Considering how much Windsor Flynn’s Instagram posts make me laugh, it may be surprising what they’re usually about: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Windsor shares advice on how to deal with intrusive thoughts and compulsions, drawing on her own experiences with postpartum OCD to make you really believe you can face this too. Thank you, Windsor, for everything you do—and for being here today!
You’ve shared your struggles with postpartum OCD after the birth of your son. Did you know anything about OCD before the onset of your symptoms?
I had only heard of OCD in the same way most everyone has. I imagined people spinning in circles and counting loudly and generally behaving in a very obvious manner. The symptoms I was experiencing were definitely not on my radar as OCD.
How did you realize what you were experiencing was OCD?
After searching for postpartum mood symptoms I came across a checklist for PPOCD/Anxiety and I related to nearly all of the symptoms listed.
You have two children now. How are you doing? Did you experience any symptoms after the birth of your daughter?
I’m doing well, considering the general anxiety and frustration that comes with living through COVID. Other than that I think my mental health is pretty solid. I say that because I know that I have the support of my therapist as I need it, and we have our regular appointments. After Olena was born I had intrusive thoughts about thinking she was the devil and I was looking for any signs that I might actually believe she was the devil. I was constantly checking to see if I was experiencing psychosis. This became pretty intense and for a while I felt like I would feel safer if I was in a hospital. I didn’t know that I was experiencing an OCD relapse but I was.
What would you tell a new mom who’s worried she’s going to hurt her baby?
I would tell her that becoming a parent comes with so many fears. Some are rational and some are not. I would encourage her to seek support from family and professionals, not because it is dangerous to fear that, but because the fears can be managed in a healthy way.
I’m new to Instagram—it took me a while to get my first pair of skinny jeans, too—and your posts crack me up! Of course they’re not just funny, they also help people feel less alone in their struggles with OCD. How did you decide to share your experiences (a) on Instagram and (b) with humor?
I was inspired to share my experience with OCD after realizing that I would never wish this on my worst enemy. The worst part of it all was the shame I felt and this belief that I was the only person who could be so awful to imagine these horrific scenarios. The humor part wasn’t planned, it’s just the way I am. I’m glad that the humor has resonated with people because I was scared it would be taken the wrong way. But after all, we need levity to get through something as dark as OCD can be.
Sometimes I find it easier to tell strangers about my OCD than the people closest to me. What has your experience been like?
Oh yea, I totally feel you on that. My husband and immediate family know about my OCD but I don’t talk to them about the specifics. If they want to they can always read my Instagram posts. I feel like telling people puts pressure on them to say something reassuring and we know what happens when we go down that route.
If you could offer people with OCD just one piece of advice, what would it be?
You don’t need to live this way. It is very possible to feel better and to learn to stop ruminating and to stop compulsions. OCD doesn’t have to be this thing that always causes you distress. Also, don’t try to fix yourself with toxic positivity or healthy food. Nothing beats OCD better than ERP therapy.