My daughter (now 8, oops! 8-1/2 that 1/2 is important!) was diagnosed with OCD at age 5. Looking back now we started noticing signs as early as 3 years old but we just put them off to being a toddler or just a little eccentric. Just as she was starting kindergarten we realized there was something wrong and we needed help. We found doctors (took some trial and error to find the right ones for her) and we started therapy and then added medication. We continued on this road trying different medications, increasing doses, changing doctors and therapists, for 3 years. We’d have some small improvements here and there, but mostly it went downhill.
In August 2016, our therapy team at the University of Michigan decided she needed a more intensive program and recommended some of the ones I’d heard of (Rogers, McClean, etc.) My daughter wasn’t even 8 and we just couldn’t see going to a program, moving away from home, for weeks or months. Thankfully, someone in my support group told me about Mayo Clinic. They have a 5 day intensive outpatient program which sounded perfect for our needs, at least as a starting point. I called Mayo and started the application process. Within hours of receiving the information they required from our doctors, I received a call from Mayo Clinic to schedule our week.
The process was very easy and smooth and we didn’t have to wait long at all to get in. We were very lucky that our insurance covered it (and our insurance isn’t great) but I think they billed the insurance around $4,000 which was well worth it if we would have had to pay. Obviously this didn’t include travel, hotel and food.
Our week there was brutal but so rewarding. It was honestly one of the hardest and best experiences of my life. We drove (just the 2 of us) from Michigan to Minnesota. Our relationship, which had been very strained, improved so much during this trip; it was a very bonding time for us. The first morning we met with one of the therapist in a “getting to know you” type of appointment. That afternoon we started group sessions. There were 3 other families there and the kids ranged from my daughter at 8 years old to a 19 year old. The families were wonderful and we all bonded very quickly.
Every day we had 2 group sessions. Basically you would plan an exposure, do the exposure and talk about how it went and then plan to do one on your own outside of group. At the next session you would discuss how the one on your own went, plan and do another and then plan another on your own. So we were doing 4 planned exposures every day. It was great to learn better techniques for her to cope and how to help her. They also helped us with a behavior/consequence plan for at home and school; essentially earning things for hard work. They assume that you are there because you don’t have access to a good therapist so they are teaching you to fight the OCD/Anxiety without one.
The Take Away
We left Mayo Clinic feeling so much stronger and ready to fight. I swear I couldn’t believe the amount of change in my daughter in just a week. It was like I brought a different child home. Even on the drive, things happened that on the way there would have caused a melt down and now it was barely a hiccup. She even took time to be goofy with this giant pink elephant statue located at a random gas station in DeForest, WI.
I myself even learned so much on this trip. I was worried about how I would deal with it alone, along with my own anxiety and depression. I learned that I’m even stronger than I thought. I learned how to deal with everything, both her issues and mine, so much better. Best of all, I got my little girl back and our home life is so much better now. She has set backs and by no means is the OCD gone or always controlled but now we have the tools and knowledge to fight back.
I can’t recommend Mayo Clinic enough. If OCD or anxiety are ruling your lives, please look into it. I’m happy to answer any questions I can.
For more information, please go to their website here.