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Meet an adolescent dedicated to speaking out

Globe and Mail Update

While trying to combat OCD, Alyse manages to earn top grades, do volunteer work and pursue her passion ...Read the full article

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  1. Michael Sharp from Victoria, Canada writes:

    OCD is a form of anxiety, which is often symptomatic of depression.

    Treatable.
  2. Glenn F from Winnipeg, Canada writes: What's worse - her continuing to have symptoms, or people enabling her to continue to have symptoms?

    Give an alcoholic a drink. Give a sufferer of OCD free reign. Neither will end up well.
  3. Philosopher Dog from Toronto, Canada writes: Michael,
    I'm sure its not quite that simple. Even if it is a form of depression, something I seriously doubt, many forms of depression resist treatment. Most drug treatments, for instance, are totally ineffective, once you eliminate the placebo effect, despite what the pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe. Indeed, many are catastrophic to a persons overall health. Anyhow, it's good for folks to see and hear from some of the folks suffering from these terrible ailments. I hope she finds contentment despite this thing.
  4. Shahn Torontow from Victoria, Canada writes: Michael and Glenn, not everyone falls into 'the box', not every drug helps everyone. Not every Doctor can find the right combination necessary to help every person. The body is constantly changing, some drugs have limited use. Long term illness is extremely debilitating for the patient and hurts the family, it's an extremely heavy load for the heart. Even if you know someone who has been there, which you likely don't, your comments are hurtful. This family and everyone who loves them have tried very hard to find a solution. Off the cuff comments and attitudes like yours are part of the problem, not a solution. Take a month off work and volunteer in a mental health facility for the full thirty days. Then think about doing that for five years straight, your attitude might change.
    Hopefully one day soon Alyse will get well.
    Sincerely
    Shahn
  5. Some Other Guy from Canada writes: I don't suffer from OCD, but I suffer from Panic Disorder which, at it's worst, prevents me from leaving the house for days on end.

    I admit, that over the years, I've tried various forms of treatment; medication, cbt, talk therapy, emt... None of it has worked.

    Recently, I've started to ask myself, 'Why don't I get better? What's in it for me if I stay this way?'

    And I think, to be honest, there's a certain comfort in staying this way. My life is regimented and orderly. I experience a tenth of what a normal person experiences, but in my convoluted mind, it's better to be comfortable than to feel the fear of experiencing life.

    I'm not suggesting the same for Alyse, but watching the video, I can't help but wonder if there might be a part of her that is afraid to get better - seeing as such a huge part of her identity is the illness.

    I hope we all get well.
  6. Johnn Baraka from Victoria, Canada writes: Michael and Glenn, where do you guys have your practice located anyway? I could not find you on the physician's list in the phonebook.
  7. A Canadian Patriot from Toronto, Canada writes: What a brave girl! I could never had stayed so strong when I was in the middle of my OCD. I just shut down and avoided most things before I went on Paxil. She's an inspiration!
  8. Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: Alyse, 'when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you...' Never give up wishing and dreaming, sweetie (hope you don't mind me saying sweetie to you, a stranger; you just are). I look forward to hearing what Doctor Schacter is up to sometime in the not-too-distant future!
  9. CHS Girl from Canada writes: In regard to the whole 'it's treatable' thing...
    Fortunately, most people (I believe it is ~99% but I am not quite sure) with OCD have had treatment (either cognitive therapy, medication, or a combination) to help cure or significantly lessen their OCD. Unfortunately, Alyse falls into the 1% of people with treatment-resistive OCD, which means DESPITE the numerous attempts at treatment, it is unable to help her. (However, knowing her personally, I can say that in spite of her OCD she does an immeasurable amount of wonderful things each and every day)

    Point being, not all OCD is 100% (or, sometimes, even the least bit) treatable. Like Alyse said in the documentary, had she been able to stop it, she would have done so a long time ago. It's not like she hasn't tried taking the treatment steps either --she most definitely has, she just (as I mentioned earlier) falls under the category of treatment-resistive.
  10. Matt The Good from Canada writes: she's 17, telling her she's in the tiny percentage that is treatment-resistant is cruel. give her some hope. who know's why treatment hasn't helped her... maybe she's resisting for some reason. she's a teenager, she's going through a lot more than OCD.
  11. CHS Girl from Canada writes: I'm sorry I think you misunderstood...I'm not the one telling her she's treatment-resistant, it is what she has (to date) been diagnosed as --hopefully new treatment will come and that will change-- but that's currently what she is, and she shares that freely at almost everyone of her presentations that I've attended ---- I am close friends with Alyse and (though I may be wrong and if so I'm fine with being wrong and apologize for it) but I don't think it's 'cruel' to restate what Alyse acknowledges as her current state regarding the treatment.

