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Please help!!! POCD false memory or not? I want to die.


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Things have been very stressful for me over the last year and a half; an old friend committed suicide, and I found out that an ex teacher is a pedophile.

In addition, I was objectified by three different people and a subsequent online relationship fell apart, and it was all too much.

 I have Asperger's Syndrome, and I've always exhibited obsessive compulsions when feeling stressed, such as opening/closing doors a certain number of times, or insisting to myself that I walk while thinking 'good thoughts'.

Watching the Black Mirror episode 'Shut Up and Dance', about a young man who is a closet pedophile stressed me out after the revelation of my ex-teacher, due to the resonance. I know that most people with those sick fantasies etc. don't just decide to view such imagery once and then feel remorse, as my brother pointed out, nor do they go 21 years having healthy sexual thoughts (as I have) and so on, then 'automatically' become a pedophile one day.

During the summer, watching pornography became a bad aphrodisiac to mortify this stuff. However, on a personal/moral level, I increasingly felt I could no longer reconcile deep feminist beliefs and watch what is in effect someone's (adult, obviously) son/daughter be objectified in these Porn Hub videos, and I only finally ceased watching them in July 2020.

Eventually, late last year, my disgust with the treatment of women (sparked especially by an old-friend admitting to me that a close acquaintance had assaulted her) and a shame that I was somehow complicit in it (by watching pornography), as well as a general horror towards what my teacher did to others, made me scared of being around children/babies. This became an overwhelming fear, I can't emphasize how scared I was of hurting these people.

I spent the whole summer (including a brief trip to Amsterdam) actively avoiding them in supermarkets and on the street, and obsessively putting my hands to my shoulders when out in public and at home, as well as avoiding eye-contact with them or photos of them and generally cultivated a habitual desire of just not wanting to be near them, because it reminded me of the worst parts of humanity (my teacher). Prior to this, there had been no precedent in my life for such a thing.

The false memories originated doing this time, where, my brain would lie to me and say I’d touched myself inappropriately at this place or at this time, and it would sometimes take hours/days to reassure myself everything was fine and ''here’s where I was stood, and here’s where my hands were'', etc. I'm now aware that this is in effect POCD; which as I understand it is wholly anxiety based.

Ultimately, this led me to perpetually isolate myself even more, and not want to have anything to do with the outside world. In the late evening of Monday 23rd September 2019 after having moved back into university halls of residence for my second year a week prior, I basically watched pornography for around about 2-4 hours intermittently when my depression was as its height.

I'd already experienced false memories by this point, such as when I met a flatmate for the first time a few days prior; I shook her hand and smiled, and then literally minutes later, I was incredibly stressed as my brain had created this 'memory' that I'd somehow groped her.

 It caused me great distress.

That night, I would go from grinding against the bed (an awkward way of doing it that I developed when I was in my early teens) to then sitting up and watching interviews and random videos on YouTube.(I remember most of that day as it had occurred earlier in the morning, and remember that I ate a Subway after university and watched an interview with sound engineer Steve Albini while eating. This was due to the fact that Nirvana had become a music staple to help with the depression; which is ironic).

The second to last video I watched was a video of Kurt Cobain and his 2 year old daughter, that appeared on the homepage after going from Porn Hub and sitting back up in bed again.

At this point, I remember thinking that if I were to watch this video, I shouldn't watch another Porn Hub video afterwards, purely because this YouTube video had a baby in it - even though the videos are entirely separate. Nevertheless, I watched the interview video, scrolled through the comments and paused at a specific point then went back to Porn Hub, and only then did I kneel down to grind again, but with the Porn Hub video loaded.

Finally, I remember sitting up again and going back to the YouTube homepage and the first video shown was a slideshow of Cobain's daughter through the years and I remember feeling so much guilt for having watched the prior porn. The reason for this is that - as best as I can describe - seeing her (as a baby, the pinnacle of innocence) exemplified the essential humanity that we all have, including the adult performers in the Porn Hub videos. 

