A Journey of Recovery From Postpartum OCD
Healing: such a small word for such a huge accomplishment.
Healing starts with a moment — one moment in which you realize you were able to focus on something other than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for just a second. That moment gives you a glimmer of hope. A glimmer of normalcy, a glimmer of what life can be again. That glimmer drives you, it encourages you.
You keep going, keep fighting, keep wishing, keep searching, keep praying for relief. Full recovery seems elusive, but now it is your journey, your mission. The more you try to rush it, the further away it seems. So you keep doing everything you know to get better. Reach out to friends. Ask family for support. Take medication. Go to therapy. You are a perfectionist following all of the rules put in place for recovery, but why is it taking so long?
Then, when you least expect it, like when you fall in love… it comes. Sweet relief begins to wash over you. The harder days are less hard. The bad days are fewer and farther between. You begin to recognize yourself, the “real” you begins to emerge again. You slowly begin to build the trust back up with yourself, but you aren’t so quick to forgive the brain you feel betrayed you. The “old you” begins to come back, but it has also transformed.
You are now wiser, more understanding, more aware of yourself and others. You feel deeper and love stronger. Empathy and compassion flow out of you. Every stigma you used to have toward mental illness has become something you now want to help others fight against. You don’t take one laugh, one “I love you” or one smile for granted. You’ve discovered a new side of yourself you never knew existed, a side which might have never been without OCD.
You’re different, but very much the same. Laughter comes easily. Beauty can be seen in the littlest things. The darkness that used to rule your life has subsided and you can enjoy the sunshine again. The rollercoaster you’ve been on for months is over. The uncertainty has disappeared, you now feel safe.
You feel safe with yourself, your children, your life. You can now with full certainty distinguish between the thoughts of OCD and the thoughts which are the “true you.”
At first, you cling to your recovery like a life vest in the ocean. You fear letting go, getting sucked back into the obsessions, the thoughts, the fears. Your new thoughts are calculated and precise. For a while, you may worry OCD will never truly lose its grip on you, healing takes a huge leap of faith. But I promise freedom will come. Complete freedom and recovery are possible.
Recovery from OCD takes time; it doesn’t occur overnight. OCD is traumatizing, it takes mental and physical stamina you never knew you had. It takes your mind to agonizing lows and places fear into the most mundane circumstances.
Once you climb out, once recovery is firmly in your grip, you walk. Keep walking and for a while don’t look back. Place distance between yourself and your thoughts, your fears, your obsessions. Enjoy the peace, the love, the serenity. Allow yourself to take a break, a true break. Lay in your bed thoughtless. Play with your children carefree. Laugh so hard it hurts. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your life.
Don’t allow OCD to “win.” Don’t let yourself hold a grudge over your journey; learn from it. Learn that these thoughts affected you so much because you love so hard and care so deeply. Learn that you are highly sensitive to right and wrong, and know it’s OK. Learn that you love your children so much, you set up mental and physical barriers to protect them (even if it meant protecting them from you.) You sensed danger and you sacrificed your sanity for it, but now you know you don’t have to do that anymore.
You can protect your children in different ways. You can see danger, but don’t need to obsess over it. You can have a “bad” thought, but that doesn’t define your character.
OCD wants you to believe you should be small and fear; the truth is you are great and fierce!
Keep fighting mommas, your recovery is in reach.
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Thinkstock photo by Marili Forastieri.