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Sarah
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience:  Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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Hi we recently had a little girl, it was a tough first year

Resolved Question:

Hi we recently had a little girl, it was a tough first year as she did not sleep much and apart from that all was well. My mother told me when our little girl was 9months old that she was sexualy abused as a child while her parents where abroad by someone caring for her. As soon as she told me I broke down as if it all got too much. But moved on as I seemed to be fine. But a month or so later all these thoughts about children and sex started entering my thoughts, I got very worried as a father now I felt I lost my mind or control of my thoughts and these where not my thoughts. I feel I did not want to think these things about my little girl and I'm guessing where it started. The thoughts where of me abusing my own child! Even nine months on I'm crying at what I'm currently writing.
Please help!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Sarah replied 4 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
Sarah : Hi there, thanks for your question about your thoughts about bringing up your daughter. I hope I am able to help you to help yourself.
Customer :

Hi Sarah

Sarah : Your mothers comments have caused you to contemplate something that you haven't considered before - that a child can be seen as a sexual being. Obviously, this is not a natural way for us to think and until we come across it, it is often never considered.
Sarah : Obviously children are not sexual beings and should not be treated as such.
Sarah : Now that you have these thoughts in your mind, it is important that you create new pathways for your brain to re-programme your thoughts.
Customer :

I agree

Sarah : Hi there, sorry I didn't mean to not say hello, I was in the middle of a sentence. Good to hear from you.
Sarah : Have you heard of cognitive behavioural therapy? It is often shortened to CBT. It is a way of training our minds to think of other things when we want to divert our thoughts. Eventually, the brain should understand that these thoughts are not acceptable and stop thinking about them.
Sarah : I'm still here, please wait a short momentn...
Customer :

I have seen it about do you think I might help - the thoughts as such haved stopped but I think the subject as you said just came over me and started with just general thoughts of kids in sexual enviroments or situations and thats when I got a bit worried and thought as a parent this is not right

Customer :

I was also really wondering if this type of response could arise from what you have heard, bacause it all seems very wrong, but as I say it has calmed down, just times when I'm alone, away on business that I sometimes go over the thoughts I have had they where not lots, but one bad thought can play on the mind for a long time

Sarah : It isn't right for us to think that this behaviour is appropriate, but having had this information given to you, it is right for you to be horrified by it and to not want to do this to your child. Just because you have these thoughts in your head does NOT mean that you are going to carry them out.
Sarah : Just as you wouldn't push someone onto a railway line if you were to read about it in the news, but unfortunately, your thoughts are probably triggered daily by seeing your young child's naked body, which is perfectly normal and natural. You are perfectly normal and natural, it is the information you have been given that describes something not normal and not natural.
Sarah : When you have such a thought about your child, try what is known as a thought stopping technique - imagine a bubble or a balloon above your head, decide what colour it is and what is inside it, perhaps cold water. When you have these thoughts, imagine taking a big pained popping the bubble or balloon and feeling the cold water (or whatever your version is) splashing on you. This is a thought stopping, thought changing technique that tells the brain that it does not wish to have these thoughts, that you consider them unacceptable. I know that this works over time, as I have worked in the prison system and have used the same technique myself when I was bathing my daughter.
Customer :

Sure I was not meaning appropriate, more along the lines that there is a link for this kind of worry. Like you say I would never do these kind of things but just flickering thoughts are enough to make me very full of anxiety. I hope you don't think I'm trying to justify this worry

Sarah : If you press return every so often, I can read what you are typing ... Thanks
Sarah : Not at all.
Sarah : Will you try the thought stopping technique?
Customer :

I have been to see a guy about this told my wife my parents and going to see a hypnotherapist any to make it go any

Customer :

I feel like I have started being a parent on such the wrong foot, I look as at all the badness in the world and stop myself saying how can you talk

