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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Intrusive thoughts

How do you explain to someone the intrusive thoughts you have without scaring them? This is a problem I have experienced and I have even been reluctant to tell my psychiatrist about them because they sound scary and dangerous. 

An intrusive thought is an unpleasant thought that goes round and round in your head and you can’t get rid of it. They are involuntary thoughts which become persistant and won’t leave you alone. You end up obsessing over these thoughts and become desperate to rid your mind of them. 

One example of an intrusive thought I had involved suicide. The words ‘I want to kill myself’ were repeating in my mind over and over again. Whatever I did I just couldn’t get rid of this thought. I was depressed at the time but not suicidal so these thoughts were very scary to me. I was worried I may suddenly act upon them.

Another example of one of my intrusive thoughts sounds far more worrisome. For a while when I was in a mixed state, whenever I saw a knife, images of me picking it up and stabbing whoever was close by came in to my mind. These thoughts involved vivid images of these scenarios. I found this incredibly distressing. I had no desire whatsoever to hurt anyone and I worried that the fact that these thoughts were popping in to my mind meant that I may become dangerous.

The truth is, having thoughts like these is fairly common. Everyone has strange and violent thoughts pop in to their mind for a moment. You may imagine for a second pushing someone in front of a train or hitting someone who has been annoying you. Most people are able to ignore these types of worrying thoughts because of how fleeting they are. 

The difference is that when these thoughts become intrusive thoughts, they echo in your mind over and over again and therefore become more distressing. You become unable to dismiss them just as a passing thought like most people do.

You have to remember that just because you have had a thought doesn’t mean that you have any intention of acting on them. Your mind has just become overly focused on these thoughts because it is anxious or distressed in some way. In the case of intrusive thoughts the minds obsession on them leads the sufferer to think that they carry a lot more weight and they may act upon them. However, this is not the case. They are just passing thoughts, which although distressing, do not indicate any violent intention. A truly violent individual would feel positive about their violent thoughts. They would not feel scared and ashamed of them like I do and like many others do.

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