Hi, I’m Michelle. I had postpartum anxiety, brought on by OCD. Or maybe it was OCD brought on by anxiety. Not sure, but “figuring it out” doesn’t interest me anymore.
It all began at 30 weeks pregnant with what I would call a horror movie. Most people wouldn’t, but I would. A storyline that involved a baby being hurt sent me into a mental tornado that lasted over a year, every minute of every day. I thought of the scene from that movie every moment and I panicked. My heart raced and I sweat and never slept. Then eventually that baby became my own baby in my head. I was so afraid for him. Afraid of someone hurting him. Afraid of who I was for being afraid. Who am I really? I must be an evil person, so undeserving of motherhood for allowing my mind to be so full of scary thoughts and fear. What if somewhere down in my subconscious all of these fears are manifesting because I am actually a bad person who has been repressing her badness all her life? Seems impossible, but WHAT IF? This existence continued every day for my son’s first year. I loved him so much. I loved looking at him. I’d try to nap with him because I never slept at night. I’d be so afraid of falling asleep and having bad dreams. When I finally would fall asleep, I’d wake up sweating, sometimes crying. I just wanted to be his fearless mama. He deserved that. I wanted so badly to be the old me. The mom I was going to be when I first saw those two pink lines. The mom I was going to be all the years I dreamed of being a mom. I begged God to give her back and bury this imperfect, flawed, fearful mom I was trapped inside.
I’ll never forget the day I finally told God how mad I was at him. Everyone in the world was so happy and carefree from my view. People walking their dogs, eating ice cream with their children, laughing at nothing, whatever it was, they were happy. I was devastated. I cried loudly and yelled loudly asking God why he would let this happen to me. I think that was the first moment my husband saw more than just sadness. He saw everything. I needed help, and He was ready to give that to me.
My midwife gave me the number to the organization POEM, and through them I found Postpartum Progress.
The number of postpartum specialists in my area was limited, but I found my counselor Megan. She had been there and she understood. I had been to one counselor shortly after my onset with what ended up being PPOCD. She was very sweet and asked lots of questions, but she just didn’t help me. It was nice to be able to cry, but she asked lots of questions to use up our time. I think she just never knew how to help me. But Megan was one of God’s gifts to me. I believe there is a Megan out there for everyone. It is just a matter of finding the courage to seek her. We talked in her office weekly and she reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Or crazy. Most of all she helped me realize just how deserving I am of my son.
I believe the “cure” for postpartum struggles comes from many different places. I think the journey to healing is unique for each mom. Today, I am healed because I focused on the truth of who I am. I remind myself of what is true daily. There are lies and there is truth. The truth is good and I am good. I know that for sure because I chose to believe it. Medication was not a part of my story, but I believe in that for those who need it too.
My heart is still cracked from where it used to be broken, but through the cracks I get to be flooded with light. I don’t live in darkness anymore because of those cracks. They are good and they are beautiful. The mural of my life isn’t complete yet, but I can now see the mother I am now is exactly the mother my son needs.