LIVING WITH SEXUAL INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH, MOTHERHOOD, MUST READ, PREGNANCY, BIRTH & BABY'S, THOUGHT-PROVOKING

Kim has been working on this list for sometime. Reading her final submission took my breath away; I could sense how much courage it took for her to share this. Thank you doesn’t seem to cut. I’m awe of anyone who can show their most vulnerable version of themselves. So much so that I keep crying every time I read this!

  • I have OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  • I’m going to explain what that means, because not enough people understand.

  • It’s not what you might think.

  • It’s irrational, it’s cruel and it’s so, so frightening.  

  • ‘Obsessive’ – means obsessional thoughts and feelings that you just can’t let go.

  • Terrifying thoughts (they can be impulses too).

  • My obsessions are upsetting obsessional sexual thoughts.

  • Thoughts that I could do something awful – filling me with anxiety.

  • Constantly repeating in my mind.

  • ‘Compulsive’ – Compulsions are your reactions to these thoughts.

  • Things you feel will stop the thoughts becoming real.

  • My ‘Compulsions’ were very covert, invisible behaviours.

  • I became a master at hiding them and didn’t always recognise them myself.

  • A big one was avoidance.

  • I’ve had times where I was terrified of being too close to members of my family for fear of doing something awful to them.

  • Another was being overly aware of my hand placement. I would often sit on my hands to stop them acting on perceived impulses.

  • I would argue with myself in my head for hours to the point of not being able to concentrate on much else. Once you start a dialogue with OCD you have lost against it.

  • The obsessional sexual thoughts started when I was 19.

  • I read something in a book about a young boy being abused (part of a plot line I wasn’t expecting) and became bombarded with intrusive thoughts.

  • I became hyper sensitive to any news reports along that theme and my brain tormented me with the constant ‘what if’. ‘If they are capable, I am capable’.

  • ‘What if. What if. What if…’

  • It got so bad and so upsetting that I remember being alone in my room one day and screaming ‘JUST STOP’ over and over.

  • I was terrified it meant I was an evil person capable of doing these things.

  • I hunted desperately online for anyone else going through the same.

  • I found hundreds of forums about ‘intrusive thoughts’.

  • But so few people were talking about it without being anonymous, which made it still feel so shameful.

  • Little did I know that reading these articles again and again was a compulsion that was feeding my obsessive thoughts.

  • I lived through a rollercoaster of OCD episodes throughout my 20s.

  • Panic attack after panic attack never being sure what was happening to me.

  • Then I’d feel better.

  • Then I thought I’d beaten it.

  • Then I had my daughter.

  • When she was three months old my OCD manifested itself as an irrational fear that I could abuse her.

  • Despite knowing I may be hit with my OCD (it comes in waves of ‘episodes’) when she was born, my pregnancy was so good that I felt like I had a handle on it.

  • It crept up on me when I was at my most sleep deprived and vulnerable.

  • I saw a headline about the abuse of a child on Facebook and that was it, a huge trigger knocked me into the worst OCD episode I’ve experienced.

  • At first I just bawled my eyes out, it haunted me for days and then suddenly it twisted. It filled me with dread that I could be capable of harming her.

  • From then I became lost in a battle of compulsions.

  • When my husband left the house I would spend hours crying curled in a ball on the sofa just reading about other people’s OCD experiences over and over.

  • I could only just about bring myself to do the basics to look after my daughter.

  • Then I had a series of days where I would leave the house with her straight after my husband left for work so I wouldn’t be alone with her.

  • I didn’t realize that all of these behaviours were just fuelling my irrational belief and making me feel worse and worse.

  • Any parent can tell you that the thought of threat to their child will make them feel sick to their stomach.

  • The best way I can describe how my OCD felt is living with this constant sick feeling 24/7.

  • The moment I woke up with her lying in her basket next to me.

  • Every time I was alone with her, gave her a bath, changed her nappy.

