Young adult son refusing treatment - My OCD Community

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Young adult son refusing treatment

zzz111 profile image
zzz111

I am new to this site. My son has contamination OCD, but he refuses treatment. He even gets angry when I encourage him to see a therapist. He is a young adult and I can't force him to go to treatment. For the past year he usually sleeps in the bed for about 3 days, then spends 8,9 hours taking showers and brushing teeth multiple times. As I am writing this post, he has been in the washroom for 7 hours after 4 days sleep without eating or drinking anything! I am just heart broken without knowing how to help him! Any suggestions will be highly appreciated!

32 Replies

He needs help for his OCD. Try having him read this forum for starters. He will see that there are others like him with the same problems and it really helps to let him know that he can get better and not struggle alone. He can’t live his life trapped in his OCD the way you described. Please encourage him to participate or at least read other’s posts.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to LuvSun

Thank you and others very much for the responses! As I don't know much about OCD when I saw signs of his OCD, I pushed him too much to seek professional help. Now he will walk away when I try talking to him about his OCD. He seems to have read somethings about OCD, but he never told me how much he knows. It is very hard to tell him to do something.

What are his reasons for refusing treatment? Have you talked to a therapist or other professional about how you might get him to start treatment?

I honestly don't have any advice about how to do an intervention for someone who's refusing to address his OCD. I will say that OCD tends to create feelings of hopelessness and inevitability: my OCD has never been as severe as your son's, but I put off proper treatment for years because I'd accepted all the compulsions and ruminations as part of life. It seemed easier to just get by and cope. Now that I'm undergoing treatment I see just how much trouble OCD has caused me, and how much it has cost in terms of lost opportunities and disrupted relationships. I've had many days where my OCD really fades into the background and it's amazing how much mental peace I have.

Don't give up until you find a way to get through to your son. I've heard many stories of people with absolutely disabling OCD who now lead normal, fulfilling lives because they went through the difficult but doable process of confronting their obsessions and changing the way they respond to them. It's possible!

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to MothFir

Thanks for the encouragement! I asked many times, but he didn't tell me the reason refusing treatment.

I was able to push him to see a psychologist two years ago. He stopped seeing her after three sessions. He never told me the reason why stopped. I asked to the psychologist, but she didn't know the reason either. As his OCD was not very bad at that time, I just thought it was just depression. The psychologist he saw is not a OCD specialist. As his OCD getting worse, I asked him to see a OCD professional specialized in treating OCD, but he just doesn't listen.

He was usually a very independent child. He didn't like talk to me what happened in school, what his thoughts. Now it is even harder to talk to him. I am reading books and information online to try understanding his thoughts. I will keep positive and hope him to get out of this difficult time soon.

Carbon21 profile image
Carbon21 in reply to zzz111

I did the same, I think therapist that don’t specialize in OCD make it worse. Also switched many times over many years because some just don’t “click”

Does he realize what he has? Would he consider a book about treatment? I’d even find a few of the stories on here and print them to leave in his room to show him he’s not alone. . Slide them under the door if you have to. Praying you find relief. There’s virtual therapy he can get from home too.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Carbon21

He knows what he has. I bought Jonathan Grayson's book "Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder". I also told him online seminars, talks about OCD, but he doesn't want to read the book or listen to talks. As I know he may get worse without treatment, I feel so helpless.

I have had OCD for the past 7 years, and it is probably severe if I consider the fact that it's almost entirely halted me in terms of life. I also have a suspected diagnosis of Complex PTSD (yes, it's kind of heavy).

When my mother was trying to get me to do stuff, I never really listened. She tried to tell me a lot of stuff, tried to control a lot of stuff, and honestly looking back now, I don't think it really worked. I just felt controlled. Like I didn't have my own voice and my own opinions.

I'm not sure if there might be some element of that in his behaviour with you here. I don't know much about you two's history, and what interactions were like in the past, but I just thought I'd mention that. At the end of the day, you can't really force anyone to do anything.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to lepergnome

Thank you so much for mentioning it. My problem is indeed pushing him too much! The more I push the more resistance. I probably have done too much damage to my son. Your response breaks my heart. How are you doing now? Are you getting better?

