An Open Letter About OCD

A note:

If you happen to be reading this because you are suffering with a mental illness, hear this: I am so, so very sorry. You’ve done nothing to deserve your suffering. My being sorry might seem trite or unnecessary but when I was first scrambling in a sea of symptoms and the reality of my diagnosis, a kind soul offered me her empathy. She acknowledged how badly I was hurting. Her “I’m sorry” didn’t offer freedom from the pain, but it meant someone saw me. Someone finally understood how deeply I was hurting and was sorry.

So, reader, I see you. And I am sorry. So very sorry. That’s all. 

Dear Khloe Kardashian,

I had no intentions of writing about this until I was “better.” My story is an embarrassing and personal and painful one to tell. But, last week, I saw a story pop up in my newsfeed about you and I knew it was important to say something, anything to those it may have affected. I realize it is 2018 and everyone is offended about everything. I have never found myself falling into the offended population, but perhaps that’s because I come from a place of privilege and, until now, I’ve never had reason. But I have a reason, a damn good one. And I pray, despite your busy and remarkably public life, you will read this and hear me out. And even if you don’t, I hope someone does and re-thinks their position on this topic to the benefit of those around them.


For those wondering what I am babbling on about, I offer you my congratulations for being exempt from the clenches of this pop culture obsession. To fill you in: Last week Khloe Kardashian began a campaign she titled “Khlo-C-D.” On her app, she encouraged users to take a test to see how “OCD” they are, and offered tips for how to properly organize your closet. She joked about how to get your partner to be more “Khlo-C-D.” I like to think I am not overly sensitive and that I know how to take a joke, but this campaign devastated me, because it represents something bigger than Khloe Kardashian’s misconceptions about a debilitating mental illness. It represents the millions that follow her, that hold the same belief, that diminish an illness and perpetuate a stigma that reduces something that has largely taken over my life – and the lives of many – down to a case of liking an organized closet.

Khloe, I hope you’ll read this because whether you like it or not, your words are powerful and reach far beyond mine. This is important work to be done and I need people like you to help me do it. As a fellow mother, I hope you’ll read my story and understand how worthwhile this is for me to write. I am about to tell you my embarrassing and painful secret so that it may do some good. Please, please help me make some good out of this mess.

The truth? I have spent the last few weeks in an inpatient facility for OCD sufferers. 4 months ago, I was living an unremarkable and amazing life. I was entrenched in motherhood, the ABCs, and happiness. I had (have) friends I adore, a husband who is equal parts amazing and handsome, a life so sweet I could hardly believe it was mine. I was living for Jesus and my family. We were even planning on a third baby this summer, the perfect final addition to our family. Would we adopt? Should we wait another year? The options were exciting and amazing. I’m not an expert on bliss, but it’s the closest thing to heaven I could have found, nestled right in quiet, small town Texas. One night, while watching the kids playing together and feeling overwhelmed at how lucky I felt, I said to my husband Mike, “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. For us to fall into financial trouble or for you to cheat,” I jabbed at him, laughing. What really happened was something I couldn’t have planned for because I didn’t even know it could happen.

One random Thursday in December, I had dropped off my 2 year old at pre-K, done a quick Target run, and began mopping my floor. My younger toddler in her high chair, snacking on tomatoes and hummus, I turned on a crime podcast my book club had recommended. The content of the podcast is something that is incredibly triggering for me, so I won’t divulge too much, but I will say this: The story was about a parent who horrifically and unapologetically hurt their own child. I listened, and out of nowhere, a thought came into my head: What if I am capable of something awful like that? How do I know I’m not? And, I suddenly was berated with images and thoughts of harm coming to the two little people I live for. I was terrified. Immediately, I thought, Oh my goodness. That’s horrific, and I never want to think something like that again. But, it wouldn’t stop. A few hours later I was having the thoughts every few minutes. I sat down and googled intrusive thoughts and how to rid yourself of them. I meditated. I prayed. Nothing worked. I didn’t sleep that night, and the next day I called my husband and told him something was not right. By the time he arrived home, I was convinced I was a dangerous monster, and told him I needed to lock myself in the guest room until I got help. The following week, I walked into my therapist’s office for the first time, expecting – eager even – to be reported and taken away from my children. It was heart wrenching, but I wanted them safe. I needed to know they were safe. From her couch, I spilled every awful, terrible thought through tears. I explained how badly I did not want the thoughts, but how powerful and persistent they were. Finally, she put her hand out and stopped me.

