Thursday, October 16, 2008

Intrusive thoughts - not so normal?

My thoughts of late –
I am holding Baby cradled in my arm with his head facing out. I walk too close to the brick wall and bang him up against the wall, scraping the top half of his head off.

I am walking down the stairs and fall, holding Baby. He bounces down the stairs, splitting open like a watermelon.

I wake up in the morning and he is cold and blue.

At the store, some crazy person grabs Baby out of my arm and runs off. I’m out of shape and can’t catch them.

Am I a bad mom for letting him cry for 5 minutes while I go to the bathroom? Or am I a bad mom if I don’t take time for myself? Or if I carry him into the bathroom and hold him the entire time (yes this is possible)?

Am I a bad mom when his crying annoys me after going on all day? Or a more relaxed, experienced mom, when I can stay calm after hours of crying?

I had these thoughts with my Daughter. I kept having thoughts of something happening to her. The thoughts started out with something happening to her – she rolled off the bed and fell on the floor. Then it progressed to my noticing/knowing but not doing anything – she rolled over, I saw her get close to the bed, I did nothing, she hit the floor. I got concerned at that point. When the thoughts got worse and turned to thoughts of me doing something (i.e. helping her roll off bed), I got really concerned and saw the doctor. I didn’t have the actual urge to do anything, but the thoughts alone were disturbing enough. I was ashamed of even thinking that way and was sure it made me a horrible mother. I swallowed the shame and saw the doctor. He prescribed zoloft. It was my first time on depression meds. I took them 6 months and stopped. That was the end of that – or so I thought.

I am on zoloft already now - have been on something throughout pregnancy. Husband has asked me how I am doing and I said "okay" because, after all, it's sure better than I've been in the past. The panic seems controlled (knock on wood) and it's always been dominant over the depression so I've never focused overly much on the depression.
But the above type thoughts are still there. And getting worse. I ventured onto the PPD sub-forum of a mommies board for some support. I started reading about “intrusive thoughts” and realized that the label fit what is running through my brain. The thoughts tend to go along with OCD in many respects, which I don’t have, although I do tend to have some compulsive tendencies which are re-surfacing a tad.

One poster on that board remarked that she thought that adults raised in neglectful/abusive environments grow up to become anxious adults. I think she is right. It’s a defensive mechanism developed out of coping with the childhood environment which required constant vigilance. The intrusive thoughts are often grounded in reality – things you really did have to worry about. As an adult, the vigilance isn’t needed and that is when the realization sets in that the thoughts you are having are now out of the ordinary, worrisome, and anxiety/panic-provoking.

I need to call my regular doctor and make an appointment for a general physical. I also need to get my flu shot and my pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine updated. I also have my 6 week midwife follow up in a few weeks. Either provider can up my prescription if I feel like I need it. I didn’t schedule any Therapy appointments after delivery and don’t have any scheduled in the future. It’s a surreal feeling after having appointments lined up for the past two years or so. I was hopeful that I would be okay without them, and didn’t feel any pressing issues on my mind three weeks ago. However, I may need to re-think that philosophy and make some appointments at least through this initial post-partum period. In the meantime, I continue to write here, trying to be open
and choke back the shame I feel with these thoughts.


austin said...

PPD is a strong and valid concern that should be checked. Some of your readers have experienced it and might be able to offer some advice on it. PPD happens to the best of us and when it does it should be treated by someone who knows what they're treating.

These thoughts of yours are certainly disturbing for you but I don't see you acting on them. I understand those thoughts because I've had them myself from time to time. It's frightening and makes me feel like a sicko but it's part of where I came from but NOT part of where I'm going.

My other thought is this, there is a great fear of losing the things we love. There is also guilt that we will do something reckless or self-fullfilling to make what we love go away. This could be part of why you're having these thoughts. You're afraid of losing what you love. You've seen it and experienced it too many times growing up. You had your stuff thrown away. You came home to your things simply gone with no time to grieve it's loss. This could easily play a factor in the thoughts you're having now.


Tina / Anxious Changer said...

When I had Gabriel, a counselor came in to my room because on the PDD screening, I had marked down that I had GAD - and anyone with a history of anxiety/depression is automatically visited before discharge. She asked if I had any thoughts like that at that point - and if I did have any thoughts like that in the future, to call her.

If PDD was a problem with DD, there is a good chance it good be a problem again. I went back on Lexapro about 2 weeks after Gabriel was born because my anxiety attacks were coming back - and in full force. So, I knew I needed something. I think you realize that too - and asking for the help is great.

The thoughts are disturbing for you - but, like Austin said, you know they are disturbing and you wouldn't act on them. So, I think the recognition of what is happening is great for you.

Please e-mail me if you need anything. **Hugs**

Angel said...

