Intrusive thoughts and distractions

Trigger warning: this post talks about vomiting, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

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This is a hard post to write because I haven’t said (or typed) this to anyone.

I think intrusive thoughts are quite common in many different mental health conditions, but lately I’ve been experiencing a new one.

Every time I eat, I can’t stop thinking about making myself throw up. I haven’t acted on the thoughts but it feels like it’s getting stronger. I know that it can quite easily become addictive, a form of self-harm I guess.

It seems like a strange thing to worry about because I haven’t actually done it but sometimes intrusive thoughts become so intrusive that you end up acting on them.

I am still experiencing quite strong urges to cut myself at times. I haven’t acted on those thoughts since NYE, but the scars on my leg remind me every day. Actually it’s probably the scars on my leg that have stopped me. I remember how fleeting the relief was, and how guilty and bad I felt afterwards, and then I do something, anything to distract myself.

That’s how I’m currently managing the thoughts about making myself sick. The problem is that every time I eat I feel sick at the moment. I am struggling to eat properly, and then sometimes I just eat a load of crap, and then afterwards I feel bad. A lot of distraction is needed.

The more I’m typing this the more I’m concerned about my current relationship with food. Things are particularly bad at the moment as I’m really struggling with managing my wellbeing; I am stressed at work and I am still feeling awful about S, he has a new girlfriend and that is really hard. Every instinct tells me to harm myself in some way, that I don’t deserve to be happy, that I am a bad person, that I am fat.

The intrusive suicidal thoughts are hard too. When I am experiencing that, everywhere I go I see potential methods of suicide. I fixate on how I could end my life, where, when, how. To bring myself down from those, I try to think about my friends and family, all the positives in my life. I say to myself “not today”, and that keeps me safe. Once I am out of that dark place, I can’t imagine how I thought that way, but I slip in and out of these thoughts quite easily.

In CBT last week, I had to fill in THAT BLOODY FORM (PHQ 9 and GAD 7 – measures of depression and anxiety). I put “several days” for the question on “thoughts that you would be better off dead or of harming yourself in some way”, so my therapist asked about it. I was honest and said I sometimes get thoughts about self-harm and Suicide but I don’t have plans to act on them. She looked back at my first form from before Christmas and I had put the same, “several days”, but in reality it should’ve been “nearly every day”. I wasn’t honest on the first one because I was worried I wouldn’t be allowed the CBT. I should probably tell her that next time.

I keep writing these long rambling posts which were not what I intended to write when I first started typing, but it’s probably good to get it out. Anyway, back to the topic – intrusive thoughts and distractions.

I have been managing to avoid the behaviours by distraction. I am getting better at texting friends if I am struggling (not necessarily about how I am feeling) or going downstairs to spend time with my family and dog, and that can help sometimes.

My other favourite distractions are YouTube videos, reading fiction, colouring, my bullet journal and my mindfulness meditation app (I’m up to 155 days in a row!) Another thing that can really help is writing – either in my journal or here on my blog. Sometimes letting it out is the most healing thing.

I hope my ideas might help others a bit. What distractions do you use when you are struggling with intrusive thoughts?

Love,

Ellie

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