“This is a very common form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I treat many mothers, good mothers, wonderful people, with this illness. I cannot reassure you again, after this moment, because it feeds the illness. But I will tell you that your children are not in danger and you will not hurt them.”

Before my diagnosis, I’d believed OCD was something people had that made them check the locks and wash their hands relentlessly. There must be some mistake: I was having thoughts that were meant for jail or a mental hospital. How could she let me walk out of her office without telling the authorities? How did she know I wouldn’t hurt anyone? That day began a new life, full of unending appointments, questions, medications, improvements and setbacks. I was fighting hard, but I was losing. I was getting worse. I could no longer stand to be in the same room as my children, terrified I would somehow snap and harm them. I trembled as I changed diapers, cringed when they hugged and touched me, and counted down the minutes until Mike would come home. If he was home, they were safe. Being alone with them, which for three years has been my wonderful reality, suddenly became my worst nightmare. I can’t begin to describe the feeling – the inescapable worry and terror that I will snap and do something terrible. Under the control of OCD it doesn’t matter that my fears are irrational, driven by a mental illness, even at the reassurance of a team of professionals, experts and everyone I love. All that matters is that the thoughts are there. When I hold them, it feels as though I am on the precipice of doing something horrible. I can feel the blood rush in my hands, urging me to harm. These are all consistent with OCD symptoms, but it doesn’t soften the feeling of imminent threat.

I quickly began to spiral, to feel with hefty certainty that my family would be better off without me. That there was no way out of this hell, that my children deserved better than a mother who was either a threat to them, or afraid to touch them. Finally, I broke. I’d written a letter to my husband and children to tell them how relentlessly I loved them and how incredibly devastated I was to have to leave them. I am normally a jealous spouse, but quickly began to hope that Mike would find someone warm and wonderful, quickly, who would adore my kids, show them Jesus, and give them hummus to dip in instead of ketchup. (Ketchup has too much sugar.) Should I leave her a note too? How will she know Finn’s favorite songs? Who will tell her how much spinach to hide in their smoothies? I thought of all the moments I’d never see. The absolute misery that would come to Mike, having lost his soul mate. I thought of the irreparable damage I would do to my family by leaving them, by giving up. I ripped up the letter. I sat outside and listened to the rain hit my tin roof, and I looked my OCD in the eye and said, “You cannot have me. You cannot have this. I will not be shaken. Now go back inside, and you live. Live for them. It doesn’t matter how painful it gets, you have to live.”

That night, I begged Mike for help. He nodded and hugged me, and he promised to find me help. He promised he would fight as long as I did, too. I don’t know if there has been a time in our marriage where we have been more committed to each other than in that moment. We have never lived out our vows as sincerely as we have since I was diagnosed. He became an expert on OCD, listened to podcasts, read books. He prayed for me, and most of all, he never blamed me. He saw his vibrant, powerful wife quiver in fear and has never lost hope in me. He called our insurance company to advocate for my treatment, he researched programs with me, he took out money – a lot of money – from our savings, and saved my life. We found a program that would allow me to leave frequently to see the kids, and within a few phone calls, I was admitted. My saint of a mother in law swooped in to take care of my children while I was treated. Our entire family showed me an unbelievable amount of grace and unconditional love. Within a few days, I made the drive to the program, enveloped in tears. But somewhere deep within the illness, there was a part of me that for the first time in months felt relief. With me gone, I knew my babies were safe. That’s the certainty OCD demands.

ProductShoot-4020.jpgI do not get tot put my children to sleep each night. I don’t get to hold them and kiss them without trembling. A simple phone call with them, and the sound of their voices can send me into sheer panic. I am tortured with thoughts of harming them, of being taken away from them, of losing them. I cry myself to sleep every night, until my lungs have no air left from sobbing. I have missed the opportunity to wake my son up on his third birthday. I planned and crafted for his birthday party from the dining table of a mental facility. I watched my husband cry as his broken wife drove away from the home she built with him. I drive hours just to put the kids to bed. I fight and I go to appointments and MRIs and psychiatrists and acupuncturists. I’ve read every book Amazon Prime can offer on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am fighting for my life back, and let me tell you something: it is not funny. It is not clever or cute or catchy.

