Current Size: 100%
Kylie Cloke is wife, mother of three young children, and a recovered OCD sufferer, this is her story.
Although I had suffered with OCD traits on the lead up to my GSCE’s, these symptoms seemed to disappear as quickly as they had arrived, once the stresses of exams were finished. It was whilst pregnant with my first child, that these symptoms reappeared.
Whilst pregnant, I developed an obsessive fear that something was going to go wrong. I couldn’t allow myself to believe that my unborn baby would be born healthy – and I craved constant reassurance from a health practitioner that my baby was developing as she should be. When my daughter was born, I expected the anxiety I had struggled with to disappear – as my fears had been proved unfounded. However, my thoughts changed tact – and I found myself having intrusive thoughts about being a perfect mother. My OCD led me to believe that I was an unfit mother, and in order to change this, I needed to complete rituals that kept all of my daughters possessions perfect. I would spend hours sorting out my daughter’s clothes and toys. I knew exactly how many pairs of socks she had, how many babygros and which toys had which accessories – and if any of her possessions became lost or damaged, I developed a high level of anxiety until I could put right what was wrong.
My OCD stayed within this vein until I was heavily pregnant with my 2nd child, 2 and a half years later. Within the space of only a couple of hours, my OCD changed direction – and I found myself developing a fear of contamination. Dog faeces was my first cause for concern – my daughter had come into contact with it at a Mother and Toddler group – and I suddenly became very concerned that she was going to be very poorly because of it. I felt an urge to decontaminate everything that she wore, and once I participated in the rituals my anxiety subsided. But it didn’t stay that way.
By the time my 2nd daughter was a year old, my fear of dog faeces became so severe that I became frightened to leave the house. I was convinced that I was coming into contact with it on a daily basis, and I was convinced that if I didn’t participate in the cleaning rituals, something dreadful would happen to my children. I had realised that the way I was acting wasn’t right – so I spoke with my Health Visitor and GP – and was diagnosed with having Post Natal Depression. I was prescribed the SSRI Seroxat – and found it to be effective at helping to lessen my intrusive thoughts, the levels of anxiety I was suffering with and the depression I had found myself crippled with.
After a year on medication, my husband and I made the decision to have another baby. I successfully weaned myself off Seroxat. Although it took 6 months for me to fall pregnant, it was only a matter of weeks before the intrusive thoughts came back with a vengeance. As well as having the fear of dog faeces, I also developed a fear of all bodily fluids. Blood, sweat, urine and vomit, to name just a few. Over the course of a year, my OCD developed to such a stage that I became housebound. I was spending up to 16 hours a day locked in a vicious battle of intrusive thoughts, complicated rituals and ever increasing anxiety. I had become housebound – believing that just by setting foot outside would mean we would catch some deadly disease. I knew that I couldn’t go on like this anymore, so went back to my GP for help.
My GP diagnosed me with OCD – and referred me to my local community mental health team for treatment. I was assigned a CPN, and received a long course of CBT. My CBT was tailored to suit me individually – and I was given help and support whilst using exposure tasks to help me combat my OCD. Over the course of a year, I fought against the false beliefs that OCD had me believing, exposed myself to my fears, refused to engage in rituals – and began to see OCD for what it really was. After a year long course of CBT, and with the help of an SSRI – I was discharged from my local community mental health team – as combated OCD. 3 years on, I am still free from OCD. I am very committed to maintaining my recovery and ensure that if OCD tries to ‘sneak’ back into my life I recognise it instantly and revisit any exercise to stamp it out!