Image courtesy of Marketing Pilgrim
A HUGE thank you to everyone for the absolutely amazing support I’ve received since publishing the yesterdays mental health post (you can read it HERE if you haven’t already). As I mentioned across social media, the post itself has been sitting in my ‘drafts’ folder for quite a few days while I um’d and err’d over whether or not to publish it.
Putting yourself out there can be a scary thing and sharing the darkest places that our minds can conjure up adds a whole heap of terror on top of an already nerve wracking experience. As many women who’ve experienced the irrational thinking patterns that come with OCD will tell you, there is often a bone shaking fear that sharing your thoughts will lead to you to officially being branded a ‘bad mother’. You may think that if you confide in someone, they’ll call DOCS or the police. They won’t allow you to be alone with your children, or worse still, threaten to take them away from you.
These kinds of reactions are the absolute worst kind for a sufferer of OCD to experience. While your trusted confidante may think they are doing the right thing (and in cases of post natal psychosis, seeking immediate medical attention is absolutely essential), when it comes to OCD, they are in fact just reinforcing your greatest fears, solidifying the idea that what you’re thinking is actually true.
I was lucky enough to have a husband and family who I could confide in and who never once thought that I was in any way a danger to my son. They could see that when I couldn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve heard of many mothers experiencing the opposite and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that would be. Sadly, some therapists in the past were not aware of what some of the symptoms of post partum OCD looked like and confused them with those of psychosis, leading to unnecessary hospitalisation and the heartbreaking separation of mother and child.
I was nervous when I posted last night that I may have received a negative reaction. That people may have seen me as some kind of dangerous individual. Perhaps that is slightly irrational but it’s hard to let go of that fear. Instead, I have been absolutely showered in love. I cannot even begin to describe how that has made me feel. I woke up on a massive high this morning which only got bigger when I read all the wonderful messages and comments of support that had been left overnight.
I’m very glad I could share what I did for two reasons. The first being that it’s reinforced in my mind, just how much better I’ve gotten. I doubt I would have been able to even articulate those ‘scary thoughts’, let alone share them with the interwebs when I was still deeply entrenched in the fear percolating around in my head. When I still believed that my thoughts were my truth, I couldn’t bear to have them exposed. Being able to tangibly see my words pushed out of my head and into the world has been the biggest indication of the shift in my thinking and it feels wonderful.
The second reason I’m glad I ended up sharing is the impact what I’ve written may be having right now on someone else who is struggling. I’ve had so many wonderful, strong women email and message me to say that they know exactly how I felt but still can’t bear to share with anyone, especially not a wider audience. I hope that in some way, I’ve been able to give all of us who have suffered some kind of voice. Anything that helps de-stigmatise post natal mental health is something I’m fully in support of.
Next week, I’ll be posting about some of the natural ways I manage my OCD but in the meantime, I’ve listed some fabulous resources below that helped me immensely when I was coming to understand my experience. Two are websites and one is a book (I had it in Ebook form) and all are fantastic at clearly explaining the condition and what can be done. Both Post Partum Progress and Dropping The Baby include a load of resources for self-help as well as stories from other mums who have experienced OCD and anxiety.
– Post Partum Progress
– Beyond Blue
– Dropping The Baby And Other Scary Thought (Book)
Until next week and THANK YOU again!