Living With Pedophilic Disorder
Originally Published by Jordan on Cinnamon Humanity
According to the DSM-5 and APA, pedophilic disorder can only be diagnosed in individuals who deal with psychological distress from their attraction to minors. Minor-attracted people who have an absence of that distress merely have pedophilic sexual interest, not pedophilic disorder.
My main motivation for writing this is to educate people. Pedophilic disorder (PD) is a very misunderstood issue, even within the MAP community. This post has been sticking in the back of my head for a while, but I kept putting it off for months on end. I didn’t do it out of lack of motivation; I did it for two specific reasons.
To start, this is a very complex issue for me. Not only is it hard to talk about pedophilic disorder because it’s personal, but it’s also because it’s confusing even for me sometimes. It’s difficult to simply put into words what I go through every day of my life.
Secondly, I exhibit pretty severe symptoms from time to time, and talking about those symptoms could easily disturb anyone reading this (even if you happen to be a MAP yourself). I ask that anyone looking at this post take this as a warning, and please keep in mind that I cannot speak for everyone who has pedophilic disorder, as it can differ from person to person.
How PD All Happened
Pedophilic disorder is not something that happened instantly. It’s something that slowly festered within me, and it all started with one thing: denial. The feeling of denying my attraction to children is something I talked about in my last blog post, but I feel like I should go into more detail; after all, it is what caused my disorder to snowball into what it is.
Like a lot of people, I used denial as a very quick coping mechanism. By constantly giving myself excuses like “I’m just going through a phase. Puberty is weird” and “I’m only 13, so I can’t be a pedophile”, it allowed me to ignore the problem and pretend I was fine... but I clearly wasn’t. All it really did was prevent me from addressing my feelings and coping properly, which in turn made my attractions seem all the more scarier to me.
In the end, pretending I was fine didn’t work. In fact, it made things so much worse than I could imagine. That sense of self hate bubbled up to the surface and mentally destroyed me. Every day, I felt like I was a horrible human being for simply existing, and not a week would go by without me crying myself to sleep at night. Every day, I wondered to myself “Why am I even trying?”, and a lot of the time I would actually ponder committing suicide on my 18th birthday. (I don’t plan on doing it any more, don’t worry). Despite my mental state at the time, I still kept living and remained non-offending. I don’t really know why, to be honest. I genuinely felt like I had nothing to live for; nevertheless, I’m grateful that I’m still alive and have never hurt a child.
What genuinely saved my life was learning to accept myself and finding the MAP community on Twitter. Having people like myself to talk to helped me finally address a lot of the issues I was having, and I’m eternally grateful for that. Nevertheless, there were still problems that I would have to face.
It Gets Better; It Gets Worse
Several months after joining the community, my pedophilic disorder had gotten a lot better, and I actually believed that I would be cured of it very soon. My sense of guilt was gone, I no longer hated myself for being a MAP, and I fully accepted who I was. Everything was going well... but then something bad happened. I had a relapse that resulted in a few episodes of PD, but my distress was different from what I felt when I was 13.
What I began to feel was so much scarier and so much more disturbing than self hate. I started having urges to view CSEM, and I also began having intrusive thoughts about hurting children (not to be confused with sexual fantasies, which are common for most people, including MAPs). I did NOT and will NEVER act on these inclinations; they simply terrified me to the very core of my being, especially the intrusive thoughts. I fell back on the self-hate I used to feel as a result of it, and I ended up engaging in self-harm in order to cope with it. The worst part about it was that I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about the PD, not even to my own friends in the MAP community.
Pedophilic disorder is not an issue that’s really talked about, and I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through. I thought that everyone would end up walking on eggshells around me or--worse--see me as a dangerous person, so for weeks I refused to talk about what was going on. It felt like I was completely isolated all over again. Even when I did conjure the bravery to finally open up about the PD, I kept thinking to myself, “They don’t understand how I feel. They don’t know what I’m going through”.
The PD episodes I had (which took place over the span of three months) often lasted a week and were absolutely hellish to deal with. Near the end, I would feel so emotionally drained. It was like I was constantly having an internal fight with myself , always trying to recognize and ward off an intrusive thought I was having, and it was so stressful. Sometimes, I actually wanted to scream because of it. Sometimes, I feared that it would just get worse and worse until I couldn’t take it anymore but, luckily, it never came to that. Eventually, my relapse came to a close and I recovered from the episodes I had.
How I'm Doing Now
As I write this, I’m feeling much better. It’s been about 4-5 months since my initial relapse, and I’m relieved I managed to survive it. I still deal with symptoms of pedophilic disorder on a daily basis, but it isn’t as intense as it used to be. I now know that issues like this simply don’t go away that easily. It’s going to have its ups and downs: it’ll feel like nothing one day, and absolutely nightmarish the next. What’s important to know (as cliche as it sounds) is that it does get better, and that you are not doomed to hurt anyone.
For any struggling MAPs reading this, I want you to listen carefully to what I have to say. Don’t make the same mistakes I made when I was 13. Don’t fucking dig yourself into a hole of PD denial. If my experience is any indication, it’s only going to make it worse, and it will manifest into some pretty goddamn horrible issues. Learn to accept your feelings for what they are, and understand that you are not inherently a bad person for feelings you didn’t choose. It’s your actions that define you, not your thoughts.
Thank You for Learning about Pedophilic Disorder
That’s all I have to say on the matter. I know this must have been a lot to take in for many people reading this, but thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen.