Kirsty always had a few idiosyncrasies, feeling the need to put things in the ‘right’ place and do things in a certain order. None of these habits caused her trouble and therefore she never sought help.
After she gave birth to her first two children however, she did feel herself indulging in these routines a little more. Kirsty felt the need to keep her surroundings impeccably clean and germ-free to ensure her children didn’t fall ill.
The birth of her third child seemed to trigger an even bigger reaction. A survey conducted by the Nursing Times has suggested that 11% of mothers suffer from postnatal OCD, but many mothers are unaware that this is an illness in its own right.
Kirsty’s troubled thoughts regarding cleanliness soon took a new form after a near trip down the stairs carrying her daughter. Quickly, her mind became consumed with worries about dropping or harming her baby accidentally. Her lack of awareness about the illness and accompanying shame meant she didn’t seek help.
After years of suffering in silence, Kirsty made the decision to speak out and started counselling sessions. A preliminary assessment revealed the true nature of her problem: postnatal OCD. Once Kirsty was given the diagnosis a feeling of relief washed over her as she was assured that she was not a bad mother, or going crazy – she was just suffering from an illness.
Counselling sessions involving CBT have slowly helped Kirsty to recovery. Experts are still unsure exactly what causes postnatal OCD, however it is thought that pre-existing, but less severe OCD symptoms may be present before having children and then the hormone changes and anxiety that comes with caring for a newborn triggers more severe symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms of OCD it is advisable to seek a counsellor for further help. To find out more about the condition, please see our Obsessive Compulsive Disorder page.
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