I’m sitting in my living room surrounded by boxes full of everything that usually belongs in our kitchen cupboards and drawers.
Our bedroom closet is full of bathroom supplies.
One lone bag carries everything from our desk.
An ice chest in the garage holds medications.
And padlocks are attached to every cupboard with the few items that remain.
Are you confused? You’re not alone.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has taken over our son, and in turn, has taken over our lives.
According to Psychiatry.org, OCD is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). For people with OCD, thoughts are persistent and unwanted, routines and behaviors are rigid, and not doing them causes great distress.
Braden’s OCD is not new. In fact, I just found this Facebook post from 10 years ago on my feed this morning.
However, they’ve gotten worse, and they are so bad now that Mike and I are having difficulty trying to figure out what we can do next.
One thing about the Boll family…we get SH*% done! Mike, Madi, and I have always been quick-moving, and when we have a project, we want it done and dusted. We move fast, which sometimes gets us into trouble as others are much more detail-oriented and spend more time in the planning phase. Mike and me? Not so much. Here’s an example:
In Shanghai, China:
“Should we start an inclusive school?”
“Okay, let’s do it.”
School opened less than 6 months later (with excellent partners, of course. We did not do it by ourselves. We did find others who were willing to move as fast as we did).
So, overall we are fairly efficient people. Were we always like this? Maybe. But I do believe raising Braden helped us focus on getting things done when we could.
Braden’s asleep? Get that Masters paper done.
Braden’s playing Mario Kart? Respond to emails.
Braden is showering? Quick, do a load of laundry.
We move fast because we have to move fast. There is no alternative.
Now back to the padlocks.
Braden’s OCD has gotten out of control. I have a story I will share next week about what happens when Braden’s compulsion is interrupted. It’s a doozy, and one Mike, Madi, and I are still recovering from emotionally. But it’s important to know this:
We MUST NOT interrupt a compulsion. EVER.
I tell you this so you will understand why we have the locks, why we are tolerating having all of our things in boxes and bins rather than where they belong. Trust me, it’s not because it’s fun.
You might recall Braden emptied our refrigerator and freezer while we were still in Bangkok. His OCD dissipated a bit when we moved to Oregon. Recently, however, it came back with a vengeance. Now, he has an overall compulsion to empty every drawer.
That started a few days ago. He will suddenly stand up, run over to a drawer, grab the contents of said drawer, and dump all into the trash. Then he’ll sit back down. Three minutes later, he’s up again, this time to another drawer, and the process continues. At night time, he goes to bed. We think he’s asleep. An hour later, he pops up, runs upstairs, and empties another drawer.
Yesterday, in the course of 20 minutes, he emptied every drawer in the house. Mike and I made it easier for him by giving him bins to put everything into. That also helped us as we know where things are so we can find them when we need them.
The only thing that stops these compulsions is to leave the house. Yesterday, Mike took Braden for a long drive and walk so I could try to organize all the things Braden had thrown away. I spent hours rearranging all the supplies into some of our cabinets and the boxes, of course.
Upon their return, Braden looked calm at first. I went to the back porch for something, and when I returned, he was starting to decimate the cabinets. You could see that if he didn’t clean out those cabinets, he would die. That’s the only way to describe it.
So, Mike, Braden, and I got into the car and drove to our lifelong friends’ home. We were exhausted, exasperated, and just needed some sort of break. Braden was utterly calm on their back porch. The compulsions magically leave his brain when we are out of the house.
We confided in K & S, and the problem-solving started. Mike and K ran to the hardware store. We already owned some refrigerator locks and wire cables and locks, as our dear friend sent them to us when we returned home to Oregon. She saw a solution before we did and had the foresight to send us the needed materials.
With the necessary additional hardware in hand, K & Mike installed locks on our cabinets. Meanwhile, Braden and I sat with S on her back porch. She cheered me up by reading me misheard song lyrics. Awww, friendship.
Great. Problem solved.
And that brings me back to efficiency.
Making coffee in our “new” kitchen.
- Step 1: “Oh crap. Braden threw away all my ground coffee during his purge today.” (Those of you who know how much I love and adore my coffee can understand the pain of this discovery).
- Step 2: Find the coffee grinder (in box…on floor… in living room).
- Step 3: Go to locked pantry. Unlock. Get coffee beans. Grind beans. Put coffee back in the pantry and relock the lock.
- Step 4: Coffee liners. “Where are they? Oh yes, they’re in the locked cabinet above the coffee maker.”
- Step 5: Remember code to padlock. Unlock padlock. Grab liner.
- Step 6: Put coffee in the pot. “Shoot, where are the spoons?”
- Step 7: Start crying realizing spoons are in a different locked cabinet.
- Step 8: Yell, “I can’t do this anymore!”
- Step 9: Make the coffee.
- Step 10: Need mugs. Go to a different locked cabinet. Unlock. Grab mugs.
- Step 11: Mike needs creamer. Go to refrigerator lock. Find key. Unlock refrigerator.
- Step 12: Start walking with coffee and trip over untied shoes. Spill coffee everywhere.
- Step 13: Start crying again.
Am I throwing myself a pity party? Yep. How can one be efficient when it takes 25 minutes to make a pot of coffee? And this is just to make coffee. Making dinner is going to be oh so much fun.
And, it’s not over. Today we’re putting further measures in place. We’re heading to Lowe’s to buy another lockable pantry where all our “floor” belongings will now go. Mike’s measuring for a lock system for our drawers and bathroom cabinets. We are looking to be proactive rather than reactive.
And then there’s the bigger question. Once the drawers and cabinets are no longer available, what will the next compulsion be?
Chalk this up to another win for COVID. And I’m feeling low.
But for now, Braden is asleep, so I’m going to go and try to get some things done.
Update: We went to Lowes and bought heavy-duty outdoor utility cabinets for our home. Don’t you just love the look? I know you’re jealous.