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Intrusive and Anxious Thoughts

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  • #432660
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear Anita,</p>
     

    Thanks for your response. Can I get back to your message later? Because right now my intrusive/obsessive thoughts are getting more frequent again, and I have begun to feel hopeless about them.

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

    #432662
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome, thank you for your note, and yes, please do take your time and get back to me later. And please do your best to lower your anxiety level (less anxiety= fewer intrusive/ obsessive thoughts).

    anita

    #432663
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

     

    I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what will it take for me to get over this thing. I will complete first year of my masters in a month’s time and I am still in misery over this thing. It’s tiring now, please suggest something

    Thanks

    Kshitij

    #432665
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    It’s 8pm where you are at.. too late to go out for a walk. If you belonged to a gym, maybe you could have a swim in an indoor pool, to calm you down. At home, maybe you can take a hot shower or bath and listen to calming music.

    anita

    #432666
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear Anita,</p>
    I am preparing my dinner right now, kind of helps. But I am talking in a larger perspective, the intrusive thoughts have become frequent from the past few days and now I feel tired and hopeless about them. What can I do?

     

    Thanks

    Kshitij

    #432667
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome. “What can I do?“- tonight, just for tonight, don’t try to solve any problems, aim at taking a break from thinking. I will be away for a few hours, when I am back, hopefully you will be sleeping restfully.

    anita

    Dear Anita, I am preparing my dinner right now, kind of helps. But I am talking in a larger perspective, the intrusive thoughts have become frequent from the past few days and now I feel tired and hopeless about them. What can I do? Thanks Kshitij

    #432668
    anita
    Participant

    * Please ignore the paragraph below my name (I always copy a member’s post, paste it into my reply post, respond to it and then delete it. I forgot to do the latter. Good night, Kshitij!

    anita

    #432804
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    Today is exactly 3 months since your original post of Feb 18. I am re-reading your posts to see if I can add anything that maybe, maybe will be of some help to you.

    I made significant recovery in my physical health by the end of 2022… But, when the scholarship issue came, it shattered me… I began feeling that just when things started to become better, they went for worse… I began to think that its pointless to keep hopes…” (Feb 19)-  you made significant recovery, experienced personal success in regard to your physical and mental health recovery, had some hope for continued success, but when the scholarship crisis happened, you lost that hope and became hopeless, believing that you are doomed to No Success aka Failure (so why try..)

    In this belief there is the unrealistic expectation that once success is achieved, it will continue for a long time, maybe forever; no more significant setbacks or challenges.

    I felt that no matter how much I tried, things would always get worse” (Feb 19)- this belief is in the core of the problem.

    When I would use to think as a child that everything is aright between me and him, there used to come another ‘sermon’ or an incident of his bad treatment“(April 18, exactly a month ago)- this is the basis of your belief that you can’t succeed, that you are doomed to failure: you tried to get your father to approve of you, to like you, and you failed again, and again and again, no matter how hard you tried for years!

    It is true that you failed to get him to approve of you, but it was a situation where you had zero chances of success because he projected his father into you very early on.

    Imagine you try to pick up, not a small rock, but a whole mountain: zero chances of success. A mountain is too big and heavy for any person to pick up. Now imagine, after failing to pick up a mountain, you decide that you will fail at anything and everything you do in life..?!

    Q: Is picking up a mountain comparable to getting your father to like you? A: Yes, because your father has never seen you when he looked at you. He was seeing his father all along, and he’s very angry at his father.

    When you tried to get your father to like you, you were (unknowingly) trying to get him to like his own father: zero chances of success.

    His criticisms of you were his criticisms of his father. He didn’t see you; he saw his father. He placed the wrong mirror in front of you, showing you a reflection of someone else. Please look in a real mirror, and see yourself as you really are, approvable, likeable, a good person who can succeed in spite of setbacks and challenges, such that we all face.

    anita

     

    #432842
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thanks for your insights and kind words. Its been a rough week, and I feel emotionally exhausted by having either intrusive or enraged thoughts. It was almost a loop, when the former faded the latter began to float. Not sure how I will manage with it. Nevertheless, I tried sitting with my intrusive thoughts yesterday and am writing some points. This might be a long post so please read it according to your convenience. When I introspected; deep down somewhere, I felt grief, grief that was so heavy that I am not able to cope with it even though my reality is different from what my intrusive thoughts make me imagine. I had felt this intense grief when I was facing the issue with scholarship and it has remained within me, refusing to fade away. Never in my life I had felt such an intense pain, such an intense grief (not even during the time I was in the worst of my health and I know what that was) that was unsurmountable. Whenever I spiral into intrusive thoughts, I feel hurt inside which I felt during those days as well. Hurt because the entire situation was uncalled for, it was because a bureaucrat found it satisfying for their  whimsical reasons to keep my application pending. I had met all the eligibility criteria, and over a very trivial matter that I had clarified with an official clarification from my university, that officer deliberately withheld my file. This left me hurting and thinking about it hurts me even today. I was on the brink of losing the single biggest opportunity of my life till now all thanks to them. This unfairness added to my pain and hurt and filled me with despair unexperienced before.

