the web is another possibility OCD creates in my mind, and it can grow infinitely. Feeding the spider by acting out the compulsions only makes her spin faster, until the web is so large, the spinning so out of control, the situation so infinite and sticky that all I can do is collapse in a sobbing heap of submission. How do you stop when you get to that point? How do you know what's real and what isn't? I want to stop being afraid. But I've always been afraid, though the crippling nature of contamination fear is new to me. This is not the first time OCD has prevented me from enjoying life, but it is the most severe. It is hell. I just want my life back more than anything in the world.” She also says, “I f'—ing hate this disorder. It takes everything… I deeply resent the fact that I have to struggle painfully with shit that is completely normal for everyone else.”

That is all for now. I am going to email you often and I expect some response each time. I adore you and want only what is best for you. Sometimes, I may say things you don't want to hear as you may to me. The point is to communicate. Since your not in any kind of therapy program, we must create our own. This is non negotiable. It will be difficult at times, and I will be here for you every step of the way.

I will listen and respect you at all times. There will be things I am going to require, things for which you may not agree but they will be required, none the less. If we work as a team it will be much better than if we don't. You must remember, though, I am the mother and you are the daughter. I need you to trust me. And, things in our lives will improve.

Your loving mother, Momma

  1. sdluna 11 years ago

    This is a really great letter!  I hope she receives it well..:-)

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  2. Douglas 11 years ago


    Oh, thank you for your opinion. I hope she takes it better than I think she will. I have to keep trying until I find a way to get through to her. She's spiraling downward at light-speed. The first step is to get her back on her medication. Only then does any chance for success exist.

    I'm hoping the Tribe will help guide me through these letters, making them appeal to her through the eyes of her OCD.

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  3. shortbread 11 years ago

    I agree wholeheartedly with Unknowable. Part of having OCD is having a distorted point of view: things that weren't intended to be an attack will feel like one and I can't see your daughter recieving this letter well.

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  4. Douglas 11 years ago


    I'd not looked at it this way. This is a completely new approach for me. I appreciate your views. I realize it is a strong letter, however, I thought that she may gain some strength from my strength. I've been coddling her and supporting her OCD needs for a very long time. I'm forever loving, never loose my temper, offer all support and love her unconditionally. None of this has made any difference and she continues to get worse. Therefore, I'm taking charge of the situation in a totally different way. Currently, OCD runs the home. The child nor the OCD should be calling the shots. It's not a healthy dynamic under any circumstances. Children need boundaries to feel safe and be able to grow.

    She is, as said before, completely out of control. Last night she said that her OCD has her totally and she can't go against it. She's begun to “hear” things which were never said. The rituals are getting worse by the day and the damage to her body is steadily increasing. Among other things, the soap is really hurting her eyes as she states she is blurry all the time now. She complains, she has no sense of smell and her sinuses burn incessantly. Her teeth are permanently damaged from the enamel loss and hurt her all the time and she can only eat soft food as her gums are always raw.

    I'm not clear on how this is obsessing on my part. I'd like clarification. And if I am obsessing it's out of love and concern. I've been"coping" for almost 9 years. I see my child drowning. She's been suicidal in the past and is, lately, stating that her life is unbearable…I'm not the one who's powerless, she is.

    Is it not my duty and obligation to attempt to help her any way I can? My main objective is to, at least, get her to take her medicine. If she had cancer and did not want to take her medicine then I, as a parent, am responsible to find a way to make it happen. Most parents would, when all logic fails, remove privileges or something they value until there is compliance. How would you handle it? Would you wait until she is ready?

    I understand that you believe I should just let her come to me when she's ready. That's not working.

    What would you do? I value your opinion.

    I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Lisa

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  5. Douglas 11 years ago


    Dear Shortbread, please read my reply to unknowable and I welcome your input. How do I do it differently? Please help.

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