Jennifer's Story

Jennifer is a young mother with an 8-month-old daughter, Maya. During her pregnancy she felt very protective of her unborn baby and was terrified of having a miscarriage like her sister. For the whole nine months, Jennifer would frequently go to the bathroom to make sure she was not bleeding. She would hold her breath around any chemicals and move on a bus if someone wearing perfume sat beside her. She switched to only natural products and cleansers at home, and brought her own bedsheets and cleaning products when staying at her parents’ house.

For the first few months Jennifer would check at least 10 times a night that Maya was breathing, despite having two monitors on in the baby’s room. Seeing how anxious Jennifer was, her husband offered to check on the baby instead, but Jennifer did not trust him to do it right and would refuse.

When Maya was two months old, Jennifer had a terrible dream that she was cutting up carrots in the kitchen and then turned towards Maya with the knife. Jennifer woke up covered in sweat and ran to hold sleeping Maya. Shaking and crying from the intensity of the dream, she wondered why she would have such terrible thoughts and if they meant that she could actually hurt Maya in real life.

From that moment on, things got a lot worse for Jennifer and her family. Jennifer became petrified that she would sleepwalk and stab Maya in her sleep. Every night before she went to bed, she put a gate across the kitchen door. She also put all the knives under a pile of plates so the noise would wake her up if she went looking for a knife in her sleep.

Jennifer has become afraid of being left alone with her daughter. On bad days, she begs her husband not to leave the house. She is terrified of giving her daughter a bath, afraid that she might snap and drown Maya. When she is really upset, she finds that if she sits in a certain chair in the living room and says a prayer perfectly 10 times she feels better. However, this ritual is taking up more and more time, and now she is doing this about a dozen times a day. She also feels constant nausea and a tightness around her throat and chest.

Jennifer’s husband is trying to be understanding but he’s getting tired of her obsessing and strange rituals. Sometimes she just wants to run away and leave her family forever. At least then she knows her thoughts would never come true.