Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Postpartum OCD Story

I hope that this blog becomes a forum for people to come to who need creative ideas for crafts or want to try out new projects. I'm sure many of my posts will be full of witty one-liners and tales of why my children are driving me crazy, but this first post is about my OCD. I'm at a point in my journey where I want to be transparent about my problem. First, I want to explain what postpartum OCD is. It is a perinatal mood disorder that is characterized by obsessive intrusive thoughts and accompanied by compulsions to ease anxiety caused by the thoughts. Postpartum OCD is not postpartum psychosis where mothers hurt their children, it is the exact opposite. It is the intense need to keep children safe.

I remember each part of my OCD clearly. It began one night as I was nursing Easton. I was home alone with the kids because my husband travels for work. I was looking at him and this random thought popped into my head "what if I smothered him?" I was instantly crippled by what I now know was intense anxiety caused by the fact that that is something that is not part of my character. From that moment on my OCD began. I was constantly on guard, needing to check and recheck my thoughts to make sure that I was not dangerous. It consumed me. I couldn't eat, I had no appetite. I couldn't sleep, my thoughts were constantly racing. Then one morning, a new thought came "what if I hurt the kids and no one was around to save them?" From that moment on, I wouldn't stay at my house alone with them. I stayed on my dad's couch for two weeks. I stared at the kids all night to make sure they were still safe. I felt like I had to constantly check myself to make sure I didn't go crazy. In my mind, I had to stay alert at all times, otherwise I would lose my sanity and those most important to me.

It was all-consuming. My friends and neighbors noticed something was wrong. I couldn't go to social gatherings because all I wanted to do was cry. I cried all the time. Every day. I endlessly went through different "what if" scenarios in my head, terrorizing myself to no end. Suddenly, it was like I remembered every Dateline on I.D. episode I had ever seen and I was scared of becoming each of those evil people. I couldn't sleep, I would try to calm myself by watching Joyce Meyer on YouTube. It would usually take at least two sermons for me to kind of fall asleep. By this time I had a therapist, but that wasn't enough. I ended up going to an outpatient program for new mothers with perinatal mood disorders and got on medication.

The medication caused my anxiety to lower, which in turn eased the thoughts. In therapy, I learned that anxiety takes what you care about most and puts it in the worst case scenario. What I care about most in the world is my boys and them getting hurt in any way is my worst case scenario. This is by far the most crippling thing that has ever happened to me and it is nearly impossible for me accurately describe how hard it was. It is a special kind of hell to not be able to stop your racing thoughts that completely contradict who you fundamentally believe yourself to be.

Once I began to feel better, I began to do crafts. I started by painting a table and chairs. Every new project meant something to me. If I could make it through just one more craft, we would be okay. I have since painted more furniture, created a collage wall, stenciled a wall, and pretty much completely redecorated my entire house. To my husband it is annoying, but to me it is therapy. I'm able to use my mind and creativeness to create beautiful projects instead of using my mind to scare myself. The first project I will be chronicling in my blog will be the painting of my cabinets, which will be followed by new counter tops and a back-splash. I cannot wait to begin this journey as a blogger and continue to better myself every day.

Thanks for reading!



Chels

5 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks so much for speaking out! I look forward to reading more!

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  2. I came across your story through postpartum progress. I have that same OCD you have and it is exhausting and crippling. Your story has helped me so much.

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  3. Hey Chelsea,
    I suffer from OCD and have always done compulsions but intrusive thoughts started attacking me recently. I have 2 beautiful daughters, 5 & 3, and have been going through the same thing you went through. Your story gives me hope that I can feel better too. My email is caseygonzales90@gmail.com... any advice would be HUGELY appreciated. Thanks for sharing your story <3

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    1. Hey Casey! Hope you got my email, you and other moms who have reached out to me the past two years has made me decide I need to keep blogging and sharing my struggles (and now triumphs! I have a new post today about time that you might want to read : )

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