Living a life again

If I had to give you an excuse for not writing lately, it’s that life has gotten in the way. I say this in the best sense, because for once, life–and not my OCD–is dictating what I do.

My children are growing like weeds and pushing their boundaries daily. I admit, I still struggle with wanting to be overprotective, but on the whole, I’m letting them explore their world, and I am learning that their world really isn’t that dangerous after all.

I’m now meeting my (very talented) therapist every 5-6 weeks. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would be going this long between appointments I would have been terrified. Back then, I couldn’t even make it a week.

It’s amazing how much time I lost to OCD. I mean, it literally was its own full-time job. And now, I hardly know what to do with myself.

I’m working through the feelings of guilt that I’m not doing enough–I’m Catholic, and a mom. Guilt kind of comes with the territory–but I’m starting to become more secure with the fact that I have TIME for things again. I’ve been reading. I’ve been enjoying my kids. I’ve been interacting regularly with people I didn’t initially know very well. I’m even helping to coach my son’s t-ball team.

This space, which initially came out of sadness and fear, is starting to become something else for me. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with it, but I’m excited to find out.

In sickness and in health…

Today, my husband and I celebrate 10 years as a couple.

…and he’s so sick that we canceled our date tonight. I started out by feeling incredibly disappointed, but seeing him through this very minor illness has caused me to reflect on the ways in which he has seen me through my own illness over the past months.

There’s never a convenient time to be sick, and there’s never a convenient time for someone you love to be sick. When someone you love is dealing with a mental illness, it can often take over their entire life, and yours as well. I know that’s what happened when I was hospitalized recently.

My wonderful husband had his entire world thrown for a loop.

He had to start working from home and relying on our parents to help with the kids. He had to look after our two very young children–filling the roles of both parents–while still working his full-time job.

He had to give me time to work through my OCD and live away from home, all the while working tirelessly to keep the life we built together from falling apart at the seams.

He truly was my rock and the only form of stability our children had for those two long, terrible months.

I cannot ever properly express the gratitude I feel to have such an amazing partner in my corner.

And the most amazing thing of all?

He expects nothing in return.

As a result, I worry that he is neglecting to take care of himself. He tells me he’s fine. His strength amazes me. People tell me I am strong, but I wouldn’t be half as strong without him there to hold me up when I am weak. I feel so protected.

More than anything, however, I feel awed by the way he has lived out our marriage vows each day. Had you told me 10 years ago that I would be loved so deeply, I wouldn’t have believed you. I wouldn’t have believed that someone like me, someone whose brain loves to hate her could actually be with someone who enables her to love herself.

All he wants is me. Me happy, me healthy, me back at my best, sure, but me. I am enough. Through all of the mess and the difficulty that comes with loving someone with OCD, my husband has never complained and never asked for anything more than me.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this wonderful man. I don’t know if I did anything. I’m fairly convinced that he is simply a gift from God. A wonderful gift that I never could have deserved but that was freely given that I might experience God’s love.

I am so blessed. So thankful. So loved.

I am so much better for having been loved by you, darling. Thank you for this beautiful life.

The end of breastfeeding…

If you haven’t read the entry immediately before this one, I recommend it–it’ll give you some more insight into my fears about the meeting I had with the psychiatrist.

I have to stop breastfeeding.

This is a loss for me.

When my son was born, breastfeeding was hard. I mean hard. It took weeks of practicing with different holds and pumping to supplement to get it down, hundreds of hours before it finally got easy. I nursed him until he was over 18 months old and only stopped when I reached my second trimester with my daughter.

With my daughter, it was completely different. She latched well from the beginning and lost a little bit of weight in the hospital, but they had me pump and we immediately saw that my supply was not the problem. Once we got home, she gained over a pound in a week and I didn’t need to pump at all. It was natural. It was easy. It was beautiful… until I became too scared to hold her. Damn OCD.

I’m heartbroken. I really am.

This is just one more thing that OCD has taken from me, but it is the hardest so far.

I know this is the right decision. I trust my doctor and I’m glad that she was willing to consider changing the medication because I wanted to but was also forthcoming about the effect it could have on me.

I cried when I put my pump away last night. I’m not one who usually cries, but I cried.

As difficult as it could be at times, I’m really going to miss breastfeeding.

Damn you OCD. You’ve taken over a month of my life and now you’ve taken one of the few things in my parenting I was really secure in and proud of. Damn you. What I wouldn’t give for a NT brain.

I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m in mourning. This is a loss, and there’s not really anything more to say about it.

Medication changes…

So, I know I’ll be meeting with the psychiatrist in my program today. I know that we’ll be talking about decreasing one of my medications. I know this because we talked about talking about it last week.

The reason why we’re talking about it is that I’m currently pumping in the hopes of being able to resume breastfeeding once I am off this medication–this medication has not been tested on lactating mothers and my kids’ pediatrician thinks it’s a bit of a risk to breastfeed while taking it for an extended period of time. (He thought a month or so would be okay…)

I’m scared.

I’ve been doing really well with the current combination of medication. My intrusive thoughts are fewer, I’m able to hold and play with my kids, and I’m tackling exposures that were in the 6-7 range when I admitted. (7 is the highest ranking on the scale). I am doing well.

I’m afraid if I start weaning off this medication I’m going to backslide. I’m going to start having more of the thoughts that terrify me. I’m not going to be able to hold my kids or do all the things I need to do to take care of them.

On the other hand, I’m also afraid that if I don’t stop taking this medication it means that I don’t love my daughter enough. I breastfed my son until he was 18 months old (and only stopped because I was pregnant with my daughter and my OB/GYN recommended it). If I don’t suck it up to do the same for her, does it mean that I love her less than I love my son? Does it mean I don’t want what’s best for her?

Logically, I know that what’s best for her is a mom who can be actively engaged with her. A mom who can smile at her and hold her without fear. A mom who isn’t constantly and compulsively looking to safeguard against every perceived danger out there. A mom who can let her see the wonder in the world. I don’t want her (or my son) to pick up my neuroses.

The other thought is that maybe, just maybe, adjusting the one medication won’t send me into a tailspin.

…but can  I take that risk? Do I make the leap?

I’ll let you know after I meet with the doc.