Courageous MOMS: Meet Faith

I am SO beyond excited to kick off my courageous mom series today! I hope that by meeting these courageous mothers that have navigated their way through the toughest of circumstances, they can be uplifting and encouraging to those of you who may be experiencing the same. If you ever want to submit your story for consideration, you can always email me at: lynzyandco@gmail.com with a little snippet of what you would love to talk about! 

 MEET FAITH

My name is Faith, 21, and first time mom to Braxton who will be 2 in December. I didn’t plan on getting pregnant at 18, so you could say I was thrown into the sharks, but I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. He is my world. Being his mom has filled a part of me I didn’t know was empty. It hasn’t been easy- the first year was really rough. I want to share that part with whoever needs it. I needed it and couldn’t find anyone really anyone who struggled like me, so I hope some mom who is experiencing similar things can find hope in this. 

FAITH’S STORY

     I struggled with postpartum OCD, anxiety and paranoia. Almost for the entire first year after my son was born. 

I’d never heard of PPOCD before, so I was extremely scared when I started experiencing some of the symptoms. 

     After giving birth to my son, for the first few weeks, I was totally fine! Things were going great! I had an at home nurse come and do a couple check ups with me, and honestly, I felt 100% fantastic (besides the no sleep thing…). 

     Going into the first month, things started to get kinda weird. I felt “off”. I started mildly experiencing random invasive thoughts about hurting my son. It didn’t matter if was day or night, I would start to have HORRIBLE thoughts of putting my son in the oven, or the bath tub, or smothering him. I felt like such a disgusting human and a horrible mom. The worst mom. I honestly thought something was mentally wrong with me and that I needed to be separated from him…because who thinks those kinds of things!? I knew I would never hurt him in a million years, but these thoughts made me scared of myself. What if I’m some kind of monster who’s going to actually act on one of these thoughts?

Courageous moms is a new series created by Lynzy & Co. that focuses on mothers who have managed to tackle life's most difficult obstacles.

      I couldn’t find much help online as to what I was experiencing, and I was too scared to talk to anyone about it; I didn’t want them to see me as a psychopath. 

     As time went on, I just pushed it down and tried my best to ignore it. 

Then came along the paranoia and OCD. 

     I felt the urge to clean. I was constantly cleaning. It was almost an obsession. Some moms become obsessed with keeping germs off of their baby- I became obsessed with keeping my carpet perfectly vacuumed and my floors always clean. If anything was out of place I would get THE WORST anxiety and have panic attacks. On top of that, I was so scared someone was going to take my baby. I would check outside hundreds of times a day to make sure no one was watching us, and to make sure our doors were locked. Always locked. I remember standing in my living room one morning just staring it my window frozen because I was sure someone was going to take my baby if I went to switch the laundry over. 

     I’m sure at this point I sound like a mental case! And I was- but I kept it in the DL. No one knew. They only knew I had a clean house! 

     It all came to a standstill when I started having those invasive thoughts again. They came back after over a month of not having any. They came back so strong and so repulsive. I remember not wanting to cook dinner because I didn’t want to touch a knife…because I was scared I would act on my disgusting thoughts and stab my baby to death. On top of that, I was too scared to do anything during the day because I didn’t want anyone taking my baby.

      I recall around this time being in the shower seriously contemplating killing myself. I’ve never been suicidal or depressed, but I was so exhausted of trying to fight of these thoughts. I was so tired because I was up all night waiting for someone to break in. I was so lonely because I wouldn’t let anyone know what was going on. 

     I just wanted to get out. 

     I broke down to my husband and told him everything. I remember being so scared that he would call 911 and send me into a mental asylum. But he was so sweet, understanding and kind. He assured me I was a good mom. I took such good care of our son, and he trusted me. 

     I made an appointment to see a councilor at my women’s clinic, and was giving this advice: “Just sing, and try to think the thoughts away.”

I’m not joking guys. 

I was so discouraged. 

