Imagine waking up in the morning and sitting up in bed, and repeating that action 41 more times. Imagine turning your body to put your feet on the floor 42 times.

Taking a step toward your bedroom door with your left foot 42 times. Then with your right foot 42 times. And then again with your left another 42 times, and so on.

Imagine you turn the bathroom sink’s faucet handle on, and then off, 42 times, wet your toothbrush 42 times, and so on.

Imagine this being just the beginning of your day. Every day.

For Elizabeth McIngvale, this was no imaginary scenario. It was reality. Her mind insisted that if she didn’t do everything 42 times, something horrible – serious illness, injury or even death – might befall her family.

Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD, LMSW, was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 12 and underwent treatment that included both inpatient and outpatient therapy. In this six-part video series, Dr. McIngvale discusses OCD from her unique position as a patient and a psychologist.

Dr. McIngvale shares critical information that will help teachers, youth workers and parents better understand the condition, including:

  • The diagnostic criteria/basic principles of OCD and appropriate treatment.

  • The impact of stigma and low access to appropriate mental health treatment.

  • The importance of support in treatment.

  • The importance of relapse prevention and advocacy.

More importantly, Dr. McIngvale shares her own personal story of diagnosis, the effects of her behavior on other family members, the long search for care, navigating treatment, slowly accepting her disease, and traversing the pathway of her life. Parts two and three of the video are particularly compelling as she goes into detail about how her disease accelerated, learned there were others like her, and realized that she could enjoy an improved quality of life even though the disease would be with her always.

Although the series as a whole takes the viewer on an emotional journey – some sections may be more difficult to watch than others – Dr. McIngvale shares her story openly and without reservation. In doing so, she provides rare insight into OCD and offers definitive hope for those who experience the disease and their caretakers.

What You Can Do To Help a Child With OCD

If you work closely with children, odds are that someone under care may be struggling with a form of OCD. The Child Mind Institute offers a comprehensive Teachers Guide to OCD in the Classroom to help you better understand OCD and what behaviors you might see in your work.

For example, a student may be constantly distracted or painstakingly slow at class work. These might looks like classic symptoms of ADHD, anxiety or a learning disability, when they are actually a manifestation of their OCD.

If a child is struggling with OCD, the Child Mind Institute recommends several strategies that can help, including:

  • Ensuring the child is seated near the front of the class and away from the door, to minimize distractions.

  • Allowing extra time for tests and writing assignments.

  • Suggesting they use a laptop instead of pencil and paper, if writing and rewriting is one of their OCD behaviors.

  • Arranging for private testing, books on tape and other accommodations that can help ease their challenge.

It’s important to talk to the parents about a child’s OCD, and understand what kind of treatment the child is receiving. Talk with the family about what works and what doesn’t, and provide as much compassionate support as you can.

Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD, LMSW, is an assistant professor at Baylor University's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. She is also the founder of the Peace of Mind foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD. She is a national spokesperson for the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and a licensed therapist in Texas. Dr. McIngvale was recorded during her keynote presentation at Claritycon2017, hosted by Clarity Child Guidance Center, on Friday, June 16, in San Antonio, Texas.