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Letter to future patient, from the parent of a former one

04/18/18 05:50:pm

letter.jpgA grateful parent penned and delivered this letter the day their daughter discharged from an intensive outpatient program at Rogers–Chicago for OCD and Anxiety. It serves as a fine example of how we’re able to make positive impacts on people’s lives and how effective our PHP to IOP step-down is.

Dear Parent of a Future Patient:

In the Fall of 2017, our daughter was diagnosed with a form of OCD perfectionism so severe that she became unable to produce any school work while a junior in high school. She was starting to fail all her classes at the most critical time of her high school career. We soon started to envision the future of our daughter, who had received straight-As since elementary school, as someone who might not graduate from high school.

We were made aware of Rogers Behavioral Health by the neuro-psychologist who evaluated our daughter. She started out in the Intensive Outpatient Program and was upgraded to the Partial Hospitalization Program (full day) one month after starting her treatment as we could see that she was not making adequate progress at the time.

Our treatment team consisted of Amy Wu, the family therapist, Dr. Cho our daughter’s psychiatrist and Incia the behavior specialist.

When we first arrived at Rogers we were all in a heightened state of anxiety as we were really unsure how things were going to unfold. As a parent of a child displaying such severe symptoms, I had a very hard time imagining that things were going to get better someday. I simply could not fathom what strategies Rogers was going to put into place to get our daughter out of a deeply distressing situation. In fact, I think I was terrified.

Our daughter’s first days at Rogers were very challenging as it seems that her symptoms intensified while she was starting therapy. At first, she didn’t want to go back to Rogers for several days.

The treatment team initially focused on rebuilding our daughter’s self-esteem which had been shattered by her debilitating symptoms. Some of the exposures that she was invited to perform included having to make decisions for other people and herself, complimenting others, writing a worst case scenario, making small talk with people she did not know, producing some academic writing under time constraints, reading academic texts under time constraints, playing her violin in front of people she didn’t know, listening to people compare her slow recovery to that of people who recovered much faster, etc.

The treatment team helped me understand a few things:

  • My child needs to have a strong sense of agency in how they run their life.
  • As a parent, I need to stop reassuring my child about her anxieties and let her cope with the discomfort that comes with negative feelings on her own, while showing love and support but without doing the work which consists of bringing her anxiety back to a tolerable level.
  • My child is capable of making progress and can manage anxiety on her own.

Rogers was a life saver. The staff’s hopefulness, professionalism, creativity and perceptiveness helped us navigate the very challenging task of helping our child in such deep distress.

The most difficult thing during the initial phases of treatment was to tolerate the excruciating experience of witnessing my daughter’s suffering.

This experience also helped me realize that I am a very adequate and resilient parent. I am also a parent who is able to trust my child with the ability to make the right decision for herself. We have learned the importance of giving our child a sense of agency in her life.

As the treatment is reaching its end, I realize how much I will miss meeting with the incredibly talented staff of Rogers. It is always a pleasure to witness such competent people at work in the care of your child. My daughter became deeply attached to her behavioral specialist and all the caring staff here at Rogers to the point that she is now reluctant to leave the facility.

I would recommend Rogers to any parent of a child suffering from OCD/anxiety/depression/eating disorders for the aforementioned reasons. It is probably the best decision that we have made to help our daughter get back on track with a new and augmented sense of self.

I spent many sleepless nights at the beginning of our daughter’s treatment. The most troubling thing was that I could not envision the ways in which my daughter was going to be able to control her symptoms. Ultimately, she did. Not only did she learn how to harness her perfectionism, but she also learned so many things about herself in the process that she emerged as a stronger and more mature individual.

Do know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The staff is extremely supportive and compassionate. I cannot think of a better place to help your child cope and learn how to get rid of the afflictions which might be plaguing them.

They will get better.

The parent of a former patient affected with OCD/perfectionism.

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