    The third emotion I felt within me was hopelessness and we have had talked about it. As you mentioned above, the thought that ‘no matter how much I tried, things would always go worse’ appears to be in the core of the problem. I agree to this possibility. I felt hopelessness because I felt tired of seemingly endless challenges and being on survival mode constantly. I had already endured a very difficult 2020-21, struggled with panic attacks/anxiety in 2022 and before even six months could pass since a considerable healing of my anxiety, I got rocked by this situation. I was hoping 23 would be the year where I would get some good things in life and move ahead but instead I facing all this, for the first time I was in a literal and total mess, I felt a darkness around me and I had no clue about anything unlike the previous times when I at least knew my path to recovery. To be honest, I was even tired of ‘recovering’ from things, I felt that all my energy and life is being consumed by these challenges and things happening one after the other. That is why I thought maybe giving up was a better choice, I lost all hopes because all I could see was pain, misery, misfortune and difficulties. Just when I had thought that I have overcome some major challenges, I was hit with another. I am able to remember these many details at the moment but I know I was on the verge of slipping into depression back then, and I decided to gave up on my wellbeing because I had absolutely no energy and I was emotionally reacting this way. (not something I am very proud of.) That is why whenever I get into a spiral of intrusive thoughts, I imagine myself depressed, I imagine myself isolated, drowned in misery and weeping on my condition. I imagine myself turning into a bitter person suffering from grief and pain. The real problem is that some part of me feels that all of this would have been the reality had the scholarship situation taken a different turn, and that is why it makes me scared, anxious and fearful. Seven months have passed by, and I still feel that I would have ended up like this, I feel the same grief and hurt creeping up in my intrusive thoughts. I still feel that I would have lost all my hopes and gotten into a downward spiral. I feel scared for myself, what would have I actually done in ‘that’ reality if I think like this in my anxious thoughts.

    Now about my problem with father. I think that my relation with him did not make me think that I can never succeed because I could not succeed in having a good relation with him; I gave up on that long ago. I think his problematic behavior ended up showing in my self esteem, in my self worth(remember I mentioned externalization of self worth?) Because I had to bear up with a lot of ‘sermons’ from him, criticisms and disapprovals from other members of my family; I began focusing too much on ‘achieving’ things, in pursuit of ‘showing everyone’ what I could do through my decisions and career. Now I see, this showed up in my workaholism and my desire for external achievements and approvals. During the scholarship issue or even before it happened, I think I attached my self worth with this opportunity. I saw my peers advancing in their careers and doing great things, and all that along with the existing dependency of my self-esteem on external things, I got devastated when this situation happened, my self worth took a great hit and that contributed to my problems as well as my anxiety that went out of my control. I think that is one area where my father’s past behavior definitely impacted me because it had already damaged my self-esteem as a child.

    It felt comforting to type down all these things.

     

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

    #432852
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij: I will read and reply in about 15 hours from now.

    anita

    #432860
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome. I am glad you felt it comforting to type down your recent post. For as long as it is comforting, please type down your thoughts, anytime and at any length!

    I feel emotionally exhausted by having either intrusive or enraged thoughts“- the rage in the thoughts is especially exhausting because the intense anger (rage) prepares the body for physical action (the heart works harder, for one, in preparation to fight), and when there is no action, the preparation lasts so long, heart working hard for so long, that the person gets exhausted.

    (I am adding the boldface feature selectively to the quotes): “I had felt this intense grief when I was facing the issue with scholarship and it has remained within me, refusing to fade away. Never in my life I had felt such an intense pain, such an intense grief (not even during the time I was in the worst of my health…)… Hurt because the entire situation was uncalled for, it was because a bureaucrat found it satisfying for their  whimsical reasons to keep my application pending…. that officer deliberately withheld my file”-

    – Reads like you believe that it was not a mistake on the part of the particular bureaucrat/ officer, but a deliberate attempt to hurt you, and that the officer found it satisfying to hurt you. What do you base this belief on?

    In the above paragraph, you mentioned these emotions: intense grief, intense pain, and hurt, but you didn’t mention anger. Unexpressed, unresolved anger is powerful emotion, it adds intensity to other difficult emotions and make them last.

    I felt a darkness around me… I lost all hopes… whenever I get into a spiral of intrusive thoughts, I imagine myself depressed, I imagine myself isolated, drowned in misery and weeping on my condition“- I am getting in touch with my own lifetime, unexpressed anger, Kshitij, this is why in this post, I am focusing on your unexpressed anger. I am thinking that if you find a non-harmful way to express your anger directly, the anger will not intensify other difficult emotions as well as depression, and make them last for a long time. Maybe you can type down your anger in your next post..? (I intend to express my anger in my next post in my own thread, doing for myself what I am suggesting that you do).

