My husband often talks about how good I smelled on our first date. He rarely gives me gifts, but a couple years ago he bought me a huge bottle of the perfume I wore that night. He loves it when I wear that perfume. He hates other smells. I can’t burn candles or use hand lotion when he’s around. It bothers him too much. But that perfume is okay!
It’s amazing how certain smells can bring back memories from long ago, or how some smells can make you feel a certain emotion. Perfume industries know this, and develop fragrances that are designed to evoke certain emotions.
My son says that each of his triggers have a certain smell associated to them. One of his triggers smells like ketchup (in his mind). So now ketchup is bad! He can barely stand to have it on the table with him. And his sister smells like stinky cheese (again, in his mind). He hates mac and cheese, grilled cheese, cheeseburgers, and anything else with cheddar cheese on it. Apparently other cheeses don’t stink like cheddar does!
Tonight, he’s having a hard time falling asleep in the hotel room. He decided that the hallway smells like stinky cheese. That, of course, must mean that I “work” for my daughter, because I’m the only one here from our family, and the hall smells like stinky cheese. The poor kid doesn’t dare fall asleep because he is convinced that he’s going to change if he doesn’t guard himself against this.
We realize that this makes absolutely no sense. But YOU try telling that to a boy who is completely convinced of this. If only we could just “talk him out of this.” It isn’t possible. If it was, we wouldn’t be here!
Unfortunately, OCD is not an illness that will be fixed overnight.
First of all, he isn’t ever going to be over OCD. He will always struggle with it to a certain extent. But our hope is that he can learn ways to cope with it and ways to fight the bad behaviors off when he recognizes them coming.
But also, it takes time to get rid of these negative thoughts. They are very firmly established in his mind. Most of his day is spent thinking about these things, and he’s been thinking them for so many years. These thoughts can’t be overturned in a few weeks at an intensive treatment program.
But we are very hopeful that we will see some progress after this. And today he joyfully told me that he was very happy with himself over the weekend because he spent several minutes in his sister’s presence without covering his nose!
Baby steps are good! We will get there. We need to rejoice in the small things and encourage him, even when at times we feel a little down about it all.