Saturday, October 20, 2007

We're down with OCD (yeah, you know me)

The rate of Tourettes is higher in boys than in girls. So, I wasn't surprised when my son began having some tics. It was already odd that his older sister had so many issues, and he seemed to have none. Of course, tics can go unidentified for a very long time because they mimic the general quirks of children (their eyes are just dry, or it's a nervous habit, or whatever).

I have known there is more going on with my son. My husband and I have both caught the little signs (most recently -- him walking endlessly in circles around us while we're speaking to someone -- this happens A LOT). Yet, we couldn't put our finger on it. We know that the stuff in the brain can come out in different ways in different people, so we chalked it up to glitchiness (is that a scientific term?!). That was, until Thursday night.

It was one of those moments where we just got to sit and talk. We have them frequently. He loves to talk with Mom and Dad. Yet, on that night, for some reason, we got to talking about how his tics seemed to get worse after our move, but now they are basically gone. This led to a revelation. Something he has never told me. Ever.

He totally has a repetitive obsession(and I'm sure there's more - can't wait for him to think of what else he has yet to tell me!). Whether it's touching something, or walking in circles, it has to be in multiples of two (which was also kind of cool, because he leaves out six and ten: "two, four, eight, or twelve times - it isn't ever six or ten - just two, four, eight or twelve").

I kept a great poker face and just reassured the snot out of him. I could tell he was very anxious talking about it. That's why OCD goes undiagnosed for a long time (or completely) much of the time. People are embarrassed by their thoughts or compulsions, thinking they are "weird," so they don't seek help or ever discuss it. After all this family has been through, I had a lot of genuine fascination: "Wow! That's really interesting! Tell me more!!"

He loves to hear about my tics, especially my first basketball game in seventh grade. I was starting point guard. I didn't think I was nervous, but it all manifested in my eyes. I blinked - incessantly - for the ENTIRE GAME! My coach kept asking, "Can you SEE?" I was playing well and making baskets, but everyone was giggling. I was a major freak show!

I'm just sitting here in utter fascination. This explains so many of the quirks. Granted, we still have to find out the obsession behind the compulsions so that he can find some freedom. I know, firsthand, that it is the stuff going on inside your head that makes you bonkers, not always how it manifests itself outwardly.

You know you've dealt with a lot when you find yourself fascinated ... and not concerned or upset ... when you discover your child probably has obsessive compulsive disorder!

We could charge admission over here. I could make my throaty grunty noise. My son can walk in circles. My oldest can watch something funny and do her giggle/laugh vocal tic for an hour straight. My youngest - well, she still likes to run around naked when she can get away with it. And my husband ... he does the dishes every single night - HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!?

5 comments:

Sara said...

I know that feeling! That feeling of facination..I'm that way about autism and most mental disorders. I just...am facinated. I'm plagued (or blessed...hmm) with bipolar disorder and so when I find others with it its so intresting to me to see and hear how it effects them! Bless his heart for opening up!!

Amanda said...

the obsessions behind the compulsions... yeah, that's what I work on pretty much every day too!

TulipGirl said...

*L*

Well, laughing at the last paragraph and the lighthearted, matter-of-fact way you are approaching things.

We have been blessed. . . oh so blessed. . . to have found a great intern who does play/talk therapy that has really, really helped our family. You know how it is when you just need a little extra. . . help. . . with things? And when you don't have that help, you still trudge along, but when you do you thank the Lord for sending someone to come alongside and help you feel normal, help the kids feel normal, and just live life.

LeeJo said...

We could swap families for entertainment! :-)

Sam said...

"He totally has a repetitive obsession(and I'm sure there's more - can't wait for him to think of what else he has yet to tell me!). Whether it's touching something, or walking in circles, it has to be in multiples of two (which was also kind of cool, because he leaves out six and ten: "two, four, eight, or twelve times - it isn't ever six or ten - just two, four, eight or twelve")."

Oh my goodness! I used to do this (still might and not realise it)! I would do things like read the ingredients list on the back of a box of something and have to read it 2 or 4 times just because. Six, ten, twelve and the like just did not count. After I caught myself eating an extra piece of junk food one day (I think I was in college then) just to make things even I decided that I had to try to break the habit before it got unhealthy.

What's really fascinating about this is the vagueness of the distinction between pathological and "normal". There are a wide range of quirks and behaviours that makes humanity interesting but sometimes those quirks and behaviours rise to a level that makes things too interesting. There's no easy way to define or describe that level (in part because the definition of "normal" changes over time and from place to place) but you know it when you see it.