    “Now about my problem with father. I think that my relation with him did not make me think that I can never succeed because I could not succeed in having a good relation with him; I gave up on that long ago. I think his problematic behavior ended up showing in my self esteem, in my self worth (remember I mentioned externalization of self worth?)… During the scholarship issue or even before it happened, I think I attached my self worth with this opportunity... my self worth took a great hit and that contributed to my problems as well as my anxiety that went out of my control. I think that is one area where my father’s past behavior definitely impacted me because it had already damaged my self-esteem as a child”-

    – What I understand from this paragraph is that currently, and for some time, you no longer hope that your father approves of you: you no longer see your father as a source of self-esteem. You see academic and professional success as a source of self-esteem. Now I understand better why the scholarship application issue was so devastating to you. The officer who mishandled your application, was just about to remove your hoped-for source of self-esteem, which is what your father already did via his sermons.

    anita

     

    #432913
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

     

    Thank you. I will share more things with you shortly. In the meantime, I have this question. Can my intrusive thoughts be a part of OCD? I recently read that they can be caused as a part of it.

     

    Thank you

    Kshitij

    #432914
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome, and yes, intrusive thoughts are the core symptom of OCD. Every person who suffers from OCD, suffers from intrusive thoughts.

    anita

    #433011
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    I just came across an interesting way of presenting PTSD and Intrusive Thoughts/ OCD from self compassion. org:

    Stress Response: Fight: Self-Criticism (Arousal)

    Stress Response: Flight: self-isolation (Avoidance)

    Stress Response: Freeze: Self Absorption (Intrusions)

    The document indicates that Self Compassion is necessary so to calm down Stress Responses, and that self-compassion is not self-pity or self-centeredness.

    It starts: “Most of us treat ourselves rather unkindly when bad things happen to us. Rather than offering ourselves the same sympathy and support we would give to a loved one, we tend to criticize ourselves (“What’s the matter with you!”), we hide from others or ourselves in shame (“I’m worthless”), and we get stuck in our heads trying to make sense of what happened to us… And no matter how much we wish to get out of our heads and get on with our lives, we find ourselves locked in a struggle with intrusive memories, nightmares, and flashbacks.

    “Such reactions make our suffering persist and even amplify it, but they’re not our fault. They’re how we’re wired… When we feel threatened by external danger, our survival often depends on our capacity to fight, flee, or freeze. But when we’re threatened internally by intense emotions such as dread or shame, the fight–flight–freeze response turns into an unholy trinity of self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-absorption. Fortunately, we also have a hardwired capacity to respond to our own suffering in a soothing, healing way—self-compassion”.

    anita

    #433044
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thanks for your replies. Being enraged for a considerable time of the day is indeed exhausting, I was in a loop of enraging memories a few minutes ago as well. It becomes very difficult to not let the emotions take over, it is even interfering with my studies at time.

    On your reply dated 20th May- the officer certainly did that because they wanted to, it was completely intentional. I could see other applicants getting their files approved with ease, and even after submitting the required clarification multiple times, they just didn’t let my application proceed. The more I tried, the more personal it became for them. I don’t know why they did all that, but it was unjust, it felt cruelly unfair.

    I agree that there was some unresolved anger because I took that anger on myself. I was frustrated, frustrated to the melting point, and I took that frustration on myself. It felt that I was taking some revenge by hurting myself. I can remember this because during that time, I simply refused self-care or any help, I began developing an apathy towards myself, believing inside that why should I put my efforts when all things have to happen this way. A part of my intrusive thoughts are about self-harming behavior (not physical harm) like discontinuing therapy, cutting off all friendships and relations, refusing proper diet and taking care of my physical health and even giving up my career aspirations and a desire for numbness. Such intrusive thoughts hurt me further, they scare me because if I am thinking these things even after seven months, what would I have actually done. It was a point when I began feeling anger towards life itself, because all I could feel was despair, defeat and hopelessness, I felt so much for pity for myself for having to face all this.  I would like to know more about solving this unresolved anger.

    About self-esteem, you described it in an accurate manner. It wasn’t the case earlier, but as time went by (especially after graduating from my undergrad college) I began getting attached with this thing, and a point came when I attached my self worth to it. I feel that I got more and more attached to this thing with the worsening of the scholarship issue. And I don’t know why I should not have! It was the single largest opportunity of my life till now and it was going waste because of such a reason! All my hardwork, efforts and sacrifices seemed nothing.

    I too feel a lack of self compassion in me, I feel that the only person who would look down on Kshitij is Kshitij himself. The outer world doesn’t judge me, I judge myself. Its me who fixes my self worth on my external achievements and my work. For some reasons I have developed a habit of self sabotaging, of being kind with everyone but me. I sometimes feel that lack of self compassion is the very reason I suffer so much from these intrusive thoughts, because I cant let them go, I cannot do what is required for me to find some peace and solace.

    A side note- I read a few things about OCD and intrusive thoughts (and I am not self-diagnosing at all) and I have realized that probably my intrusive thoughts are also a sort of compulsion. But, I am not making any kind of decision on this.

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

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