I did everything right. It's the one thing I can absolutely say I did everything right on in my whole life. Both pregnancies I stayed on the gestational diabetes diet and never cheated. When my first quack doctor told me to check my blood sugar six times a day even though I was only borderline with gestational diabetes with my first baby, I did it. I stabbed myself in the fingers six times a day with the blood sugar meter, I affectionately call it the finger torture machine. I drank only water and tea. I quit smoking. I walked a mile a day because my mother told me that it would make childbirth easier on me. I went to every appointment and did everything the doctors suggested and told me to do. I put soft music in my headphones and placed it on my belly because I had read somewhere the babies can hear it. I stayed away from alcohol going so far as to not even eat food if it were cooked with it. No sushi, no medicine, nothing. I even refused to take nausea medicine when I had morning sickness unless it was approved by my doctor. I did everything in my power to make healthy babies, smart babies, safe babies. I did everything right.
My husband is handsome, smart, handy, and kind. He is considerate, loves to read, loves history and Egypt, can cook, and he is completely and beautifully normal. I thought that when I had my children surely his genes would be more dominant. His normal genes had to trump my withered poisonous mentally diseased genes. My kids surely had a 50/50 chance of not having OCD right? I mean my mother had three kids and I am the only one with OCD. Sure, my siblings have other mental illness issues but they do not have OCD. Let them be smart and creative like their father. Let them be strong and brave like their father. Let them be normal like their father. Just please don't let them be like me. Please don't be like me. Please don't be like me. Please don't be like me.
It started with my oldest child around two. He would line up his crayons by color. Not too unusual but I just thought maybe it was due to quirkiness. My oldest is brilliant and could read by the age of four. The age of four was also when I realized my son was not quirky. He has OCD. I tried to glaze over it and I hoped and prayed my illness would go away from him. That it would just cease and not plague him with the guilt and shame that has plagued me all of my life. My mother had bought me a pair of shoes exactly like hers. My oldest son was bothered by me wearing them. They were Nana's shoes and he would get highly upset if I wore them. No amount of talking to him or explaining that they were not Nana's actual shoes but ones exactly the same would calm him. I had to put them in the closet and never wear them in his presence. It's hard to describe how I knew this was OCD except that I have had OCD since I was four and I have a deep understanding of it and how it works. I can spot it anywhere. Kind of like OCD radar if you will. He seemed to be exactly like me in a lot of ways. He is smart, funny, and over sensitive. I know my child and I know OCD. I can't explain it except that a mother knows when here child is suffering. I just knew. To me it was obvious. However, I felt that maybe it would just drop off or be a very slight case and all would be okay.
Last year at the age of nine I started to discuss with him a little about OCD. I told him that I have it and if he ever had upsetting or unwanted/scary thoughts he could tell me because I would never judge him. That I have them too and therefore I would understand. We are very open and honest and I love that we have a very strong bond and we can talk about anything. I learned how to be that way because my mother was that way with me and I thank her everyday for being that way with me. She saved my life by being there for me with OCD and I have no illusions of what my life would have been like if she hadn't been my mother. Three months ago my son confided in me that he has intrusive thoughts. He didn't know what they were but I did. We are in the process of finding him a therapist. I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. God, please why my children? I wanted to scream. Please don't let him hurt like me. Please don't let him feel the guilt of the thoughts and images he can not control like me.
Last night, I sat alone on my porch at three in the morning. I listened to the crickets chirping and the air conditioner fan buzzing and I wept. I silently sobbed for an hour and a half. I had accepted that my oldest was like me even with everything I have tried to do to prevent it. I accepted it but I was not ready for last night.
My six year old is all elbows and knobby knees with his two front teeth missing. I have seen the signs in him as well. He washes his feet more than I wash my hands. He is very particular about his bed being made....ect. He was getting ready for bed. He accidentally cut his gum with a straw. No big deal, but his reaction was. He was afraid to go to sleep. When I asked him why he said because he didn't want to bleed to death in his sleep. He didn't want to die. It wasn't just the statement that got me, it was the fear in his voice and the tears in his eyes. Again I failed. He is also just like me. After explaining to him that he was just fine and was not going to die he looked at me and asked if I was going to leave him. When was I going to die? I was flashed back to 1985 and my bedroom obsessing over these same questions. Crying to my mother and being so terrified that I would be left alone. That she would die. That I would die. Anxiety and fear pulsing through my veins. God, help me how did they both end up like me? I did the only thing I could do. I reverted to what my mother used to say to me that worked for my six year old brain. My mother would tell me that I would not die until I was 105. That she too would live to be 105. Anytime the death fear plagued me I would say under my breath, I am not going to die until I am 105. It helped me. It worked for me and so I told him the same thing. He nodded off to sleep with old tears rolling down his face and peaceful smile on his face. Because he thinks I know everything. Because I understand what is going on. Because the 105 worked. Until next time and the next obsession comes.
And so as I sat there alone on my porch, I wept. I wept for the frustration of the whole mess. I wept because I know the things that will go through their heads. I wept for the guilt I am afraid they will carry with them like I do. I wept because no one wants to see their children in pain. I wept because I do not have the option to glaze over what OCD is like. I have no illusions on how devastating this illness is. I know on an intimate level how OCD mentally abuses you. I wept for the hard road they are both going to have to go down. I wept for the injustice of it. I wept for the stigma they will face. I wept for the judgments others will throw at them. I wept because I am sad. I wept because I am angry. I wept because I felt emotionally eviscerated. I wept because I feel gutted. I raged in my head and blamed myself. After all, the poison from my family tree ran from my veins to theirs. And even though I know it is not my fault, not really, I can't help but feel like when I was doing everything right I missed something. I have somehow failed them.
They are not doomed to be like me. There are people with OCD that lead perfectly normal lives. There are people that go to school, college, and work. Just because I can not does not mean they will suffer the same fate. They are brilliant, sweet, funny, little boys. They are so much like their father in that way. There are therapies and help now, unlike when I was younger. I know that they are going to be happy and productive men when they grow up. It will be hard but I know that they can do it and I will be there every step of the way to encourage them. I will be there to pick them up if they fall. I will be there to talk to and understand all of the OCD issues and all that entails. I will be there to hold them when they need it and let them go out into the world when they are ready. I am a mother first, it's my job.
So when people talk about my blogs and they say they wish they had courage to speak up like I do, the are misjudging what I am doing for bravery. I am not brave, I am a mother. I want the world to see my children as the amazing wonderful people they are and not judge them because they have OCD. So I have to stand up. I have to speak, not for me because I can handle the snide remarks and negative comments. I have to stand up for my children. I have to try to change the world's views on mental illness because one day they will stand where I am standing. I want them to be able to hold their heads high and feel good about themselves. I want them to have self worth and positive self esteem. I have to stand up because they deserve better treatment options, better representation, and better understanding from others. I don't just choose to speak up and put myself out there, I have no choice. I am their mother and I only have until I am 105.