I just want to give a quick update on how things are coming along in my journey with postpartum OCD. Ugh, I hate even typing that out because I feel like it brings judgement. But I do want to share because I am learning so much and if my experience can help someone else then I know I need to speak up. I have been seeing a therapist to help me sort my thoughts and make sense of everything and it’s really been helping! I felt so much better even after my first couple of visits because it was such a relief to know that this is actually pretty common and all of the things that I have been experiencing are just symptoms of the condition. From my understanding, OCD is something that you have always have (genetic) and then it “flairs up” when you experience trauma, sudden change in your life, or hormonal changes (like pregnancy). It’s due to a malfunction in the amygdala. This doesn’t mean that you are crazy. Very intelligent and high functioning people have OCD. It’s actually an anxiety disorder. The person without OCD and the person with OCD both have “creative thoughts” pop into their head. Like if you are waiting on a train, it is very normal for someone to think “what if I jumped in front of that train?” But where the person without OCD just dismisses it as a passing thought, the person with OCD is unable to let go of the thought and starts to believe that they will in fact jump in front of the train at some point. To protect themselves from jumping in from of the train, they may avoid trains at all costs and have extreme fear and anxiety every time they hear a train. There becomes this obsession over the train and how to avoid it.
I know it sounds crazy, but I was so relieved to talk about these things. Just understanding how the brain works and that these thoughts have no relevance was such a weight off my chest. I realized I have had thoughts and obsessions like this throughout my whole life and the eating disorders were ways of coping. This is all fascinating to me. I am glad that I made the decision to get help and I hope that if you are struggling with your thoughts postpartum (or anytime) that you decide to get help as well!
Here are the steps I am taking right now to manage my postpartum OCD. I am not currently on medication. I told my therapist that I wanted to wait to see what I could do without medication and then if I felt I needed it in the future I will try it then. For now, here is what I am doing.
Taking Every Thought Captive-
As a Christian it is important for me to pray for discernment and take every thought captive anyway.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
But when I am constantly dealing with intrusive thoughts due to a faulty amygdala, it’s REALLY important for me to know how God speaks to me because if I was to just ‘go with my gut” or “listen to my heart” I could end up someplace I’m not supposed to be!
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Feelings lie all the time. Even though it has been such a terrifying and exhausting experience dealing with OCD, I am thankful for it because it has brought me closer to the Lord and deep into His word. When the storm is raging in my mind, I know that I can stand firm on God’s word. God speaks to us through His word. That’s why it’s so important to know it! Do you know it?
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:1-2
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
God speaks to us through His word. Whether you deal with OCD or not, this is paramount to know so that you are not just believing your own thoughts and feelings all the time.
Staying Off the Internet
There is a lot of good on the internet but it’s also like shopping at Ross, you have to sort through the crap. A person with OCD can Google themselves into oblivion looking for answers to the endless questions in their mind. It’s a black hole. For me, I have decided to refrain from any searching for help online. It just adds to the confusion and overwhelm.
Keeping a Healthy Diet and Exercising
Keeping my blood sugar stable and getting some mood boosting exercise in each day is crucial right now. These are two things that are good for me anyway that when kept in check help the management of postpartum OCD all the more. I am also supplementing with vitamin B12 and D.
I’m sure if you have dealt with any sort of postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD, you know the drastic difference in the way you think when you have had enough sleep and when you haven’t. I am thankful that Anna is sleeping through the night now and am taking full advantage. It’s one thing to push yourself, but you have to be wise. I make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Cutting Myself Some Slack
I am feeling SO MUCH better. But there are still good days and bad days. It takes a physical toll. Sometimes I feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest and other times I feel like my heart is about to stop because I am just so fatigued. I have to cut myself some slack and know that this won’t be forever and I am taking the steps that need to be taken. But all in all, I am thankful for this time, I’m fascinated at how our minds work, and I am learning so much! I will keep you updated on my progress.
Thank you so much for being so kind and supportive sweet friends. I hope you are well, but if you aren’t, reach out! You will be so glad you did.