According To My 9-Year-Old Child, This Is What It Is Like To Live With OCD

According To My 9-Year-Old Child, This Is What It Is Like To Live With OCD

antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

“I am 9 years old, and I have OCD. It’s really hard for me to go to school because I’m afraid I will do something weird, like swear or spit my food on the ground and then put it back in my mouth. I don’t want to do that, but the OCD in my brain tries to make me do it, so I am always stressed out. When I get home, the same things happen. At night, I want to swear or do something that will get me scared — like look under my bed for monsters. If I have a cut or bruise, I want to hurt it worse. So, every day, all the time, I’m stressed out or in a bad mood.”

Those are the words of my son. He is an amazing kid: creative, energetic, friendly, kind, and so many good things. But he is lonely. He is stressed. He feels like no one understands him. Last night, he told me he just wants a regular life, not ruled by OCD. My heart breaks for him because he feels helpless and that fighting OCD is too hard.

My son describes his school day like this:

9:00 a.m. — “Morning meeting: It’s fun but stressful because I’m afraid I will swear out loud or do something embarrassing in front of the class.”

9:30 a.m. — “Math: Stressful. I worry that I will make loud noises or write something inappropriate on the Smart Board or swear.”

10:30 a.m. — “Reading: More stress about swearing or making loud noises in the quiet classroom.”

11:10 a.m. — “Recess and lunch: I usually like recess, but sometimes I have urges to hurt myself. It’s good that it has been warm because my tongue won’t stick anymore if I put it on the metal poles. At the beginning of the school year, I couldn’t stop myself from looking directly at the sun. At lunch, I eat everything in bites of three and sometimes I ‘on purpose’ drop food on the floor and then feel the urge to eat it.”

12:00 — “Writing: This class is the worst. I like the teacher a lot, but the classroom is quiet, and I’m still revved up from recess. I am stressed a lot because I have urges to swear or make loud noises or do other weird things, like tear up my paper.”

12:30 — “Specialists: Once a week, this is gym, and that is good. Sometimes I have urges to do weird things in gym, but not usually. The other classes — art, music, and Spanish are stressful like the rest of the day.”

1:35 p.m. — “Social Studies and science: Some days are OK, like when we are busy doing experiments or other tasks. Other days, when we have to work with partners or the room is quiet, I am really stressed about making loud noises or urges to drop things on the floor or do other weird things.”

2:30 p.m. — “Free-choice time: This is the one time of day I feel relaxed. I can read or play, and the room isn’t so quiet, so I don’t worry that other people will hear me or be watching me.”

3:30 p.m. — “The bus is OK, as long as I am not sitting by the emergency alarm. If I am, I have urges to pull it, so I have to try really hard not to.”

He added, “Also, whenever I walk down the hall, I have to touch my knees to the floor in counts of threes (right knee down, left knee down, right knee down). There are lots of other things, too — like urges to scribble on my paper, take things that aren’t mine, or hurt myself. I got a bad bruise on my leg this week, and sometimes I feel like hitting it with a hammer. I know it will hurt, and I don’t want to do it, but my OCD brain tells me I should. I feel urges to do other things that are wrong or embarrassing, so it is really hard to tell people about it.”