Carbon21 profile image
Carbon21 in reply to zzz111

I’m a parent of 2 children with it, my younger is not ready but tries a little.. it’s been a lot of years snd I worry too. My elder is finally ready to face it, not because of me but because of her being tired of it holding her back. I agree that you can’t force them but you also can’t sit back and watch a child with an illness and do nothing. Don’t blame yourself just like you wouldn’t blame your son, it’s an illness.. no one is at fault. Continue to show him he’s loved, maybe you can talk to a therapist and I don’t know your religion but at some point for me I put it in gods hands (but I keep trying, I’ll never give up), even this group is a good start for you.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Carbon21

Thanks Carbon21 for sharing your family story. As I didn't have much knowledge at the beginning about OCD and I even never heard of OCD, I did blame him not fighting it hard. That makes me feel so deeply sorry. Even now I know well this illness, I still feel upset seeing him stay in bed for days without reaching out for help. But I am trying very hard not to push him. Our relationship is getting better over the last year, but his OCD is getting worse. As parents, we just want to do whatever we can to help our children, but often it does more harm than good.

3BirdLover profile image
3BirdLover in reply to zzz111

I suggest that you get help from an OCD therapist FOR YOURSELF.....to just talk to someone and receive help on how to deal with this. You will be doing this for both of you.... ❤️

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to 3BirdLover

It is a very good suggestion to see an OCD therapist myself. I have being seen psychologist, but he is not an OCD specialist.

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to zzz111

Sometimes... I am not sure what to say. Maybe I end up hurting someone I guess. I am a little bit sorry too for not getting back to you sooner. This stuff is pretty hard.

.

I think that the only reason I thought to mention what I said to you up above was because I am pretty sure my mother only ever had good intentions (she still does to this day, as far as I am aware). I also have or had the sneaking suspicion that my OCD and my C-PTSD were inextricably linked or intwined. I originally thought that my OCD probably led to my C-PTSD (assuming I do have this thing, which I think I do - am currently trying to get assessed), but have recently wondered if it wasn't as clear cut as that.

About 1-2 years prior to my OCD surfacing (I would be 16 at this time), I got this really weird depression. Long story short it wasn't 100% depression, but it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable in social situations, which would be what led to the actual depression. I started cutting myself off from people and social situations. Following highschool, and then the onset of OCD as I can identify it not too long afterwards, I only cut myself off more. And more. I eventually came to the point where I had spent years and years where the people I used to talk to, or do anything with, had either severed ties with me, or I had severed ties with them. Where I had literally no one to talk to anymore. I told myself this was only temporary. It was only temporary, until I "figured out" my OCD - then, I could resume my life. I could talk to people again.

That never really happened (not saying it still can't now).

I'm not sure, if this isolation, fuelled in part (?) by the OCD (at least it certainly looks that way), actually caused some sort of trauma or mimicked trauma, or, if I perpetuated my OCD in part because I was trying to make up for something (something from earlier on in childhood).

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I am NOT saying that your son is traumatized.

.

Thinking a bit [...]

Would he be open to the idea of medications, instead of talk therapy? (This is kind of a crummy suggestion 🙁)

OK, some better ideas I think (just trying to list some ideas that I can think of for why he doesn't seem to want to get help):

* Maybe he looked online, but found that the obsessions that people had didn't match what he had? (Therefore doubt, do I have OCD)

* Maybe he doesn't believe treatment will work (ERP is scary)

* Maybe there's something else going on? Maybe he knows all of the above, knows treatment will work, but he feels that there's something unresolved, and getting help for his OCD goes against that unresolved thing?

.

And I would actually like to mention, as a final thing here: Reasons can be pretty important to find, especially when it comes to figuring out mental health stuff. Simply because you found, however, something to be implicated in the cause for why you or someone else is sick, it does not necessarily mean that that thing is bad.

Reasons do exist. At least most of the time I think.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to lepergnome

Hi, Lepergnome, first I sincerely thank you for the thoughtful response! It sound like it still hurts a lot when you mention what happened to you. For a nice young fellow like you, you don't deserve this suffer and, BTW, no body should deserve it! It is just a horrible disorder.

Although my son never told me his thoughts and how he is suffering, I can tell he is probably going similar things as you. He is probably traumatized. I felt very sorry to you and my son when I read your responses!

My son usually worked hard at school, actually too hard from what I thought. I realized it was not a good thing for him and told him to get easy. At high school he often only slept a few hours each day. Even he got excellent marks, but I didn't think he would sustain that way for his life. So I tried hard to force him to have more sleep. One time I even threw his backpack out of the door because he took too much time on his assignment. All what I did didn't work, but our relationship got worse and worse. Looking back, he is not a "normal"kid and my parenting skills were not good either.

