Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Christina has had 1-2 years of weekly, or bi-weekly treatment.
It was September 2018 when I watched a show about inmates in the US. There was one lady who seemed really nice and I wondered why she was imprisoned. It turned out that she murdered her three children. I cannot tell you how shocked I was because I did not expect this outcome at all. I tried to think about something else but this thought of how one can harm their own children just wouldn't leave my mind. It haunted me all day long. I have 3 children myself: a wonderful son who turned 18 and 2 lovely daughters aged 6 and 4 years now.
It was September 8th, I remember that day so clearly, when I was putting the shoes on my youngest daughter who was 3 years old back then, when this horrible thought crossed my mind.
“What if you harm your children?"
I stepped back from my daughter in extreme panic wondering how could I even think something like this? What does that mean about me? What am I? A monster? Did I just go crazy and turned into a psychopath? This was the moment that sent me into the downward spiral of immense panic and depression. I would cry all day, unable to eat or sleep and ask my partner whether he thought I was a bad person. I didn’t hear about ocd and was scared that If someone would find out they would lock me up right away. A month went by and I lost 10 kg and avoided being alone with my children. The thoughts would play over and over again from the moment I woke up until the second I went to bed. It was the darkest time I ever experienced and I thought it would be easier to die. This way I could be sure that everyone was safe...from me!
My Dad stayed with me everyday because I panicked at the thought of staying with my children by myself, which of course made everything worse.
I knew I couldn’t go on like this so I went to a psychiatrist to ask for help. I was so scared that she would call the police, but instead she said: “You clearly have intrusive thoughts and I can help you.” I stopped breathing for a moment...intrusive thoughts? I have never heard of that!
She prescribed me medication for my depression, that resulted with the onset of ocd. The psychiatrist was very nice and she recommended a psychologist for treatment.
Once I got home I started googling "intrusive thoughts" and " harming children" and I found so many articles about mothers suffering from intrusive thoughts due to a disorder called OCD. There was a name for what I was experiencing. I wasn’t crazy. I couldn’t believe that there were others experiencing the same torment that I was going through. I wasn’t alone.
A few weeks later I started CBT with a lovely psychologist who used ERP to treat OCD, which stands for Exposure and Response Prevention. It means to face your fears gradually exposing you to your fears without avoiding the triggers, which in my case were my own children.
This was one year ago and I can say I am much much better now. I can play with my children, bring them to bed, read stories to them while we snuggle up...everything I wasn't able to do a year ago.
I still get intrusive thoughts from time to time and no, I still don't like them but I know its OCD playing its tricks on me and it doesn’t mean anything about me.
I follow my values as a mother and work on my recovery every single day.
If anyone experiences these kind of thoughts, know you are not alone and that those thoughts don't define who you are. Please reach out to a professional or someone who can help you find the right treatment. Even if it is a friend or a family member that you trust. this is the first step into your recovery. I know the shame and the guilt that OCD causes but that is also a part of the disorder and you will have to kick its butt :) You did not choose to have OCD! Never forget: there is help and hope! You are not alone!