Should I Stay Or Should I Go Back?
Kristyn Meyer is on a journey to make herself the best human that she can be. These posts are a reflection of that. She welcomes your support via reading and through commissioned affiliate links within her posts! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. To stay up to date on all of her shenanigans, please subscribe to her email list! (psst…there’s a free gift involved)
“When I was younger, around middle school-aged, I started exhibiting behaviors that were out of my norm. Like a switch went off in my head, they appeared out of nowhere. It all started with having random, unwelcome, unsettling visions that would spontaneously come into my thoughts. Without rhyme or reason, I would all of a sudden start thinking about what it would be like if I were in a car accident. Or that maybe I wanted so-and-so to get hit by a train. None of these were even remotely true, or even things that I was ever curious about, but my brain wouldn’t stop. They were quick, uncontrollable and fleeting thoughts that would leave just as quickly as they appeared. Whatever was going on within me would insert ideas and thoughts into my head continuously throughout the day. And then it escalated further from there.
After that started, I would then start to shake my head, really fast and tight, every time one of the thoughts would enter. I thought that this would rid me of any horrible things going through my mind. In doing the head shake, I believed my hands would be wiped clean of any wrongdoing that I was committing by allowing these horrible thoughts to be inside of my brain (when really I had no control over it). I was able to perform this so that others didn’t notice I was doing it, although a few classmates noticed over time. After that, it went even further.
My brain then turned to a higher power to seek reconciliation.
I had to pray to God every night, right before falling asleep, asking him for forgiveness. Putting it all out there and confessing that I had let these thoughts enter my brain was a way of clearing the air for me. It let God know that I was aware it was happening, and I was trying to make it stop because none of the thoughts were things that I wanted to have happen. And it wasn’t just a simple prayer that I had to recite. I had to say the exact same things every night, or it wouldn’t count. This included listing out every single family member that I wanted him to watch over for me, in the same order every time. My immediate family, every aunt, uncle, cousins, even all of the step-cousins and ex-family members.
I believed that if I didn’t tell them the exact way that I was supposed to, God would be upset with me and would allow the horrible things to come true. And I didn’t know if I could live with myself for causing those things to happen.
And If you can believe it, it got even worse from there.
Shortly after all of my odd behaviors started, I got word of a young mother dying from our town. Her daughter was in my brother’s elementary school class. She passed away after a long period of illness and her death was not a surprise to her family. None of that mattered to me. The terms of the situation did not change how I took it all in. Because of this unfortunate event, I became convinced that my mother was going to die. Not only that, but nothing could tell me that it wouldn’t happen. My mind was made up. Even though my own mother was perfectly healthy, I could not shake the thought that I was going to lose her, and very soon at that.
Nothing that I did helped me, I could not get rid of this thought. It plagued me. I found myself going to extreme lengths in an attempt to protect her from what I thought was her inevitable death. There was a very detailed, excessively managed routine that I utilized every day.
Each morning I would wake up at the same time that she did, even though I didn’t have to be up for school for quite some time. From my bedroom I couldn’t hear her alarm, but my body would instinctively wake up when she did each morning. At this same time every day I would lie in my bed, listening to her move around the house to get ready for work. First I would hear her go to the kitchen and turn on the coffee pot, listening to her measure out two scoops of grounds into the filter – one of caffeinated coffee and one of decaffeinated.
Then she would move back to her bedroom and I would hear the water start to go through the pipes, knowing that she was taking a shower. After the water stopped going through the pipes I would hear the soft sound of her blow dryer through the walls of the house. The blow dryer would quiet shortly after but she wouldn’t immediately leave the room. Instead it would be quiet for several minutes. This silence, I knew, was her putting on her makeup and spraying her perfume. After a few minutes, I would hear her exit the bathroom and her bedroom, followed by the television turning on. It would always be turned on to the local news station so she could hear the weather and find out what had gone on in the area overnight. While watching this, she would drink a cup of coffee and eat her breakfast.
She would then retreat back into her bathroom, brush her teeth, and head out the door after gathering her work items.
As I started to hear the garage door open and her car begin to back out, I would roll over onto my stomach and look out the window of my bedroom. In that position, I would watch my mother drive down our driveway, turn on her left turn signal, and start her commute to work. After she was no longer in my line of sight, I would allot 30 minutes for her to travel to work. When that time period wrapped up, I would immediately rush to the phone in the dining room to call her at her office. Not only did I need to know that she made it to work, but I also needed to know that she was safe and at her desk.
It was only then that I would allow myself to get ready for the day and to go to school. All of the items on my routine checklist had to be marked off successfully before I could accept that she was safe and go about my day and head off to school. But only to school.
For an extended period of time, I did not go to friends’ houses, and I definitely didn’t go to sleepovers. I stayed home all the time. In my head, if I did such a thing (leaving the house and her for a few hours or overnight) it would for sure end up being the time that my mother died. And if she died while I was gone, I would not only be a horrible and selfish daughter for not being with her, but I would also not have the chance to say goodbye. So I just stayed home, with her.”
That is an excerpt from my hopefully published book in the future.
