New mum cleaned for five hours a day as voice in head said ‘your kids are dirty’

A mum spent five hours a day cleaning her home because a voice in her head told her "everything is dirty" – especially her kids.

Angel Stagg suffered from mental health issues during the coronavirus pandemic, soon after the birth of her daughter Evelyn in February 2020.

Her condition worsened after the birth of her second child Jackson in May 2021. Within a few weeks, things had become so bad she began wishing she had never had children.

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The 25-year-old began experiencing intrusive thoughts, particularly around the cleanliness of her home and family.

The voice in her head convinced her that her bathroom was too filthy to use, pushing her to go days without washing herself.

She feared her children weren’t clean enough and that anxiety fuelled intense cleaning sessions which would last up to five hours.

The mum from Hassocks, West Sussex, said: “I always had this feeling that I was dirty, that the kids were dirty, no matter how much I cleaned around the house.

“I was crying all the time.”

She said she would get "incredibly anxious" and "couldn’t relax" when it came to the cleanliness of her home.

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Angel added: “This was just before the first lockdown, so I was on my own until after my son was born.

“I despised the life I had at that point.”

She says her obsession also negatively affected her relationship with her partner Conor.

“Because it was lockdown, I didn’t have many people to speak to about it, not even Conor – it definitely affected my relationship with him,” said Angel.

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After the birth of her son, Angel’s intrusive thoughts worsened. Angel’s cleaning routine was taking up her entire morning.

“It was like I had a voice in my head that would say tell me everything was dirty, especially the kids,” said Angel.

“I would avoid parts of the house and then do a really big clean – and then would feel guilty for not spending enough time with the kids.”

Angel finally received help from her GP in June 2021 and her condition is being managed with anti-depressants – though they haven’t "fixed" the problem.

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The mum is expecting her third child later this year and is fearful the birth will trigger similar behaviours.

She added: “I’ve had low moods and felt irritable, as well as having intrusive thoughts. When I’m driving in the car with the kids, I think ‘what if I swerved off the road and hit that tree'.”

Angel wants to let other mums struggling with similar symptoms know they are not alone.

“I would say to not feel like you’re crazy because you’re not,” she said. “Speak up and ask for help.”

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