Now that we are finally out of the closet about some of the mental health challenges we experience in our house, as well as the time #BabyDaddy needed some in-patient treatment for his OCD, I can give you all my tips!
If you are about to drop a loved one off at in-patient treatment, here are some things I have learned from this somewhat uncommon – and definitely more common than you think – experience. Your emotions might be all over the place like mine were, but perseverance is the way. One foot in front of the other, day by day and you will get there. It gets better.
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5) Go. Once you’ve made the decision someone is seeking treatment, be it you or your loved one, do not delay seeking treatment. I say this from firsthand experience. Our therapist suggested he seek in-patient treatment in April, but he put off the actual start date until August. So while we were confirmed with dates, paid and everything we were still about 12 weeks out from treatment when we decided it was right for him to go. What happened between April and August nearly ended us as his anxiety and fear about actually going to treatment escalated every day we got closer to the start date.
4) Tell key people about your circumstance. You will need support especially if you are a parent. #TheHandful was about 23 months old when he went away and if wasn’t for my basketball team keeping some normalcy for me, the lonliness and isolation got very hard at times. You don’t want to white knuckle this on your own like I tried to for so long, it was very lonely and it was very annoying trying to cover up his absence with flippant “work” excuses. And from a labor stand point taking care of even one kid 24hrs a day with no break for 6 weeks is labor intensive.
3) Do NOT expect everyone you tell to react well. The night before #BabyDaddy went to treatment, we told two friends. They were the only people who knew for a while and they did not reach out to me once, did not come offer to babysit nothing, dropped like a hot potato the entire 6 weeks. That further discouraged me from asking for help. Don’t be me. Don’t let idiots pee in your lemonade, keep telling people, the right people step up and help. Hoop Star on my basketball team called me up directly and said “what is going on”. This was effective in making me brave enough to tell someone again. The second my basketball team knew about my situation I had a babysitter sent to my house the next night, paid for by my team so I could play in the game that night. I will never forget that. And sometimes chasing a ball getting bumped by sweaty, Millennial, Hollywood execs is exactly what you need to feel normal.
2) Educate yourself and know every single detail about your family member’s condition. Become the expert. I cannot stress this enough. Not all therapists know all disorders, not all styles of therapy are going to work, you need to be able to vet the therapy to see if it’s working or not and if you don’t know ERP from CBT to DBT, then how are you going to challenge the therapist when it’s not working. How will you know when to move on and when to persevere. Become.The.Expert.
1) Don’t expect the facility to be perfect OR to educate you. I was shocked on family weekend when I came to visit #BabyDaddy that the entire experience was about his condition all while telling me I’m the most vital component to his recovery. HOW ABOUT A MANUAL FOR ME THEN?! Nope sorry we only treat the “identified patient”. What’s that? That’s #BabyDaddy in this instance. Don’t go in there expecting them to do anything other than further explain what the identified patient is experiencing. They did not to sit there and point out the ways in which I enable him, they just told me not to enable him. In our case OCD was the minority of cases at the treatment center, the majority were people experiencing various forms of BPD, so the focus on all the lectures was BPD not OCD so much. Another frustrating thing as his advocate and partner. See #2 about making yourself the expert, this was very useful during visiting day.
This may have read as kind of a downer but here is what I can tell you. IT CHANGED OUR LIVES. Treatment works and here is how I know this. One of the most stressful life experiences is moving and they warned us not to make any changes to his life for the next year post treatment. A week after he left treatment and might have even still been in out-patient treatment, our landlord wanted his house for repairs so when our lease ended which was that month, we had to find a new place. A week out of treatment and we need to move and while that normally would have sent him into a spiral, he was able to use his skills from the center to keep everything together and do what it took for the move. This never would have happened without the treatment center.
Further proof treatment works is he came out on a podcast and told everyone in the universe that he has OCD, Tourettes Syndrome and some ADHD. This was something he was deeply ashamed of prior to treatment, something he took great pains to hide. Now he’s an advocate, speaker and activist for OCD. The change would not have been possible without treatment. His courage inspires me and reminds me everyday I made the right call when I dropped him off at the residence and drove off in tears not knowing what the future would look like.
The people who step up will surprise you, the people who disappear will too, but you will forge through because this is something you can actually attack. I am your safe space if you want to tell me your stories and I am your advocate if you need help getting treatment. I am here, I’ve been there and I promise the future can be happier. And, if you know someone who is in my shoes, acts of service go a long way to making them feel less isolated and alone. They may not feel like talking about things but they definitely could use help.
Los Angeles readers, we will be walking to support the IOCDF, the International OCD Foundation on June 1stat De Anza Park. We would love to see you there! Austen, see you in a few weeks for the IOCDF Convention!