This may be my heaviest post. I promise I will enlighten you with humor and the “ha has” of motherhood, but I have to start here for you to understand me and understand my journey- THIS is where I hope to help you, read on….
Possible Trigger Warning
February 13, 2018, I laid face down in the middle of the floor gasping for air (Probably the 4th or 5th time I called my husband at work during my leave) This was the first day I saw the sadness and fear in his eyes; he had been a rock for us, never questioning my struggles, just stepping up- no questions asked. He held me and I told him that I had to get help. We flipped through the bull shit pamphlets we got at the hospital and there was no help in the literature, just questions like, “are you sad?” Fuck yes, I’m sad, I had a baby rip through me and I feel pain both mentally and physically. “Are you bonded to your baby?” Fuck yes I am bonded to this perfect human being that ripped through me but I am in pain, both physically and mentally.
Wait, what? How can I be sad but also love my baby?
And THIS mama is where the stigma begins.
I remember my OB mentioning a therapist at my hospital, so I started googling and I found her. I knew I needed help soon so I called immediately….
The receptionist told me she was booked until late March, the panic set in. “But, I need help now…what do I do” she must have heard the panic in my voice and she asked me to hold.
“Katie, **** said she would see you tomorrow, Valentines Day, after she sees her scheduled patients for that day, she can see you at 6:30 pm-she said she would stay late….. Can you do that?”
YES, I can. I mean its Valentines day and I have a newborn…
“Great, if you feel like you need help before then you can always go to a local psychiatric center and admit yourself”
WAIT, What? Am I that crazy? Does she think I am a nut case? What in the hell, I’m better than this. I was even affected by the stigma.
shame on me.
Hey Hunny, let’s go see a shrink for our date night. *That is exactly how I presented it to him- lol
When I arrived at the therapist’s office I immediately started crying…WHY? Well because I felt like I had lost…I AM AN OFFICIAL NUT CASE. In reality, I was one of the brave, the strong, the smart…but I just didn’t see it yet.
I sat in my therapist’s office and she asked, “why are you crying?”
REALLY? Why do you think I’m Crying? – “I’m scared of myself” that is all I could say.
“Do you have thoughts of harming your baby?”
That question ate away at my heart and made me cringe. I hesitated and thought... “yes, I have, but how do I explain that they were fears not desires. I had horrific visions of everything bad happening. Running water, knives, vehicles, ledges, guns, EVERYTHING was a threat. If it had potential harm, I was envisioning it. I can almost guarantee that if you thought it, mama, so have I.
this is it, my chance to lay it all out and at this point, if they want to lock me away, at least we would all be safe”. This is where the endless hours of googling all came to a stop (blog post to come on the dangers of google)I finally heard the words that my husband and mom had been telling me all along “you aren’t a danger to your baby” but hearing it from a therapist was so freeing (for the time being). I was perpetually finding ways to bring up my struggles to other moms to see if I could get them to reveal similar symptoms to mine. I never revealed what I was really struggling with, I always disguised it with phrases like “I’m scared” “I’m nervous of doing something wrong”. I then became obsessed with every thought and feeling. Did I have psychosis? Was I a risk? Did I really love my baby? How could I with these dark, terrifying thoughts? This is when I learned about Intrusive thoughts and catastrophic thinking. Imagine being in flight or fight mode ALL THE TIME. I couldn’t even sit at my friend’s house and pet her dog because I feared it would eat my baby. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, but I literally saw everything as a threat. I hid our knives, avoided scissors, and trembled with every bath. PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I did not want to hurt my baby, I feared that somehow, something bad would happen. This is where my anxiety was coming from, but the root of the matter was OCD…now this is not your typical OCD, I did not have rituals or obsess over cleaning…I had obsessive-compulsive disorder onset by childbirth. I would obsess over fears and my compulsion was telling myself phrases over and over again. It was exhausting and unfortunately some people in my life did not take is seriously and even made me feel bad for what I was feeling. I simply could not get over it. IT IS OK NOT TO BE OK.
I WAS NOT A RISK TO MY BABY AND LISTEN MAMA, NEITHER ARE YOU.
It was actually a hypersensitivity to keeping my baby safe. Yet I was still afraid of everything, including myself. Who was this person? Where did my old self-go?
I will leave you with my thoughts on my diagnosis…
Intrusive thoughts are your most irrational thoughts and fears. The fact that you are bothered by them means that you would not act on them. When the thoughts make sense to you is when you should worry. Anxiety latches on to what we fear the most, thus why it usually surrounds harm towards yourself or towards loved ones. For me, I saw everything as a threat to my baby and eventually I feared myself because the thoughts were so powerful. It is your brains response to the fight or flight, once your brain realizes its not a threat, the thoughts fade. The more you fight them, the worse they become. Acknowledge the thought, and let it pass. I was told to envision the thought just swimming by. We can’t control our thoughts but we can control how we respond to them. Meds and therapy have helped me and just time. EVERYONE has intrusive thoughts, but those with PPA and OCD just obsess over the thoughts. It is actually more common than you think. You are not crazy. It gets better. Stick with me.