This post is by Joey of Schizowhatnow.
You are not your intrusive thoughts
My psychologist recently said to me “who do you think has lots of intrusive thoughts every day?”. This was easy, I had been diagnosed with OCD at age 13 and one of the first things I had learned was that intrusive thoughts were a big part of it. “People with OCD” I told her. Her response took me by surprise “everyone does, the difference is the response you have to the intrusive thoughts”. In my case, my intrusive thoughts take the form of unwanted thoughts of a violent nature involving people I care about, strangers and animals.
Like all intrusive thoughts, they are “ego-dystonic“, meaning they go against the self. In other words, you think about the things you’d be least likely to do in the world. For years I feared that having thoughts about hurting people made me a bad person, like thinking the things was just as bad as doing the things. “Bad people don’t have intrusive thoughts like that” my psychologist told me “those types of thoughts sit well with them, therefore they’re not intrusive”.
It took me a while to grasp the significance of this. It was second nature for me to think “I wish they died in a car crash” and then immediately after: “no I don’t, why did I think that? I’m so horrible”. Now I was becoming more aware of my response to thoughts like this. Instead of engaging in compulsions or berating myself, I would say “ok, that’s just an intrusive thought, I’m going to redirect my attention”. I’m finally starting to realise just because I think bad things, doesn’t mean I am a bad person.
To all of you who suffer from unwanted thoughts also, you’re not alone, you’re not a bad person and you are not your intrusive thoughts.
Joey is a mental health blogger diagnosed with OCD and Schizoaffective Disorder. He regularly writes about his own journey as well as informative posts about mental health.
Visit him on his blog Schizowhatnow.