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Can someone please tell me about OCD? Need to work out whether DSD is sufferer or not. And how to deal with either scenario!

(10 Posts)
Unidentifiable Mon 13-Jun-11 10:18:56

I'm a regular but have name changed for this because a few people in RL will know my usual name and I make a point of never talking about family things on here.

DH and I are struggling to work out how to deal with this.

DSD (15) does a lot of irritating things which she says she can't help doing. If she is suffering from OCD then we would try to get her help so that these things don't start ruling her life. On the other hand, if she is just doing these things to exercise some control, then again, we need to work how to deal with it.

I'll give some examples of the irritating things she does:
- she closes the downstairs toilet door every time she passes it. When DS had just started using the toilet he couldn't open the door. So he would suddenly realise he needed a wee, go to the downstairs loo and not be able to get in and would wet himself. This isn't an issue now because he can open the door but at the time it was a real pain in the arse.
- it is her job to load the dishwasher. Every time she loads it she puts the knives in sharp end up. DH has cut himself.
- she winds the plug chain really tightly around the taps which DS can't unravel when he wants to wash his hands. I have now taken the chain off the plug.
- on Friday she decided she couldn't go to bed when someone was in the same room as her. She was in the study and DH was in there on his computer. She wouldn't go to bed until he had left the room, which meant she was up until 1:30am.

She also does things like putting the chairs and plates straight. There are other things, I can't remember them all now. When she is asked not to do these things (with rational reasons given) she says she can't help it.

Our problem with this all is that there seems to be no pattern to it. Her bedroom and her area of the study are an absolute shit tip. Everything gets thrown on the floor, clean clothes mixed up with dirty. She has washing up from weeks ago in her room. I have given up on it and never go in there any more. I would have thought that if she had a compulsion to keep things in order (loo door, plates, chairs) then that would apply to everything? But I'm happy to be told that I am oversimplifying OCD.

She does have what I would consider some control issues - she has to have the last word in an argument, things like that - so DH and I both wonder whether it is an extension of that. Either way, we need to work out how to deal with her inability/unwillingness to do what she is told. At the moment she is using 'I can't help it' as an excuse, but I don't know whether she genuinely can't.

I know these are 'irritating' rather than anything else, I am aware that I should be grateful she's not out all hours drinking with boys (which is what I was told last time I raised this on MN a couple of years ago)!

If anyone can help me with the benefit of their experience I would be very grateful.

amberleaf Mon 13-Jun-11 13:31:54

PM sent.

Unidentifiable Mon 13-Jun-11 13:46:25

Thanks Amber smile

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 13-Jun-11 18:20:48

I read your post and the answers on the teenage section. This is not just teenage behaviour. My son was diagnosed at 18 but had been suffering from the age of about 15 but we just thought it was odd teenage behaviour.

The main sign that it is OCD is that not doing these things would make her very anxious. Check with her that when she says she can't help it it could be because if she does not do them she feels awful.

My son's room is also a tip with clean and dirty clothes mixed up on chair/floor. But he has a problem brushing his teeth in case his toothbrush is not rinsed properly or gets contaminated by his brothers. So there is no rational explanation to any of it.

If it is not affecting the rest of her life or making her anxious it can probably be left. But if it is you need to get her some therapy to learn how to deal with it. What happens is these irrational thoughts get stuck in their head and will not go. Not going to bed while someone is still in the study is irrational and could be a sign of OCD.

PM me if you want to ask anything privately.

Unidentifiable Mon 13-Jun-11 18:50:27

It's all gone up a level this evening. I asked her to leave the downstairs loo door open because it needed air (DS has a tendency to wee on the floor still, he's only 4, it gets a bit whiffy). She said she couldn't do it, then went upstairs. I opened the door. I then went upstairs a little later and found her in tears. She had obviously been crying for a while, she said she couldn't come downstairs while the loo door was open. The anxiety is obvious now. I held her for a while and tried to talk to her. Most of my questions were answered with "I don't know". She couldn't tell me what might happen if the door wasn't closed. She did agree with me that it was irrational. I told her that I wanted to help her. I don't want these things starting to take over her life. I wonder whether I should go to talk to the GP about it.

Thanks for your input. It all helps to broaden my understanding of the problem.

schmee Mon 13-Jun-11 18:58:19

Does she sleep in the study? It sounds that way from your OP, but I must have got that wrong? If so, I think it is unreasonable to expect a 15 year old to go bed with her father working in the same room. And personally I wouldn't be keen on leaving a door open to a loo that had wee on the floor.

Whether she has OCD or not, I'm not sure, but the examples you give don't sound that bad - more of the "squeezing the toothpaste in the middle of the tube" variety.

TotalChaos Mon 13-Jun-11 18:58:28

agree with the other posters, definitely sounds concerning. and as an OCD sufferer, as lazymum describes you can get so fixated on certain fears that illogically your room might be a health hazard even though you have a germ phobia. wanting the toilet to be shut away does make a kind of OCD "sense", if you have a bit of anxiety around toilets/cleanliness iyswim.

Here's a link to the OCD youth site, produced by the Maudsley hospital

Unidentifiable Mon 13-Jun-11 19:26:45

schmee she doesn't sleep in the study, she just wouldn't leave the study to go upstairs to bed while DH was in there. She would only leave an empty room. It's not only the loo door that she has to shut - when I was talking to her upstairs earlier we were sat on my bed, I asked her to leave the door open so that I could hear DS if he needed me and that upset her. Kitchen door, lounge, study etc are always open. Bedrooms and bathrooms have to be closed.

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 13-Jun-11 19:59:02

I'm sorry to say this but the posters who are saying it does not sound too bad have no experience of OCD, the ones that say it is concerning do. Her reasons for doing these actions will be totally irrational that is why she may not be able to explain them. The tears can also be due to it being quite frightening what is going on in her head. Try and get her to the GP who hopefully will refer for a diagnosis. What she needs if it is OCD is some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I'm not sure the GP can refer for this though.

Look at it has a very good section on explaining how OCD affects young people. If it is OCD you have picked it up quite quickly which is good.

schmee Mon 13-Jun-11 21:19:56

OK - sorry Unidentifiable - that puts a completely different perspective on it now you've explained that.

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