If you are anything like me, you often turn to Google, Siri, or Alexa when you have a question…..or when curiosity strikes:
Me: Hey Alexa, make me a sandwich!
Alexa: Ok, you are a sandwich!
Me: Hey Alexa, I like big butts!
Alexa: You cannot lie. Good. Honesty is important.
Go ahead, I know you want to try! lol In all honesty, these robots can be helpful but they can also send you in a downward spiral and throw you into the blackest rabbit hole you have ever seen. Have you ever started googling one question, recipe, idea, etc..and then you ended up on a completely different topic?…..yeah, me too.
ME: I am going to google the internal cooking temperature of pork while I cook dinner for my family.
Where I end up: Spending 30 minutes watching videos of baby goats
Google convinced me that I had post-partum psychosis. Post-partum psychosis is the most extreme version of postpartum depression; it is terrifying and I was sure I had it. I can’t even begin to tell you exactly how I ended up diagnosing myself, but googling symptoms became the (C)ompulsion in my (O)bsessive (C)ompulsive (D)isorder. I would obsess over the thoughts and symptoms and then my (C)ompulsion was to take to google to find some sort of reassurance. I should have been finding reassurance in a professional, but this was only the beginning stages of my struggle. My therapist told me to disable the internet on my phone so I would stop…but just like any other addict, I would find a way, so I knew that wouldn’t work. However, I did make a conscious effort to avoid googling symptoms and googling other women’s struggles…it was only triggering for me. I would read about a story of PPD and then start making her story my own.
Here is a link on postpartum psychosis so you can educate yourself ( I did not have this, but I was living in fear of developing it).
I read the same websites over and over and over again. I knew it was not reasonable and I knew I was obsessing- BUT I COULDN’T STOP.
Body Temperature. Taking my temperature became my compulsion. I would obsess and then my compulsion was to check my temperature….multiple times a day. I am sad to say it and I hate saying it out loud, but at my worst, it got up to 100+ times per day. My day revolved around checking my body temperature. I would even take the thermometer when I left the house. I know what your thinking, “what in the hell?” Perhaps you should consider how that was controlling my day and listen, I COULD NOT STOP, it became like a drug. My husband started hiding the thermometer and that just caused rage. I would thrash through cabinets and get into a frenzy because I was convinced my body temperature would alert me and save my life from all the diseases I thought I had. I was sick, scared, and I knew that I would die if I didn’t take my temperature…over and over…and over again. I am an intelligent person and pretty reasonable, I KNEW I was not being reasonable but that didn’t matter.
My Moment of Clarity
My family and I decided to visit Owensboro, Kentucky for one of the First Friday events. I packed my son’s diaper bag..bottles, formula, pacis, snacks, burp cloth, extra clothes, and a thermometer…all the essentials to survive..lol We were walking along the riverfront and of course I started obsessing about keeping my baby safe…We could not walk too close to the rails because a gust of wind, a push from a stranger, a psychotic break in my mind, or a stumble..any of these things could cause a tragedy. YES, this is what went on in my head TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN. As we were walking I stopped, closed my eyes and felt the breeze on my face. This was my inner dialogue:
Katie, you have got to stop this. You aren’t living your life, you need to ground yourself and realize that everything is ok, you will be ok.
How do I just be OK? YOU DECIDE TO BE OK?….UMM OK, “DECIDED”
Wait for it…….am I ok now?
Well you see, if people could just “decide” to be ok then we wouldn’t struggle, right? Here is a piece of advice for those who have been blessed with a calm mind:
If you want to show support for someone struggling with a mental illness, realize that if we could “decide” to be better or different, we most definitely would choose peace. This is a chemical imbalance, a sabotage of the mind. Be patient with us.
I opened my eyes and I was staring at this:
I took this picture because at this moment….there was one thing that I did “decide” and that was to take in moments like this. My loving husband and amazing son were by my side. My mother loved me and accepted my struggles; she never just wrote me off like many people did. My friends were supporting me and I was finally seeking help. Although I could not “decide” to be better, I could “decide” to stop and smell the roses, I could decide to admire my surroundings and count my blessings. This is how I started to heal……well and the therapy and meds. 🙂 But seriously, I was on my way. Stick with me…I have more to tell.