9 November 2019 - 7:08
First of all, I'm a straight female in a long-term relationship, 32 years old, with two young children.
I've had anxiety as long as I can remember (I don't have a single memory in which it doesn't feature somewhere), but things really kicked off when I was 17 - I got pregnant by mistake and then had an extremely violent and unpleasant miscarriage at around 12 weeks that landed me in hospital. I recovered, but was left feeling extremely ashamed and devastated that it had happened. After that, my anxiety became unbearable.
Around the age of about 22-23ish, my anxiety reached its peak and I had a huge breakdown that saw my weight plummet (I had no appetite/seemed to unwillingly throw up anything I did manage to eat) and made me too afraid to leave the house unless the 'conditions' were absolutely right. Even then, I found I could only walk certain routes that were 'safe', and most of the time I didn't bother as it was just too frightening being away from home. I had some limited counselling/CBT during this time, which helped a bit, and it was then that possible OCD was mentioned ... I was struggling to get to my appointments, however, so didn't manage to explore it much further before I gave up going altogether.
At this time, I had a lot of anxiety about specific things that upset me and I would have to do 'checks' in order to try to calm myself down - for example, among other things, I was terrified every time a member of my family left the house that they would either go missing or die in some horrible accident, so I would check news and traffic reports in a specific order looking for evidence that what I was worrying about was not true. One time, there was a crash reported on a road I knew my mother took to work and I was so scared that I walked three miles in the pouring rain to be sure it wasn't her car. Even when I saw it wasn't, I was still scared that maybe I had missed something until she came home that evening.
There were other fears and compulsions, but this was the main one. It was during this time of particular upheaval in my mental state (the breakdown) however, that I started to have disturbing and horrible intrusive thoughts as well. I don't want to say what they were as it triggers, upsets and disgusts me, but they were of a sexual nature (NOT children thank god). The thoughts were mostly 'What if ...' questions - 'What if I did X?', 'What if I want to X?', 'What if X is what secretly turns me on?' - that sort of thing and they became all-consuming. I started trying to expose and 'test' myself, and performed obsessive checks of my own body to 'make sure' I wasn't being aroused by this thing (I wasn't, but it didn't help) and eventually I was driven so crazy by it and the fear that I might be some kind of repulsive freak, plus all the other anxiety as well, that I was about ready to just give up and kill myself.
Then my friend died suddenly and I was so thrown by it that it was all I could focus on and the thoughts went away for a time. Is this possible with Pure-O? It was like they were just forced out by grief. And although I was completely heartbroken at the loss of my friend, I was also so glad not to have the thoughts anymore. I thought maybe it had broken the cycle.
Wasn't to be, sadly, as they have come and gone over the years - they seem to return at times of great stress but not always. Most episodes have been fairly short-lived, but when I was pregnant with my second child I had a significant flare-up (if that is the right term) and found myself testing and checking a lot - something which made me feel absolutely disgusting and horrible, especially being pregnant.
As soon as I gave birth, they just went away again and I have been free of them for 2.5 years now, but I am always worried they will resurface. I've been thinking about it a lot recently, having panic attacks and feeling vile things about myself that I know aren't true, but I don't think I can talk to anyone I know about it as I am sure they won't understand - how could they??? I'm not sure I could even tell a therapist in case they thought I was some sort of revolting lunatic.
All I want is to be a good mother to my children (I am, I think - they have a good life, are absolutely cherished, and neither they nor anybody else have any idea what I have struggled with in the past) ... but recently I have been feeling very down about it and like maybe everyone would be better off without me.
Please can someone - anyone - help me to understand what this is? Could it be POCD (it's the closest description of my problem that I could find), or is it not possible for such a condition to be present on and off? What can I do? How can I make sure it never comes back (other than obviously ending it all, which I really don't want to do as I love my children so much)?
Thanks in advance and sorry for the length of this if you read it.