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Intrusive Thoughts

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My intrusive thoughts have been really bad lately. These thoughts make me disgusted and sick and I can't believe they are even in my mind. Can anyone else relate?

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I can definitely relate. Been having a lot of intrusive thoughts lately. Some very unpleasant ones.

One thought continues to lead to another, more depressing one as well. It's a very deep rabbit hole.

What kind of thoughts are intruding on you, pixler?

Edited by Stolen Fire

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Instrusive thoughts - the bane of my life.

I had one just last week about sleep, thankfully that seems to have lessened. The one which causes me the biggest problem is the thought that winter is depressing.

I have had thoughts around violence to randomers and loved ones, paedophilia and homosexual. In my case anyway the thought always contains something to make me believe it is true, hence the anxiety and depression.

I am not into labels so don't know if I would categorise me as suffering from OCD. I am bubba who is a human being with all the baggage that goes with it.

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Hey Bubba, I'm in the same boat as you. I have these awful thoughts of hurting people, homosexuality and incest. And like you, there's something in my mind that says that these thoughts are true but deep down, I know I would never do these things, but even so, it causes me such great shame, anxiety and depression to know they are in my head.

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I have periods where I have constant intrusive thoughts. They kind of run the gamut - all kinds of violence and death (my own, other peoples') are the two biggies - and cause a great deal of anxiety and depression. I've tried different things to get rid of them. One technique is to "interrupt" them whenever they start by saying a word or phrase that you choose ahead of time. For example, some people just say, "Stop." That wasn't enough for me, though. Mine had to be longer, or the thoughts came right back. So I picked a 4 line prayer/poem to recite every time they came. It gives my brain something else to focus on. Seems to work. Of course, they come back, but if you do it enough, the thoughts come around less and less.

The other thing I've tried is just focusing on my breath. Sometimes I say "breathing in" "breathing out." It's the same sort of thing. Your brain is focused on that, and drawn away from the thoughts.

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I have had all sorts of bizarre intrusive thoughts similar to what has been described here. I am too ashamed to even describe my intrusive thoughts in detail. Just to be brief: hurtful sexual thoughts, homosexuality, hurting someone, getting into a fight, ending my life, self harm, going on a shooting spree in the middle of town, throwing my desk out my office window and quitting my job. Fortunately I am able to identify these as mere thoughts and I know I will never act on them. It’s amazing how powerful the mind is and even more amazing how these thoughts just pop into ones head.

@RHYL, I like your coping technique for intrusive thoughts.

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Rhyl,

All the self help books would advise against shouting 'stop' or any other line when the thoughts come on. Their theory is that the more you try to surpress them, the stronger they return.

I just try and recognise them as just thoughts and say 'that's just the trouble I have with my thoughts' when they come on. Key is not to react to them or 'add second fear' in the words of Claire Weekes. Of course I am also afflicted with severe depression which casts a massive shadow over everything.

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"I have had thoughts around violence to randomers and loved ones, paedophilia and homosexual. In my case anyway the thought always contains something to make me believe it is true, hence the anxiety and depression"

Do your thoughts come along with impulses?

I will have similar thoughts. My brain is telling me it is true and then it is followed by the impulse or feeling that I will follow through with the thought.

The funny thing is that this condition just started with me about 3 months ago. I am seeing a therapist who said it may be OCD but my primary care physician thinks I am depressed.

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So, I learned something new today about intrusive thoughts. I was having a particularly bad day and emailed my therapist, who said that the thoughts come because there is a lot of underlying anxiety. The thoughts arise to avoid the feeling of anxiety. He also suggested just kind of letting them do what they want to do and feeling the anxiety, i.e., what it is doing to your body. That it will feel bad for a bit, but will eventually improve, and that the thoughts will go away as the anxiety diminishes.

Fwiw, my last therapist suggested the other technique, of interrupting the thoughts with another brain task. It does work for me and doesn't make the thoughts worse, but they do eventually come back, as it's more of a "band-aid" than it is a way to deal with the underlying cause. Sometimes, though, they are so bad and so destructive that I have to use that technique to get immediate relief. You do what you have to do, depending on your situation, you know?

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Intrusive Thoughts are EXTREMELY common amongst people with depression, OCD, and anxiety disorders. They come from deep-seated fears based in our own insecurities. You name it, I've thought it at one point. I used to be afraid minorities would always think I was racist (because my mom would tell me I was being racist or insensitive, when I couldn't have because I didn't know any better :P). I also used to be terrified that people would think I was gay (because kids asked me a number of times in highschool), and whenever I looked at a guy for what I felt like was too long (especially since I was paranoid, so I always thought people were staring at me or focusing on me.. i.e. their laughter was aimed at me), I was sure they thought I was gay. Having violent thoughts never particularly bothered me so much because I was such a bitter/angry teen and by that time they'd become more or less commonplace. Pedophilic thoughts did, however, deeply disturb me and made me feel like a monster.

Now that I am older, wiser, and more mature. These thoughts no longer bother me. They come and go freely, and I let them. What REALLY helped was going to school in a city and finally confronting all of my anxieties. It took all the semesters I was there, but constantly seeing different people and how little they cared about me really helped. A thought that really helped me confront my fear of being seen as a racist was this simple idea:

"If that man was white, would I feel the need to acknowledge him or give him any sort of extra greeting? No, that's racism too. To not be racist, I need to treat everyone the same."