This is only a fraction of what I’ve dealt with throughout my life because of this horrible disorder. This was during my teens. Now let’s fast forward to my pregnancy with my son.
I went off of my medication because it isn’t 100% safe for the unborn baby, and nothing in me was going to risk anything happening to him. But the hormones made my brain go into overdrive.
There were more than a handful of times that I called my husband in the middle of the day, crying because I just had this deep, dark feeling that I was going to die while giving birth. I had a very painful feeling that I would die before I ever met my son. That my daughter would be left without a mother.
Many nights I would cry while snuggling my daughter. Would this be the last time I was able to do this before dying?
My therapy bills were through the roof. The saintly woman that I worked with for counseling was amazing and would get me in as quick as she could when I would call. And I definitely called. Many times in the middle of the day, hysterically crying into her voicemail about how I was going to die and I didn’t want to.
As I entered the pushing stage of my labor, I pulled my husband close, looked him in the eye, and said – with tears – “I don’t want to die!”
I didn’t die. I was completely fine. But the emotions were real, nothing could tell me otherwise.
I read books and articles about OCD and pregnancy that helped me to feel not as crazy as what I felt. It was nice to see that I wasn’t the only one that was going through all of this. But it didn’t stop the thoughts.
I tried to tell myself that it was just my brain. That there was something wrong with my brain and it was the OCD talking. It wasn’t really me, it wasn’t reality, it was a chemical imbalance in my brain that caused this. I would be holding my baby and snuggling him in no time.
Imagining the future was something I couldn’t do for a while. I couldn’t see myself holding my baby because I was so sure it wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I imagined my little girl wondering why I left her and a baby that would never know who I was. With time, I started to see visions of me holding my baby boy, and he was dressed in this little outer space sleeper that I had bought for him. But this wasn’t until around 32 weeks of pregnancy. Most of the time before that I couldn’t imagine even meeting him.
After he was born, I immediately went back on my medication. But it takes about six weeks for it to fully kick in. A few days after his birth, I went to the bathroom and had passed a big clot of blood. This happens after giving birth, you bleed a lot. But this was huge. I freaked out.
Actually, that is an understatement.
I sobbed uncontrollably.
This was it. This was the end.
Remember, my mother died of a blood clot.
My amazing husband called the doctor and explained what happened, and also why I was freaking out. I was told that it was common and I would be okay. To take some deep breaths, monitor the situation.
I couldn’t bring myself to go to the bathroom for quite a while after that.
My daughter was asleep, and all I wanted to do was wake her up. I was convinced that it was my last few hours with her and the baby. I laid in bed and held my baby as tight as I could, tears cascading down my face.
My children were going to be motherless. This was the end of my time with them.
But I did not die.
I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. My baby was just three weeks old.
Remember, not only did my mother die of a blood clot. It was a blood clot that occurred during surgery.
At first, I refused to have the operation. I seriously told the medical staff that I would only eat lettuce the rest of my life. Eating lettuce for every meal was better than not seeing my children grow up.
They released me from the hospital.
And then I was back in 12 hours later.
The surgery had to be done. They didn’t even let me go home for the night. I was to stay overnight to prep for the procedure, and they would remove it the next morning. The baby could stay with me, and my husband. But my daughter could not.
All that I did was cry. I told every nurse, doctor, CNA, janitor, receptionist who would listen what had happened to my mom. I was so worried that the same thing would happen to me. Please do not let me die like she did, I pleaded to them. I remember my aunt calling and asking if I was doing okay emotionally, and I couldn’t even get the words out. I just cried into the phone.
They called in the surgeon to talk to me. He told me that he had done over 1,000 gallbladder operations, and had not lost one patient. I said my goodbyes, and I was wheeled off to pre-op. They called my husband in because I was not doing well. He was able to stay with me until they took me back. They gave me Xanax to calm me down (after assuring me that it would not interact with any of the other meds they gave me, causing death). As they put me to sleep to start the operation, the surgeon walked over to me and held my hand until I fell asleep.
I will always remember that tiny act of kindness.
When I opened my eyes in recovery, I asked for my husband. When he turned the corner I started bawling again. I asked him for a hug.
I was alive.
A goal for my 40 Before 40 is to control my OCD with diet and exercise. I recently went off of my medication to try to attempt this. Saturday was my last dose, and it was only 1/3 of what I typically would take due to titrating down, which is what you do so you don’t have a bad reaction or withdrawal.
I have noticed that I am more emotional lately. Things that I could previously ignore or brush off I am unable to now. My patience isn’t as good as what it was before. I worry more frequently about things that I haven’t in a long time.
I feel like I made a mistake.
Part of me wants to stay the course. I haven’t been exercising the past week or so, and I’m interested to see if that helps once I start back up, and pair it with healthier eating after the holidays are over.
But I also don’t want to slip into the way things were before. There isn’t a pregnancy and hormones involved now, so it wouldn’t get to the level it was then, but I don’t want to get anywhere near that either, or even a fraction of it.
So I guess the question is – do I stay or do I go back? Do I try to give it a longer chance or do I rewind and get my serotonin levels up with medication?
This post is a true advice piece. I really don’t know what path to take, and I would love insight from others who have been there and done that.