  • I knew I had to do something.

  • I opened up to my husband, and a few close family and friends.

  • I had waves of relief.

  • They responded so compassionately and with such understanding I couldn’t quite believe it.

  • This was the beginning of my road to recovery.

  • After the initial relief I became overwhelmed with feelings of doubt.

  • I became convinced I should be locked up so my daughter could be safe.

  • I then completely broke down.

  • I called my health visitor in floods of tears.

  • She was so compassionate.

  • She called the NHS crisis team to come to see me.

  • My husband came home from work to look after us both.

  • We waited and waited and no one came.

  • I don’t want the focus of this to be about how underfunded the NHS is.

  • But when you’re in the system you realize how true it is.

  • I ended up walking myself to our local A&E.

  • I was numb with fear.

  • I laid there sobbing uncontrollably.

  • They kept me over night.

  • Most of the staff were incredibly supportive.

  • But one Psychiatric Nurse had not come across OCD before.

  • She mentioned social services.

  • I completely clammed up and refused to speak to her.

  • That moment was so damaging to me.

  • I was petrified they would not let me see my daughter.

  • The next morning my husband and daughter came up to see me.

  • Just thinking about this moment is so heartbreaking.

  • It must have been difficult for him to see me like that.

  • That was the lowest moment in this whole journey.

  • Now for the positive stuff.

  • I’m getting better.

  • I barely remember the horrific feelings.

  • I ended up being officially diagnosed twice.

  • Once on the NHS and once privately at The Priory.

  • They were both the same  — Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  —  I needed to hear it from two Psychiatrists.

  • Getting a diagnosis is so important.

  • Exposure therapy (a specific form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) saved me.

  • I did ten weeks of weekly sessions.

  • It set me truly on the road to recovery – I still go every few months.

  • I take an antidepressant called Sertaline.

  • It works for me.

  • I might stop taking it one day.

  • I might not.

  • Right now I’m not prepared to rock the boat.

  • I also believe strongly in shaking the stigma attached to taking medication for your mental health.

  • Getting better is a process.

  • You have to be dedicated.

  • You have to be unimaginably brave.

  • There is so much to it.

  • Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Recognizing is not enough.

  • I did that.

  • 7 years ago I went to a mental health clinic when I was living out in Canada.

  • They said I had OCD, but it was like I wasn’t really listening.

  • I felt that I’d done my part by acknowledging that there was something wrong.

  • The moment I started to feel a bit better I just carried on without addressing it.

  • Don’t push the thoughts away.

  • Let them in.

  • Accept them and let them be there.

  • Eventually they will subside naturally.

  • Stop your compulsions.

  • This sounds near impossible.

  • It will fill you with fear and anxiety.

  • But you must stop or delay them as long as possible as they are fuelling your obsessions.

  • My little girl is almost 2 now, she is the happiest little thing (aside from those tantrums!).

  • I now feel like I am able to be the mom I want to be.

  • A strong one.  

  • If I can make it through this, then I can take on anything life throws at me. Even being back at work and dealing with teething and nights of little sleep feels like a doddle compared to battling my OCD.

I also volunteer for the charity Maternal OCD, the women who run it, Diana and Maria were an incredible support to me. You can read other success stories on their website – https://maternalocd.org/

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

13 Comments

  • Reply Helen Tyson February 1, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    This is such a brave and honest post. Thank you for sharing and huge congratulations for you progress and continued recovery. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a brave mamma.

  • Reply Charlotte McCarthy February 1, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing and being so open about your journey. It must have taken so much courage and I feel honoured to read about the challenges you’ve faced. Your daughter is blessed to have you and your husband sounds amazing also. Much love to you and your family!

    • Reply Chantal July 23, 2019 at 7:08 am

      Thank you for sharing, I imagine that would have been a hard but rewarding thing to do. I do want to ask one question, will you tell your daughter about these thoughts when she is older?

