My story begins normally, I grew up in a working-class family, and lived a relatively good childhood, with a few traumas here and there, but nothing I would say that was out of the ordinary. I honestly do not think I really had mental health issues until the day a flip switched in my brain.
It’s True what they say about your first OCD thought, and how drastically your life changes after that split second moment.
Workplace OCD Triggers
I remember being in work, I was working in a child’s section of a clothing store at this point; we had had a strange man come into the store, acting very strange around the kids, and was inevitably kicked out, but this instigated a conversation amongst myself and the colleagues about the psychology of a pedophile, how do they end up like this?
It was a mundane conversation, covering all the main things, maybe they were abused, maybe it was a genetic predisposition, but whatever it was, triggered the most hellish moment in my life.
The Onset of Obsession: When the Unwanted Thought Took Over
As I walked away from this conversation I continued to ponder when the thought ‘what if you are a pedophile?’ entered. I remember exactly where I was, and the exact feeling I felt. It felt like my entire existence sank inside of myself.
The only way I know how to describe it is pulling upon the movie Get Out. If you have seen this movie, you will know the scene where the mother hypnotizes the protagonist and says, ‘sink into the floor’, and he precedes to sink straight into his own mind – that is what it felt like.
I became absolutely obsessed with this thought, terrified in fact, what if this was true? Was I safe to be doing my job? What if I harmed a child?
The thoughts got worse and worse, insanely graphic images of kids plagued my mind and drove me to the edge, to the point I had to quit my job as I was so scared of even looking at a child, out of the fear that I would “lose control” and attack them.
Misguided Therapy and Deepening Despair
The weeks that followed were torture, I was horrified and debilitated by my own brain, from the moment I would wakeup to the moment I slept. I eventually told my mum that I was having horrible thoughts and she sent me to a Christian therapist.
We had no idea this was OCD yet, so we were using the only tools we had. I opened up to this therapist, and they completely misinterpreted what I now know as OCD as a genuine case of paedophilia that I was ‘resisting’.
She began to pray for me, speaking in tongues, screaming that I would not ‘fall into my temptations’. I left that place 10x worse andbegan my struggle with drug abuse, suicidal ideation, and self-harm.
Escaping Through Self-Destructive Behavior
My only escape from these thoughts was drugs, I became dependent on ecstasy, weed and alcohol for about two years, getting absolutely fucked up every weekend, it was the only time I felt normal and my mind felt free, but with drugs come the come-downs, and these come downs would be brutal, making the OCD thoughts ten times worse, and fuelling this cycle of taking more drugs to get rid of the thoughts.
A thought that would repeat over in my head, was ‘I’d rather be dead than be a paedophile’, I began to cut my arms, and was genuinely considering suicide, as it was just so painful.
Discovering a Lifeline Online
In a last attempt to help myself, I googled ‘How to get sectioned’,which is where I scrolled across OCDactions page and found a forum question titled ‘my mind is telling me I am a pedophile but I’m not, help!’ – upon clicking on this, I broke down in tears, there were thousands of people talking about the exact same thing.
This place became my reassurance haven. Now that I knew that this could be OCD it was time to get the correct therapy.
I reached out to a specialist where I was finally told that I had OCD, my life instantly felt lighter, although my journey was far from over. After many months of therapy, medication, and hard work, I began to see real differences.
Reclaiming Life and the Path to Recovery
Suddenly the prospect of university felt real again, and I came out with not only a degree but a masters too
It was last year that I realized that I had reached recovery, I always envisioned recovery looking like something where I had no vile thoughts running through my head, but I set myself up for failure.
I still deal with these thoughts daily, but now I have the tools in place to help me overcome any obstacle that is thrown my way.
I am not perfect by any means, I still struggle with drugs and alcohol, nowhere near the self-destructive level I did when I was younger, but it still feels like an escape I exploit sometimes, but I am patient with myself and know that as long as I put in the work, I will get past this.
Spreading the Message of Hope
I want to continue spreading the message that recovery is not linear, you are going to have so many lows, but so many highs, and those lows will keep getting less and less. You are deserving of a good life not plagued by OCD and realizing the value you have in yourself is your first step to recovery.
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