Show 67 – Living with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

Greg Williamson is the father of three grown children.  By the time his second son was 6 months old he and his wife knew their son was very different. Everyone’s advice was to use firm, even harsh, discipline on him. When that failed to bring about a change in his behaviour people offered name calling, the you-shoulds, and the I-would-nevers. Their son was called all kinds of names. Greg and his wife were called bad parents. In order to gain understanding and meet theirs and their children’s needs, Greg did exhaustive research into Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD, depression, ADHD, bipolar, petit mal seizures, partial seizures and interictal disorders, autism, aspergers, and others. Greg Williamson and his family learned that empathy and speaking differently helped themselves and their children. If you have questions, you may email Greg at gregsw(@)start(dot)ca.

I love to talk and learn more about OCD with experienced parents because our family lives with it too.

Listen to the Podcast (by either clicking here or right click to save)

Aired live: Sunday, April 17, 2011 0800-0900 Eastern Standard Time on CFRU 93.3 FM, Guelph, Ontario, Canada


The Center for Nonviolent Communication

Sometimes we learn quite a bit reading checklists. We’d find ourselves saying, “Wow! I never knew that was OCD. That explains a lot.” These lists based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. They are intended for information only. Please see your physician for more information and diagnosis. Greg Williamson kindly offered these checklists: OCD, ADHD, and TICS

Greg Williamson writes:

There are three wonderful gifts we can give to our children – and they are all the more wonderful when they have something like OCD, Tourette’s, or some other “alphabet soup”.

1) Understand them.

Get to know the “why” and the “how” of the obstacles they face. We can accomplish a world of good just by practicing and modelling understanding.

2) Help them understand themselves.

Allow them the opportunity to discover that OCD is something they have – not who they are – and that they can find ways to manage it, or ask for support in managing it.

3) Give them back the power of choice.

Let them know that they do indeed have choices. When they are young we can show them the choices they have. As they grow they will learn from observing and imitating us how to perceive new choices for themselves. As you have probably experienced, sometimes kids can come up with “solutions” that we would have never dreamed of.

When our kids were growing up, our single biggest ally was our imagination. We used it to empathize. We used it to problem solve creatively. We used it so we could “keep the person separate from their actions”.

Our second biggest ally was patience. Sometimes coping with OCD simply takes time and energy. Some days it takes A LOT more of both than it might other days. Simply being present with your child when they’re struggling, without abandoning them because you’re in a hurry, sends them the most powerful and meaningful message of all – that they are loved always. This gives them something predictable to anchor to. When they are less worried about external predictability, they experience more safety, more security, and that allows them to better cope with the unpredictabilities that occur within themselves. Even when they can’t trust themselves, they might be able to borrow your trust temporarily, and that’s easier for them to do when they’ve learned that they can trust you. Implicit trust is only possible after explicit trust is established.

OCD is all about uncertainty. It’s not called doubter’s disease for nothing. “How do I know, FOR SURE… without a shadow of a doubt…?” is probably the top question people with OCD ask.

About Wendy McDonnell

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