A Journey to Mental Wellness
“I feel like throughout my 35 years of life, I cannot remember a time I wasn’t struggling with mental health issues. It goes as far back as I can remember and started when I was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy. But I didn’t have the seizures you think of when you hear the word epilepsy. I had what are called absence seizures. It would look like I was staring off into space and I wouldn’t hear anything around me for short periods of time, usually less than a minute. These seizures, along with the medications I took, made it hard for me to learn in school. I had to study extra hard to retain information and I distinctly remember that before I left elementary school I felt like I had an extremely low IQ. I was so convinced that I was stupid, that I begged my parents to give me an IQ test. They obliged and it was only after taking this test that I saw proof that made me believe I wasn’t stupid.
After elementary, I had grown out of my juvenile epilepsy but was then medicated for ADD as I had a very hard time concentrating in school. The medication definitely helped in my concentration and I continued to use it for a good 10 years. By the time I was in University, I was abusing my medication because I would frequently want to pull all-nighters as I was also dealing with depression at this time.
Shortly after university, I stopped all my medication and it was at that time that I began noticing my intrusive thoughts more. These were the thoughts that would just randomly pop into my head and become stuck on repeat. But mine seemed different. They were always violent and disturbing. And I didn’t dare tell anyone as I didn’t want to be judged. I already had people in my life at the time that didn’t believe I was depressed, so how would they have believed I was experiencing this. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the nature of my intrusive thoughts, as they really are violent, but I feel that it might benefit someone out there to know that they are not alone if they have the same kinds of thoughts. My thoughts have always been about me bringing some kind of harm to those around me, particularly any animals that would be in my presence, such as family pets.
Finally, about 13 years ago, I told my family doctor what I was experiencing and she referred me to a psychiatrist. It turns out, other people have these intrusive thoughts too and they never act on them. I finally found out that I experience these thoughts because of OCD. Not the compulsive kind of OCD that would make a person check the door lock repeatedly, but the obsessive kind of OCD where a thought will come into my head and replay over and over and won’t stop. I found a lot of comfort knowing that other people experienced what I was going through.
Fast forward to 7 years ago when I was in a serious relationship with someone who I thought I would be able to share my struggles with. I had expected to be met with compassion and understanding but instead, my partner was afraid that I would hurt our future children. For reasons beyond the obvious, this relationship didn’t last.
Five years ago, I met my now husband. When I finally told him about my intrusive thoughts, I was met with the compassion and understanding I had always hoped for. That feeling of non-judgement lead me to open up to my close circle of friends about my thoughts. Again, no judgement. I was amazed at how accepting and loving these people were after I would reveal my struggles, especially since I had once thought it was such an ugly secret that no one would ever accept.
When my husband and I became pregnant 3 years ago, I knew that my intrusive thoughts would involve my children. It was a sad reality to know that once my baby was born I would begin having violent thoughts about them. I say this because it might be someone else’s reality as well. I understand how disturbing it can be. It became really draining after I had my second child. Now I had two children I had intrusive thoughts about over a dozen times per day. When my youngest was 5 months old, I finally knew I needed to get help when I was starting to logically plan my suicide. I had dealt with violent thoughts for so long that I became so used to them. But when they started to become about me, I knew something wasn’t right. Little did I know that I was actually suffering from post-partum depression. I always heard that post-partum depression was when you had thoughts about hurting your newborn. But since I already experienced this multiple times a day, I didn’t even realize I was suffering from this depression.
Once I recovered from my post-partum depression, I decided that I no longer had the energy to deal with multiple violent thoughts about my children every day. My doctor and I came up with a treatment plan to manage my intrusive thoughts. For almost one year now, I have experienced minimal to no intrusive thoughts each day. It’s really freeing and the violence in my mind is finally quiet. I know that this condition will be a lifelong one, but I thankfully now know that I can choose how loud these thoughts are. If you were to tell me 13 years ago that there would be a way I could live without these disturbing thoughts, I wouldn’t have believed it. I suppose that’s what has compelled me to tell my story. It really makes me believe that there is no situation too difficult to overcome.”
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