     I saw another doctor and he helped explain to me what was going on in my head, and that helped. But I’ll be honest. A year out from experiencing all of this shit, the thing that helped me the most was this. 

It’s not you. 

     The thoughts aren’t your thoughts. They have as much weight as you give them. 

You’re a good mom. You’re a safe mom. You’re not crazy. 

     Don’t be scared to open up, because once you do, it gives you so much freedom to let people help you. 

And hearing other moms stories who experienced the things I had helped tremendously. To know I wasn’t alone. To know I wasn’t some monster.

     I’m out of the fog, and mamas- it gets better. Hold on. Breathe. Fight the fight. You’re so strong, and you’re the perfect and good mom for your baby. It gets better. I promise. 

34 Comments

  1. October 3, 2017 / 9:39 am

    Hi Faith!

    I just wanted to take a second to say thank you for sharing. My daughter is almost a year old and I have been experiencing some of the same things as you. Extreme paranoia being the worst. It’s absolutely debilitating and horrible to live everyday in fear, but it truly comes down to acknowledging there is a problem, not being afraid of it, sharing with those you love, and doing your very best to overcome it. Knowing I am not the only one feeling this was helps so much. Thank you again for sharing your story and thank you Lynzy!

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 10:29 am

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing these things 🙁 It’s so hard to train your mind to get out of that horrible cycle- almost impossible, it feels like. Just know it passes. Sharing with those around you is for sure key, and even reading stories like this where knowing that other moms have gone through the same thing, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you. 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight mama. 🙂

  2. Hannah
    October 3, 2017 / 10:21 am

    Faith,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I had extreme paranoia as well after having my daughter (she’s two now) and didn’t really realize it until after. I thought being a new mom was just making me overprotective I guess but I also would hardly sleep just listening to every sound thinking somebody was watching us and about to break in. Its nice to know that there are other people who have been through it because I’d never really heard anything about it before. This series is such an awesome idea!

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 10:27 am

      I love this because I can see that, even though I felt alone, I wasn’t…and there were moms out there freaking out of their mind like I was. I’m glad you’re out of it and feeling better 🙂

  3. Sheridan
    October 3, 2017 / 10:30 am

    You are so brace an SUCH a good mom!! I had some similar thoughts and just have such bad anxiety since having my little one. Thank you for sharing your story and helping us talk about it. It’s such a delicate topic and should be talked about more freely!

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 10:47 am

      This gives me hope that maybe it will be a topic that is more openly talked about in the future. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing these things as well 🙁 It gets so much better. Even reading about it is HUGE!’

  4. Bjhsmeltzer
    October 3, 2017 / 10:40 am

    You. Are. Amazing. Stories like yours are so important because just like any other health issue, mental health is completely outside of your control. You can’t change your brain any more than you can (willfully) change your blood pressure. Thank you for sharing your story to help break stigmas, as well as, having the sheer guts to encourage other mommas.

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 10:48 am

      I love this- because this wasn’t something I realized before I had my son! I had no idea what struggling with a mental illness was like at all! I didn’t realize what it did to you. I hope it gets talked about more openly in the future 🙂

  5. October 3, 2017 / 10:41 am

    I suffered from PPD from my first. I didn’t get help until my baby was 5 months- and it took months of Therapy and support groups for me to get back on track mentally. It can take such a toll on you mentally. I’m so glad you got help and I’m so sorry this happened to you. I am currently 2 1/2 weeks postpartum with my second girl and I am thankful I know the signs this time around. Hugs to you!

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 10:45 am

      Oh wow! It’s crazy how much it consumes your life, right?! I’m pregnant with our second, and like you, I’m so glad that I know what to look out for with this one, and the steps to take if I experience it again. 🙂

  6. Kara
    October 3, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    I’ve experienced some of these same things…intrusive thoughts, anxiety that my baby was going to die of SIDS every night…it was horrible and debilitating. Luckily my son’s pediatrician asked me how it was going about three weeks after having him…I broke down in tears in his office because I was so exhausted from worry and fear(worry that he’d die and fear is hurt my baby). He made me call my OB while I was at my sons appointment, and they got me in the next day. My OB put me on a low dose anti anxiety med(that was still safe to nurse on), and within two days I felt like myself again…it just proves how much feeling this way is a chemical imbalance in our brains!! I am so thankful I had such good aftercare, those thoughts and feelings were so debilitating!!