I think you see, Khloe, where I am going with this. OCD is not strictly a disorder of organization, and those who suffer do not delight in their compulsions. The people here with me at treatment are wonderful, talented, smart people who are brave enough to get help and find a way out of the hell that is OCD. When you diminish their illness by using it as a way to get clicks and likes, you perpetuate the stigma that OCD is something lighthearted and funny. After reading my testimony and knowing the pain this illness has caused my family, I hope you’ll think differently. I’m sure you wouldn’t misuse breast cancer or a brain tumor as a catchy slogan, so I’m not sure why you feel entitled to do so with OCD.

Here’s the thing: I’m sure, or I’ll assume, you’re not a bad or ill-intended person. You’re also not the only one who has used OCD improperly. (I once had a fellow mom tell me that she had OCD about her Instagram pictures.) I’m not here to lecture or scold you, but to inform you and the millions who follow you that behind OCD there are millions of people truly suffering. I pray that you’d use this error in judgment to educate your followers. To get the word out about the many, many forms of the disorder. You never know when a terrified mom will be on the other end of that information, desperate for an answer to why her thoughts refuse to relent. Thousands of people have not had the chance that I have been given. Many, hopeless and alone, have ended their lives under the impression that they are monsters, not victims of a mental illness. Your words have power, and they could save someone’s life.


As for me, I am not done. I’m not done fighting and I’m not done telling this story. This is my broken hallelujah. I will not be shaken.


Please share this. Please help me yell this from the Internet’s rooftops. Let this reach the eyes and ears of people who need it. There is help and there is treatment and there is life on the other end of fear.


OCD, you absolute son of a bitch, I am coming for you.


Let’s Hear it For The Boys

2017 is more or less an amazing time to be a woman. I’m not neglecting the progress that begs to be made (Hi, maternity leave, I’m mostly talking about you, you elusive mystery…) But let’s face it: The 1950’s would never have survived me. I’ve never in my life baked a pie of any kind and look tragic in polka dots. Just, no. I realize this is a pretty reductive outlook on the 1950’s. I wasn’t there, so you’ll have to forgive me.

Women in 2017 can and do everything. We are the stewards of companies, charities, TV networks, churches, and families. We are released into a world that demands us to be bold, to think big, to do big. Ranks upon ranks of powerful and vibrant women have paved the way and been our advocates so that we might have a voice and place. Our grandmothers might have been encouraged to be docile and polite, but – with spark and chutzpah – raised a generation of spicy and fiery women who would shatter glass ceilings and still make it home in time to carpool to soccer practice.

Fine. I’ll say it. Women are kind of my favorite. 

But – if I dare to make a suggestion, or maybe just an observation – it feels like we’re missing a piece of this “equality” and “progress” conversation. The other half of the parenthood puzzle: Dads.

Hear me out. 

I’m at a table full of mothers yielding a day’s worth of toddler trouble to frozen margaritas. We get together every month or two to eye roll about potty training and lament about our stretch marks and our dark circles. The conversation turns to our husbands, and all of a sudden we’re exchanging horror stories about the time Jenny’s husband – God bless him – dressed her kids like Beetle Juice (not on purpose, which is even funnier) or how petrified Mary is to be out and leaving him alone with her youngest (who is three). She clutches her phone, waiting for him to text, “I’m just panicking that bedtime is going to be a nightmare without me.”

It got me thinking: I do not think there’s been a single time that, enjoying a beer after work, that my husband has panicked about my ability to care for the kids in his absence. I’ve even asked him. Response? “Um, no? You’re their mom?”

And none of my mom tribe has ever confessed to texting their husband, “What laundry detergent bothers Sally’s skin, again?” or “When’s Jack’s next appointment?” Jenny has a PhD and a full-time job, much like her husband, but admitted that at home their equality drifts. She is the default parent… and it’s not entirely her husband’s “fault.”

Is it possible this is sometimes a system of our own making? What if we stepped back a little and stopped taking ourselves so seriously? What if we allowed the partners in our lives the opportunity to parent equitably? What if we relished in the different and wonderful ways our husbands love our children? It would mean relinquishing our roles as “Head Bitch in Charge” (side note: I ought to put that on my business card!) but it might mean resenting being the default parent a little less and enjoying the partnership of parenthood. Nothing is more relieving to a tired mom than her partner grabbing the baby and changing them without a word. Truth be told, Mike may very well be the better parent in our household. He has endless patience and makes the best living room forts you’ve ever seen. 


