Here, Daina, 49 tell the story in her own words.
S￼top splashing while I soap you!’ I chided my baby twin boys, Lucca and Jianni, feeling a surge of joy as they excitedly romped in the bath. It had taken 16 IVF cycles to become a mum to this lovable duo.
My then husband John and I were elated our daughter Celeste, then nine, now had little brothers. I’d married John, 13 years my senior, when I was 22, but from the outset we had fertility problems.
Now, at last, we were overjoyed to have three kids. And yet, as I sat bathing my boys a new, ugly thought suddenly entered my mind. I could push my hand right through the soft part of their skulls and crush them! I thought. Then I shuddered. What was wrong with me? How could I have even imagined attacking them?
The truth was, in the few months since they’d been born, I’d been having shocking, violent thoughts about my kids. It made no sense, and it scared me. Even while pregnant, I’d found myself thinking horrible thoughts about my adored Celeste from time to time. But this was much worse. I’d always prided myself on being a devoted mum. Was I now going mad?
I longed to confide in someone, but was terrified that they’d think I was an unfit mother. My kids might get taken away, I thought. But after the bath incident, I couldn’t bear it any more – perhaps I really was a threat to my kids.
‘John, I need help!’ I blurted out after he came home from work that night. ‘I’m having awful thoughts about harming our kids. I’m so worried.’ Sobbing uncontrollably, I confided that I feared I was losing the plot. ‘You’re a wonderful mother, but you need to see a doctor,’ he said gently. ‘Let’s make an appointment.’
When I saw my GP, it was a relief. He referred me to a psychologist and I was startled to learn that I had obsessive-compulsive disorder. ‘But isn’t OCD when people repetitively wash their hands or tidy up?’ I stammered. She explained there were different forms of this psychiatric illness, which leads to repetitive thoughts. ‘You’ve experienced severe post-natal OCD,’ she added.
It was a relief to have a diagnosis, but the best news was her assurance that I was no threat to my children.
I began having therapy, and John and I found a nanny, Kylie, 46, to help us. If I was having a bad day, I’d confide in her and she helped me cope, so much so that she’s now my best friend!
My parents Vesma, 77, and Victor, 81, and sister Aaryn, 53, were also a great support. It was hard work, but in time I managed to block out any awful thoughts that flew into my head, and life returned to normal.
Sadly, John and I grew apart, but he was a great support to me during those dark days. The boys are now 15 and Celeste is 24. We all live with my new partner, also called John, and his son Lachie, 20.
I’m finally ready to speak publicly about my OCD to reassure other mums who may be suffering. Recognise the symptoms and know that you’re no harm to your kids, but you need to seek help. You don’t have to go through this alone!
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!