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      It’s so nice to hear what good help you got- and that your doctor was on top of it! Mine sadly wasn’t, and it was so hard to feel alone!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  7. Jess
    October 3, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Faith–
    Oh my gosh. I am 3 months post partum and this has been happening to me the last few weeks, not as extreme but it’s been happening and it’s been so scary!! I honestly didn’t know that it was a common post partum thing. I would love to know what your doctor explained to you what was happening in your mind?
    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s seriously such perfect timing that this wasn’t posted (thank you Lynzy!!). I told my husband about it a few nights ago terrified that he would be upset, but just like your husband he wasn’t kind and understanding. It was amazing.
    Did you find anything else that helped? How are you feeling now?

    Thank you so much faith!!

    -Jess

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:32 pm

      So, first of all- thank you for reading this! I’m so glad that it’s reached so many moms who are struggling. It’s such an honor to be able to share my story with you all.
      I’m not even a year out from dealing with all of this, so it’s still pretty fresh. I’ve always struggled with being paranoid, but after having Braxton, it just shot through the roof. It was ridiculous. What was explained to me about what was happening, was this. When you’re pregnant, your estrogen levels are sky high! (And so are many other chemicals in your body), and once you have baby, they pretty much zero out overnight. Every woman’s body and mind deals with that differently, and it’s going to also be affected because of the lack of sleep and the shock of having a baby!! (Because like, it can be tramatic!)
      And like Lexi said in the comments below- it’s a lot more normal than we think to go through this. And if you’re dealing with any sort of invasive thoughts, it’s good that you’re kind of freaked out of them! Keep keeping on. You’ll get through it. It gets better. It’s a slow journey, but I promise you, it’s a journey worth the walk. Just know you’re a good mom, and you are he best mom for your baby, even if you don’t feel like it every day. 🙂

      • Jess
        October 3, 2017 / 10:43 pm

        **was (just realized my phone autocorrect a few of those in my first post haha, oops)

        Thank you for replying Faith and thank you for explaining that. It’s such a breath of fresh air to know I’m not crazy, and not alone. 🙂

  8. Becky Arnold
    October 3, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Faith thank you so much for sharing your story! I also had severe paranoia and anxiety after the birth of my second daughter. Everything had to be perfect. My kids, the house, the way they were taken care of. It was always my way or no way. I work nights and i would get so anxious leaving my kids with him because I was so afraid he wouldn’t do something right with them. (Side note; he is an AWESOME dad!). But if he didn’t heat the bottle a certain way, or dress or feed them just so, it would send me into complete tail spin! I got so bad at one point I refused to leave the house bc I couldn’t stand the thought of going out alone with them and having one of them start to cry. They were under a year and 2.5 by that point. One time I left the grocery store in the middle of shopping and ran for babies r us a few doors down and sat in their mother’s breast feeding room with them and just cried and cried. I felt like the worst mother ever and didn’t understand how people could just walk around and shop with little babies and look so calm and relaxed while doing it. I was a ball of nerves every time I went anywhere alone with them.

