Editor’s note: Annie Lane is off. This was originally published in 2019.
Dear Annie: I’d like to hear from people who were children of a mother with Contamination OCD. My daughter’s therapist determined it is a pretty severe case, but my daughter refuses to go to the recommended hospital program. Instead, she sees the therapist once a week, which is basically a whack-a-mole approach. One issue gets better and another pops up. She’s had this for more than five years and refuses any medication.
My concern beyond her is for my grandchildren, ages 2½ and 5. Her behavior injects a lot of anxiety and stress into their lives that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Before we knew what we were dealing with, our family would do the worst thing by offering assurances and accommodation. Her husband is totally under her OCD’s control. According to her therapist, he should take the kids and leave to prompt her to really get help. It seems he can’t bring himself to do that. I am afraid the kids will end up suffering from OCD as well.
I’m considering going through the court system to get the kids out of this situation.
When I brought up this concern with a therapist, she said research isn’t conclusive of the effect on the kids. I don’t want to gamble with their development and find out 10 years later that I should have rescued my grandchildren – and my daughter.
I’d like to hear from people who have lived with this situation as children and what would they recommend.
I want my real daughter back and for her to live her best life with her family. – Grandma Blindsided by Mental Health Issue
Dear Blindsided Grandma: Your daughter’s Contamination OCD, an extreme fear of being contaminated by germs, has created a very difficult situation that is taking a toll on the whole family. You are wise to try to get help for your daughter and grandchildren. Try to remember, though, even when she is sick or in the throws of an OCD episode, she still is your “real daughter.” The disease is simply taking over at that moment. Continue what you are doing by speaking with her husband and listening to any suggestions your professional therapist has.
I wish you the best of luck. So, dear readers, if any of you have had experience with family members suffering from Contamination OCD, what has worked for them during these episodes? Also, if you grew up in a household in which one of your parents had Contamination OCD, we’d love to hear about your experiences and any advice you might have.
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