Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD
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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.

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