Saturday, January 21, 2017

Take a Chance, Tell a Friend

Hey everyone! So, I'm writing this on Saturday because honestly, this week got away from me! I have mad respect for actual single moms, because I'm lucky enough not to have to work AND parent by myself. Taking care of my 3 minis alone during the week can be draining, but I try to remind myself to enjoy our time together and to "let them be little."

I'm starting to think about redesigning "the blog" to show a little more of my personality/organize my topics. Also, my biggest fans (hey neighbor girls) really think I should look into "vlogging" a little so people who don't know me can hear the voice behind the words. I'm going to try to work on both of those things! In the meantime, I have some super cute crafts that I'm going to start sharing, so keep your eyes peeled!

Now, down to business! Today I want to talk about reaching out to friends and family. When my OCD/anxiety began, I was too embarrassed to even tell my closest friends that I was seeing a therapist, much less WHY. Everyone could tell something was wrong with me, but I tip-toed around what was actually going on because I didn't want to seem "crazy" or "dangerous." I would sit with my friends with a hopeless look on my face, literally seeing no way out of the "hole" I had dug myself into. They couldn't understand what was going on though.

At some point, I decided that it was impossible to hold in what was bothering me. I decided that I was  going to take a chance and risk looking "bad" to the people who were closest to me because I honestly felt like the anxiety and guilt were too much for me to bear alone. Opening up and telling people what was wrong was hard. Very hard. At times it would feel SO GOOD to get something off my chest, but then I would go home and have anxiety for hours worrying about what they were thinking about what I had said. Luckily, I've been blessed with amazing friends. You know what happened when I started telling my friends about my struggles? They supported me. They reassured me that I was going to be okay. They promised me the boys were safe. They didn't understand WHY I needed this reassurance, but they knew that in my mind it was a big deal.

After I started slowly opening up to the people closest to me, I began to realize I wasn't alone. I had so much support from the people in my life. They got used to my fears, and "knew the drill" as far as reassuring me went. My friends have talked to me on the phone for hours, listened to me cry on their couches daily, slept in my BED with me, all because they knew how important it was to help me out when I needed it most.
Some of the girls I leaned on then (and now!)

I'm super close to about 12 girls in life, since going through OCD, my friendships have only been strengthened. Going through hard times is the worst, but looking next to you and seeing the people who held you up during the struggle is everything. OCD was awful, but I know each and every person who was with me during that time have become lifelong friends.

I developed OCD about 2 years into living at our first house. I was close with the neighbor girls, but the bond we developed that year has made our relationship unbreakable to this day. I asked my old next door neighbor, Bridget, to write a little bit about my struggle from her point of view. I thought it might be interesting for anyone struggling to see how an outsider saw me struggle.
Some of our old neighbors, Bridget in the middle.


This is what Bridget had to say:

"Watching Chelsea struggle the first few weeks after delivering her second son was hard. Watching her continue to battle herself was confusing, scary, and left me and her other friends feeling helpless. The only thing I could do was continue to reassure her that she wasn’t going to hurt her children, she wasn’t going to go through things alone, and continue to encourage her to ask for help. Did I know what that looked like? No. Did I know where that help was? No. But I knew she needed it.


Almost daily I watched Chelsea haul her two sweet kiddos through my front yard to my front door, all the while tears streaming down her face. She would ask “am I crazy?” My obvious answer was “NO!” Her come back? “Then why am I having these thoughts?” “Why won’t they go away?” “Will I ever be normal again?”

As I watched Chelsea struggle through her journey with postpartum OCD and anxiety, I saw an amazingly strong woman, mother and wife walk through each day like a zombie just trying to make it from one day to the next. I watched a once independent, do-it-yourself mama try to convince herself that she was ok.

As she started her journey through therapy, it wasn’t an overnight fix- it was a LONG journey. She was very distant from her babies. She didn’t want to hold her months-old son in fear that she was going to hurt him. She would walk in the door, I would prepare supper for us and our children and she would proceed to tell me her “thought of the day”. Sometimes it would be a new thought/scenario and some days it would be a repeat of one she had had before. She would continue to ask me if she would really act on those thoughts, desperate for reassurance that they were only thoughts, not something she would ever actually do! She would reassure ME (I think she was actually reassuring herself) that she was doing EVERYTHING she could think of to avoid the negative/intrusive thoughts: pray, read the Bible, avoided ANY sort of violent shows on TV, watched sermons on YouTube…the list goes on.

Now, two years later, I see a mother of THREE beautiful children. A mother that has matured in so many ways and a woman that desires so much to befriend ANYONE who is out there who needs a listening ear. Someone who understands what other mamas are going through. And someone that will support them through the “crazy” thoughts and feelings and help them get the help that they DESERVE!

Postpartum OCD and anxiety is no joke. From the outside looking in, it’s hard to relate to someone going through it if you’ve never dealt with it yourself. But, watching someone you love go through it, and not knowing how to help is painful. As a mother myself, I remember going through a bit of the “baby blues” after my first son was born. It was awful! Looking back at how exhausted I was, how “not myself” I felt. It was something I didn’t even realize was really happening- but reflecting on now, I wish I would have known so much more about it. Never did I realize that I would be walking next to someone dealing with SO MUCH more than I had ever thought was “real-life”.

Chelsea fought through all of this and has come out on the other side so much wiser and someone we can all learn from and lean on in these deep, dark times of need. ANYONE who is struggling or knows someone who is: PLEASE reach out for help. You are NOT alone. There is help. There is HOPE! I’m thankful for Chelsea and the light that she has been to so many already. I am so proud of the steps that she has taken and the energy that she is pouring in to all of us mamas to help us all know that we’re not alone: that there IS someone who will listen to you."


As I read what Bridget wrote the other night, I got tears in my mug of wine. These days I barely ever think about what I was like then. I remember everything, but I'm not stuck in that place anymore. Remembering what it was like and how hard I struggled is tough, but I'm sharing this with all of you to prove a point. Postpartum OCD, anxiety, and depression is hard. It's so important to tell the people around you that love you what is going on. They'll probably surprise you. Instead of thinking your awful or crazy, they'll offer you a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.

My point today is that if you are struggling with anything, let someone know. If you can't find the words, show them my blog. Share my story. Share Lauren's story. Let your friends and family be there for you.

As always, I hope this is helpful for someone out there!

Chels






3 comments:

  1. You are the best! Love this post!

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  2. I want you to know since I read this yesterday I have came back to read this several times. Everytime I start having the thoughts I read and think of this post and I feel hope.

    ReplyDelete