OCD came knocking

eye1.jpgObsessive compulsive disorder snuck in the door of our family when Tessa’s next-youngest brother was diagnosed with cancer. He was eight, she was ten. She had another little brother, turning one year old four days after the cancer diagnosis, and Christmas was four days later. She packed a suitcase for her brother in the hospital, finished her Christmas shopping with an aunt, decorated her brother’s room, and slept there for the first two weeks he was in the hospital. Her dad, aunts (my sisters), grandmothers, grandfather and a very good friend of ours tried to fill in. Her brother came home, and she was relegated to second in line for attention. She went to a siblings with cancer group at the hospital, then did one-on-one therapy when testing revealed depression. It was easy for all of us to see where the depression would come from.

When she was better and her mood lifted, she sat in on sessions her brother had with his psychiatrist at the hospital. Things were good, relatively speaking—her baby brother was healthy, her other brother was in remission with his leukemia, but chemotherapy was a long haul—two and a half years. The psychiatrist continued to watch for signs of depression, and I didn’t have any to report: Tessa was throwing herself into school, clubs, dance lessons, volunteer work, being super-supportive to her friends, mothering her baby brother, making crafts, writing stories and doing illustrations on the computer. Hmmm. Busy? Run off her feet of her own volition. Perfect? Yes. She was skinny, so the specter of anorexia rose over all of us, but she ate. We were blissfully unaware.

I wrote a feature for the September issue, on sale now. It’s called Dancing Queen, and you can read it here. There is a beautiful photo of Tessa in the magazine, but you’ll just get the text online. Tessa is very open about her illness, and wanted her photo in the magazine so readers could see the face of someone who fought and is fighting a mental health problem. That’s a soapbox we could both stand on all day, so more of that another day.

DON’T FORGET: We have a little contest going here: describe your kidlets or grandlets or even nieces and nephews in 30 words or less. It’s a totally fun exercise, and the winner gets a $10 Tim’s card! That’s a couple of ice caps and low-fat muffin for your trouble!

QUESTION FOR YOU: mental health, how do you decide when it’s time to take your child to see a therapist? How did you decide? I know this is really personal, so I’ll understand if you don’t leave a comment. If you’d like to leave a comment, or a question, that only I will see, send it to me at jacquelyn.momblog@yahoo.ca. It’s 100% private, guaranteed.

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One Response

  1. With our daughter it was when I could no longer console her and her unhappiness was an everyday occurence. It took a while to get a firm diagosis but she was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder.It has been tough because mental illnesses are not fully understood by many. Trust your gut and if something feels wrong it probably is.

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