What happened next…

What happened next…

I was going to take some time today to blog about having another baby (wahey!) and some interesting dynamics that have exposed themselves since then but I really feel that I need to finish the part of the story I left off at before looking forward. It’s probably the most complex part of the story to write about, convoluted and mirky and extremely personal so bear with me (yet again) as I sort through memories and time and try to give useful insight into our life with OCD.

As the elevator doors closed and I allowed grief and relief and exhaustion to roll over me, my mom, who was still there, came home with me and helped me look forward. I can’t remember if she left the next day or the day after that, but eventually it was just me and Matilda (who was 7 months old at the time) at home with Patrick in the clinic a 30 minute walk away. We slowly began to fall into a rhythm of sorts, which was more a rhythm of waiting than anything else. I would wake up in the morning and do one of two things: either wait for Patrick to write a text, letting me know that he was awake and what he needed me to bring for the day, or I would work towards the time we agreed upon the day before. I would get Matilda ready, put her and anything else Patrick needed in the stroller and off we would walk to the clinic.

I was never sure what was waiting for me at the clinic every day. Sometimes I would get there and Patrick would be up and waiting. Maybe it had been a good day and he had only needed 3 hours to get up, take a shower and be ready for visitors. Often, though, I would arrive and have to wait. Or try and help. Sometimes I would get there and he would still be showering after 3 hours, desperate for some kind of help and frustrated with the kind of help that the clinic could offer. Sometimes he would be so frustrated he’d be crying. I would get frustrated and angry, not with anyone in particular although I am sure that more often than not Patrick thought I was angry with him, but the situation was just so infuriating and overwhelming.

It was Christmas time. One of my all-time favourite times but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. I felt guilty for any little pleasure I could have, knowing that Patrick was alone at the clinic, surrounded by other people with other sicknesses. I did my best to try to help him feel at home in such a transient place. I made him an Advent calendar. I went to a ladies’ Christmas evening at the English Church and made him a gingerbread house (I made it all minimal and beautiful, just icing, which is how Patrick came to teach me that the point of those things is so stick candy on them to be eaten. Did you know people actually eat those?! Well now I do.) I brought him a few decorations to help him have a taste of home. Patrick went through quite a few roommates. Some left because they got better, others because they couldn’t stand his irregular hours and hours in the shower.

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Decorating the tree 2013

Every day I would bring him clean laundry and take away his dirty laundry, change his bead if necessary, bring him new toiletries, disinfect things that had gotten ‘dirty’ while I was gone and just spent time talking with him, going for short walks (or longer ones as he got better) and trying to bring some normality into this uncomfortable situation. I baked Christmas cookies and brought him and the other patients some to share (and also his own stash. Ginger snaps are serious, man.)

Patrick forced me to decorate our home, knowing how much I love Christmas so my niece and nephew and my sister (-in-law) came to help decorate the tree that I bought with my Mother-in-Law came to stay for a week to help out.

As time past, Patrick started getting marginally better, but some things became increasingly difficult for him. Because he had grown used to not touching people at clinic, it became difficult for him to touch me and he stopped touching Matilda at all. It’s hard not to take avoidance of touch personally. The main goal of clinic had been to break the dependancy on me that we had allowed to enter and that had been achieved so just before Christmas Patrick and I decided that he would check out and we drove to Cologne for Christmas two days later.

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Christmas 2013

Christmas was rough. I spent so much of it worrying about how our families were going to be around Patrick, trying to minimise any impact our being there could have on them and at the same time trying to protect Patrick from any remarks or looks that could potentially hurt or bother him. I was relieved when we could finally go home.

January went by. It was spent waiting for Patrick to finally start his real ‘therapy’. It was also spent chasing after Matilda and moving her away from Patrick any time she got too close to him. Patrick was so scared that if she touched him he would get ‘stuck’, forcing him to hold her in the same position until he was ready for her to let go, that he completely avoided being touched by her at all.

Therapy finally started at our home at the beginning of February. It is a testament of what kind of man I married that the first thing he decided to tackle was his fear of Matilda touching him. For months now, whenever she was close to Patrick, Matilda would try to touch Patrick’s nose. I would always have to pull her away. That day, when the therapist came, she asked me to stay for the first minutes and then leave. They sat on the couch, Patrick picked Matilda up and she grabbed his nose. I got up, went and cried in the hallway and then left and we haven’t looked back since.

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2 thoughts on “What happened next…

  1. Hi again Sarah, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog! You have no idea how much help this is for me and my husband. My heart broke reading this and I think you and Patrick are amazing people and so strong! Praise God that He has carried you through such a dark time and we will continue praying for you and your family. Our baby was born in December – a beautiful, strong-willed little girl. My OCD is a daily struggle still but thankfully it hasn’t prevented me from caring for our daughter in any way. For anyone else reading they may find my husband’s comment interesting. After I had read your blog entries to him, he remarked that he finds it easy to forget about the battle going on in my head as my OCD is not so obvious externally. Inside I feel as though someone is gripping me by the arms and squeezing my heart until I can think the right thought or touch something the correct amount of times (unfortunately the number constantly changes!). He said that because I am able to hide it well and try not to talk about it too much it is easy for him to forget that I am ill and lost patience with me if I am taking a long time doing something. Mine is not as extreme as Patrick’s was/is because I will only be delayed by a matter of minutes and not hours, but the anxiety, fear, guilt and panic is extremely real and intense. Sometimes it is easier to ignore than others and I have been able to overcome it on many occasions, but Sarah you are absolutely right about how easy it is to rely on others to do things for you so that you do not need to confront your fears. I just wanted to thank you and Patrick for your honesty and openness. You are both very brave and God is using you both to help people in ways you can’t even imagine. It is helping my husband to gain a better understanding of the illness from an outsider’s perspective because he is often very frustrated and angry to see me suffering. I cried reading your story and wish that when I was in London with Patrick I had asked him more about it as maybe we could have helped each other. Sadly at that point in 2007 the only people who knew about my OCD were my parents, although I did pluck up the courage and mentioned it very briefly during our first week in London when we were telling our testimonies but even I did not properly understand it at that point and was embarrassed, scared and confused. Please let me know if you have any specific prayer requests or wish to vent to someone who understands. Patrick knows who I am but I don’t want to share my name on here. I hope you understand.

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    1. Thank you! Your honesty and that of your husband are such an encouragement to me as well! Now that Patrick is doing better, we have had those exact issues – not being able to see what happens internally leading to conflict in our marriage. It’s something that is going to come up here on the blog because it has lead to so much small, but significant, conflict in our marriage. I am so glad that you are finding this helpful and please, please, please keep commenting because they are just as helpful and encouraging for me!

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