Daily Press (Sunday)

Advice for family dealing with OCD


Editor’s note: The following column originally published in 2019.

I’d like to hear from people who were children of a mother with Contaminat­ion OCD. My daughter’s therapist determined it is a pretty severe case, but my daughter refuses to go to the recommende­d hospital program. Instead, she sees the therapist once a week. She’s had this for more than five years and refuses any medication.

My concern beyond her is for my grandchild­ren, ages 2 ½ and 5.

Before we knew what we were dealing with, our family would do the worst thing by offering assurances and accommodat­ion. Her husband is totally under her OCD’s control. According to her therapist, he should take the kids and leave to prompt her to really get help.

It seems he can’t bring himself to do that. I am afraid the kids will end up suffering from OCD as well.

I’m considerin­g going through the court system to get the kids out of this situation.

When I brought up this concern with a therapist, she said research isn’t conclusive of the effect on the kids. I don’t want to gamble with their developmen­t and find out 10 years later that I should have rescued my grandchild­ren — and my daughter.

I want my real daughter back and for her to live her best life with her family. — Grandma Blindsided by Mental Health Issue

Dear Annie: Dear Blindsided Grandma:

Your daughter’s Contaminat­ion OCD, an extreme fear of being contaminat­ed by germs, has created a very difficult situation that is taking a toll on the whole family. You are wise to try to get help for your daughter and grandchild­ren. Try to remember, though, even when she is sick or in the throws of an OCD episode, she still is your “real daughter.” The disease is simply taking over at that moment. Continue what you are doing by speaking with her husband and listening to any suggestion­s your profession­al therapist has.

I wish you the best of luck. So, dear readers, if any of you have had experience with family members suffering from Contaminat­ion OCD, what has worked for them during these episodes?

When you told “Sweet Tooth” to eat sweets with honey or syrup instead of cane sugar, I thought I should write in to share that it won’t help her problem. The body recognizes all these — sugar, syrups, agave, honey, etc. — as the same thing. (It is true that the glycemic index is lower on some of these than on cane sugar, but that only means the body processes it more slowly, so you don’t get the sugar “crash.”)

Addiction to sugar is a documented addiction. The sugar sets up a craving for more sugar, and things just run out of control! — Been There, Done That in New Mexico

Dear Annie: Dear Been There, Done That:

Thank you for writing in to share about how our bodies process all types of sugar, especially with Halloween right around the corner.

Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@ creators.com

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