    Thankfully it is much much better now (they are 4 and 6). Im just starting to hear women talk about post partum anxiety. It’s not something that’s openly talked about and so I want to say THANK YOU for sharing your story and bringing awareness to it ❤️❤️

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      Of course!! It’s been a struggle for me to share this and be super raw with it, because I still don’t want people to think I was some sort of crazy mom. But it’s not something we as moms can just turn on and off- and I’m so thankful that we can share our experiences with each other 🙂

  9. Cat
    October 3, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    Hi Faith,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I had a very similar experience. As I saw Lynzy’s Instagram story explaining your story I started to tear up, thinking “oh my gosh, so that’s what was wrong with me”. My daughter is almost 17 months and I feel like I’m only now slowly starting to get back to normal. The first 8 months of her life we were living in a different state away from all of our friends and family and my husband was dealing with depression and alcoholism, so I felt so alone and didn’t want to tell him how I felt since he was dealing with a lot himself. Ive felt with OCD and anxiety my whole life but after my daughter was born it got really bad. I felt terrible most days and so guilty for feeling that way when I had such a wonderful, happy, healthy baby. Even when we moved back home it was still very hard for me. I would play the most horrific scenes in my head of someone either hurting me and taking my baby or getting in a deadly accident. I never went out alone with just my daughter, not even to the grocery store. I felt guilty that I wasn’t taking her to parks or muesems like other stay at home moms. I’m trying to get past my fears and have been going for walks with her daily, which is such a big deal for me! We’ve also done errands together more recently too, and it feels so silly to feel proud of myself for doing something so simple. I’m still trying to work on my OCD though. I still struggle with wanting to finish cleaning something even if my daughter needs me, but I’ll get there. I haven’t really talked to anyone about any of this though, and it pains me to say that I’m embarrassed to, even though I’m sure people would understand. I’m so happy you shared your story though because I now know I’m not alone and it’s not my fault for the way I’ve felt.

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that- it doesn’t seem fair that the one time in our life we need some stability, everything seems to fall apart. I’m so glad that you’re taking steps to help yourself. Keep it up! Even those little steps like taking a walk, or going grocery shopping are HUGE!! You should feel VERY proud! 🙂

  10. Lexi
    October 3, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    This is such an important topic to talk about, normalize, and bring awareness to. I remember my therapist saying how normal it is to go through what you did. She shared something that gave me so much comfort and hope: She said if the intrusive thoughts alarm and scare you, that is a good thing. It is normal. It is when the intrusive thoughts start to sound like a good idea and something you seriously are contemplating on doing, well that is when you know you need more help.

    Hugs to all you momma out there who may be struggling right now. I promise– it does it better!! ❤️

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:39 pm

      I’ve heard that as well and forgot to include it and am so glad you brought it up! It’s SO GOOD that you’re freaking out of your thoughts, and they’re so much more normal than we think! 🙂

  11. Hannah
    October 3, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Hi Faith
    I am currently experiencing PPOCD and Anxiety…seeing a therapist that specializes in Peri-Natal Mood Disorders…the scary thoughts are so graphic, disturbing debilitating…they started after I had my daughter in 2013…but I just thought it was normal and part of being a new mom…then, after I had my son in 2015, they began to intensify and the OCD showed up…if I have a scary thought, I have to knock on wood… again, I surpressed them…until they got so bad that I could barely leave the house or even be comfortable going to Target with my husband and the kids… I am slowly getting better, but still wonder if they will ever truly go away…or do they just occur less frequently….it is comforting to hear your story…how did you know when you were truly out of the woods? Much love, Hannah

    • Faith Degraffenreed
      October 3, 2017 / 4:45 pm

      Like I’ve said to a few other moms on here, it’s SO good that you’re afraid and repulsed by these thoughts! It’s when they seem like a good idea that you probably should go to your doctor. I remember some nights thinking of smothering my son while nursing him, and sobbing because I couldn’t even feed my baby without thinking these things.
      I had to train my brain to “bounce the thoughts”. As soon as one would enter in my mind, I had to work SO hard to bounce that thought to something else. It was so incredibly difficult, because they were so strong and kept coming back; and sometimes I’d scream and cry, but I knew I couldn’t keep going in this ugly cycle.
      There wasn’t an exact moment when I ‘knew’ I was out of the fog- but it was just a slow slow journey, and one day I woke up and realized I hadn’t really had any thoughts the day before. And then it was a week. And sometimes I’d have a thought here or there, but they were less strong, and I was able to easily bounce them to something else. 🙂
      I’m so so sorry you’re going through this- just know you’re NOT alone, and you’re NOT a crazy. 🙂

