Introducing Thursday’s Topic.
Every Thursday, we will be introducing a new topic to discuss. These topics will focus on mental illness and parenting. We hope that we can create an atmosphere where parenting and mental illness coexist without judgment and shame. For our very first Thursday’s Topic, we will be discussing intrusive thoughts.
Thursday’s Topic: intrusive thoughts
What’s an intrusive thought?
It’s an involuntary thought, image, or idea that is unpleasant and unwanted. These thoughts often become obsessive, hard to get rid of, and distressing. While these thoughts may be disturbing, it’s essential to understand that it is normal.
You did not invite these thoughts. They happen without invitation or warning. One out of four people will suffer from an intrusive thought or image. A person that does not have a mental illness can have intrusive thoughts. However, a person with a mental illness; such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD, these thoughts can become harder to dismiss.
Intrusive Thoughts Are Involuntary
As a mother, that suffered from postpartum depression, and my fears trigged immobilizing intrusive thoughts. They became terrifying and realistic that it was the reason I sought treatment. After envisioning harming my child, I spiraled into a nervous breakdown. I had no desires to hurt any of them. Yet, when I closed my eyes, all I saw was this scene on repeat. At that moment, I could not remove the thought from my mind. It was impossible to move, sleep, talk, or think. My husband stayed up all night, soothing my nerves, and brought me to the doctor the next day. During my assessment, I was referred to a Center for Women’s Mood Disorders to start treatment.
It was there that I learned that I suffered from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Agoraphobia. But, most importantly, that my thoughts were not actions. Although they felt like reality during the obsessive state or it may be acted out, that is not the case. The reason why intrusive thoughts are traumatizing is the concept of the idea is not a typical action of the person that is having it. The obsessive behavior of the intrusive thought overplaying manifests into anxious thinking. To the point that we are not able to rationalize the behavior. The intrusive thought itself becomes irrational.
How To Deal With Intrusive Thoughts
It’s important to remember that these thoughts are not voluntary. When confronted with one, here are some tools that can be used to help control the anxious thinking.
- Remind yourself that intrusive thoughts are not harmful.
- Recognize these as only thoughts and not actions that you desire to act out.
- Change your scenery: removing yourself from the area or situation that the thought appeared.
- Complete a task: by focusing on something else, it allows our mind to shift focus on the intrusive thought.
Treatment is available
Although intrusive thoughts are rational, it is valuable to seek treatment if the thoughts becoming overwhelming, and you are unable to control them. Treatment options are available. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your doctor.