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Intrusive thoughts or temporary breaks from reality?
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Intrusive thoughts or temporary breaks from reality?

Hi, about ten years ago, I was 16; I had this weird thought that my girlfriend is actually male. It happened when I was so stressed out by being jealous about her former boyfriends (I think its OCD). I really doubted a lot about her previous relationships. I would ruminate and be anxious about her loving somebody else before me; I was quite the perfectionist you see. One day, while sitting in class, I tried to console myself, from my anxiety, by thinking how much I love her and how beautiful she was. When I was imagining her face (she had strong features, which are kinda manly) and how I love to kiss her and make out with her a thought or image pops into my head: “what if my girlfriend is actually male"? Or "I think my girlfriend is male" or "have I been kissing a guy all along?". The feeling was so strong, it almost felt real, but right then and there I know that this cannot be true, that this thought is crazy, I immediately excused myself from class and went to the guidance councilor.

I ruminated for 3-4 weeks over this, I kept on searching for reasons to tell myself she was a girl but another reason pops up that tells me otherwise.  For an example, "She's a girl; everyone in our neighborhood knows that but what if she changed her genitalia through surgery?" I would then immediately follow that up by "I would look at her birth certificate to find out if she was born a female" then another negative thought pops up "what if they faked it". It was like I was doubting everything.

These thoughts caused me so much anxiety and distress. I know they are crazy thoughts but why can't I seem to get them off my mind no matter how much I tried. But they do go away from time to time when I'm doing something or when I'm out on a date with her.

I went to see a psychiatrist, or a group of psychiatrists since it was a military hospital and I was interviewed inside the doctor's lounge. They told my mother that what I was going through was normal for my age. One of the psychiatrists prescribed some meds to calm me down, but another doctor opposed the Idea and said that I can resolve it on my own. And I did, I just opened it up to my girlfriend and told her all my doubts, she calmly answered all my questions and it went away.

I was able to live a happy and fulfilling life 8 years after.

Until, I read a psychiatry book and the disease of schizophrenia, I thought that what I had before was a delusion or temporary break from reality of some sort. I was in a state of panic. I read all the symptoms and started to convince myself that I have had a schizophrenic episode. The thought of having schizophrenia had such strong impact on me. These thoughts/fear of schizophrenia always intrudes my mind and makes me upset. Whenever it does, I try to rationalize that I do not have the disease but my mind blurts out new angles to doubt that I do have the disease, that made me more upset. It became a ruminating thought. I became more and more anxious every time, it became a vicious cycle. Until I suffered severe panic attacks on and off for four straight days.

During those four days, my mind was just stuck in that ruminating thought, I was so pre-occuppied, I could not even eat and interact properly with people. at times my anxiety became so high, that I did have full blown panic attacks: my head began to hurt, my chest felt tight, I was stuck with one ruminating thought, I could not eat and laugh, I felt like I was stuck in my own world, like going crazy.

I went to 2 psychiatrists already and he told me that I do not have schizophrenia; I was diagnosed with panic disorder and anxious mood. They told me that if I had schizophrenia before then I would have not been able to finish college, even high school, and resolve those "odd thoughts" without proper medication. They told me that what I thought before was just an intrusive thought. They told me if it was a delusion then I would have been soundly convinced already that my girlfriend was indeed a guy, the mere fact that I was questioning it, I was resisting it, I was not convinced, and that I urgently sought help meant that it was not a delusion but an egodystonic thought.

A week after consulting with my psychiatrists, I was still in very high anxiety, I again had the thought that my current girlfriend is a guy, the feeling was also strong but it only lasted for half a day since I already knew how to face this type problem.

Are these really just intrusive thoughts? I'm thinking they could be sexually related intrusive thoughts, that maybe I fear having sex with a man that's why these thoughts pop up. My other psychiatrist told me that these thoughts popped up because of my sister, she had a relationship with a lesbian, and somehow it affected me.

Are intrusive thoughts like these? Do they really feel real and strong initially? I’m thinking that it is an intrusive thought because I’m still aware that it cannot be true and it is in conflict with my logic, thus giving me great stress and anxiety. I know delusional people think that their delusions are true beyond any doubt.

Or are these mild delusions that I still have insight on? Are these temporary breaks from reality?

If this is an intrusive thought then why do I have them? I know I have anxiety problems, hypochondriasis, and I may have just developed OCD. I seem to have them when I’m quite anxious and doubting. I’m thinking that everyone has bizarre and weird thoughts, it’s just that people like me, especially in severe stressful states; put more meaning to them than other people.

Furthermore, does my rumination and panic attacks actually cause me to have schizophrenia? Does my overthinking triggered a schizophrenic episode? or is this just a sever form of panic attack brought about by ruminating and intrusive thoughts? Does anybody else have panic attacks caused by fear and rumination?

Please help me I’m really terrified of developing schizophrenia, my life has been like hell with this fear. Please help me.

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2 Comments Post a Comment
  Actually the thoughts do sound more than obsessive. The distortion of reality in them does sound psychotic. Scizophrenia is not the only psychiatric disability that causes psychosis. Of course your psychiatrists should look at it with a fresh perspective to see whether you have schizophrenia, not just past functioning but what's going on now. And its nothing to be frightened of. Its treatable. I had distorted perceptions of who people were before I entered treatment.
  As a person recovered from schizoaffective disorder with glycine, an experimental antipsychotic in Phase II FDA study (for the official study google "Dr. Javitt, glycine, my case study will be published in a psychiatric journal) which is a glutamate antagonist, a new form of antipsychotic in development that will promote a fuller recovery and have a more favorable long term side effect profile, I can say that it wasn't so much fear of schizoaffective disorder that was ever the problem. It was other people's ignorance of it. Whatever your diagnosis is there clearly is an element of psychosis but detail what is really going on and discuss it and see if psychiatrists can help you more fully.
This is classic OCD, not Schiz. Remember that you know these thoughts are odd, even though you believe them- but you don't really believe them. Confusing right? That's serious Ocd- doubt, questioning, rumination, panic, etc. It's a circle and you are so affraid of the thoughts that you can't let them go. Panic goes hand in hand with OCD too.
You can literally go crazy with some of these thoughts, to the point of panic attacks and breakdown. When you learn about OCD you
discover that your crazy thoughts aren't even original either. The craziest thought has already been through someones mind with OCD- believe me. Go to the OCD conference yearly through the OCD Institute. You will be surrounded by hundreds of people with the same condition, who most likely even had the same crazy episode. It's the nature of the disorder to plague people in many of the same ways, as impossible as it sounds.

Find a psych through their website. Not many psychologists are that in tune with the peculiars of OCD, so you need someone who knows that it's more than excessive handwashing or organizing. The thoughts are the ticket- not just the compulsion.  

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