A woman called Autumn who suffers from Paedophile-themed OCD, (POCD), has spoken to VT about her condition.
“Honestly, it’s quite complicated. Looking back, I can see I had OCD long before my POCD took hold. I was generally a very anxious child who feared everything around her. I had issues with contamination and believed people, even close family members, would drug or poison me. I struggled with false memories for as long as I can remember, which made trusting my mind very difficult. I don’t believe I had a distinct trigger for OCD, in general, but I can say with absolute certainty that the themes of my OCD changed throughout my life, according to my situations. Being sexually abused as a child and recalling that most definitely made me fear becoming a paedophile.”
“In total, it took 21 years for me to be diagnosed with OCD and honestly, it was only after reading an article on POCD in the Guardian that helped me realise I wasn’t alone. Before that, I truly believed myself to be the only person in the world living with this condition. Of course, I knew that paedophiles existed, but I also knew that they wanted to abuse children. They went out of their way to be around children, whereas I went out of my way to avoid them. I thought, for sure, I had to be the only one living with that set of circumstances.”
“Honestly, it has been a nightmare. I don’t feel as if I can open up to people about my OCD because almost everyone I meet believes that they, too, have OCD. Nowadays though, I tend to tell people about my struggles before I drop the diagnosis because there’s really no way a person would want to claim ‘being so OCD, too’ after hearing what it is I go through.”
“Like any illness, I think it varies from person to person. I actually know of mothers with POCD, which, to me, is completely unfathomable. My life with POCD is perhaps an unusual one. That said, I haven’t met a great deal of people with the illness. Not because we don’t exist, but because we are terrified of our existence.”
“POCD, for me, began at 14 years old after I recalled sexual abuse I had suffered as a child. As the memories unfolded, my world completely collapsed around me and every inch of happiness was cast in shadow. I started asking myself if I, too, were capable of sexually abusing a child and even though the answer was an abhorrent ‘no’, my OCD latched onto every small doubt and uncertainty. I decided I couldn’t risk being around children so I made a choice, at 14, to never go near a child. This made my daily living almost impossible. I went to school, but never saw friends outside of school for fear of there being children around. Inevitability, and due to the lack of support I received, I failed my GCSEs, before going to resit them. I continued like this and spent 17 years going to great depths to avoid children everywhere I went until I eventually realised I had OCD.”
“Man, I can’t even begin to describe some of the weird sh*t I’ve done. To start with, I have my partner lock away our house keys in a safe every night. I don’t know the passcode. I don’t want to know the passcode because if I do, my OCD tells me I’ll ‘escape’ during the middle of the night and harm a child. That said, now that I’m learning to come to terms with my illness and am trying to recover, we often laugh about the safe and say that one day, I’ll get those damn numbers tattooed on my arm. That’ll be the day I’ll know I’ve truly recovered from OCD.”
“When I was at university, I used to move furniture across my room every night before I went to sleep and take photos of everything in place. The idea was that I’d have less chance of ‘escaping’ in my sleep if I had to move a wardrobe and a desk. The irony is that I’ve never sleepwalked in my life, but my OCD tells me there’s always the chance I’ll start.”
“I can’t be left alone with my phone out of fear of calling a school or the police and ‘confessing’ to crimes I didn’t commit or threatening them with crimes my OCD tries to convince me I will commit.”
“My therapist was based in America, so we’d Skype once a month for about an hour. It was nowhere near enough support, but it did get me to where I am today, which is on the path to recovery. I could have easily continued working with the therapist because he was the only professional to ever make a dent in my OCD. But, ultimately, we came to a kind of plateau. This was mostly due to the distance and lack of physical presence involved. I needed a therapist who would be able to assist me with exposures out of the house, such as learning to be around children again.”
“I can say with absolute certainty that my turning point was the day I discovered I was not alone and that every aspect of my inner turmoil could be boiled down to one thing: OCD. I cannot explain the relief I felt when I realised that I wasn’t ‘bad’, that I wasn’t secretly an evil person, but that I had a mental health condition that was treatable. Just moments before making that discovery, I had been committed to ending my life, so that news article is very much the reason I am still alive today. That relief, however, didn’t last long and despite my newly found wisdom, despite the official diagnosis, and the therapy, my OCD still tried and tries to drag me down that dark path of ‘what if’s’; ‘What if OCD doesn’t actually exist and you’re just a paedophile?’”
OCD is such a horrible condition.