Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Extreme Mommy Guilt

Mommy guilt, we ALL have it. Whether we feel bad about not breast feeding, being too distracted during play time, working too much, not reading them enough books before bed, not making heart shaped sandwiches etc, there is always something to feel bad about. Parenting is hard. Being "on-call" 24/7 is very draining. That compiled with the fact that everyone on social media constantly looks beyond happy and put together (ugh) there is always someone who appears to be doing "it" better. Now, I want you to imagine the "regular" mommy guilt combined with the "OCD/depressed/anxious" mommy guilt. One word: OVERWHELMING.

When I first developed OCD, I was very resistant to accepting the fact that these horrible thoughts were not mine, but instead anxious thoughts. Excuse me! They're in MY brain! I obviously WANT to be thinking them. False. This lesson took me a looong time to learn. Countless therapists would assure and reassure me that even though my brain was thinking horrible things, these thoughts were not the true "me." Remember this, please remember this...anxiety makes you worry and think irrationally. OCD puts those awful thoughts/fears on repeat. OCD thoughts come against your will. I could not control my mind. It never quit. It was like I was running full speed on a treadmill that I could not get off of. It was exhausting. It was all consuming. When I say it was hell, I'm not lying.

For a long time, I felt like I needed to remember each thought so that I could torture myself with guilt over it. If I was going to think horrible things, I was going to make myself pay the price for it. This was a huge mistake. During my OCD I promised myself I would never forgive myself for the horrible things I had thought. I didn't deserve forgiveness. I thought saying the phrase "those aren't my thoughts, but are anxious thoughts" seemed like a cop-out. I wasn't going to blame an illness for my thoughts, I'm an adult and I needed to take responsibility for what was going on in my mind. This, my friends, was flawed thinking.

It took me getting out of the "fog" of OCD to realize those thoughts were not mine. Once I began taking medicine and my thinking slowed down, the thoughts did too. Suddenly, I was only thinking things I WANTED to think, and surprisingly (or not surprisingly) none of those thoughts included hurting anyone. That is when I realized that I needed to forgive myself.

You see, people with OCD/anxiety are very sensitive to bad thoughts. They believe in "right" and "wrong" and when they have thoughts/obsessions that go against their beliefs, they are shaken to the core. The very fact that 1 bad thought spiraled me into the depths of despair proves that I have morals. I love hard and I take failure very personally. I was willing to risk my own mental health to protect my kids, the problem was, that wasn't necessary. I did not need to forfeit my sanity to keep my children safe. What I needed was expert care and medication to help me understand my disease and get well.

So, you may wonder, what happened to my guilt? I finally took the advice of the professionals in my life and practiced self-care. In the depths of OCD, I didn't think I deserved to care for myself because I was an awful person. I thought: why does everyone keep worrying about how much sleep I'M getting when there is an obvious crisis going on. I couldn't worry about me because I was completely invested in worrying about my kids 100% of the time. I have now realized that if I don't care for myself, I'm doing my children a huge disservice. For me, self-care meant cutting myself a break. Holding onto all of the guilt and shame over the thoughts was ruining me and ruining my relationships with my children. I would have never been able to recover if I had not decided to forgive myself and let those thoughts go. It was a process. It took time, but now I understand the disease and I know that pushing forward instead of dwelling on "bad thoughts" is something that is so important toward maintaining my mental health.

When I see how much my children love each other, I know I'm doing it right.

All moms, not just ones with OCD/anxiety/depression need to learn to cut themselves a break. We work hard. Parenting is emotionally, physically,  and financially draining. It takes everything I have every day to keep my family going and I still fall short. I still lose my temper or cut bath time short. I still skip a story or don't cuddle as long as they'd like. I'm constantly trying to juggle meeting all of my children's needs while still trying to keep myself and my husband happy. Right now my dishes are dirty and I'm pretty sure the amount of food spilled on the floor during dinner could feed a small country. I don't know the secret to good parenting. I put everything I have into these little people and still find myself constantly apologizing for things that they do. I'm not the perfect mom, but my squad knows they're beyond loved and I will put everything I have into raising these amazing children I've been given.

Love yourselves, mamas!

Ps, I got as far as making a YouTube channel with my name on it before I decided I was too tired to put on make-up and turn on my camera...there's always next week!

Chels

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