  12. Valerie
    October 3, 2017 / 6:44 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I suffered from PPOCD with my first and then prenatal depression during my second and PPD/PPA after birth. I felt so alone during the first kid that I just shoved it down and eventually turned a corner through some meds and counseling. I didn’t expect it to happen again with my second and when it did, I felt like my world would end. I think the worst part was the prenatal depression. Everyone is so excited for you and so thrilled, but you’re so disconnected from your pregnancy and just not wanting it or caring about it. I slept for almost 9 months it felt like, just slept through the depression. When I finally had her, I instantly knew I was going to go into PPD because I didn’t even get out of the prenatal depression. I was immediately connected with my doctor who helped me through it. I’m 2 years post partum and I am STILL dealing with the anxiety and depression, but it’s better. Thank you for sharing, it’s all so real and yet not for others. It’s a dark dark place to be and when you have people you can connect to about it, it helps you feel “normal.” Thank you again.

    • Faith degraffenreed
      October 6, 2017 / 10:05 pm

      I didn’t experience much of the depression, but I know many women who have (and obviously it’s a lot more common), and I’m so thankful that you’re on the journey upwards now. 🙂 Thank you for sharing a piece of your journey- I know women need to hear it. 🙂

  13. Val Cooper
    October 3, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    Faith, it takes such courage to share your story! Thank you for doing so. You are awesome! Sending love your way, mama!

    • Faith degraffenreed
      October 6, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      Thank you!! I’m so thankful for the love and support it’s gotten- and how many women have needed to hear that they’re not alone! It’s amazing- the power of sharing a little piece of yourself. It can go a long ways. 🙂

  14. Erin
    October 3, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    Faith,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I hope the stories others share bring you a little peace as well. I truly hope these issues are brought to light as more women share tgeir stories.

    My story probably isn’t the traditional POD story. I have OCD and generalized anxiety. I have always been a type A personality but after my 2nd pregnancy, it felt like all hell broke loose. I’m pretty sure I had PPD with my first daughter 5 years ago. I was fine during the day but as soon as it became dark i would cry. I would be worried about getting up in the middle of the night to breastfeed. I never spoke up to my doctor and after about 9 months, the fog lifted… I became pregnant with my 2nd daughter 2 months later. I was sick throughout my pregnancy, was high risk, baby had complications and she was born preterm. Shortly after her birth, she became colicky, my husband worked long hours and I would just cry because my baby wouldn’t stop crying and my 19 month old daughter, understandably needed a lot of attention and care too. I was so so lonely, my husband’s job prevented him from being home to help. I think I felt I couldn’t rely on anyone. Soon my anxiety and stress levels turned into OCD. I was scared of germs (never even a second thought prior to my pregnancies) I was scared to become “contaminated” by germs and vomit, scared my kids would get sick and vomit. I would excessivly wash my hands and count while doing it. Sanitize all the things around me. By washing my hands and cleaning, it meant I “hopefully wouldn’t get sick” because if I did, who would take care of the kids? I’ve had so many nights of lost sleep from fear of “i might get sick”, my heart races, anxiety levels skyrocket and so I wash and wash and wash. Three years out, I’m better, but still struggle, some days are harder than others. Thinking back, I figured out I definitely have control issues and it was exasperated and really expressed itself after having children. I’ve seen a couple of psychologists for the last couple of years but didn’t see someone until almost a year after my 2nd daughters birth. I hoped it would eventually get easier. As of now, I believe I really need to see someone who specializes in emetophobia (fear of vomiting) because it has become so engrained in me now. I’m not sure it will ever really go away…This may not seem like other PPD but the only way I can explain it is that something hormonally changed and I could no longer cope in a rational way. I wish i would have sought help sooner because maybe I would still be dealing with this. In the beginning, I felt ridiculous and embarrassed for asking for help, I thought I was being overly dramatic or being a wimp.