Sarah : there is also called EFT emotional freedom technique, that you can learn from the. Internet that is effective in releasing unwanted emotions such as anxiety. It involves tapping on your body in certain places whilst repeating a negative and positive phrase together, such as "even though I have these thoughts, I do not need to carry them out". Or " even thou I have anxiety from these thoughts, I love my daughter very much and I would not harm her". Whatever works for you really, using a negative and then a complimentary positive statement. If you tap on the side of your palm with your other hand ( between the little finger and the wrist) then alternate to the other hand, whilst saying these or similar phrases, you may physically feel the anxiety be released from your body. Try it now if you want to , keep practicing it, it let's you body know, again, that you won't keep this anxiety inside you.
Sarah : A hypnotherapist is good, they will help you to get rid of the bad thoughts and feelings and replace them with good ones.
Customer :

I will look into these type of treatments, but the guy that I was seeing did not really say to much. I said to him it was like as soon as this subject entered my head my anxiety(which my dad and his dad and myself suffer) started. As I wanted to block out all these thoughts or associations, which probably what it really is as you said the two subjects

Customer :

coming together which should never, I think with all thats been in the news, the subject of fathers doing these type of things then I have thoughts on the subject triggered a worry

Sarah : If you feel that the thoughts and beliefs that you are holding are very deep, you could try EMDR therapy, which is used as a trauma therapy. A trauma doesn't need to be a national disaster, it can be something as simple as hearing what you heard from your mum. We naturally process away anxiety through REM rapid eye movement sleep at night time, but if it is too highly emotional to process away, we need help to process it. EMDR creates the bilateral stimulation of the brain as is naturally present in REM sleep, and the negative emotions and beliefs are processed away. It sounds bizarre, but the results can be very powerful.
Sarah : Have a look on www.emdria.com for more info and a local therapist if you are interested. I use both hypnotherapy and EMDR, and I would say EMDR is a faster approach, (as the therapy takes place in the subconscious mind very quickly) but hypnotherapy may be for you.
Customer :

Great I know you come across all sorts of people, and you don't know what someone is like, but I would never do anything like this, but you can see how painfull this could be, I tell myself you are being silly and most times it works...

Customer :

Sarah I just wanted everything to be perfect for my little girl coming into the world then to have to cope with this is very hard. I have got through the worst of it. But all along worried that if this was an slighty understandable event - I is kind of being so worried to think something, that you already have

Sarah : Yes, that's another thought stopping technique. Keep doing it, try the balloon,tell yourself you are a loving father who would never hurt his child.
Sarah : I didn't get the end of your sentence there, sorry. Unfortunately it isn't a perfect world and I do understand about keeping them in a perfect world for while. Someone taught my 8 year old some choice words last week and I was gutted but we cannot shield them from this, just how to manage themselves and their own conduct, and how to be nice people and to act appropriately.
Sarah : I wonder if there is also some emotion there for your mum, which you may or may not have considered? If so, you can discuss this therapy. It's best to get it all out so that you can feel better.
Customer :

Well the worse is over and I just find myself looking back saying how could think these things. I felt as she told me that she had had a tough life and to hear this was reallt disturbing, she told because her sister and herself have not been getting on, and she wanted me to hear it from

Customer :

her not anyone else.

Sarah : I see. I was wondering why she would tell you.
Customer :

Well at the time life was great, although not sleeping too well at nights, so wonder if I was under some stress.

Customer :

She has been under some stress too in recent months, as too has my brother, she has not told my brother

Sarah : Broken sleep would make you feel tired and stressed and would also limit the amount of time you had at night to process stuff away. If you think of something before you go to sleep at night (literally whilst your head is on the pillow) you will be telling your subconscious mind that this is what you want to dream of and maybe you could process some of it away naturally at night now that you are sleeping better. Don't be surprised if your dream is a bit odd or horrid, the anxiety in your subconscious mind needs to be let out.
Sarah : It sounds like your mum needs some support too, maybe she could find a therapist to help here to process some of this away.
Customer :

I'm a bit of a sensitive guy, and a worrier back in the day going for an HIV test gave me the same kind out problems

Customer :

Yeah I think she feels bad telling me now, but I keep saying this happened to her not me and would never blame her, we have be a very close family...came over from South Africa in 1994 aged 14 with them and my brother is 28 with his first child

