Hide the Knives, 'Pure O' and Me

I’m 22 me and my partner are expecting a beautiful baby boy any day now, were so excited to meet him! i’m already in love with him so much, iv always wanted to be a mother beyond anything else.

The day finally came and it was such a long labour 3 days in total, although i’m not surprised 9lb 9 is a good weight for your first baby. He is absolutely perfect.

We get to take him home today after being stuck in hospital for over a week with an infection. I can’t quite describe that feeling it’s very exciting but overwhelming at the same time. We leave armed with leaflets from the hospital of all the do’s and don’ts and after reading the one about cot death we decided to take shifts to watch over him in the night as he slept.

Days, weeks and months go by and being a mom is the best thing to ever happen to me, this is true love! Every little thing he does amazes me. One thing i was not prepared for though, was the protection that came over me towards him. Friends and family are welcome to come over and after being made to wash their hands are allowed to hold him, but i will stand and watch like a hawk to make sure they do it properly. It’s funny really because these people have their own children who are a lot older than my baby. They make jokes about it and tell me every new mother feels this way.

I decided to take him for his first outing, just a little walk to the top of our road to the shop. I feel strangely anxious that i have such a precious little bundle out in the big world. I can see a stranger walking towards us, minding his own business and not bothered by us at all. I grip the handles of the pram and move to the side of the footpath as much as i can to keep him away from anyone.

As time goes by i find myself constantly risk assessing everything in my head like the worst possible scenario that could happen. How will i escape from danger? What will i do if someone had a gun pointing at us? Question after question in my head, i’m in a day dream state to anyone who must be looking at me most of the time. It’s worse when i’m tired but im still told that this is all completely normal.

My maternity leave is finished now so it’s time to go back to work, we have also just moved into our new home, our first one of our own and we are so happy. We settled into our new house really well, but my partner has to work away from home to earn better money. I don’t want him to work away but we both have to make sacrifices to better our lives and our sons life. Were not getting to see much of each other at the moment with him away monday to friday and me working all day on Sunday. Our son is with my mom on mondays which took me a while to get used to but i know where he is and that he’s safe, even though i call plenty of times to check.

I’m 24, it’s dinner time and i start to get pains in my chest. I go immediately to the out of hours surgery worried about what’s causing it. The doctor called me in and told me he thinks i have acid reflux, iv never suffered with this before. The doctor asks me if i’m okay and i burst into tears, i don’t know why or where it came from and go home feeling confused.

It’s the next morning and my life is about to change! I woke up i feeling very strange. I feel like i have not slept and my head is spinning, there’s a feeling in my gut like something terrible has happened.

It’s Monday i have to get ready for work, my mom came to fetch my son and i feel very on edge. I had a row with my mom over something silly and it’s really bothering me that she walked on the carpet with her shoes on. I’m at work i’m still carrying this strange feeling around with me, what is going on with me? I feel like i’m going to pass out or the guilt as if i’d killed someone but i need to keep it to myself. My boss just asked me if i’m okay and i burst into tears again but hysterically this time. She’s being kind to me and asking me what’s wrong so i tell her with honesty that i have no idea i just don’t feel right. She’s sending me home and i’m glad.

I call my partner and try to explain but how can i when i have no idea what i’m feeling or why, is this what depression is i wonder?

I’m trying my best to carry on as normal and go to the kitchen to peel some potatoes for dinner, something i have done a hundred times before.

There is an image in my head of me taking the knife and stabbing my son, i throw the knife in the bin and run upstairs. I’m shaking with fear, why am i thinking this? Am i going crazy? I can feel the pain and anxiety in my body as if i have actually done it. I don’t know who to call for help they will think i’m a psychopath, am i? I have to do what ever i can to protect my child, i don’t care how ashamed i feel.

It’s the next day and i go to the doctors. I tell him everything i was very honest about the thought and the way i have been feeling, i had to be! I told him i am scared to be left alone with my son incase i hurt him. The doctor can see my face and chest is bright red as i’m full of anxiety. The doctor says to me “your getting your self into a state you need to calm down.” then he says “your son is a responsibility you chose to have, so you need to go home and get on with it.” He also says to me that social services might be involved, I’m terrified, i only want my baby to be safe i cannot lose him it will kill me. He gave me some medication and told me i have anxiety and that the tablets will take 2 weeks to get into my system. I write 1 to 14 on my fridge to cross down the days, i need some relief from this torture.

I put my son in the bath, it relaxes him. I don’t want him to pick up on the stress. I put his little bath seat in and his toys and bubbles and started to play. What if i drown him????? The thought just came to me from nowhere and went on to tell me how easy it will be…. Like a voice in my head ….. look how small he is!

My body is frozen scared stiff, i pull the plug out and get him dressed as quickly as i can. I call my mom “mom i need to come and live with you, he’s not safe here with me on our own.”

My mom told me to go right there, i shoved a few essentials in a bag and ran to her house.

I expected my mom to take him from me and be concerned for him but she is concerned for me! Why is she not taking him away from me? i’m a monster. I feel a bit better about being at moms so she can keep him safe from me, but now it’s bed time and and me and my son are going to left on our own in the living room. Mom tries her best to reassure me by saying she knows me and knows i won’t ever hurt him but i’m not convinced. I’m lying here on the sofa while he peacefully sleeps and everything is going around in my head, all things that could happen to him or that i could do to him if i lost control. It’s like watching the worst horror movie and nothing is kept back for the imagination.

