Intrusive Thoughts, Postpartum OCD

Postpartum OCD, Intrusive Thoughts and Recovery

I decided to share my story because I want you to know you are not alone.

I was 26. I had just given birth to my first born, a boy. He was a 
baby who had been prayed for and yearned for, and waited for through the heartache and tears of two miscarriages. It should have been the
 happiest time in my life. I remember the first vivid intrusive thought. It was my first week 
home alone with him. I was cooking. He was laying in his infant seat 
in the kitchen. I had a flash of accidentally dropping my knife and 
hurting him. Immediately, the thought morphed into my stabbing him on 
purpose. Panic rushed in. I was hot and shaky. Terrified. I cried out 
to God to protect my son from me.

For the next two and half years, I would be consumed with these 
thoughts. Anything could trigger them; a pillow, a knife, a car, 
hearing the word “murder”. It made me anxious even to walk past the 
closed door of his bedroom at nap time, for fear I would lose my mind 
and go in and kill him. To combat the incredible anxiety that the 
thoughts produced, I wound a complex but frustratingly fruitless web 
of mental compulsions in my brain. It wasn’t until I started getting
 better that I realized how constant the cycle of intrusive thoughts 
and mental compulsions had become. It was literally as constant as
 breathing.
 And the harm obsessions weren’t the only tormenting
 thoughts I fought. I battled an array of intense sexual, moral, and 
suicidal obsessions. I couldn’t shower without seeing images of 
slitting my wrists. These thoughts were so vivid that my wrists
 actually hurt and I would rub them really hard to try and make the 
feeling go away. 
I was heartbroken during this time. The frustration of not being able to change my thoughts was making me depressed. But more than that, I was distraught over having such horrific thoughts about my own baby. Even though I did my best to take care of him well, I felt like a terrible mom, the worst, for thinking these kind of things. My husband was my rock. He was understandably scared when I first confessed my thoughts. But he took time to research my symptoms and he was the one who first suggested that it may be OCD. He trusted me so much more than I trusted myself, and he chose to see OCD as a battle we were fighting together.
I remember when I finally decided to go see a counselor. I was laying 
in bed in the middle of the day because it was the only way my mind 
was at peace. I wanted to lay in bed forever and I knew this was not a
 healthy place to be because I had been here before, as a teenager, shortly before being hospitalized for an eating disorder and clinical depression. But getting help was terrifying. I really thought they would take 
my son away from me when they found out how dangerous I was. Still, I could not live with the paralyzing anxiety any longer. And, anyway, if I had to be hospitalized or something, I figured, at least I wouldn’t hurt him.

My son was born in 2008. For 2.5 years, I begged God to 
take this awful thing away from me. I begged for answers, and yet it
 persisted, and worsened. Then, in 2011, I began to see the answers to
 all of those desperate prayers. I found an awesome therapist and was 
diagnosed with severe OCD. I cried for three days after being diagnosed. It was such a relief to know this terrible thing had a name and could be treated. I found an effective dose of medication which made a night and day difference for me. I even found a support group in my area, and was so encouraged knowing I was not alone with OCD. After about a year of therapy, medication, and support group attendance, I realized I finally felt like myself again. I even realized that I did have a desire to have another baby. And I did. A girl this time. She was born in 2013, and I thank God that I did not have to face harm obsessions with her. We named her Lucy,
which means “light”. Finally a light had come out of the darkness we
 endured.
 Today, OCD is still a part of my life. I still have to take medication, and I have to see my therapist from time to time. I’ve built a support system of friends and family who know my struggle and are there to listen. I’ve learned that it is important for me to exercise, and to be kind to myself. And I have my God, who sustains when the days are hard.

I decided to share my story because I want you to know you are not alone. OCD sucks! And for me, its not enough to beat it for myself. I want to help other people beat it as well.

All the best,

Ashley

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8 Comments

  • Reply Kaitlin February 18, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    This is so encouraging Ashley! I have been in recovery for OCD for about 3 years and I am going through a lapse right now. I have been feeling so discouraged this week. I appreciate your honesty and your thoughts about God and OCD. Sometimes I have a hard time separating my OCD from my relationship with God. He is always there though. Thank you!

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph February 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Glad Ashley’s story helped! Keep your head up and focused on recovery 🙂

    • Reply Ashley February 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      I’m so glad my story was encouraging to you, Kaitlin. Lapses can feel very discouraging, but you will beat this again, and be all the stronger for it! I’m going to check out your blog!

      • Reply Lisamarie Schwartz January 17, 2017 at 2:23 am

        Hi Ashley,

        Thank you so much for your story! I would like to talk to you, if possible. May I send you my email address? Thanks for getting back to me!

  • Reply Ashley's OCD Story - Postpartum OCD | The OCD S... February 26, 2016 at 1:00 am

    […] Ashley kindly shares her story of postpartum OCD, her intrusive thoughts and how she recovered from it!  […]

  • Reply Susan May 31, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I have OCD and recently relapsed. My main trigger is thinking of harming someone especially children. I feel so sick to my stomach when these images come into my mind. I had a hold of it until all my friends started having babies and then my husband discussed trying for a baby next year. I immediately started doubting myself and what ifs…..would I hurt the baby? Your story has given me a lot of hope and realization I am not the only one with these thoughts. I noticed you said you had another child and were on medication. Did you stay on medication while pregnant? I am worried about taking medication during my pregnancy due to birth defects.

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph June 5, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your message, I’m glad the story helped you. With your last question around medication I would recommend you speak with your doctor as they will be able to give you the best advice on this.

      Thanks
      Stu

  • Reply Jessica October 16, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Ashley, just curious which medication has helped you?

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