I learn so much from watching my husband parent. He and our children live, really live, together and he idles in their joys and sorrows in the moment and doesn’t obsess over their eating and naptime schedules. His wife (hi, me), on the other hand, navigates motherhood with the balance and calm of a recently committed mental patient. I cannot begin to tell you how many charts I’ve made in the name of “good parenting.” *Insert anecdote about the note in my phone that has collected data regarding a certain 3-month-old baby’s poop, right down to color and texture.  Jesus, be a fence.* And of course, all went to hell in a hand basket one day when the toddler decided he was uninterested in my game of “PLEASE EAT YOUR BROCOLLI.” Do not pass go, do not put bananas on this plate. Zero stars for the meal chart.

Mike is so dear. He is present and funny and they adore him. I hope they grow up to be everything like him (maybe less noisy when chewing cereal, but no one is perfect, you know?) in spite of their bizarre mother and her charts. If I didn’t have him, I’d cave to my own insanity. The kids would eat enough broccoli, but they’d never stay up past their bedtime to watch another movie, just because he wants to kiss their cheeks for another hour.

We moms are special. Important. Made for this, even. But Dads? They’re the secret sauce of life. And guess what else? They’re just as capable as us; a realization that totally knocked me off of my self-important mama pedestal. No one loves to pat themselves on the back as much as I do for doing #ALLtheThings. But, when I got home from a doctor’s appointment one day and both kids were napping and he’d finished all of the laundry (ALL of it, you guys) I realized maybe I wasn’t the one with the parenting super powers.

So, get out of the house, mama. Throw in some dry shampoo and get a margarita.

The kids will be fine.


Special Memories with Luhvee Books

Happy Friday, friends! 

I get to work with a lot of very cool brands, but today’s post is one of my favorite collaborations thus far. When Finn was a little babe, I was diligent about filling out his baby book. I’d note every new food he tried, his likes and dislikes, and glued pictures to the pages like a crazy person. But with the addition of #2, certain things had to take a backseat, and I’m sorry to say Holly doesn’t even have a baby book. She has a box of “keepsakes,” her hospital outfit, first blanket, pair of shoes… all thrown haphazardly into a box that used to house Mike’s baseball cards.


Luhvee Books has my #lazymom back, and makes collecting memories and pictures into a curated book easy and simple. I’d tried to create a photo book on other websites before, and it had been an hours-long process which resulted in a just-okay product with grainy photos. Luhvee Books makes it easy by doing some of the work for you and allowing you to fill in special things about your kiddos + special people. The beautifully decorated pages are pre-prepared with statements ready for you to finish. (For example: “We love the way you…*fill in the blank*”)


What I didn’t anticipate is how cool the kids would think the books were – we made sure to include photos of their favorite people (grandparents, friends, and each other) and when we flipped through their book together they couldn’t stop laughing and smiling when they recognized friendly faces. Best of all: The books make for a thoughtful, meaningful gift for family members. We decided to make a book for Holly and Finn’s grandma, Gigi, with special memories and things we love about her – like that she always smells like cinnamon and makes the best treats for us and the kiddos.


To create your very own book with Luhvee, use the code BLAKELY20 for 20% off.












Time to Get Packing

The official countdown is on: We leave for vacation in just a few days, and I for one could not be happier to be ditching the Texas heat for a while. (Texas: Get your temperature and bug situation under control.) Because I’m a mom of little people that come with #AllTheThings, I’m leaving my traditional diaper bag at home and bringing with me a bigger, more durable bag that can hold things for the beach, diapers, wipes, extra sets of clothes, random pairs of shoes my toddlers fling off… you get the picture. I opted for this super cute, seersucker bag I found on


If you’re not already familiar, Jane has a huge selection of clothing, accessories, home decor, and even baby and maternity clothes. The best part is their daily deals make the prices super affordable – I do not have the time or money to overspend on things that are going to swiftly be covered in bodily fluids. I just do not. Thank you, Jane, from mothers everywhere who love a bargain.

My one – kind of lofty, because kids – goal is to read Jen Hatmaker’s Out of the Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load… I’ve only read the first chapter and it’s made me roar laughing and has spoken such truth into my heart. Jen’s other book, Of Mess and Moxieis already on my pre-order list as well. If you haven’t read anything by Jen, I can’t urge you enough to snag one of her books. The girl’s got fire in her belly and a real gift with her pen, and her books have been some of my truest companions through times when I required grace and a good laugh.

I cannot wait to take off, to unplug, to set my eyes on the people I love and just be with them. I hope – whether you’re escaping to Bora Bora or to the blow-up pool in your backyard (no shame in that game, ladies) – you take a minute to sit back and enjoy the crazy family you’ve made. (That is, until they start yelling for more snacks.)