Sarah : It's ok to be sensitive, just be aware ( as you obviously are) that this can cause a pattern of anxiety for you. Ask your hypnotherapist to make a CD for you so you can listen to it at home and let go of some of this stuff and can listen to it when anxiety arises. If you are a runner, or when we drive a long distance, we drop into the hypnotic state and can process stuff away here too. Imagine the anxiety inside your body, where does it live? What colour is it? What does it feel like? Texture? Get an image iyour mind (I don't need to know the answers).
Sarah : What colour would count balance this anxiety? Take big deep breath in of your positive colour and notice as you breath out, the colour of the anxiety leaving your body. Do this 3 or 4 times when the anxiety rises. Imagine the anxiety drifting away on the breeze Asa it has no place in your life and you do not need to keep it.
Customer :

Do you think I'm suffering from depression? Or is that competely different? Can Anxiety be as worse?

Sarah : You haven't mentioned symptoms to me that would make me consider depression. Aree you less able to take an interest in things that used to interest you? Are you eating more, or less, than usual? Are you in a deep dark place, feeling moody and sad much of the time?
Customer :

I have taken less of an interest in things, the thoughts have left me in dark places and there have been thoughts of suicide(although not that bad just thoughts as we said). But this could all be from thinking some of the most disturbing thoughts I have every thought my entire life. I'm feeling half the man I did!!

Sarah : I would think you have had a concern landed on your plate that you did not ask for and that has rocked your world. You need to take control of it, as you are doing, and accept it and let it go, as you have started to do by saying it belongs to your mum and not you, that you are a good father. If you think you may have depression, see your GP and they may prescribe some drugs for you. I would be tempted to try the hypnotherapy first, as there is evidence to suggest that therapy caching the chemicals inthe brain as drugs do.
Sarah : It is REALLY IMPORTANT for you to tell yourself that you did not initiate these thoughts and the fact that they are in your mind does NOT make you less of a man than you were beforee. You have nothing in common with the men in prison who have abused children. They often show no empathy with the child, they believe the child asked for and enjoyed it, they think the child asks for more. They are not remorseful and often have no intentions of changing. Please believe me, this is not where you are coming from. You are a kind, caring man who wants the best for his daughter and has been horrified by what someone has told you. Maybe you should try the EMDR as the impact seems to be quite strong. The therapist would help you.
Customer :

The worry was only every never looking at a child that way, which started after dealing with this subject - which I can see now. I did feel I lost my mind. And if you had the feeling that you are not in control of your thoughts, it's a scary place

Customer :

Thank you Sarah I will copy this conversation to read with my wife - it is her email I gave, mine is a work one

Sarah : No kidding. But you can increaase the control by using the thought stopping techniques. Tell your subconscious mind you will not tolerate these thoughts and the neurones in your mind will regrow so that these thoughts become less and less prominent. (see neeurolinguistic programming NLP).
Sarah : I hope I have helped you?
Customer :

Yes you have, I always get worried when telling a new person about my issue - that it is not miss understood. I love Chloe very much. We are expecting our second child in March

Sarah : Remember, only a small proportion of the world is warped, there are thousands of men and women who care very much for their children and do their best for them every day. I have to tell myself this often becaaue the world can be so negative. I don't watch the news anymore , it is doom and gloom, make a choice and don't watch it if you don't want to.
Sarah : I wish you all the happiness in the world with Chloe and your new baby, tell the voice to bog off, you are happy and it can go away whilst you enjoy your family. Tell it to go elsewhere, and it will go.
Customer :

Thanks Sarah been a real help - as you deal with real problem good to hear your opinion

Sarah : No worries, be happy.
Customer :

Thanks bye bye, a tip is in order too

Sarah : Many thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience: Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
Sarah and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Sarah replied 4 years ago.
Hi, just wanted add ( at no extra cost to you) that you shouldn't miss out on the skin to skin contact with Chloe and your new baby. Baby skin is beautiful and babies and young children find it very positive to feel skin to skin contact with parents. New mums are encouraged to enjoy this and it's great for dads too. If you need reassurance on this, search the Internet for baby massage, and you will see what I mean. Don't be afraid to enjoy your children, they will learn to feel safe and secure if you aren't afraid to be with them when they have no clothes on, especially in the first year or so. :-)

Edited by Sarah on 8/18/2010 at 7:41 PM EST

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