As a result, I felt heavy guilt for being what I considered to be anti-feminist, and an evil person.Even though the bodily fluid in my trousers was from watching pornography obviously, my brain started to go into overload and overlap what would otherwise be two separate actions of watching YouTube then porn. I remember going to the sink afterwards, gipping/dry-vomiting, and processing all of this in my head immediately afterwards. After panicking a lot, I walked through it step-by-step, and eventually felt comfortable enough that I hadn’t done anything wrong and so I left it.

This as a general worry didn't reappear again till May 2020, with the rest of 2019 being spent going from day-to-day worries and false memories. I even felt happy and content on New Year's Day this year. Surely, if I'd done this horrible thing, I wouldn't have been able to feel anything happy ever again?

At first, I wondered if I did do it, and I just repressed it, or I didn’t and actually it’s just a false memory. I know that in my heart I didn’t do anything wrong, as I had listened to Nirvana plenty of times afterwards, and didn’t feel pangs of guilt or shame that I know I would’ve if I’d done what my brain tells me I did (or anything wrong, at all).

In addition, I've never watched inappropriate material or had such urges towards those who're younger, and have only ever had healthy sexual interests to those who're usually a few years older than me. For example, when I was 14, I was mainly attracted to Karen Gillan, who at the time was in her early twenties.In response to me trying to combat this worry with logic, the false narrative that my brain built up is, ‘well, you’re a psychopath/sociopath/pedophile, and that’s how you were able to suppress the memory for 8 months’.

I know I didn't do anything wrong, it was just that I watched porn and switched to YouTube back and forth, which I never do before, as my established routine was to usually go for a shower after watching just one video. I consistently feel panic attacks, as well as a tightness in my throat and stomach when the thought arises, but then it goes away when I rationalize it, but then it comes back. 

Both my mother and older brother, as well as friends - bless their hearts - have constantly reaffirmed to me I would never do anything like that, and it's just my 'overactive' empathy and shock towards what happened with regards to my ex-teacher have all collapsed on me.

I'm currently taking an anti-depressant, which is helping. Therapy has been largely recommended (as best as one can find during the pandemic), but I've found just talking to myself in long monologues has helped, as well as consulting OCD-focused forums and talking to my mum in particular.

I'm 99.9% sure this didn't happen, as I couldn't live with myself to do such a thing, and therefore wouldn't be here.

That, and the so-called 'memory'/grainy mental image of the fact didn't appear till May, and I know for a fact I couldn't have 'repressed' such an awful thing. I also remember the reason why I dry-heaved in the sink was because I felt guilty for having watched a porn video directly AFTER normally watching the interview video.

Also, there were similar worries in October and November; viewing the Nirvana Reddit page with the laptop in my lap while itching my nose while simultaneously scrolling and seeing a picture of his child led to this fear. In November, moving the laptop in my lap while a video loaded of an interview that happened to start, again, with his child in the foreground led my brain to worry myself to no end about this.

I moved past this, but when the worry reemerged in May, I thought that those above examples might have been manifestations of my guilt, but I'm sure they're not.

I don't want to die, but if this is true and it happened, I'm prepared to die.

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Hello and welcome! :) 

I'm sorry you've been struggling so much with this all and you haven't yet found a psychotherapist! The pandemics shouldn't be a problem in this regard; on-line therapy existed even years ago, now many more therapists offer it, so I hope you'll find a good one soon. (The problem I can see here is that you might perhaps profit from hypnotherapy. But I just imagine it because that could perhaps convince you most easily that "the thing" didn't happen.) Medication is helpful in everyday life, but I'm sure talking with a professional can "go to the roots" of the issue and help you more deeply. 

It's great that you've found good OCD-focused forums!! (I hope you'll also continue to educate yourself about POCD, although, unfortunately, being well educated about one's illness obviously doesn't cure it.)

Sorry I don't have time to write more. In any case, I wish you good luck and keep us posted! :)

Take care!

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