Last year at the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Boston, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Jo-Ann Winston of Winston Flowers. Since the walk, Jo-Ann has become a frequent volunteer at the IOCDF office and has taken up the torch of OCD advocacy. I asked Jo-Ann to share her story for today’s blog post:
When you are blessed with a child and become a parent, nobody teaches you what to do. There isn’t a school or any online parenting courses that can prepare you for the emotion that comes with parenthood. Somehow though, it seamlessly all falls into place, and you find yourself instinctively bonding and knowing what to do with your child — the joy of parenting!
However, what if one day you find that you are not able to soothe your child or are confused by the things she is doing, the questions she is asking, the frustration she is showing? You find that the magical instincts you initially relied on are now going awry. You don’t understand what is happening.
This was the conversation going on in my head when my daughter Chloe was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 9. It was like a demon had taken over my daughter. I could see the fight going on within her and I couldn’t do anything about it. I knew how to deal with a cold or a skinned knee, but there wasn’t a chapter in any of parenting books I had read that told me what to do when my child became increasingly preoccupied and fearful as each day passed. In the end, I eventually turned to my parents for guidance and, with the support of my family and friends, I found Chloe a doctor and a therapist.
That, however, was just the beginning. I had so many questions and wanted to know more so I could help rescue my daughter from the grips of “The Poop Dude” (the name Chloe had given to her OCD). The Dude was clever and didn’t give up easily. I needed to learn how to help my daughter fight back against him. While looking for answers, a friend shared with me that her child also suffered from OCD and told me about the International OCD Foundation. When I went on the website, I was amazed at the amount of information. There were book referrals that were so helpful and a parenting support group held at McLean Hospital that I started attending every week. My mind was slowly being put at ease. I felt like the unknown just became manageable.
I decided to sign up to become a member of the IOCDF and receive the newsletter. I felt so empowered by the stories and the amazing research being done to help ease the suffering for the OCD community. The Foundation gave me the strength I needed. I no longer felt so sad about Chloe having OCD. I accepted her illness and was determined to help her and others fight back.
When we joined the “1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk” two years ago, I made it mandatory for the whole family to attend (even the dogs!). We mostly kept to ourselves but still felt the vibe from the other walkers. During our second year at the Walk, I set out to talk to people and get to know others who were also dealing with OCD. My kids where mortified. “What are you going to say?” they asked. “Nobody wants to talk about their OCD, mom!”
Thankfully I was saved or, should I say, my kids were saved from embarrassment when Jeff Smith, the director of development at the IOCDF, introduced himself. We had a lovely talk the whole way around the pond and from that moment, the bond began. Shortly afterwards, I started volunteering once a week at the Foundation. The people behind the scenes are young, smart, innovative, and dedicated. They even put up with my slow typing and are so encouraging and thankful for my time.
Now to really let you know why I am writing this article. Winston Flowers, my family’s business, has a wonderful program, “Charity in Bloom.” This program was created to raise awareness and funds for nonprofit organizations. Each month, proceeds from specially-designed “Charity in Bloom” arrangements are shared with a partner organization to support their initiatives.
The IOCDF will be the partner organization for the month of August 2015. Please join me in raising money for the IOCDF by sending someone a beautiful arrangement. Starting August 1 simply go to www.winstonflowers.com and click on “Charity in Bloom,” or click here. You will be supporting a wonderful Foundation and making someone very happy with a lovely Winston’s arrangement.
Oh, and by the way, Chloe, the one who brought me to the Foundation, still has to fight the “Poop Dude,” but she is winning and thriving at the age of 18, and is off to college next year. Thank you, IOCDF, for giving me awareness, hope, and strength.
– Jo-Ann Winston
The IOCDF is excited to announce that we have been selected as the beneficiary of the “Charity in Bloom” program for this month (August 2015). Charity in Bloom is a philanthropic program run through longtime Boston florist, Winston Flowers. To order your flowers, please click here. Winston Flowers works with florists around the country to create these bouquets, so you can have them sent to anyone in the United States.