I see a great deal of pain and fear on here, and a lot of concern that the pain will never end. For me, it did. Here’s my explanation:
ERP is a system for facing your fears. It really is that simple—that doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is simple.
I have to believe that ancient societies practiced a form of this, because it is so intuitive, and once the system, the rules were explained, it felt to me as if I should have already known how to do it. Still, I needed someone to show me.
My Harm-OCD made me fear I’d lose control and hurt people. I thought this way for years, even though I’ve been in only two altercations in my life: I was beat up in Elementary, and when I was 16 I fought a close friend cause of a girl. We were dumb; we each made contact once. In other words, no history of violence, but I truly didn’t trust myself.
And my POCD, which came a little later in life, in my mid-20’s, it had me truly believing that while I knew I wouldn’t act on it, I was a pedophile. I had decided to never have children, and to avoid children at all costs.
Now I trust myself completely, and assuming I find the right woman, I would very much like to have kids. I know I put no one in danger, and that I am a help to my family and friends. It feels so good to trust myself again.
The OCD comes and goes. It seems that the focus of the intrusive thoughts change—the theme changes, but the OCD is the same.
I had HOCD, then POCD, and now I ruminate… but the rumination is nothing compared to the others, and they are gone. So while it’s still there, it went from taking up 90% of my thought-space to maybe 5%.
All that to say, to those of you still “hardcore struggling”, as I did for about half a decade, I want you to know that for many people including myself, while the theme changes and the OCD remains, the power of it fades.
That’s the TLDR here: the power fades! it’s not an endless struggle… it might stick around, but it does get to the point that it’s not a big deal
In the beginning, the notion of doing ERP with POCD was terrifying. So we started with HOCD. That was pretty easy—I had to cook and use knives and let the image-thoughts of murder pass by, as meaningless to me as they really are. Then I did POCD exposures. First, I just stopped looking away from kids on the street—and I was in NYC then, so you pass people all the time, meaning it’s a significant first exposure. Then I started watching Child Development videos on YouTube, which focus on human psychology and unsupervised group dynamics at different ages. Fascinating, and all about kids, which made for a great exposure. Finally, I went to the park to read and write, and there were kids playing all around me, and I learned to be at peace without avoiding them. I didn’t stare, cause it is easy to freak out a parent, but I just existed there.
I did this ERP work for 6-8 hours a week, and within 6 weeks the intrusive thoughts decreased dramatically—I’m talking in the neighborhood of 99%.
It was the most liberating experience I have ever had.
Results, obviously, vary, but I have never met someone who put in the time and didn’t see results.
For those of you trembling in fear, as I did for so long: I urge you to do ERP, and commit to doing it seriously for a long while.
I want so badly for you all to find your way out.
Love to you.