Keeping it from the kids

I’ve had a week off work as holiday. It’s been marvellous – lots of Olympics and a few lie ins. We’ve had family staying too. My sister and her 3 boys. They’re great kids really and my sister has some similar ‘rules’ that I do. ie the children have to take their shoes off when they come into the house and wash their hands.

However, the boys, being boys & children, don’t always do what they’re told. They forget to wash their hands, they crawl all over the floor where their shoes have been – they set off my OCD. When we’re out they’re often picking up things I wouldn’t, again they touch floors in shops, collect random things from paths in woods, lie all over various things we come across on day trips – be it chairs, tables, shop displays, country house furniture. All the time red alert lights are flashing in my mind as I desperately resist the urge to shout at them not to do it. Sometimes I can’t help it. Sometimes it’s more valid than others – there are some things they shouldn’t touch when we’re out, but not for the reasons my mind is screaming. So, somethings I can get away with. But I can’t get away with everything. This means my stress levels sore & I don’t cope with my OCD very well when I’m stressed – it’s a negative spiral.

Being 6, 6 & 10 the boys don’t understand about OCD. They know there are a few things ‘Aunty’ doesn’t like, but although educating youngsters about mental health is important, I don’t want to force too much onto their brains just yet. The oldest in particular is already showing some signs of obsessive behaviour – he likes to wash his hands a lot – so I don’t want to make things worse. I’m hoping this is just a phase and he’ll grow out of it. He doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any of the instrusive or bad thoughts yet so I don’t want to give him ideas.

One of them is currently counting coins on the floor. I hate handling all kinds of money – I just see it as covered in germs. It is stressing me out considerably. Most of the coins probably haven’t been out of the house for several weeks but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t help much that he’s counting it in amongst the shoes – one of my other real hates.

The only way I can really handle things is to take myself out of the situation completely. I feel quite antisocial sometimes, or like I’m sherking my responsibility of looking after the kids – but at times it’s that or me shouting at the kids over something no one else has an issue about, or having a complete meltdown myself. At the moment I’m already struggling a little bit, and have decided to up by medication slightly for a few days – because I’ve got to have a tooth out at the dentists in a few days (I’m highly worried and anxious over the cleanliness of the instruments) – so I’m trying to get back onto an even keel. Sadly the boys right now aren’t helping. I have taken myself off to my own room and am trying to distract and calm myself.

It’s so difficult trying not to display too many OCD behaviours in front of children. We don’t know if it’s genetic or learned or even a combination. Whichever it is, I think they’re a bit young to be exposed to it at the moment, I don’t want them picking up by bad behaviour (and they do copy me quite a bit) and it’s not their fault they’re doing things I don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with most of what they do, and if there is, they get into trouble. I hate losing my temper with them because of the OCD but I do find myself doing that from time to time.

Have you had a similar situation when you’ve tried to keep your OCD (or other mental health issue) from young children? How have you coped?

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