I posted the following to Facebook. So far, the response has been entirely lovely. I am so blessed by the people in my life. Ignore the grammar gaffes, I typed it on my phone. (Names redacted, for now…)
Some of you may not have noticed, others may have noticed and been too afraid of saying the wrong thing, but far too few of you know what is going on with me, so I’m just going to put it out there and say if you want to ask questions, feel free to contact me. (Be aware I’m getting well and may not respond immediately, but I’ll be grateful that you reached out and will get back to you eventually…)
After (my daughter) was born, I started struggling. I wasn’t depressed at all–seriously, not even a little bit–but I WAS terrified. All the time. By everything.
Things finally came to a head about a month ago, when I was so scared that I couldn’t even function effectively. I was terrified to hold my kids–sometimes scared to even look at my kids, and as a stay-at-home-mom of such young kids, that was a serious impairment.
I spent 10 days inpatient in a psychiatric hospital where I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I’ll leave the actual definitions to the DSM-V, but here’s how I explain it in my own words:
OCD is not just about being excessively neat or organized.
Imagine the thing you want to think about least in the world. (For me, this was the thought that some harm would come to my children.)
Now think about it. Think about it obsessively.
Think about it so often you experience panic and have to perform rituals (or compulsions) to try and alleviate the panic. (For me, this involved checking and re-checking our childproofing things, buying lock boxes for everything in the house I thought could be dangerous, and eventually putting anything my brain could see as a danger into (my husband)’s trunk because I ran out of room in the lock boxes.)
OCD is like a sadistic bully. It is truly a torment.
I am so blessed that my insurance covers the help I need, but programs for OCD are few, so the nearest opening was in Appleton and it required me to live away from home during the week while I worked for 5 hours in an office each day (plus homework assignments–exposures–that force me to confront my fears) to get better. This is where I’ve been. This is why you haven’t seen me around. It’s because I haven’t been around.
I’m sad that I’ve had to miss a month, but I would rather miss this month than chunks of the rest of my life, and I am happy to say the help has been helping. A lot. I write this to you after having spent my evening playing with (my son) and snuggling with (my daughter).
I’m getting better. I’ll get there.
If you’ve read this far, I’m betting you care about me and want to know how to help, so here’s how you can help:
1.) Touch base. It helps me get out of my head. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing, I’ll know you mean well.
2.) Don’t be offended if I’m not responding immediately or canceling plans. I WANT to interact with you, but not every day is a good day, and I won’t know it’s a bad day until it’s bad.
3.) If you know (my husband) or the kids, check in on them too. OCD hasn’t just taken over my life, but theirs as well.
4.) If you are a person of faith, pray for me. If you happen to be a fan of saints and intercessory prayer, St. Dymphna and St. Julian are great patronesses for people with OCD.
Thank you all for being in my life. I love you all. ❤️