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Support group serves parents of kids with OCD

The Chapel Hill-based support group was started by a local mom, who was struggling as she raised her own child with OCD.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

A reader last month asked me if there were any support groups for parents of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I found one group. Here is another, which I found thanks to the help of Jeffrey Sapyta with the Duke Child and Family Study Center (which offers its own resources for children with OCD and other issues).

Kathleen, a mom who preferred I not use her full name because of privacy concerns for her child, is organizer of the support group for parents of kids with OCD. It meets on the third Thursday of every month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill.

She tells me that she started the group because of her own suffering and feelings of isolation as she raises her own child with OCD. The disorder, she wrote, can be invisible to the world and misunderstood.

"Often the help parents receive is focused on the child and not the emotionally exhausted caregiver," she wrote. "I came to realize that parents of children with OCD and related disorders need each other's support because it was too isolating and lonely to continue the journey by myself."

She said her child had experienced a variety of versions of OCD by the time she started the group. The disorder, which can come and go depending on stresses and triggers, can be managed with some treatments. But, she wrote, it typically isn't going to go away.

"Realizing I have many more years ahead of me in the parenting department, I became convinced that I needed to find the other members of the tribe where you can share your struggles and longings and darkness until you find your way back into the light. And I have," she wrote. "It's not an 'oh poor me kind of group.' The people, mostly women, are showing up for themselves because they care about being well . . . and really living from an honest and authentic place within themselves."

Kathleen, who has a background in social work, tells me that the support group has given her a voice and an opportunity to share with other moms who are going through the same thing.

"It's been a really great gift and I'm a lot healthier because of it," she wrote.

Kathleen directs parents to the International OCD Foundation for more information about the disorder. The support group also includes Barbara Claypole-White,  contributing writer to the new book "Easy to Love but Hard to Raise."

For more information about the support group, contact Kathleen at 919-402-1039 or konnectou@gmail.com.

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