Do you have a second? We need to talk about intrusive thoughts.⠀
Intrusive thoughts like this can be downright terrifying and disturbing. AND they are extremely common. As in so common that research suggests over 90% of mothers have them. 90%! ⠀
I don't even remember exactly when they started for me, I just remember them being there; one of the only constants I could depend on in the newborn stage of my son's life. I was horrified at the thoughts that would come through my head. I felt ashamed and sick to my stomach and I just wanted to sleep all the time to stop my mind from playing out every single threat to my son's life, even some that I was the imaginary cause of. But I couldn't make them stop. I didn't tell anyone because I believed they would see me as a danger to my baby, even though I knew I'd never do anything to hurt him. The thoughts almost made me feel as if I had two brains: one that could think of a million ways to harm my baby or myself and the other that would do anything to protect us.I felt like I was going crazy. Thankfully one night during a late night feeding I stumbled upon the #speakthesecret illustrations from the Postpartum Stress Center and Karen Kleiman. It's entirely possible that these words and drawings saved my life; I'm so grateful that I'll never know for sure. ⠀
We need to talk about intrusive thoughts because we need all mothers and fathers and parents to understand that these intrusive thoughts are NOT who they are. And honestly we really, really need medical professionals and society to understand this, too. We are not our intrusive thoughts and our intrusive thoughts do not represent us. They are symptoms of something we are experiencing, just like a runny nose or a stomachache. If we treat them, they can go away. We deserve care rooted in compassion and understanding, not shame or fear.⠀
Whether you are a parent or not, I encourage you to learn about intrusive thoughts via the Postpartum Stress Center. Anything that impacts 90% of mothers like this should be common knowledge, not a stigma.⠀
Have you ever experienced scary, intrusive thoughts? Tell us. No judgment here, only love.