After the Postpartum OCD left, I was grateful to be alive and grateful to have a chance to raise my son. Thrilled even. However, the symptoms I was used to before my pregnancy had changed yet again and they have remained that way every since. I have been able to manage them better and was even able to have another son without Postpartum OCD coming back. It has been a struggle but I am doing rather well, even if my symptoms have changed.
I was still a germ-a-phobe but to a much greater degree. Not only did I still wash my hands excessively but I started to carry a bottle of anti-germ gel in my purse at all times. I still do. I have always been hyper aware of germs and dirt but now it seemed to be even more oppressive. I have a hard time shaking other people's hands, touching things my mind deems to be dirty, or letting people near my face. Seriously don't do it....it freaks me out. I actually "feel" the germs on my hands. I actually "feel" residue on surfaces my mind claims are dirty. And yes, I actually "feel" the place that has been touched on my face and it is not a pleasurable experience. It's horrible. It's dirty. It's unclean. It makes my anxiety level shoot through the roof and my pulse quicken. My heart races like a marathon runner who has just finished a 5K and all I did was touch a pen in the doctor's office. It sucks....I could go on and on but no one has time for all of the many, many germ-a-phobe issues I deal with on a daily basis. So, I will just leave you with this mental picture....I have been known to scrub my face raw when someone touches it. Not dry and chapped from too hot of water or too drying of soap, but actually raw...and I still could feel the touch underneath my skin.
I still had the contamination fears and they still plague me today. I actually threw away a perfectly good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I made for my youngest the other day because I was afraid that the counter had some bacteria from the meat I had placed on it the day before. Even though, I know I scrubbed it several times with warm soapy water after I put up the meat. I couldn't quite convince myself it was safe and I worried the bread might absorb any remaining bacteria up in it like a sponge. So, I had to throw it out and start again. I really try to not do that but like anything else it is a process. A daily process and I am actively working on it.
I still had Harm fears but they were more random and less scary. After the hell of Postpartum OCD, these Harm fears seemed to pale in comparison. Occasionally, I see myself stabbing someone whilst cooking or using a utensil of some sort. A pair of scissors, a kitchen knife, a pencil, a set of car keys....It doesn't really matter what the object is. It could be a broken toothpick or a thumbtack..OCD is not particular on the weapon, it just makes weapons out of whatever you are currently holding in your hand. I once had one while holding a sheet of paper....true story. It scares me for a second and then I remember what it is and I go on. I am not going to hurt anyone and I am fairly certain no one has ever been papered to death....
I did get a new symptom that really threw a wrench in the machine. Medical fears. Not only did I worry I had accidentally poisoned myself from eating something off of a chemically washed counter whilst giving myself a disease from touching a public handrail, I now started to worry I had some major illness that was terribly devastating and awful. A mole on my leg was skin cancer. A cough meant some rare disease only sheep got that had somehow evolved to spread to humans and then only to me. A watery eye meant that I had a brain tumor...ect. The anxiety ramped up as I tried to figure out how to quell this monstrosity of a symptom as well. Many times I failed and was left terrified by my own thoughts. I started to google my symptoms of each imagined ailment, which in turn led to the most horrendous horror stories you could ever find. The more I searched, the more I found, the more frightened I became. There is a good saying that plays into this sort of symptom very well. "If you search for something bad long enough, you will find it." I had to make a promise to myself to never research any symptom imagined or otherwise again, just to preserve my own sanity. OCD just loves fear and doubt and I refuse to give it anymore leeway by searching for medical symptoms. I am not a doctor and everything on a google search only leads to horrible, painful, and disturbing diseases and diagnoses. I don't need that kind of pressure.
Because of all of the symptoms of OCD I have endured I can say that my life is different than most normal people. Not better and not worse but different. Everyone has their own struggles and hardships in life. This just happens to be mine. It has changed the way I live and the things I do. It has had a profound affect on how I treat others and the understanding I have for those that suffer from mental illness, especially those that suffer from OCD. I get what they are going through. I know what it feels like and I haven't even had every single OCD symptom there is floating around out there. OCD is extremely complex and if you can think it, it can manifest it in some horrid intrusive thought. Trust me...
So, I know when I read blogs and comments about the horrors of the mind, it makes perfect sense to me. It really does. In suffering for so long I have learned a great deal and honestly, I still have a lot to learn. I will most likely never know everything there is to know about OCD. It changes constantly and this will probably not be my last symptoms to pop up. There is always a chance that again my world will shift and new ones will appear. I will just have to learn to live and battle with them like I have had to learn to live and battle with these.
From fears of being inadequate, the compulsions, the checking, the counting, the washing, the touching, the homosexual fears, the being harmed fears, the germ fears, the relationship fears, the contamination fears, the harm fears, the medical fears, the Postpartum OCD, and the guilt and shame associated with them I think it is safe to say that I don't need to watch horror films. I have seen more gore, violence, disturbing sexual images, and horror in my head than any normal individual. Any slasher film or Friday the 13th movie could never compare to the awful and terrifying things that have played thorough my mind at one time or another. I don't need to watch Halloween on television or at the movie theater to get scared. My OCD has already been doing that to me for years.
I wrote this to be honest and explain just how OCD has been affecting me since I was a small child and continues to affect me to this day. Yes, I wrote this to share my experiences but also to try and break down some of the taboo that surrounds not only OCD but also mental illness as a whole. I wrote this because many think OCD is not a scary or a devastating mental illness. Many think that it is not something people become suicidal over or worry about. Many think OCD is not a severe debilitating mental illness. Many think it is something to be laughed off or made fun of. They even sometimes, think it's cool because the media has made it seem harmless and funny. They are so very, very wrong. I wanted to be in depth to let those people know that OCD is so much more than just about organization or touching things repeatedly. It really is a lifetime of ever changing, ever constant, ever painful symptoms that we deal with on a daily basis. Everyday. All day. For the rest of our lives.
I would like to close my post with this message. OCD is hard and scary and more often than not, completely exhausting. It can and does take a toll on your view of yourself. It can make you doubt your sanity and your self worth. It can make you doubt what kind of a person you are and just what you are capable of. It can make you struggle, but you can get better. It can be managed. . I possess no curing snake oil potions, or superhero powers, no healing spells, or magic pills to take to make it all go away. But if an average, plain Jane, regular girl like me can make it through all of this, then you can too. I have no doubt of that. You can and will get better. You just have to keep trying and keep fighting. You are worth it. You are strong and you can do this...
Fourth Installment :http://neurtoicnellyocd.blogspot.com/2014/01/surely-this-was-hell.html
Third Installment :http://neurtoicnellyocd.blogspot.com/2014/01/i-was-unaware-and-unprepared.html
Second Installment :http://neurtoicnellyocd.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-it-became.html
First Installment :http://neurtoicnellyocd.blogspot.com/2013/12/and-so-it-begins.html