Last weeks #pndhour run by ‘PND & Me‘ was about intrusive thoughts and it got me thinking about my own experiences, while anxiety and depression were my main battles, the intrusive thoughts fuelled these.
During my late teens I was treated for mild OCD, it was always worrying about death and how I could prevent it with those I loved. I know this was triggered when I was 15 and my auntie passed away from cancer. I was a short illness, it took everyone by surprise and I blamed myself for a long time – The month before she became unwell I had a conversation with my friends about how I was lucky no one in my family had passed away. A month later she was taken ill, diagnosed and passed away shortly after. I honestly believed I had tempted fate and so I started to worry what if it happened again? I now know this is just isn’t true but when I was 15 I was convinced. I struggled with my OCD for a few years, went to some group therapy sessions when I was 19 and I learnt to control it.
After having my baby it came back, the thoughts were extreme and I was obsessed with health, safety and making sure my baby didn’t die. I lived on edge constantly, I was anxious all the time and I would perform little rituals as I believed this would stop harm coming to my child. Most of my rituals were around numbers, for example if I gave my baby 3 kisses I would think she might die when she is 3 so I would end up kissing her 100 times because I thought it would see her into old age. I would check, and rechecking things until I felt they were ok. I could put her in her cot and I would check her room, I’d then get into bed and I felt I had to check her again because if I didn’t something might happen to her during the night. So I’d get up and check her again, check her room, the window, under her cot, go back to bed. I’d be doing this until it felt right.
I recognised this as my OCD re emerging, I knew I had to break the cycle, it’s hard and feels so uncomfortable but by not doing my routine and seeing all was ok I began to slowly gain control again. I began to practice mindfulness and this helped greatly with the intrusive thoughts. I was horrified I could think such awful images in my mind and they were distressing. Mindfulness really helped me gain some control, allowed the thought to pass, it helped to stop me obsessing over them and trying to find a way to prevent these things happening.
For me I believe all three, PND, anxiety and OCD fed off each other, once I began getting one aspect under control the rest started to follow suit. It’s hard but by recognising your triggers you can control it. Sometimes it can feel as if you will be trapped in the cycle forever, but you can gain control and live your life again.
If you recognise any of these thoughts and feelings then please speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to point you in the right direction and give you access to treatments. If you are based in Essex, UK then you can contract NHS Therapy For You, they offer therapies with regards to all sorts of mental illnesses and are a fantastic service to use. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help, and you can and will get better.