I felt like I lost a huge boulder that had been sitting heavy on my shoulders and in my heart for years.
WHAT IF I’M A PAEODPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE,what if i’m a paedophile,whatifi’mapaedophile – fast and furious the thoughts came, every way I looked this one question that threatened my whole identity loomed large in my mind. Coupled with flashing images of naked children, things I may have potentially done to children all made me sick with the horror.
The trouble is with OCD, it’s not just one obsession that torments you. I would plead with my mind to give me something else to worry about but inevitably a new obsession would come and it would be just as awful as the last. I built up strategies to try and tear the anxiety down. The misleading thing is it would work for a while and so I would become convinced that I had finally outrun it. What I didn’t realise was that every trick, strategy and counter attack was actually just reinforcing the OCD. Every thought I suppressed, every occasion I avoided was all just fueling the OCD fire.
I first had intrusive thoughts when I was 14 years old. They started with odd contamination worries, then moved on to worrying that I may be a paedophile. Over the years, they have chopped and changed and I have lost count of the numbers of times my thoughts have made me vomit. The turning point for me was when my OCD hit me hard at work. Prior to that I’d been at school and at uni. It’s easy to have sick days, miss lectures but at work trying to hide that you’re falling apart is not such an easy task. Although I had casually mentioned to one therapist that I had this worry I might be a paedophile and I had told one sister in a desperate moment when I was 14 I had never really disclosed it properly – and certainly no one had taken it seriously before. So one night I found myself sobbing in a restaurant at my sister the true extent of my awful obsessions. Not my finest hours but to her credit she took it very well and went off home and did some research.
I was convinced that my sister was never going to look at me in the same way again but what she came back with baffled me. She was convinced I had OCD and that I should seek CBT treatment. I thanked her kindly but argued that I knew better, that I really was just an awful person and that there was probably very little anyone could do to help me. It was no good I was just going to have to avoid people from now on to ensure that no one came to any harm. Hope got the better of me though and so I looked at OCD UK. Suddenly everything started to fall into place. The thoughts, the intense anxiety, the compulsions. All OCD!
That was the beginning of the end for me. I started CBT with ERP and also began a daily mindfulness practice. Learning that my thoughts weren’t facts really was the mind blowing thing of all. I felt like I lost a huge boulder that had been sitting heavy on my shoulders and in my heart for years. Recovery is not easy or simple. It requires patience, self-compassion and humor. There will be moments (ahem hours) of extreme anxiety but if you can manage that you can manage anything.
Wishing you all well in your recovery.
My blog: dreamstobeanxietyfree.wordpress.com