Strep => OCD => Suicidal Thoughts
My entire family of origin lives/lived with multiple OCD'ish behaviors, and we talk about it openly. For instance, some of us purchase things constantly, while some purge our living spaces when we are stressed. Some count silently, some straighten things, some walk in patterns, and some have issues with germs. These are inconveniences yes, yet we are largely able to live our lives as people do any other minor disability.
~ We are also a twitchy lot. Three family members have/had mild Tourette Syndrome. Again, we don't tend to freak out about these things - we just move on.
My daughter developed severe OCD at the end of her ninth summer. She had suffered through three bouts of strep related tonsillitis that year, but the required number needed for insurance to pay for a tonsillectomy was four. As such, she didn't get her tonsils out for five more years, and by then her OCD had caused her so much anxiety and depression that she'd self-harmed and been hospitalized at thirteen. Still... not one word about OCD from any doctor. Did they even know 25 years ago?
I wish that we had known about OCD causing intrusive suicidal thoughts. I also wish that everyone knew about the connection between the onset of OCD and strep infections.
PANDAS is a debilitating neurological condition that comes from strep and, though it's said to be rare, 1 in 200 sounds pretty darned common to me.
I'm very thankful that nowadays we have easy to access media produced by real people who live with actual OCD, like this TEDx Talk by Samantha Pena. I also like this simple TED-Ed talk on OCD myths vs. what it really looks like. I'm not a scientist or a doctor, so I tend to like people first info.
My particular form of OCD manifests in catastrophic thinking about the dangers others may be facing. In my youth it was uncontrollable and caused me chronic insomnia, but now I know how to deal with it before it costs me weeks of sleep. Largely this change came about twenty years ago when my counselor gave me a recommendation for a book that changed my life. Brain Lock by Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. gave me a scientific explanation about the caudate nucleus works, and suggestions for how to calm it down.
What if was widely known that "Suicide obsessions are a specific category of suicidal thoughts that are unique to individuals with OCD" or that OCD is self-treatable with CBT and MBSR? So many lives would be saved with just some simple information.
Even though I despise the word "commit" in relation to suicide, I think this article speaks to the importance of recognizing OCD as a life threatening illness.
What if we could be comfy enough to say - "Ugh, my OCD is giving me suicidal thinking today," and the other person said - "Uff, I hate when that happens to me, want to get some lunch or go for a walk?"
Don't want to out yourself as a person with OCD? There are tons of iPhone and Android apps for self-soothing of OCD symptoms, many of which are free or super cheap. Do some research into what may help you. Treat yourself kindly.
If you or someone you love lives with OCD, please accept it as a treatable medical issue and not a character defect. Strep can't cause character defects.
It breaks my heart that my daughter suffered with severe OCD which manifested as chronic suicidal thinking. It makes me feel so sad that other mothers' children are still suffering. I hate that people think OCD is something to be laughed at. It's just not funny.
Peace to you