  • Reply Lauren Harris February 3, 2019 at 9:21 am

    What an incredibly brave person you are, Kim. Are minds are so powerful but they can be trained for the better. The future looks so bright for your family. Very inspiring for others in a similar situation.

  • Reply Mary February 3, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    You are an awesome mother and so strong to have gone through this. Well done for getting help. I can empathize with some of what you’ve mentioned and can only imagine the rest. Thank you for sharing, I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

  • Reply Rosie February 3, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    I just want to say thank you so much for sharing being brave enough to share this! My husband has recently shared with me that this has been happening to him, we have an 11 month old and I had noticed that he was distancing himself from our baby. Although I’ve heard of OCD I’d never heard of intrusive thoughts. I’ve now researched it, I’m certain it’s what going on with my husband, I can really understand how it happens and takes hold. My heart just breaks for him. We’ve had a very disappointing appointment with one GP, who prescribed an anxiety medication (propanol) and asked if our son was difficult, we’re waiting for appointment with another. It’s hugely scary for me that professionals will misunderstand what’s happening, because I want to protect my husband from this and because I fear we’ll end up being referred to social services, but I can’t share this with my husband because I don’t want to add to the shame and fear he’s already experienced, and I certainly don’t want to prevent him from getting help. It’s so reassuring to hear that you’ve received the right treatment and that you’re feeling better.

  • Reply Jennie Perkins February 3, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I totally agree with the above comment. So glad you were brave enough to tell your story here, and that you are recovering and learning to deal with these thoughts. This is such a helpful post on so many levels! Thank you

  • Reply Harriet from Toby&Roo February 5, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Sending so much love – I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you and you are totally right that the NHS is in a dire condition where people are missed and not helped as they should be – it shouldn’t be the case and I’m sure the health professionals feel it too. Walking yourself to A&E was so brave and carrying forward after the ridiculous comment from the nurse, that’s awe inspiring. I suffer with intrusive thoughts but a very mild version, usually when I’m over tired or overly stressed. That’s hard enough for me to cope with. xx

  • Reply Divamumsteph February 16, 2019 at 8:22 am

    This is the most honest of blogs I have ever read. I too suffered from intrusive thoughts after my daughter was born, I’ve never opened up about it but recently since I quit my job they’ve been coming back. I felt I was going insane or that I must have a kink in my makeup, that I’m not normal. Reading this has been such a relief for me. Thank you and I am so pleased you were able to get help and work through this.

  • Reply J95 February 24, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I’ve had a very similar journey with intrusive thoughts and they have turned up again after many years of being stable. I’ve arranged private counselling which starts this week and I’m determined to stop this cycle of fear.
    You’re story has made me feel much better and also hopeful that I can overcome this. You truly don’t realise how big an effect you’re having on people like myself. You’re part of the journey to recovery. Thank you x

  • Reply J’aime Clemens March 9, 2019 at 9:01 am

    You are so very brave and amazing, thank you for opening up and being so honest about your experience, so, so happy that you got the help and treatment you need and that you’re getting to be the mum you wanted to be.
    Sending all the love in the world and the very best for you and your lovely family xxx

  • Reply Monique March 15, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Your post has been an absolute revelation for me. I have had a similar experience – though not to the same extent as what you’ve described. My intrusive thoughts are about others rather than me. The power that adults have over tiny children and the potential harm they could do. I thought it was just me! And have never told anyone about how it upsets me and makes me withdraw from my children sometimes. I’m so pleased that I stumbled upon your post. I feel such a sense of relief that I’m not experiencing this alone. Thank you thank you.

  • Reply Attila November 7, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    You are great! I would never speak about my intrusive thoughts. I understand your feelings maximally, because I lived with these more than 25 years. (I take sertraline too, but it is not enough for me.) I use a lot of my energies for fighting with my thoughts. I live a normal life, have a job, family, but to live in a normal level is very hard for me. Like swim in armour. I respect you and your family.

  • Leave a Reply