Please tell yourself that it's not a source of shame to have these thoughts and feel like you need help. The important thing is that you recognize that sometimes childbirth can take a real toll on a woman's body and mind and this is a side effect. Seek your dr's assistance, have some counseling sessions so that your counselor can reassure you professionally that you are not crazy and that this is normal for PPD sufferers, and try not to feel so guilty. You are a good mom and a good person.

And "whoa!" on the constant vigilance having been necessary once but being a burden now! That is too true. I suffer for it regularly too.

Anonymous said...

Nothing you said so far alarms me. I have had (sometimes continue) to have similar intrusive thoughts.

Whatever you decide on the bathroom issue I think would be fine.

Earplugs made such a difference for me -- Amy's cry was so very grating, got me so on edge, that I was incapable of any compassion or respect, too hyped up on fight / flight stuff. Earplugs meant I could hold her, do what was needed, lovingly and calmly (much of the time), and still hear enough to evaluate the situation.

Some therapy appointments might be very helpful in guiding you through the intrusive thoughts and challenging them, case by case.

Good idea to check with your docs, and no shame necessary, of course.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Wow, Enola. I'm so out of it these days, I missed the birth and everything. Sounds like there have been many challenges, but of course congrats are in order.
My son was on Zantac for projectile spitting up stuff. Eeewwww! It got to the point where he thought the spit-up rag was his "blankie" and got quite attached to it! LOL!

He also had "colic" and cried for hours and hours for seven months. I cursed at God...but we got through it. We now know it had way more to do with his sensory issues than any gastro-intestinal ones.

I'm sorry it's so hard, but you WILL get through this. You are a good mom! I hope everybody gets some rest soon.

Thinking of you and family.

lawyerchik said...

Oh, Enola, it's OK to have those thoughts - I suspect everyone does at some point or another!

I know that you would NEVER do anything to hurt either of your children, and that you would give your own life to save them from anything that threatened them. I am a firm believer in Mommy Adrenaline, and whatever might (but probably won't) happen to you or your baby, you will protect him.

As far as the last two questions, you are not a bad mom for letting him cry while you go to the bathroom. Really.

And, you are not a bad mom when his crying annoys you - my mom and my sister-in-law (two of the best moms I have ever met) both took the same tack under such circumstances: they handed the babies off to the father and walked out of the house!! Even if it's only for an hour or two of "alone time" (as my sister-in-law calls it), you HAVE to take care of yourself so that you can take care of the others in your life who depend on you.


shannon said...


I'm thinking about you.

I remember these thoughts, too. As a first time mother, they really scared me and of course, I felt like I was failing somehow - isn't that always the way?

I know you've already considered that Zoloft doesn't work for everyone, and it didn't for me. Lord knows, we're all so different. I also know a few people who have truly benefited from Zoloft.

And...really consider the post-delivery hormone imbalances and such. Give it all a little time.

Be kind to yourself.

Try to treat yourself with the same care you would your very best friend (or sister). You deserve it. I really admire you so much.

You're in my prayers.

Tamara said...


I don't know anything about kids or having kids so I don't have any advice. I can say that I KNOW you are a wonderful, loving, caring mother and would NEVER do anything to hurt either one of you kids.

It looks like you have gotten some good info and support here from women who do have kids. Hopefully that is helpful.

I will just send lots of love, good energy and my support and admiration of all you are doing.


April_optimist said...

Granted PPD is a concern but...

I still remember in my lamaze class the teacher talking about how she tries to bring in a couple a month after the birth of their child because invariably they would joke about a variation of reaching the point where they think about tossing the baby off the balcony. NOT because she was encouraging such behavior but because she wanted us to know how universal it was to have moments like that. She felt it was better for parents to know a new baby is stressful.

I know that when my babies were small and driving me crazy I'd think about that story and not feel so bad or crazy.

If you ever feel in danger of acting on those thoughts it's an emergency. But...I suspect everyone has moments where they have them.

Rising Rainbow said...

Boy, that PPD is nothing to mess around with. Get the help you need asap and don't feel like it's your fault......because it's not.

Hang in there! And know you are in my thoughts and prayers whether I'm here commenting or not!

Perfect said...

I had, and continue to have, those kind of intrusive & fearful thoughts about things happening to DD. She's 4 years old now. I can't say if it's "normal" or not but I know I've talked to an awful lot of new Moms who have similar fearful thoughts about their babies. I think it's just our protective, maternal nature gone into overdrive. Remember in the Yahoo group, we used to talk about "storytelling"? I think it's like that.
If it again crosses the line to the point that you're ambivalent about the thought of something bad happening or thinking about ways to help bad things happen, then I'd worry about PPD. Right now, I think you're just being a new mom (again) :o)
You're wise to make note of it and to mention it to your Dr.

Strong and determined said...


I remember having those type of thoughts too, when I had a baby who cried, and cried...and cried. I think many new moms have. That said, I think checking in with your doctor wouldn't hurt. Can you talk with your husband about it?