Hi everyone, my name is Gang and this is my first post here. I'm a father of my son Bowen who is suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for the 5th year, well, 6th year since we are moving into 2016.
My new year resolution may seems complicated: less misunderstanding, less stigma and more awareness. What do you mean by that? Well, let me explain.
My son and I had countless misunderstandings ever since his OCD started. If you know any OCD patients, they tend to keep everything to themselves, not only because they want privacy, but also because they don't want to bother you. However, sometimes you can't hide everything. I started noticing his "weird" behaviors about 3 years ago, before he left US for high school. He would spend a lot of time in the bathroom. After he finished it, I would ask what's going on, and he just said "Nothing wrong." then left. By the way, if you are afraid that your kids may have symptoms of OCD, please take a look at my article about how to spot OCD symptoms here. So that's how misunderstanding starts.
After two years of treatment with him, I really learned a lot of parenting in different ways. One key thing is that you always connect with your children emotionally. Yes, you may like to talk about a NBA team or other cool things with your children but once in a while, take a moment to ask how your children are feeling. Are they happy? Are they sad? Don't give too much attention to the reason why they are feeling that way, just focus on the emotion, the feelings. Let them know that whatever happens, things may be hard to deal with, but you will be there by their side. You don't need to help him especially if you have a teenager, just be there with them, that's good enough.
What about stigma? Well, it's just one of the things I want to do as a parent in 2016. There's some tremendous stigma around mental health these days. People are laughing, joking about being a neat freak and they are "so OCD", it just hurt me a lot. Knowing what I've been through with my son for the last two years, I just know I need to do something to help fight the stigma.
That leads to bring awareness. I understand this is a parenting website, but I think as parents, we should always put our children's health, no matter mentally or physically, to the top of our list. The only way to achieve that, is with a fair understanding of the disease. You don't want to start learning about mental health after you lose a child to it, believe me, I know. 2% teens in United States suffer from OCD. If your child is at a school with 300 people, there could be 6 of them suffering from OCD, the number is unbelievable. It could be anyone, really. I hope by bringing awareness to the parents community, we can be more vigilant. We could have the ability to spot OCD early and get our children to help early as well. More awareness to the mental illnesses is going to be better for everyone.
Yeah, I guess that's what I planned for myself next year. If you are interested in learning more about mental health in teenagers, several friends and my son created a Facebook page to bring awareness, please suppot it here: https://facebook.com/ocdacceptance and on Twitter @memeforocd Thank you and have a wonderful year.