Tuesday, June 19, 2007

OCD and Intrusive Thoughts

A less well-known symptom of OCD is the phenomenon that my psychiatrist calls "intrusive thoughts". In my own words, intrusive thoughts are uninvited disturbing thoughts that pop into one's brain and are difficult to get out. My intrusive thoughts were/are so disturbing that I did not divulge them to any of my therapists until I read that this could actually be a symptom of my OCD. I feared that if I told anyone about these thoughts that I would be locked away in a hospital or would have my child taken away.

My most disturbing thoughts were extremely painful and I felt very victimized by them. One of my therapists told me that I really was a victim of sorts. He also reassured me of my sanity by telling me that these thoughts had nothing to do with ME or my wishes and desires.

My most disturbing reoccurring intrusive thoughts are as follows:

  1. Knives - My husband and I loved to cook and we had an assortment of fancy knives. One day while I was washing one by hand, I could see in my mind the knife stabbing into a loved one as if drawn to their flesh like a magnet. My loved one would look down at the wound and then up at me with a look of "Now, why did you do that?" I never had any desire to stab someone or hurt anyone in anyway (even when my mother-in-law would stand in the kitchen and talk to me for hours at a time). Thereafter, the dreadful thought would reoccur whenever I touched a knife. I began to loath the thought of using or touching a knife at all.
  2. When my son was born, I began to have intrusive thoughts whenever he would cry. His cries would bring about thoughts of him being tortured and me being forced to listen to it either in person or on a tape recorder. These thoughts made me nauseous and upset to the point that I wanted to cut out the portion of my brain thinking these thoughts. (Yes, I realize that I just wrote "cut" (as in knife) but that is the only way I can describe it other than saying sever or slice.) The most curious thing about these thoughts is that I could feel disgust and relief at the same time. I was discus ted by the images and also relieved that my son was in my arms being protected and not being tortured.
  3. As a 12-13 year old I began having disturbing thoughts about sex. When at church, I would have thoughts about having sex with my priest. When at my grandparents house, I would have thoughts about having sex with my grandfather. (Needless to say, I desired neither.) These thoughts caused me great embarrassment and dismay. I often felt that others could hear my thoughts and, therefore, they knew that I was a sick and twisted pervert. I'm not sure if these thoughts are really OCD related or just puberty related.

I am happy to report that I have found a way to manage my intrusive thoughts. My therapist told me to think of something else in order to distract me. (He originally told me to think about a sexual fantasy, but I really thought that thinking about a sexual fantasy while holding my child was inappropriate.) Whenever I had thoughts about my child being tortured, I would think about people in my life that needed prayers and healing. I started thinking about other people's pain and problems instead of my own and that helped immensely coupled with the medication that helps me to stop my unending thinking patterns.


butterfly said...
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Airline Decals said...

Great post. Its so true and difficult thinking about these thoughts and why.

Andrea said...

I'm galde to know I'm not the only person in theworld with these toughts but when I got off a pill I realized that I can control some thoughts realy well especially since I've gotten older I'm in high school so I go out more sometimes that's hard but when I really try I'm better.

E1006 said...

I also have OCD. I was diagnosed as "clinically severe" about 5 months ago, I am now considered "subclinical", meaning my OCD doesn't bother me much anymore. What helped me was ERP-exposure and response prevention. I found a great therapist who specialized in OCD, among a few other disorders. I was also put on Zoloft. I found other therapies to make my OCD worse. When I try to think of other things...nice made my OCD worse. This is not what you should do, although many therapists don't know that. Find someone who specialized in ERP.

Jane said...

I suffer badly from OCD Checking too make sure I have not carried out the intrusive thought e.g If there was an elderly person walking on the road I would think,"What if I lost control and knocked them over" or if I saw a Mother with a child in a buggy I would get really bad anxiety and think "what if I knock the buggy over,and the child would be hurt" I would get so anxious and still do,I would have too cross the road because of the irrational fear of harm comming to the child and if I didn't cross the road I would get a panic attack and would have too keep turning around loads of times too make sure the Elderly person or Child was safe.I still get this and also horrible intrusive thoughts that cripple me but as my therapist told me keep saying in my mind "IT'S NOT ME IT'S MY OCD".The more you let the thought makes you anxious the worse it gets.I also tape my own voice on the phone if I am having a conversation as I have a fear of saying something really awfull,so if I think I have said something bad after the conversation I can go back and check,but this is only feeding my OCD,so this is just reassurance seeking to releve my anxiety which may help in short term but not long term.

DeeTeaD said...

I am 45 and have had OCD since my early teens. Though my OCD has taken its toll over the years my earliest years were the hardest because of the intrusive thoughts. Until I was made to recognize the unwanted sexual or harming thoughts as a disorder separate from my personality I was suicidally depressed. It was at age 22 that I met a woman with OCD who explained these horribly disturbing thoughts and a tremendous pain was lifted.

liz.. said...
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liz.. said...

Thank you so much to the person who bloged about this it makes ppl out there who have ocd feel normal again..I've struggled with horrible thought constantly I've never told my parents and friends cause they might think I'm insane, what made it worse is my parents our so overprotective, I know the best way to get ocd thoughts out of my head is to keep busy not sit down and worry about things,I constantly want to go outside hangout with friends ,my parents won't let me, I think my parents also kinda have ocd too I've never expressed it vocally to them but their worried I might get raped our murdered run over by a car so I think ocd is influenced.