Exposing a Piece of My Past: Postpartum OCD
Today a very difficult and personal article on my experience with postpartum depression and postpartum OCD was published on Her View From Home. You can read it here:
I sat down one day and felt the urge, the need, to get this story down on paper. I felt like after all of these years, that it needed to be shared. But I was scared, I’m still scared. Exposing raw parts of your inner soul to the world is, in one word, terrifying.
For my the majority of my family and friends, today is the first time hearing this struggle. I’ve kept it hidden from even those I love because of the shame that can come with situations like this. To those who are thinking that you wished you had known, or feeling that you wished you had seen the signs, this was entirely on me. I don’t know if it was initially pride or fear that kept me in isolation but when you are in that type of mental state you aren’t looking outward. You are trapped entirely inside; it’s like a prison cell within your own mind. Not letting others in when I was fighting this struggle wasn’t a reflection of my relationships, it was a reflection of the hold that this darkness can have on a mind, heart and soul.
When trying to decided whether to submit this, I truthfully went back and forth for quite some time. When talking with my husband about the decision, he came back with one question that made up my mind – “Why do you write?”
His take was….yes, this is very personal, but you write because you want to help people. And this could help someone.
So, that is how we got to today and that is why, 10 years after the fact, I am finally sharing my experience with postpartum depression and postpartum OCD. I’m hoping that maybe one day someone who needs to read this, will.
What is Postpartum OCD?
Most people are not even aware that postpartum OCD exists; I certainly wasn’t. While postpartum depression is estimated to impacted 10-20% of woman, postpartum OCD reaches 3-5%. It’s not a condition that is reviewed with doctors during postpartum visits and it’s not something that is covered in mainstream media.
While having existing depression, anxiety or OCD does heighten your risk, you can experience postpartum issues without having any pre-existing conditions. I didn’t have underlying depression, anxiety, OCD or another mental health disorder, but still it found me. In fact, the greatest risk factor I had was merely the situational stress I was under at that period of my life.
To anyone reading this who may find themselves experiencing intrusive thoughts or other postpartum OCD symptoms, please know that they are absolutely treatable. Each plan of treatment will be personalized for the specific person, but for me I was out of counseling and off of medication within a few months of first arriving to the doctor. This is not something you will live with forever and it is something that you can easily manage and treat.