This post was a collaboration with


It’s The Little Things

I don’t wear lots of fine jewelry, so the few pieces I do wear are particularly special to me. Aside from my wedding set, these two sweet bands from Sweet Pea Stamping are the most precious things I own. 

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I wear important jewelry on my hands – the work of motherhood is mostly handywork. The wiping of noses and tears, the holding of teeny baby feet, and the hours of washing and cooking and rocking. I remember thinking, when my first was born and he fit into the crux of my palm and forearm, “I have the whole world right here in my hands.” 

The jewelry brand can personalize their pieces to you; whether it’s the names of your children, boyfriend, husband, or even just a word, lyric, or piece of scripture that’s important to you. It’s such a neat way to carry the special things and people in your life with you. (They also make a great gift!) 

I’m so grateful for these pieces. I can’t carry my kids their entire lives (goodness knows I would try) but even when they’re grown, they’ll be forever stamped on my heart and hands. 

To purchase your own, or to buy for a friend, use the code Blakely20 for 20% off. 

Summer Style for Babies

They’re not kidding when they say Texas is unbearably hot. Who came up with the genius idea to move two Irish, fair-skinned children to this sauna of a state? It’s only June and just looking out the window makes me sweat. Dressing the kids becomes quite the task in this heat because – let’s face it – they’d rather be nude, and most of the time the battle is not one worth fighting. When Haha No Yume, a brand that makes kimono-inspired baby clothes, reached out to collaborate I thought “How cute!” but didn’t realize how lightweight and comfortable the clothes would be. Now, I need the whole collection, because it’s a great way to dress Holly up for church or a day out without having to stick her in fabric that will cling in the heat. Plus, the prints are to die for!

Just for you, Haha No Yume is giving my followers 25% off using the code “Blakely25.” Hop on over to their site, and check them out! 


Thank you to Haha No Yume for sending Holly a kimono romper, and for collaborating with us. Want your brand to make an appearance on the blog? Email us at



But We All Love Wine

You might not know this about me, but I love politics. I love politics so much I’ve had friends brief their friends not to mention current events around me. “Just don’t mention Mitt Romney or you’ll live to regret it,” they say. They don’t think I hear them, but I do. (I hear you, SUSAN.) I love politics almost as much as I love big hair and Jesus and I love those things a lot. But, precious people, please hear me: I can’t take it anymore.

Left or right, I think we can agree that opening Facebook is like being punched in the face with a million opinions. I’ve always loved that social media can be a forum for thoughtful, meaningful political discourse, but its also given way to Ass-hat Syndrome and I simply cannot even. It got so terrible after the election, I had to unfollow people I adore (on both sides of the aisle) because they simply could not be kind or decent about their politics. I won’t claim to know exactly what the founding fathers had in mind for democracy, but I hardly think they anticipated it be carried out in 140 characters of shouty capitals.


The worst part about having to unfollow you? Having to unfollow you.

See, I didn’t want your name-calling and unkind memes, but I did want to see your post about your daughter’s first steps. I wanted to know about that promotion, that engagement, that brunch sandwich at that place I love. And, I wanted to know what you were thinking but I didn’t need it sandwiched in between melodrama and hyperbole. You know? Calling people “crybabies” or “deplorable” just makes them shut you out.

Worst of all, the discussions stopped. There were less and less opportunities for us to engage in productive conversation. When the conversation stops, we lose. We lose the insights and ideas of people with different perspectives and backgrounds. We lose the possibility of progress and the coming together of different mindsets. Those conversations are the cornerstone of our democracy, and those of us not interested in through-the-roof blood pressure are stopping the discussions for our sanity. I became afraid of being labeled “one of them” and just ranted and raved to my husband (who – unrelated, I’m sure – would like you all to know he just invested in ear plugs).

Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t a call for people to be less passionate or even less furious. If anything good came out of 2016, its that the formerly complacent bystanders found a reason to become engaged. Friends who had otherwise shrugged off political discussions were diving in deep and, even when I disagreed, I was so hopeful for a future of less Kardashian and more foreign policy.

So, Dear-Friend-Who-Disagrees-With-My-Politics, don’t stop coming over. Don’t stop coming to my table and discussing with me, questioning me, reasoning with me. Make less assumptions, open your ears, and I will too. We may not love all the same things, but we all love wine.

I miss you on Facebook and in real life,

Your Friendly (I SWEAR), Neighborhood Republican

P.S. Red or white?


I knew I liked you.