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Next Life, NO Kids: Logic is Stupid...This is OCD

April 22, 2013

Logic is Stupid...This is OCD

I read a lot about depression, its stigma, but also how common it is postpartum. I'm so glad to have so much support surrounding my PPD, and happy that I wrote about some of my struggles months ago. I feel so blessed to have received so much feedback and even more support from so many of you. 

Here's a bit about something else I struggle with, that I don't often read or talk about. Perhaps some of you will relate and be comforted by the fact that you are not alone. I'm WAY more nervous posting about this subject than I am PPD, but here goes.

I'm stuck today.

I remember an old counselor I had joking about being up in our own heads. "Don't go upstairs without a grown-up" he'd say, and I'd laugh because I could so totally identify.

I'm up in the attic today completely unsupervised.

I just keep hearing that stupid commercial for whatever medication of the week say "Depression hurts." Well no shit it does, but the OCD that comes along with mine makes it even more painful. Luckily, I have a very good friend that struggles too because otherwise I'd lock myself up.

I've had a mild case of OCD for years, but when I'm pregnant and postpartum, WATCH OUT. Germs are everywhere, and they fly and jump, and the baby is going to get sick, and we're all going to die. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but only because "logically" I know better. Logically, I know a whole lot, but try explaining that to my OCD. The words obsessive and compulsive are pretty strong words by themselves, but together? 


Talking about this issue is about as fun as I imagine playing leap frog with a unicorn might be. I suppose that the desire to immediately fix a friend's problem is an amazing first response, but this is not just a simple fix for me. Trust me, I wish it was way more than you do. 

If logic or self knowledge were the answer, I'd be cured. I know all about it. I know it's a control issue. I know that when I feel "out of control" it gets worse. I know also that control is an illusion, and that I never have any. I have trust in God, and turn my will and my life over to Him on the daily.

With this power, I have overcome all sorts of horrible things; like alcoholism, and an raging eating disorder. The OCD is a tough one. When I do reach out to anyone other than my fellow OCDer, the standard response is usually logic. I don't want to touch that thing and you say "It's not going to hurt you, just stop thinking about it." Again, I'm really smart I swear, but this thing is often stronger than my intellect. 

Saying these things to me is equivalent to telling an anorexic to just eat. I get it, it's crazy, but it feels completely out of my control. I open doors with sleeves or paper towels, I ask everyone to wash their hands immediately when they come through my door, and then again before handling the baby, and I have been known to sanitize cell phones with antibacterial wipes, ointment, and Windex. 

It's exhausting, and it's tedious, and it's infuriating, but the alternative is even more unbearable. Sometimes I feel like I'm suffocating. I had a therapist specializing in postpartum depression tell me that being a "good mom" means introducing my baby to germs. Apparently I'm a bad mother because I would rather not. If you don't know what to say to someone struggling with OCD, please don't wing it, we feel bad enough.

Here's an example: 

Preschool is an obviously germy place, I think we can all agree. So, when I pick my son up, every fiber in my body screams to get him, and get the hell out of there -- quickly. I ask him to wash his hands before leaving, which may not seem terribly insane to anyone watching. However, the other day he kept putting his whole arm in the trash barrel to throw away his paper towel, and I took him back to the sink and made him wash his hands THREE times before we left.

I was really embarrassed and felt small when we left, but also compelled. All I could think was that he was going to touch the baby and get him sick. We couldn't leave until his hands were clean.

When my OCD is intense, I find it hard to show my children actual affection. Can you imagine?? This feels awesome. The baby seems safe because he doesn't go anywhere or touch anything that I do not control. The others are more of a threat. Yes, I just used that word to describe my own kids. 

THIS. FEELS. AWFUL. I feel awful, and I want it to stop. I missed every single one of my daughter's basketball games this year because I couldn't justify bringing my baby into a room filled with the plague. She's only going to remember that I wasn't there. OCD doesn't offer assistance when filling out my Mother of the Year application.

I suppose medication might be your suggestion. Well, I'm nursing and also obsessed with how medication might hurt the baby, even though really smart people in white coats keep telling me it won't. I have nothing against it, I know it works, and I'm totally supportive of the fact that you took it with your last five pregnancies and while breastfeeding. 

I just can't. I respectfully decline, and I feel the judgement for it. I'm in therapy and working through some trauma, and dealing with one thing at a time. I'm quite certain the therapy itself is fueling some of the OCD, but I need to get through it all to feel better. Medication CANNOT be the only solution, because if it is, I'm screwed for the next three months.

In conclusion, depression sucks and it hurts, and OCD is pretty fucking awesome too.

Oh, and logic is stupid.

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At 4/22/2013 , Anonymous Dana said...

I left a comment on My Life as Lucille, but just wanted to leave you some love too. You are awesome and I am so glad we are bloggy friends!

At 5/08/2013 , Anonymous helen said...

I linked over from kate at Another Clean Slate. This post about OCD and depression really hit home. My youngest daughter suffers from it...and I do mean 'suffer.' Thank you for sharing.


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