Imagine worrying endlessly about your safety. Whenever you try to relax one question springs forward: am I in danger? This endless worrying causes you to arrive late for events and leave early out of insecurity. Perhaps, your only way to combat the unshakeable notion that you are in danger is to constantly confirm that you are not. You check the locks on your home every five or ten minutes. You check the hall closet for the baseball bat even though you were sure it was there half an hour ago. You tighten the blinds and curtains to prevent someone from seeing inside. You regularly check to make sure your phone is working properly in case you have to dial “911.”
The scenario above more or less describes the plight of someone suffering from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Nonstop, upsetting thoughts give rise to performing rituals or acts that only provide brief solace. One thought is all it takes to start the whole checking and rechecking process over again.
Parents of young adults aged 17 through 28 who are dealing with debilitating OCD have their own share of bothersome thoughts: Will my child ever leave the nest? Will he ever be able to discover a passion? Will he ever have healthy relationships? One of the primary side effects of OCD in young adulthood is how it delays normal development and causes failure to launch syndrome. In the years after high school, you expect your child to cross the hurdles of adolescence into adulthood by taking on more responsibility. You expect to no longer have to make as many decisions for him or her.
You imagine your child taking their destiny into their own hands, selecting colleges, majors, career plans, friends, and, eventually, spouses. Yet, in the case of parents with OCD children, these milestones may not come. Teens and young adults are already threatened by an existential anxiety that may actually assist them in weighing the benefits of their future decisions more carefully. However, with OCD, a young adult may simply stand still due to overwhelming fear and anxiety. What’s worse, because the fear of the unknown is so strong, your child may avoid any discussion of future plans as a way to cope.
Avoidance functions as a natural by-product of fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, if your child has been suffering from severe OCD for some time, even the idea of going into treatment may evoke fear. You see, the endless obsessions and resultant compulsions serve to calm your child from fear and anxiety and give them the reigns to control it, to an extent. In the scenario above, checking the locks, the blinds, and the location of the bat give the illusion that you are safe–or that you can protect yourself if safety were threatened. Losing that control can be almost as debilitating as the disorder itself.
Your child must develop his own internal motivation to getting treatment and growing into the adult you hope he’ll become. In many cases, the two may influence each other: treatment may help with overcoming failure to launch syndrome and finding a true passion can help motivate one to get better. Optimum Performance Institute works exclusively with young adults like your son or daughter who are having difficulty managing mental illness and the transition into adulthood.
For more information on our residential programs and our measures to help reduce Failure to Launch obstacles for young adults with OCD, call us at (888) 814-5985 or click HERE to submit an online form. We’ll be in touch promptly.