Right now in the US, we are in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which spans from October 1 through October 7. For those who don’t know what this is or what it means, the Mental Illness Awareness Week is put on every year to help fight the stigma associated with mental illnesses. I know this without having to look it up because all too often, people judge and ridicule that which they don’t understand, Continue reading “Mental health awareness”
I decided to sell my wedding dress.
This might not seem like a big deal to most people. The thing is, I was in love with Continue reading “Saying goodbye to a dream”
I developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder during pregnancy. It’s sadly ironic that I used to tease certain relatives for having the same condition because I didn’t understand it. I know more about it now that I wish I did.
It started with me worrying about the doors being locked. I checked once, then a few times, then several more before I could finally relax. This morphed into me checking to make sure the windows were locked as well, even those we hadn’t opened. I would check then check again.
Once Choo-choo was born, I became obsessed with germs. They were all bad and needed to die. However, I was also completely overwhelmed with how much I had to do being a new mom and still having to clean the house. I was then obsessed about destroying germs while also living in a messy house. I had many paralyzing panic attacks about this.
Then I started the hand washing. Scrub and rinse, scrub and rinse. Did my arm touch the faucet? Re-wash. Did my hand bump the inside of the sink? Wash again. It became so bad, my hands cracked and bled and my arms literally looked and felt like scales. I had lizard arms for at least a year.
The worst of all, though, are the fears I have about passing germs on to Choo-choo. I constantly washed both his hands and mine, though this is getting a little better. I also never kiss him. It breaks my heart to not be able to give my child kisses, but the frightening thoughts I have what could happen keep me from changing this.
Instead, Choo-choo and I developed our own special “kisses” that he now does to Diesel and even the grandparents. We press our cheeks together with kissy sounds then rub noses. It’s really cute when he asks for them because sometimes he won’t say a word. He will just put a finger on one cheek then on the other then on his nose.
It was so very difficult for me to let Choo-choo wash his hands by himself in the sink. We used to hold him up to the sink and wash for him. Now that he’s bigger, he wants to do it “all by myself.” Diesel’s family actually started it first, which never bothered me. Even if it did, there wasn’t much I could do about it. But when Diesel let Choo-choo wash his hands in our sink while standing on his little stepstool, I panicked.
I have now adjusted to it as well as I can hope for the moment. I clean the sink before Choo-choo’s every hand washing. Even when I know for certain the sink is clean, I cannot help but soap it down yet again.
Maybe I will be able to teach myself to relax enough to not worry so much. Hopefully. Until then, I take deep breaths and say to myself, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” If this helps, I know I’m good. If this doesn’t help, I clean or re-wash or do whatever I need to, indulging my OCD for the moment, knowing that it’s won this time but it won’t win every time.
A few months before Choo-choo’s second birthday, Diesel and I had a life-altering fight. I had been having daily panic attacks, sometimes several in one day. I was in such a state that I couldn’t explain to him how I felt or what I needed him to stop doing.
You see, he was cleaning the kitchen. A fairly innocuous thing to do, except my OCD and anxiety despised germs and had decided only I knew how to get rid of them properly. I cried, and he wouldn’t stop. I stuttered through the panic, begging him to halt his actions. He wouldn’t.
Diesel believed I needed to be pushed outside my comfort zone in order to help me. Boy, was he wrong! This fight made me say something I didn’t mean and instantly regretted, but it had just flowed out of my mouth so quickly and easily in the moment.
We were on the verge of shattering our marriage, this much I knew. It was difficult for either of us to separate what was real with what was imagined. Emotions raged in us both. We had expressed things that shook us to the core. The only option I saw in that moment was the most painful one I could think of. Something needed to be done.
With time to process, however, a new solution appeared. Therapy. To be honest, I was utterly terrified. My anxiety produced hundreds of irrational fears about everything, including counseling. I had zero idea what to expect. I’m not good speaking to strangers, and the thought of divulging every ugly part of me was frightening. I was afraid I would be judged, afraid I would be thought of as a terrible mother, afraid I would never find the happy me.
I went anyway, though. Slowly, with the help I so desperately needed, I dug my way out of the darkness. I began to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I started medication too, something I considered a necessary evil at the time but now something I embrace as simply necessary.
While I still have dark days, they are just that: days. Not weeks or months in a row. The anger is still there, as is the anxiety. I am better able to manage and control them now.
And, most importantly, I can finally enjoy time with Choo-choo and Diesel without wanting to run away. Sure, that thought pops up every once in a great while. The “oh wouldn’t it be nice to run off to Tahiti and never come back?” But the difference is, I don’t actually mean it now. I will never just take off and disappear. The same can’t be said of the me two years ago.
My marriage to Diesel is on track again, too. It’s still a little bumpy sometimes. It is even occasionally bumpy and hilly and mountain-y, but we are better equipped with finding our way to honesty, respect, understanding, and love.
I have learned that my past doesn’t have to control me and that what I experienced does not mean I am incapable of being a good wife or mom. Though I am still learning how to deal with life’s ups and downs, I am in a much better place than two years ago.
I now understand that I am never truly alone. Not in an emotional and certainly never in a spiritual way. My loved ones are my loved ones again, not people who don’t understand me and don’t want to help me, as my depressive thoughts made me believe.
As after the rain there is a rainbow, after my darkest days of depression, I know true happiness once again. As paraphrased from the “Sex and the City” movie, I’m not happy all day every day, but I am happy every day. I now see that I do have a purpose in life and that I do matter. I wish this and pray for this for not only other survivors of sexual violence, and violence in general, but for everyone.