My boy comes to me puts his arms up and says “mommy hug” i lift him up as calmly as i can but i’m thinking that i should not be anywhere near him and it’s hurting me so much.

Every morning i wake up and i can feel it coming back into my body, the fear, the anxiety rushing back in as quickly as i can open my eyes. I really need this medication to start working but 1 day feels like a week.

My mom needs to go back to work, so she told me to go home and see how i get on and if it’s too much i can go back to hers. I feel like a burden, i have always been such an independent person, especially when it came to my son.

I’m completely off my food, only surviving on cups of tea and cigarettes. I can’t cope at home but know my mom needs to work, so i called my nan to come and stay with us at our house. All the time i’m still trying to find the words to call my partner and tell him how serious this is but i can’t.

My nan’s here now she knows i’m off my food so has bought my favourite takeaway but the smell of it just makes me feel sick. I can see in her face how worried she is about me and the weight i’ve lost. We have a long chat about everything and i ask her what my dad would say to me if he was still with us and she said “he would give you a huge hug and tell you everything will be okay” What i would do for that!

Nan has gone home now and i have sent a sick note into work. My partner is on his way home, I feel relieved but know that there are going to be some difficult conversations to be had. We just put our son to bed and i sit him down and try to find the words, but no matter how i say it, it’s never going to sound okay. I told him the distressing thoughts that have been going threw my head every day and the first thing he said to me is “i know you, you would hurt yourself before ever hurting him at all” He does not really know what to say, but him being there when i need to remove myself from situations is what i need right now.

I feel so exhausted i could just sleep round the clock. I’m weak, my partner ran me and a bath and literally had to put me in and wash me. He has been making me protein milkshakes and giving me bits of food like a baby. I have given up. My partner has now lost his job, i just can not let him go while i’m like this. Now we are both out of work and have no money to fall back on.

I had an appointment in the post to go to hospital for an assessment about my mental health but this has taken 4 weeks to arrive. My mom is coming with me today. We are sat in the waiting room surrounded by people showing very distressing signs of mental health. My mom just looked at me and said “stop it” i said “stop what” and she replied “thinking your going to end up like that” She has read my mind.

I have to go in on my own and the lady, she’s asking me lots of questions and asking me what it is i have been experiencing. I have told her everything and it’s making me feel so sad. She said to me that i am not showing any signs of psychosis and that i have anxiety but i already know that, why is she not telling me how to fix this? I feel like it’s been a big wait for nothing than to tell me what i already know and no one is actually helping me fix this. She has given me a website to go on though to look at types of anxiety.

It’s evening time and me and my partner sit down to go on the website to research. We have read so much and some of it relates to how i feel but not much, until he says to me to look on the OCD link. I wish it was OCD i’m just going to read it anyway. OH MY GOD i am reading about obsessive thoughts of harming a child…. This is exactly what i have been going threw word for word. OCD how can this be OCD? I read and read and read some more it’s all falling into place now! I don’t understand why this has not been mentioned to me it could have saved weeks of me thinking my child was at risk, it says here that people with OCD do not act upon their obsessions. I feel so relieved right now! I’m going to print all of this off to give to my GP.

I’m at the doctors surgery, i give him the information i have printed off and told him im certain i have OCD. He didn’t take the paper from me just said bluntly “i know what OCD is” but has offered no explanation for me to believe he does. I feel so angry. The doctor has put my citalopram up to 20 mg and i have just realised that this medication is actually a medication for treating OCD. Why is nobody explaining anything to me? All they want to throw at me is the word anxiety and that’s all.

Six weeks since my first appointment and i have a call from healthy minds and after asking me some awful questions that made me feel ill, she agrees with me that this sounds very much like OCD. She offers me some CBT therapy which i have to wait another month for.

I have been doing a lot of reading while waiting for my CBT and have read a book called ‘overcoming OCD’ I’m not usually a reader but i can’t but this book down it’s helping me so much. My nan said to me when she stayed that power is knowledge and now i know what she means.

My medication is starting to show positive effects that and actually understanding what’s happening to me anyway. I’m slowly getting a little better each day. It’s finally time to go to my CBT at healthy minds. The lady calls me in and i tell her what i have learned about OCD but she tells me that she does not know anything about OCD. Are you actually kidding me that i have waited nearly 8 weeks for help and again all they want to to is bang on about anxiety? Why is she telling me about her fear of pumpkins… i really could not care less that she feel scared one month out of 12! This is ridiculous. She is asking me to rate her service out of ten but is sat watching me score her awkward! I'll just score her high and get out of there!

Luckily for me with such amazing friends and family and with the help of my OCD books and my citalopram i’m starting to feel like me again and become the independent woman i once was before. I wonder where someone like me would be if they didn’t have the support from loved ones like i do, or people who have not accidently stumbled upon the information about obsessive thoughts by chance like i did. I really have no faith in the mental health team linked with GP surgeries but luckily my loved ones had faith in me.

By Leanne Winmill

 

If you need any support for OCD, or if you are struggling to access good quality treatment for OCD, please call the OCD Action Helpline.