And so, I did. I treated everyone the same. On bad days, I acknowledged no one. On others, I acknowledged few people. Also the knowledge that I'll inevitably come off racist to some people, was oddly comforting.

What really helped me confront my fear of being seen as gay was my acceptance of gay people. I thought I understood it when I was in highschool, but I didn't. All I saw were the stark gay stereotypes, talking about having gay sex with their boyfriends, or being very openly, stereotypically gay. While I was in college and started talking to my twin sister more about issues like civil rights and such, it finally clicked in me that gay people are exactly the same as straight people; they just have different sexual preferences. And I would not want to be judged by any of my preferences, so why should I judge someone else of theirs? Once I'd finally accepted the idea that 'even if I was gay (which I'm not), it wouldn't change who I was inside at all' the entire concept was less threatening. And finally I learned to not care if people thought I was gay or not. Because it's just a word that doesn't carry any stigma for me anymore.

As for the sexual thoughts, I don't have any real trick for that. For me, again it was natural maturation. Eventually I was able to come to terms with the fact that just because I think of something vulgar involving a family member or other person, doesn't mean I want to act on it. And when I hit the milestone where I could say that I could admit my female family members were pretty, and that that in and of itself didn't mean I was attracted to them, the fear there all but vanished. I also matured enough to come to terms with my own sexuality, which sounds funny to say since I'm heterosexual. But indeed, I am able to say that myself, with all of my weird kinks that most people would probably find really weird, are all perfectly natural. That indeed, ANYONE'S fetishes/practices are perfectly natural in and of themselves. That it's not something to feel guilty or ashamed about, but a natural tool to help me deal with the stresses of my daily life. I don't feel gross or sick for "relieving stress" anymore, just perhaps a little different or odd. And that's perfectly fine because isn't everybody?

And as for pedophilic thoughts... Keep in mind the state you are in when you usually have them. They come on most frequently and most strongly when you are LONELY. Ironically, remembering something we went over in Abnormal Psychology helped me out here. I remember those classes where we talked about pedophiles. It was the few that I actually disagreed with my professor. The sheer maturity of my fellow peers also surprised me. Literally when asked what would cause someone to engage in pedophilia, the first remarks were ALWAYS 'that they were lonely or had no other suitable female companionship around their age or could not relate to females their age.' As terrible a wrap as they get, they too are natural products of their lives. I won't get into it here because this is undoubtedly fragile ground. So I will merely remind everyone, that you're not a pedophile for having those thoughts. Not even if you think you enjoy them neccessarily because depression fills our head with half-truths and lies. After all, it comes down to the same argument against sexual attraction towards family members. Just because you had a vulgar thought about them that your depression is telling you you're so afraid of it because you secretly enjoyed it and are sick because of it, doesn't mean it's true or that you are indeed sexually attracted to them. Bottom line, you're LONELY and fantasizing about a form of COMPANIONSHIP. The next time you don't feel so lonely, those thoughts will naturally recede and go away.

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"I have had thoughts around violence to randomers and loved ones, paedophilia and homosexual. In my case anyway the thought always contains something to make me believe it is true, hence the anxiety and depression"

Do your thoughts come along with impulses?

I will have similar thoughts. My brain is telling me it is true and then it is followed by the impulse or feeling that I will follow through with the thought.

The funny thing is that this condition just started with me about 3 months ago. I am seeing a therapist who said it may be OCD but my primary care physician thinks I am depressed.

My thoughts always come with impulses. For instance I was in Paris last year with my then girlfriend. I am always anxious when I am abroad. Anyway we crossed a bridge over the River Seine and an intrusive thought came to me to push her in. But that wasn't the end of it - there was a 'do it!!! do it!!! thought following that. It got so bad that I had try to zone out and detach myself from my mind for those few minutes until we had crossed the bridge to 'safety' and away from the trigger (being the river). Directly afterwards I found myself falling into depression as I struggled to cope with what had just happened and realised that if I had just given in to the thought for a second, then she would be dead. I then started picturing me being locked up, her family being all upset and so on. Terrifying stuff. The depression lasted for a couple of weeks and then I was fine again.

I don't know if this could be classified as an intrusive thought but I have a thought around Winter being depressing. Not just depressing but despairing. I can't articulate just how horrible the thought is. It has maintained me in a deep depression since appearing first in November 2011. When it's not Winter, I dread Winter coming along. When it is Winter I dread it getting dark - not because of a fear of the darkness, just because of the fact it gets dark at 4pm and how depressing it is that the day is over. I have lost my girlfriend and was advised by work to go on sick leave for a period primarily as a result of this thought. My psychiatrist thinks I am badly depressed anyway but that I also have trouble with obsessive thoughts. Don't know if anyone can relate but I just said I would throw it out there anyway.

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Sounds like SAD bubba. It's very common, and becomes statistically moreso as you get closer to either Geographical Pole. Therapy often involves things like Light Boxes. And before you say poppycock, it's been proven to work! Light naturally gives all diurnal creatures more energy, often helping to release endorphins and improve mood (just as heat often does). When deprived of it for long periods of time, it's typical to become lethargic, restless, and somber. Of course this doesn't happen to all people because there are some who prefer and/or enjoy the dark/night and/or the cold, but there are significant populations of people who are more sensitive to a lack of light.

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