Only on the days when I DO have bad intrusive thoughts do I realize how long I go without them! I really haven’t been having any issues with intrusive thoughts at ALL lately. I did yesterday, although it was very brief. [This post is SUCH a rambling mess.]
Because my OCD symptoms get worse when I’m stressed, I’m going to first try and list out anything that may have been stressing me yesterday. Then I will explain the intrusive thoughts.
The morning started with me not feeling all that well anyway. My body was very fatigued from the extremely long walk we’d gone on the day before. Then my family started to assemble my bicycle, which shouldn’t be a big deal at all, except I’ve had the expectation that I’d take it to a bike place to have them put it together. When I first got the bicycle, the bike guy there told me to have professionals do all the adjustments, as opposed to my ex, who was a self-taught bike assembler. The bike guy told me that my bike is very sensitive, or something, and needed … you know what I’m trying to say.
So anyway, I basically began to have a little meltdown when I saw my family assembling my bike. I gave my mom some meaningful glances (probably angry/simmering glances), which she caught and now I wish she hadn’t, because I hate to stress her more, and I didn’t want to offend my family who was working on it but I knew anything that would come out my mouth would be horribly negative, agitated, and full of blame and some panic. So even though it was my brother’s last hour with us, I turned and went into the house and laid down on the sofa and tried to wait it out without starting any fights or hurting anybody verbally. In the end, of course they did a fine job and my bicycle works perfectly. I am SO glad I went inside when I did. I think only my mom knew how mad and scared I was. Absolute fury might be a better way of describing it (that my wishes weren’t being respected). (I had told her a month ago that I was going to take it into a bike place to be put together, but you know how it is. I wasn’t mad at her.) But :::STRESS:::
So then my brother left, and my mom leaves today, so I think that added to the stress. Then several of us went on an 18 mile bike ride, and I was NOT in shape for that. So my body was (still is) completely fatigued.
The intrusive thoughts came later in the day. An old family friend was visiting and we went out on the porch. I was standing at the railing and leaning against it, observing the dogs below. My mind decided to take me on a journey of horror then, playing out vivid images of me climbing over the railing and jumping off, landing on my neck, landing on the construction materials below the deck, the feeling of free-falling (which I HATE)… I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to stop my body from doing it. I backed away, in part to make SURE I wouldn’t climb over the railing, but the images lingered for a short bit.
Attempt at explaining the feeling: It’s sort of the same feeling as when I once swam too far out into the ocean, looked down and realized there was nothing but a never-ending void of darkness beneath me. I could feel warm and cool currents (result: absolute panic. I had to be dragged halfway back to shore because my body literally froze).
If you’re not familiar with intrusive thoughts, these particular jumping thoughts might sound like suicide ideation. But it’s actually the exact opposite. OCD intrusive thoughts tend to be the exact opposite of who you are. For example, a really, really loving and gentle person might suddenly have vivid images of harming someone they love, causing them GREAT distress. And the more you try to block it out, the stronger the images become, and the longer they play out, and the more frequently they occur.
Here are two personal examples. I used to have terrible intrusive thoughts any time I picked up a metal clothes hanger. I’m very sensitive about my eyes, and can’t have the air tests (pressure tests) run at eye clinics because of it. It used to be that if I picked up a metal hanger (99% of our hangers were metal), I’d become paralyzed with the fear that I would reach up and stab my own eyes out. I didn’t know what would stop me from doing it but to set the hanger back down. Then I had to try to calm my heartbeat and breathing back down. I had shelves built into my closet so I didn’t hang clothes for a long time.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been driving and had the fear that I would intentionally drive straight into an oncoming vehicle, or off the road, over a bridge, etc. It’s terrifying while it’s happening.
I won’t go into all of the intrusive thoughts that I used to get. I had some really bad ones. Some made me so anxious that I would sweat all the way down my arm and onto the floor below. Not all of them were action-related, either. Some were simply words that I was scared of (or words that felt wrong or immoral or dirty etc etc), and of course I’d be in a panic and the words would play over and over again in my head, even spelling themselves out in big, bold letters. But I really don’t experience this anymore (there are only a handful of words that still scare me, all religious based, which I have to mentally counter with opposite words for as many times or as long as the scary words stayed with me in order to relieve the anxiety. At least a few of you will understand what I mean). But even when I hear those words spoken out loud now, my emotional response is much milder than when I was growing up. I couldn’t tell you if it’s from the medication I’m on, or if my attempts to relax and try to ride out the thoughts without judgement are what did the trick. Who knows.
(Update: This would have been Topic#013, but since it’s about OCD and I want people with some common number troubles to be able to read it, I went back and skipped six and thirteen [Personally, those numbers don’t really trigger me if I see them written out as opposed to typed].. 🙂 [Personally, I’m pretty cool so long as I have other digits in front. Somehow, for me, #006 is not as triggering as plain six.] )