top of page

Manny (right) and his mom Lori (left) soak up some sun on the front steps of their house.

Meet Manny

Manny, 18, lives with his mom, grandmother, a half-dozen pets, and his own vibrant creativity. He sings his own lyrics over melodic loops he finds online and makes videos of his favorite TV clips and songs. He’s interested in acting.  

“Acting is like a different world,” he says. “You can be your own person, but also another person.” 


The kind of person he is? Manny says he’s like his cat Blabbo, who’s always meowing her feelings. They both wear black head-to-toe, he says, and “she stays in a corner, she’s hard to interact with…but she wants to.”

Blabbo lighter.png

Like Manny, Blabbo has a flair for the dramatic and a secret penchant for people.

Manny’s OCD…Let’s Call It "Bob"

Manny and his mom Lori call his obsessive-compulsive tendencies “Bob” – an exasperating roommate they can’t quite evict.


Bob has bullied Manny since he was 8. He preys on Manny’s worst fears – like that his mom might get hurt – and puts pressure on him to prevent those bad things. He urges Manny to perform rituals, retrace his steps, avoid certain numbers, even steal his mom’s keys if that’s what it takes to keep her from harm. (It also keeps her from getting to work.)


The high-stakes stress has ground Manny down. He’s suffered regular panic attacks. He can no longer attend school. At one point, he stopped showering or speaking or going outside.  


“He was completely lost to ruminations, obsessions, and compulsions,” Lori says. “This kid’s brain was not shutting off. He couldn’t get a five-minute break to breathe.”


Bob can be a relentless presence in Manny’s home and in his head. Back off, Bob!

Manny Masters the “Fearmometer”

After years of bouncing among therapists, juggling medications, waiting for treatment, and finally, hospitalization, Manny entered PARC’s Intensive Program, which is specifically geared toward young people who have the kind of OCD that derails daily life.


On his first day at PARC, Manny was asked to rank the intensity of his fears on a “fearmomemeter” – a scale of 1 to 10 degrees. “Opening a cabinet” he rated a 2. “Flipping a light switch,” 6. “Pressing a button” he placed at the fearmometer’s feverish top. 


“It made me think about the fears differently,” Manny said. “They’re still in your head and they still scare you. But when you write them down, you can start to picture what to do.”


With the help of his coaches at PARC, he learned he could do exposures – gradual, planned encounters with his fears. His first exposure was opening a cabinet. For a week, he practiced opening and sitting beside it for as long as he could, noticing his anxiety spike, simmer, and eventually subside. 


But Manny’s only human. He saved the hardest exposure for last: The button.


“I said, ‘I can’t do this one. It’s too hard.’ [My coach] was like, ‘Maybe you can’t…but you probably can.’”


Manny’s coach talked with him about how each step might feel. Abruptly, Manny decided he was done talking. 


“I literally just walked over and pressed it and they asked, ‘What’s your number?’ ‘One,’” he recalled, laughing. “It didn’t do anything.”

Untitled design.png

At PARC, Manny discovered the “temperature” of his anxiety was fluid – and responsive to the repeated practice of exposure.

Manny on the Outside

Manny and Lori still live with Bob. But he no longer makes the rules. 


A year after completing the program, Manny is doing things that once seemed impossible. He can shower when he needs to. He can leave the house now, too, which means fresh air, yes, but also….acting camp! Manny is excited to give it a try and meet new people. And after recording nearly 50 songs, he has shared his first online. 


In short, there’s less Bob and more Blabbo – Manny’s natural, expressive self.


“As someone who’s been through it, I know how it feels to have no hope,” he said. “But there’s a light everywhere.”


Lori chimes in, as moms do. 


“You just have to have access to the light,” she said. “There are so many kids without treatment who could really benefit from PARC, but it’s only one entity. Their formula works and they have people you can relate to. We would have moved right into that place if we could, because they feel like family.”

Manny with camera.jpeg

Much more the director of his own life, Manny is exploring his artistic interests.

bottom of page