Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD
Back to all journeys

Pedophilia Theme, False-Memory, Real-Event

Debilitated by OCD before I found ERP

By Ian Seaholm

I remember as a child worrying about getting AIDS. I had seen this on the news. I would get a sliver and worry I was going to catch AIDS. I would run to my mom and get reassurance that I didn’t actually infect myself. I suppose that there were always these little signs as I grew up of something brewing. 

Changes at work led to an episode

I was working as a police officer at the police department. In 2019 I was promoted to patrol sergeant which was a supervisor role. This would lead me to change my shift at work. I was away from my family more because of this. My entire life changed drastically. The change brought a lot of stress. The new position itself was stressful. I was now a more formal role model to the younger officers who worked under my watch. This started to really get to me.

I began to overthink everything. Did I say something inappropriate? I worried that I would get into trouble. I feared that they would make complaints about me. 

I started to have what I now know is real-life event OCD. I catastrophized every mistake or potential mistake I thought I had made. I remembered that about 15 years ago I lied to a police officer when I was in an accident. This was before I became a police officer myself. It was so long ago. It hadn’t bothered me before. Suddenly it felt so wrong and so awful. I ended up going to a supervisor who shrugged it off as nothing, he said it made no difference now. But still, the intrusive thoughts lingered, was I wrong? Did I break the law? The same day I “confessed” this to my supervisor I was able to be seen by an EAP counselor through my work. Unfortunately, the EAP counselor said I had no issues. I was in a state of crisis and this professional didn’t recognize it. They weren’t trained in OCD. I went to the chief, still feeling like I had done something terribly wrong all those years ago. I received the same nonchalant response.

The relief I felt only lasted briefly before the stress and fears rushed in again. 

It wasn’t long before I couldn’t go to work, I felt like people viewed me as a crooked cop. I went on family medical leave. I was overwhelmed. I took a psychological exam through the police department and didn’t pass it. I felt in crisis but I was still not labeled as having OCD. Somehow I was able to get through these fears. I started to recognize that I could work, and I was no longer worried about getting fired. I felt some resemblance of relief. 

The next big episode

Intrusive thoughts morphed into pedophile fears. At that time I had two young girls. This was devastating. He started to have false-memory feared OCD. I remembered back when the girls were little, co-sleeping. I became tormented by this. I had a mental crisis and breakdown. I went to the emergency room and ended up being admitted to inpatient. I finally was diagnosed with OCD. I was placed on various medications. I was on and off of medications.

Labeled as disabled

Again I saw the same therapist that the city provided for me. He was giving reassurance that my thoughts didn’t actually happen. This treatment was contrary to ERP. I ended up going on a second family leave and went inpatient at Rogers. I started slowly seeing progress here. I was in the program for 12 weeks, I was in an intensive outpatient program, and a partial hospitalization program. I did all three phases of the program. This was 3 years ago. During this time I was approved for disability. I was still attending Rogers. This was extremely hard on my family. I was in my 30’s. 

The most helpful thing that I learned in ERP was acceptance. This was a key piece for me. It is still difficult but I can finally sit in the uncertainty, that I will never “know” for sure. I am living with the intrusive thoughts that I may have done something that I cannot be 100% about, at least not certain enough for the OCD. Once my medications were managed alongside the therapy I began to function so much better. I was finally able to work on the issues. I am living in the “maybe, maybe not.”

The hardest part has been the exposure piece. For me, my exposures surrounded pure O and rumination. I was in a constant state of trying to figure it out. When I see anything about child molestation I am still triggered. But now I can manage these feelings more effectively. 

Before I was debilitated and unable to function. I honestly do not know how I made it as far as I did during those times. Especially at work, I was able to somehow manage for the most part. I still see a therapist to this day. I am living in recovery with OCD.

I am no longer laying in bed all day, crying. I am no longer absolutely debilitated by OCD. I am so far from where I began. I have hope again. The difference is as night and day. 

What I would say to someone who is going through the thick of it now

Three years ago I was in the thick of the worst experience of my life. I was constantly scouring the internet trying to find someone with the exact same issues I had. I was haunted by the idea that it must be something else. I want people to know that you can get better from this. There is hope. I have been told by top doctors and professionals that I was one of the severest cases of OCD they had ever worked with. But look at me now, how far I have come. If this is possible for me, it is possible for anyone. You can get to a place where you still have OCD but you can live a fairly “normal” and functioning life. 

It is still hard to talk about. My extended family is supportive but I don’t tell them everything. I feel like a bad person and like people may not understand. It’s so hard to talk about these things but I am starting to do it now. I sometimes feel like I am lying. Like what if….I hope to highlight how law enforcement and systems downplay the significance of mental illness.

Share this journey

NOCD therapists can help you

If you're struggling with OCD, you can schedule a free 15-minute call today with the NOCD care team to learn how a licensed therapist can help. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training.