    And Alyse is huge about giving and maintaining hope :). That's one of the main reasons why she is becoming so open with her story, because she wants to get rid of the negative stigma attached to mental illness. I.e., from my understanding, to her it isn't cruel to say she's treatment-resistant. That's what she currently is. So she takes it at face value, rather than hiding it and thus reinforcing the negative stigma associated to mental illness. I'm extremely proud and in awe of the fact that she is so open with her story, and is becoming SUCH a huge part of ending the stigma!

    Sorry for any confusion from my last comment, I hope that cleared some things up!! :)
  12. S F from Canada writes: Glenn F. -- you have no idea. NO IDEA.

    Fingers crossed for Alyse that they find the right treatment soon! Perhaps the next treatment, or combination of treatments, will make a difference. And even absent finding something that works medically, with this kind of determination and spirit, I have faith that she'll go far.
  13. Ross Johnson from Victoria, Canada writes: For anyone to make such a glib and uninformed statement about someones illness is not only hurtful to the ill one, but makes them feel as if perhaps they are not doing enough to fight the good fight for some reason.
    I know this young girl and her family and know that she has been fighting the good fight and following doctors orders (not being alone and so enabled by mum). She has tried so hard and always with the chin held high and a willingness to carry on and try the next thing. How can you be so heartless?
    I speak from my own experiences when I say - shut up! Get a life of your own and leave these poor people alone.
  14. E W from Canada writes: Given how little background information was provided about Alyse's childhood, I don't think Glenn or anyone else is in a position to cast judgments about what would or would not have worked. People are idiosyncratic and the mind is not a one-solution-fits-all sort of place.
  15. Deborah Sudul from Calgary, Canada writes: What a stunningly articulate and self-aware person Alyse is, which surely must make it all the more frustrating that she has not been able to find relief in medication or therapy. I hope she is able to achieve her dream of being a doctor - her compassion for others and sharp intelligence would certainly mean she'd be a very good one. Good luck!
  16. Mark Roop from Canada writes: Wow! she has ALOT of rituals! and I thought I had so many at the hight of my OCD... I really do find it amazing that she is still able keep going. Congratulations on keeping strong!
  17. Elana Fleischmann from Toronto, Canada writes: I spent the majority of my teenage years growing up with Alyse's mother, Shereen. I can't think of a more dedicated, supportive and loving mom to Alyse and to the rest of her family. Alyse's entire family is devoted to her care and to enhancing her well-being. I wonder if Glenn would maintain his ignorant comments if he was able to 'walk a mile in Alyse's shoes'. It's people like Glenn that only serve to demean, denigrate and discriminate against those suffering from mental illnesses and issues. I have had the good fortune to meet Alyse and can tell you that she is truly a treasure to cherish.
  18. Helen Braiter from Ottawa, Canada writes: I have met this wonderful young woman, and her intelligence, strength and beauty touched my soul. It is wrong to assume that the OCD that she has is a choice....I think that if Alyse could choose, she would be free of the rituals and constraints so that she could spend her time and energy helping other people - a desire that she expressed in the video.
  19. Bill Bishop from Ottawa, Canada writes: My name is Laura; I am writing this under my father's account.
    I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in early middle school and can relate to Alyse Schacter's experiences; particularly the ones that concern offending other people. I applaud Alyse Schacter's courage and determination; as a sufferer myself I know how hard living with OCD can be. I am grateful that she seeks to spread awareness and I wish her nothing but success.
  20. a vs from Canada writes: Having been diagnosed with LD at a late age, I was always fascinated with special education and helping kids succeed in school. It was not until this year, however, that I truly started to understand issues faced by students with mental illnesses such as anxiety. There are not enough advocates and resources available in regards to mental illnesses and I was thrilled when this series was published. Each article was very touching and moving, but Alyse's experience brought a tears to my eyes as I could see a little of myself in her. It was not until I read this article that I truly understood that I myself had suffered from OCD. Of course, every patient experiences different symptoms, but what really helped me control and get over some of my rituals was the arrival of a little puppy into our home. Faced with such love and excitement, he was my cognitive therapy; thanks to him I had to face my troubles and fears.