Now I am still trying to help him. It might be still a wrong thing to do. I have learned not to push him too much, but it is not easy to see his OCD getting worse.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. This is the first time I have a chance to understand what might be in my son's mind. I have said sorry to him many times, but the wounds probably can not be healed by sorry only!

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to zzz111

I'm sorry to hear that (I guess I'll call you z-z 😜). I did get some pain when I was reading through your response. Some of what you wrote reminded me a LOT about the way I think and feel, and the way that I perceive my own situation, and the way I perceived my mother, both as a person and also as the way that she relates to me (still trying to not mislead...!) (and what I mean by trying to not mislead is that I cannot diagnose your son, nor your relationship with him - which is me being at the risk of stating the obvious).

I was definitely not a normal kid (I have Asperger's, which is a type of autism), and my mother made sure to keep reminding me of that (but not in a bad way). She's kept saying it pretty much my entire life.

.

In terms of my mental problems, I felt like I was stuck, it was my fault, and I was responsible for doing this to myself. Like I was responsible and I KNEW what I needed to do but just refused to do it, when in reality I don't think I had very much idea, if any at all on the actual level of consciousness. I almost felt like I was being blamed, when deep down on some level I knew it couldn't be true (this is actually a little bit of a contentious topic I think, but I'm definitely not diving into that now - and the feeling still stands anyways). It was complicated by the fact that I thought, really believed and still believe that I had the perfect mother, at least throughout childhood and most of my teenage years.

Part of the reason as to why I bring up that fact is because I had a pretty abusive and frankly somewhat useless father. She did the best she could, in light or even really, in spite of that fact. Until.... she didn't...?

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She always told me that she didn't want to control me, that she wanted me to live my own life, my own way, according to my own ideals. That she loved me. And maybe this is just where that OCD bit comes in. I heard it, but deep down inside the impression that I got or that was formed was that she was being incredibly manipulative. Like, yes, there was something fundamentally wrong or broken in her. It's not a good thought, and this is just me writing about my own experiences right now really. But, if you ARE so ostracized from the world, where the only real person you end up being able to talk to is your mom, that can mimic it, right?

It's still kind of murky right now, but what I mean by that is that I do know that a good part of real abuse involves shutting you out from the outside world. Because that's what real abuse actually looks like in the real world: Being cut off from help and support of any kind, and where you are solely reliant on your abuser. Trapped.

I don't think then that I am all that surprised, if the identical conditions end up producing similar or the same effects as actual abuse or trauma. You left the world, and unlucky you, that ends up mimicking trauma.

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I might just leave it here for now. I feel like I wrote too much lol

(and again: not saying there was abuse, I don't know)

Hi lepergnome. Your story sounds similar to mine. Sorry you went through that. My counselor says I also have OCD and CPTSD and they're intertwined, and that I have Aspergers. Not to hijack this thread, but do you mind telling me what kind of OCD you have and what is helping you with this combination of struggles?

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Groundhugger

Hi, Groundhugger, you are welcome to the discussion! The more we share the more we understand. I hope it will lead to a cure for all of you!

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to lepergnome

Hi, lepergnome, you can call me whatever z 🙂. I just picked an easy username.

Thank you very much for sharing more of your thoughts. I don't know whether the pain you got is a good things or not. I apologize if it is not good for you. Now I know mind is really a weird thing. Sometime short pain may be help, such as ERP treatment. Over the years I have been tried hard to protect my son from pain (from my point of view. He may think differently), but it didn't help, even caused damage to him.

My son MAY have Aspergers too. Beside worked too hard at school, I noticed my son had other "abnormal" things, such as carrying all his text book and school works in his backpack, keeping old newspapers he read in his backpack, didn't have social media account, etc. I suggested him to see a psychologist when he was about 16, 17, he didn't like the idea. I went to see a few psychologists by myself. As the psychologists didn't see my son, they couldn't help much. One psychologist did say that my son might have Aspergers. On the other hand, my son had a busy school life and was the presidents of two school clubs.

My son excelled at college too, but burned out eventually. I suggested him again to see a psychologist. He listened at that time and even told me that he wished he had seeked the professional help earlier. However he stopped seeing the psychologist after three sessions as I mentioned before. That was more than two years ago. He never told my the reason why he stopped seeing the psychologist. My guess might be his problem was not addressed as soon as he expected or he didn't feel comfortable to open up to other people. It was really tough parenting him. I had done so many things to protect him from burning out, hard or soft. The nightmare still came true. I realized I have done so many hard things I shouldn't have done, but life can not be rewound.