    Anyone experiencing PPD, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You deserve to have your feelings understood. You deserve to feel better.

    • Christy
      October 10, 2017 / 9:14 am

      Hi Erin, I’m a therapist who specializes in Anxiety Disorders and recommend you see someone with an OCD specialty. They can help you with what is called Exposure and Response Prevention techniques. Make sure they really know their stuff and ask HOW they will help you and what the course of treatment looks like. So glad this is finally getting attention and being talked about! Thanks to Lynzy!

  15. Jessica
    October 4, 2017 / 6:38 am

    Thank you for sharing. I remember sitting on my bed for hours not wanting to move because I was afraid of the thoughts I had in my head. I would literally sit there and see myself grab my baby while it was perfectly asleep and slamming him against the wall. I felt so disgusted I would start crying at the thought of me even thinking that. I told my doctor I was feeling off and right away they asked me are you going to hurt yourself or someone and I immediately said no because I was embarrassed to say well sometimes I visualize myself doing it. i received a phone number to see a councelor but I never called. I already had 4 kids to take care of and another appointment was not going to help my cause. Luckily once I went back to work the thoughts stopped. This is the first time I speak about this and it feels so good to know I’m no alone

    • Faith degraffenreed
      October 6, 2017 / 10:01 pm

      I think that was the hardest part for me- the thoughts. And they’d WOULDNT STOP! They were so horrible, and it made me crazy. I just wanted to love and enjoy my new baby, and I couldn’t because I had these disgusting thoughts that wouldn’t go away!! I can’t even explain it- but you know. It’s just awful. I’m so glad that us women can come together and encourage each other, and to know that we’re not alone. I’m pregnant with our second baby, and it scares me that I’ll struggle with the same things postpartum, but now I know that I’m not alone, and there are so many others who have, and who ARE going through the same things we did. 🙂 Thank you for opening up.

  16. Sarah
    October 4, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Thank you for writing this Faith, you are putting words to what so many of us are going through, wishing you and your family the very best xx

  17. October 7, 2017 / 6:13 am

    This is so amazing that you for sharing. Before I had my daughter, I naively thought that being depressed or anxious was something you should be able to work through yourself. No drugs needed. Well, when Lydia came I was so incredibly anxious. Evenings were the worst because I knew the nights were going to be tough. I went through the first couple of months crying and shaking with anxiety. I was VERY fortunate to start feeling myself again once she was about 3 months old, but looking back, I probably needed medication. When we do decide to have another one I am nervous that the anxiety will come back, but I am comforted because I am smarter now and I know it’s ok. It’s ok to have postpartum and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me or anyone else. I also know it will be ok because of all the inspiring women in the online motherhood community!! I have such an appreciation for all you ladies out there!

  18. Rebecca
    October 8, 2017 / 2:40 am

    Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. Unfortunately it is all too common—my best friend had PPOCD and if I weren’t for her openess about it with me, I wouldn’t have had the courage to get help for my own severe PP depression and anxiety. It all stared with a miscarriage in my first pregnancy, and while I thankfully fell pregnant again right away I also carried that trauma with me. Soon I was a cyclone of anxious thoughts. I developed an eating disorder, obsessing over which foods were “safe” and crying every night that something would happen to the baby and it would be my fault. I thought it would go away once he was born but sadly it got so much worse.

    I had seen my friend battle her OCD and knew what an incredible mother she is—I would never have questioned how much she loved her children, with a fierceness that helped her get through it. Because of that, I knew I could get through it too. I finally saw my doctor, got support and now it’s a distant memory. I still have to manage my thoughts, ensure I get enough sleep and exercise, but it is night and day different to before.

    For anyone reading this who is too scared to get help—the fact you worry about it shows you are a strong and capable mother. YOU are the best mother for your child, even on your worst day. Talk to someone and keep walking towards that light at the end of the tunnel.

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