    Thank you for bringing mental illnesses to the attention of everyone.
  21. Kayla Pelletier from Pembroke, Canada writes: ohh alyse, how i miss you and how i am sooo proud of you :) alyse you came a looong way , and i am so glad to see you have made it so so far , and i loved that little while wee spent together at the royal ottawa, i remember you waking up everymorning taking hours to get out of bed, and i remember you always sayinng 'you know im grateful , right ?' alyse you are a really strong person , and i hope you know that ill always be thinking about you, you really inspired me alot and helped me threw the times i was having trouble with and i tried to help you as much as i could and you would let me, alyse, i just want to let you know that you probably amaze so many people these days showing your strenght and everything, i justgot out of a treatment center, and it blew me away on how life is today, i know its hard babe but keep on trucking along your doing greatt ! everyday i think to myself; if alyse can do it , so can i !! your an amazing girl and i wish you the best, i hope to sometime see you , so we can talk about many many many many !! thingss ! , much love; Kaylapelletier ! * remember, the stars ARE beautiful; and i will make a wish :)
  22. Patricia O'Beirne from Canada writes: I salute Ayse and her family for their courage and support. As someone with a brother who also has OCD and Tourette quite severely, I have first-hand experience with how challenging this illness can be. I think people with OCD and/or Tourette need our support and compassion, and there needs to be more advocacy in defense of the rights of people with mental illness. Often they are marginalized, not in the workforce or in school, and, therefore, out of the public eye. We need to speak up and push for appropriate access to services and help for those affected and their families. We should always see a person's humanity, regardless of their illness or disability. I would urge people to join a mental health advocacy group in your area.
  23. R. M. from Regina, Canada writes: These are the 'stories' that cry out for a movie or documentary--exceptional lives, exceptional people.
  24. A Happier Place from Canada writes: Alyse appears to have a big and generous heart. I wish her all the best in her brave efforts to make OCD understood.
  25. mila gilbert from Canada writes: Like many other readers, and Alyse herself (as I understood from the article) I believe that although Alyse's condition has not yet been 'treated', there is still much hope for her and other sufferers of OCD for future treatment.

    Certainly not all cognitive therapies are alike. I wonder if Alyse, her family or her therapists have tried a specific type of cognitive therapy known as the '4 Rs': relabeling, reattributing, refocusing, and revaluing, as discussed by Jeffrey Schwartz (a UCLA scientist and someone who has studied OCD for a long time) and Sharon Begley in their book, 'The mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of mental force'?

    I first came across their work on OCD on an article by mental illness by William A. Dembski. Although the article and the book deal more with the philosophical and historical issue of the mind-body debate, I think Schwartz's practical experiments with OCD patients may be worthwhile reading for those effected by, or treating such mental conditions.

    Great to see this article in the Globe and Mail, as well as a lively discussion on the subject!
  26. Barclay Logan from Bewdley, Canada writes: Well, Mike and Glenn seem to have left the building, ignorance intact. I was hoping for some helpful tips on curing mental illness ...
  27. Rob Scheid from Richmond Hill, Canada writes: I commend Alyse for her ability to cope with a severe case of OCD. I have been through the mental health system myself, and I am glad she recognised and accepted her mental disability at such a young age. I ignored my problems until I was in my early twenties, and it only got harder to deal with you run into a situation where you just crash. I have no doubt in my mind that she can overcome this as long as her attitude keeps going in this direction. Keep up the fight!
  28. Dr Strangelove from Tango, Tonga writes: In which way does this story fit the subject 'Canada's mental health crisis'? I'm rather impressed by the girl herself but also by those around her who helped her achieve what she did. It suggests that Canada is not such a bad place to be when you've got mental trouble, and not just because of helpful institutions but because of understanding and humane people.
  29. maria olenick from Chilliwack, Canada writes: I applaud Alyse for her courage to share her experience living with OCD and to educate others. Medications are not without side effects and often times side effects are more debilitating than the condition. It takes tremendous courage to live and cope with the symptoms of such condition as Alyse's and they are not a matter of choice. Good luck to you Alyse.
  30. The Centrist from Canada writes: How courageous this young woman is. Too bad that some people have no empathy for other human beings and just wish to blame people for having mental health issues. I hope they aren't procreating.
  31. Simon O'Riordan from United Kingdom writes: Doing as a voice in your head tells you to do is a fear response.
    What's the worst that can happen? Apart from the fear?
    Of course, standing up and doing what you want instead of what the voice says might not make the voice go away.
    Then you might try to pursue truly fearful courses of action- at the very least you will destroy inhibitions.
    If the perceived danger in the reality you occupy is great enough, the voices will often become irrelevant and disappear.
    There may be some residual delusion, but as the man said earlier in the thread, a great deal of the problem is allowing sufferers liberty while they are suffering.
    The realisation that you are not in a normal state, when matched by a modification of liberties, is often enough to concentrate the mind on its own survival.
    I speak from personal experience.
  32. Betty L from toronto, Canada writes: she should keep her mouth shut too. too many people will take advantage of it because it interesting.

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