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,