After he burned out I noticed he was in the bathroom longer than usual. That's probably the onset of OCD.

This is a parent's side of story. Parent is not an easy job. We suffer too when we see the suffer of our loved ones, particularly the suffer might be caused by our parenting mistakes. I hope this may help you understand your mom a little more and eventually you will get better.

I might have talked too much. I know my son does not like it. I hope my son is reaching out online as you are doing. He might have done so already, but I probably won't ever know.

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to zzz111

It's not fair is it? If you try your best and still get blamed.

Sometimes, I don't know what to make of any of this... anymore. Is there even anyone at fault? Is it a little bit me, a little bit you.

Guilt, of course, if I say or think that I may have been... traumatized.

.

I hope that your son makes it out the other end okay. I hope that he feels comfortable in talking to you again (if he isn't already now).

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to lepergnome

Hi, Lepergnome,

Life is not fair. I know it well at my age. Nobody is at fault. My son's brain is just wired differently. I just need to find a way to cope with it.

If there is any disagreement, let's agree to disagree. Just to remember, OCD is our common enemy.

Again, what you shared gives me a chance to understand what MIGHT be in my son's mind. I appreciate it very much! I believe you will get better too with proper treatment🙂.

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to zzz111

thanks 😀

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to zzz111

I think you shouldn't give up, by the way. I think that there is almost always a way out.

Hope for the best. And I do mean it. Really.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to lepergnome

Thank you very much again Lepergnome! I won't give up for sure. Otherwise I would not seek help from this community.

It gives me great hope when you said there is almost always a way out! If you can find a way out, my son should be able too. Hope all the best for you too! I do mean it too 😃.

Yes, one thing is for sure.. it’s a hard balance. Hang in there.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Carbon21

Thanks again Carbon21!

I don't know if that might help but it's just an advice. Try not to push him for therapy but try to let him talk to you more about it and open up. If he opens up try to remind him of his future plans and that in order to achieve them he should take the step to seek help. As an OCD sufferer myself I know what it feels like. Try to also share with him stories about celebrities with OCD. He needs to feel that he isn't alone.I wish good days for your son.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to JoeS00

Thank you very much JoeS00 for the very good advice. I am trying hard to let him open up. Actually I think I may be accommodating him too much, another thing not good to his OCD. Now he starts to talk with me on many things, but not his OCD. Sometimes he doesn't mind talking about his future either. As he never tells me his suffer, it is really helpful to get advice from people who suffer from OCD. I wish very good days to you too!

Dear zzz111, Don't be so hard on yourself. You didn't cause this. Your son's behavior is alarming and any parent would be alarmed by it. You're doing your best. The three or 4 days in bed is very worrisome to me and makes me wonder whether he might be using drugs.

I have OCD, but I was not harmed by my parents setting limits with me. If he's living in your house, he needs to follow your rules. I would tell him he needs to go with you to see his doctor. He needs labwork, including drug testing. He needs to do some chores around the house. He cannot be in the bathroom for longer than an hour because you can't keep paying his water bills. If he doesn't want to follow your rules then he needs to move out, either to treatment or to Grandma's house or Auntie's house, where there may be more rules that he really won't like. I'm betting he'll step up. He is dealing with a serious condition, but he still needs to be part of the family and get dressed, appear for meals and help out, just as any young adult should. Hang in there. You can do this, Dad.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Elisheva99

Hi, Elisheva99, thank you very much for the suggestions. He is not using drug because he has stayed at home for months without going out by himself. I tried setting house rules, but it just made things worse. I did ask him to see his doctor to do a blood test for his bizarre sleep pattern, but he refused too. As hard love didn't work before, I am not sure whether asking him to move out would work. I probably have to try it though if this situation last too long.

Elisheva99 profile image
Elisheva99 in reply to zzz111

Dear zzz111, I apologize if I made assumptions or jumped to conclusions. It's a very tough situation you're in and I send you very warm wishes and prayers. Make sure you take care of your own physical and mental health. Hugs.

zzz111 profile image
zzz111 in reply to Elisheva99

Thank you again, Elisheva99! You don't need to apologize for your good intention. They are all great ideas even though they may not work for my son. I do feel exhausted. Thank you very much for reminding me of taking careful my own health. It means a lot to me!

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