Author’s note: On October 16, 2015, I admitted myself for inpatient psychiatric treatment. Although it is now apparent that I have had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder my entire life, I was, at the time, undiagnosed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I did know something wasn’t right. For the first part of the story, the events that brought me to this point, read THIS POST about when my postpartum thoughts turned scary and I checked myself into the hospital.
Upon admittance, I was given a journal. My first entry was a letter to my children, aged 2 years and almost 8 weeks at the time. Here it is, minimally edited for clarity (as I was in crisis when I wrote it.)
Dear Nate and Grace,
Today has been one of the hardest days of my life, and it’s because I had to leave you. I hope you don’t remember that I was even gone — Gracie, I know you won’t. Nate, I’m 99% sure you won’t either.
I’ve been struggling with a lot of scary thoughts. From what I’ve read, I’ve got something called postpartum OCD, and I’m scared. I keep thinking that something bad is going to happen to you.
I want you to know how terrifying the thought of anything happening to you is. These thoughts are so awful that I just can’t deal with them.
So many “what if”s enter my brain and nearly all of them involve some harm befalling one or both of you. The scariest thing of all is the worry that some harm will come to you and it will be my fault. That thought is too much for me to bear, so I have checked myself into a psychiatric hospital.
I don’t think I would hurt you. It is the last thing I want, but I can’t afford to be wrong.
I love you both so much.
I know it’s odd for a mother to write about her struggles or illness to her very young children, but I also know that mental illness is common and often runs in families. I want you to know that you aren’t alone if you ever feel like this. I want you to know that I’ve been through depression and anxiety and that I will be there for you if that ever happens to you.
If it does, I want you to know that it’s okay to get help. It’s more than okay. In fact, I WANT you to.
I’m promising you that we can deal with anything that comes up as long as you don’t give up. There is always help. There is always hope. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I love you both so much that it’s hard to breathe sometimes. I love you so much that the thought of anything happening to you makes me physically sick. I will love you for all eternity, no matter what you do or what struggles you face.
I pray for you daily. I pray for the strength to help you with whatever you face. I pray that one day I can share my experiences with you in a way that will help you prepare to face your own. I pray that you never experience something like this, but if you do, I pray you will get help.
I pray for the ability to alleviate any pain you may have someday, and this is why I’m sharing with you my pain.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
You are the greatest blessings of my life and I cannot wait to get back to you… I just won’t do it until I’m sure it’s safe. I won’t take chances when it comes to you.
I love you both so much. I miss you terribly. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Always and forever.
Author’s note: I’ve read that a majority of women experience intrusive thoughts in their postpartum period. Most of these thoughts are not dangerous, but if you experience them, please see a psychiatric professional who can determine what you are dealing with. Please get help. If not for yourself, for your child(ren). Our babies deserve the best versions of their mamas that they can get.