As someone who has struggled with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), I know first-hand the impact this condition can have on a person’s life. ODD is a behaviour disorder that is characterized by ongoing patterns of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behaviour towards authority figures. For me, this often manifested as arguing with teachers and parents, refusing to follow rules, and what I now see as deliberately disobeying authority figures.
Living with ODD can be incredibly difficult. I struggle with social interactions and have difficulty forming and maintaining friendships. I struggled at school and had disciplinary issues, often in the shape of clashes with teachers, which subsequently had a significant impact on my relationship with my parents, and on my general sense of self-esteem, exacerbating an already sizeable issue.
One of the challenges of having ODD is that it commonly exists with other conditions, such as ADHD, (of which I am diagnosed with both) and so whether from an assessment perspective, or from the perspective of a developing young person trying to make sense of the world, it can be extremely difficult to pick apart the condition(s) and the person, if they can be considered separate at all.
However, with the help of therapy and medication, I was able to learn effective coping strategies and develop positive social skills. Therapy focused on teaching me appropriate social skills, problem-solving techniques, and anger management strategies. It taught me to take a moment after the immediate emotional response to give my logical mind a chance to have a say in how to react. My parents educated themselves on the condition, and this really helped my them manage my behaviour – and their responses to my behaviour – more effectively and support my development of positive social skills. Medication for my ADHD helped enormously.
As a sufferer of both conditions, I can’t stress strongly enough how early identification and treatment of ODD is crucial. While it’s obviously hard to deal with someone who presents as defiant or display unpredictable behaviour, it’s also important to recognise the impact this condition can have on a person’s life and mental well-being, and encouraging them to seek talking therapy help. While living with ODD can be incredibly challenging, it is possible to manage the symptoms and develop positive social skills with the right support and treatment.