“Help! My parents won’t believe me!”

I got this question just today:

I’m a 12 year old girl and I have ocd but my mom doesn’t believe me I’ve emailed many people who study ocd and they have said that I have pure ocd so what do I do.

This is hard stuff. Really hard.

What do you do when you are truly struggling but you feel too young and dependent to do much about it? When the person or people you rely on for help tells you that you’re fine?

Here are a few ideas, dear one. I also invite readers to leave ideas in the comment section, so be sure to check that out as well.

  1. Continue to educate yourself. The more you know about OCD, the more power you have over it– and the more justification you have when you discuss it with your mom next time. Read about it online, check out books from your local library, etc.
  2. Consider free resources. It’s hard to get treatment when you’re 12 and under your parents’ insurance and likely have very little means to an income. Sadly, babysitting money just won’t cut it here, and that stinks! But there are free resources. For example:
    * If you have a smartphone, download the nOCD app.
    * On Facebook, search for Pax the OCD Bot.
    * Check out a book at the local library about how to do ERP therapy (exposure and response prevention) at home on your own.
  3. Think through why your mom won’t believe you. I’m not saying that there are any good reasons, but I do know that sometimes our parents, who are often our biggest fans, don’t want to believe that we have something wrong with us. It’s scary for them, and actually, sometimes it makes them feel guilty– they wonder if it’s their fault. Again, not great reasons, but if this seems to be the case, it might help you in how you approach your mom the next time.
  4. You might find a book that really resonates with you– share it with your mom. For me, I gave my mother a copy of Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser– a copy in which I had underlined all the quotes that resonated with me. At that time, it was the best I could do to explain what I was experiencing.
  5. Speak with another trusted adult. From Angie, one of my blog readers:

    I’m wondering if there are other people in your reader’s life that she might confide in and who might talk with her mom with her (or for her). In particular, I was thinking about other family members, like a trusted aunt; or perhaps a close family friend; or even a teacher or counselor from school. As an OCD therapist (and also the mom of someone with OCD) sometimes young people end up in my office for treatment because a teacher or another family member had a talk with the parent. Thinking of you, question writer! You are brave for reaching out. – Angie

I’m not an expert or a therapist, and I always encourage people to get professional help, but in this case, I can see where it’s feeling impossible to get that. Keep learning. Educating yourself about OCD empowers you, disarms OCD, gives you ideas for now, and prepares you for later. 

Hang in there, sweetheart, no matter what. And if you are feeling suicidal, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and be sure to let your mom know how serious it is.

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