Mental Health Awareness Week | Maternal OCD
Living with Maternal OCD & Anxiety Disorder
This week marks mental health awareness week and against the backdrop of a global pandemic, a subject that is more poignant than ever.
Over the past few years there has been a real shift towards recognising the importance of mental health and looking after our minds, but has this extended to mothers too?
I recently wrote an article for the honest motherhood site Mumernity about my experiences with Maternal OCD and Anxiety.
Lots of women have reached out to say that they have experienced something very similar and it turns out OCD is very common, the fourth most common mental disorder after depression, alcohol and substance misuse and social phobia.
So why did I like so many of the Mums who have contacted me this week have no idea what I was suffering with?
I'm hopeful that sharing my experience will add to the conversation around maternal mental health and help fellow mothers to spot the signs sooner.
At the end of this article there is a list of organisations who can help with links attached.
Signs and Symptoms
Most of us have a million thoughts a day especially when you have just had a baby.There are so many questions for your brain to find answers to.
Most of us can let the occasional intrusive thought pass through our heads and not attach any particular significance, but when you are suffering with OCD your distressing and repetitive thoughts take on a different meaning.
Personally I struggled to separate the concept of mothering instincts and dangerous OCD thoughts, I developed a belief that if I had thought something it must be true and I must take extra steps to stop my children coming to any harm.
It meant I couldn't trust the people around me and I found it difficult to enjoy time in the company those I would usually fee relaxed around.
I would constantly check that I had everything I needed for time out of the house, a spare change of clothes, a million cups, specific toys etc convinced that others would perceive me as a "bad mum" if I couldn't demonstrate I had the correct tommee tippee.
These may sound like trivial things but they culminated in a constant sense of anxiety that I couldn't get anything right, my confidence pulmitted and I took the constant checking into social situations too.
This meant replaying every conversation I had with friends to check if I had said anything boring/offensive/stupid etc.
For a long time I assumed that this was just motherhood and I would feel this sense of dread forever.
We all know that motherhood comes with a constant worry factor but there should be times when you can relax, enjoy and be in the moment.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) really helped me to understand my thoughts patterns and how to handle them, the practical strategies for coping were really life changing.
I noticed my confidence return and a joyfulness in motherhood.
I felt better able to express my opinions and feelings, learning to set boundaries within my parenting both with myself and others.
I haven't shared the full extent of my experience as it is deeply personal but I would urge anyone who notices any of these symptoms occurring in their own life to reach out for help.
Much love to you all.
Organisations who can help