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Bipolar Disorder Community
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605458 tn?1539232408

Intrusive thoughts

Do you get unwanted, disturbing, intrusive thoughts that don't stop during manic or mixed episodes? Stuff you can't talk to anyone about? And you are just trying to go about your business, but there they are...and sometimes, you think it would help if you did something, they are kind of 'telling' you to do something, to calm them, little things. And at first, it feels better, but it turns out that those little things to do to make it less bad actually make the whole thing worse?
This isn't the thoughts I have, but I liken it to this. Say you have kids and they are thoughts that you might harm your kids. You never will, of course, but there thoughts about other people who have. And you feel compelled to get on the computer and look up people that have. You feel better, you think, after you do that, but it really ends up just making the thoughts worse and you are compelled to do more research. So then you think there must some horrible thing wrong with you. The thoughts intrude every part of your day, but get worse and more rampant as night comes on. Your brain feels more lighted up as this occurs.
I get this certain kind of mixed episode that causes this kind of thing to happen. It's miserable. It's been a long long time since I had it and here it is. What is different? Well, I started a part time job - that I LOVE and am GREAT at - but I haven't worked for money in 7 years. I've volunteered, but I've been on disability. Still am, but just am trying out working. Me schedule is the same, sleep and everything, but I do have new stressors.
I don't see my pdoc for a month, I'm sleeping, I've not had this since I've been with this pdoc and don't feel like talking about the thoughts, specifically. What would you do?
6 Responses
Avatar universal
H. I used to have thoughts like that constantly. For years. Not a day went by without one. Didn't matter if I was hypomanic, stable, mixed, depressed, or whatever. Sleeping or not sleeping. They weren't very pleasant. seemed to always be in a repetitively, felt a little nagging and made me feel easily irritated or disturbed by them. Like you, I was disabled by my bipolar disorder but I only got better about a year.

I don't really talk about it freely with other people, but I think it was because they were around so long that I forgot what it was like not to have them. I don't really have a problem talking abou it to my psychiatrist. I was on a lot of medications and med combinations for many years  before hitting on the right one, and it is the one that made me stable now for 11 months. January will be my stable anniversary.

Those thoughts are symptoms, and because they are so, I think it is important to report ito your psychiatrist to know about it, and important to maintain your recovery and well being. Looking at patients, in order to treat them effectively, I would think it is important to soak in the whole picture.

I know it can be uncomfortable talking about hings that may feel like it reflects badly on mysef or that is embarassing. I've fidgeted many times in the chair talking about things I would rather keep to myself. However, we have a confidentiality contract between us,and it is supported by ethics and law,  and more than anything, mental health is what I want for myself and what he wants for me. That is the goal after all.

The drug definitely helped lighten up the thoughts, but it really was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that kept me free from them for the most part or control and dispel them before they took on a foothold in my head. That took about 2 years of effort and practice; first on paper for about a year and a half and then, in my head with some time and effort. Now, I can pretty much do the whole process in seconds and I don't get headaches anymore. The headaches onlly came occasionally during the first weks that I did practiced CBT on paper. The best I can describe the working effect of it, is that it is a cascading effect, like knocking down dominoes. Like any skill, it gets easier after practice and effort.

Just to let you know, I was really skeptical about it when I first started CBT, but when it worked, I was pretty amazed and pleasantly surprised. When it removed my intrusive thought for the first time, it ony lasted about 10 minutes and it did give me a terrible headache which didn't really last long, but the concluding effect was dramatic and impressive. As I wrote before in my other responses to postings, my mind is pretty flexible in thinking  now and quiet. Now, I really knw what stable means. I still have moods like everyone else, and still pretty alive and passionate, but definitely, more even keeled. I really like the way I am now. and I am not perfect...which is how I like it. I am definitely a better person with room for improvement.

It just doesn't take over my life or undermine me. I haven't been cleared to work yet. It took a long time for me to get this far and a lot of hard work from my self, my psychiatrist, and everyone else. Like you, I haven't exactly been lounging around either, when I wasn't incapacitated by depression. I can hardly wait to be in a work environment, although I have been doing personal,  community and political work pro bono at my own pace. I still have a stamina problem. I now appreciate the breathing space I had to afford me the chance to recover well and stay well and not fall down too hard like before. and get up a lot easier. In other words, it was a good thing I didn't have a job. At the time, I had to leave my paid work and livelihood, my prognosis was pretty dismal. It was very uncomfortable for my psychiatrist to deliver that "blow" to me, and I'm pretty sure it took him a lot of thought to when and how he wsa going to give me that news. as it took me to get enough resolve to talk about things I wouldn't even let anyone in the world know.

When I am really uncomfortable but know that I should probably let him know what I am going through, I preface my reporting with "This is very uncomfortable for me. So here goes." I would still be uncomfortable that I told him, but a little relieved that I got it out there. He's enough of a psychiatrist to be empathic and nonjudgmental, and he is a pretty decent and ethical person. For the most part, it was a good clue to have him make adjustments, practical suggestions or feedback to make the treatment course better.

Besides, I worked long enough with him in my care and trust him enough to take the medications he prescribes to me for years now. When I started out with him, I wasn't exactly the most cooperative patient he ever had. Trust is not an easy thing for me to give, especially when it concerns my mind and body.
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Avatar universal
I would say intrusive thoughts where overwhelming in a mixed state, but the examples you have lead me to a different part of my disorder. I talk to myself a lot, sometimes my thoughts are yelling in my mind. I learned to channel my thoughts while unmedicated, 28 yrs of practice under my belt. While hypomanic or what i called stable, I would choose my passions. I would learn a little about something and decide I would research it further when I was inspired. I called it inspired as I was avoiding feeding my bipolar. When intrusive thoughts would enter, I would check my notes for what it was I wanted to research. That is when mania would guide me through a web of information on that topic. I found it would distract me from suicidal thoughts or abandoning my family. Once the mixed states got worse, at 42 years old, I couldn't channel my thoughts anymore, so I started meds. I always knew that day would come. I had a psychotic breakdown. Now I take meds and am rediscovering myself, what I will be for the next chapter of my life, but I kind of miss the mania. I won't every choose to go back there, but I am trying to channel like I used to, but can't. I have to find a new approach. I think that's how this works, do what works until you find it isn't working, then try something new. Not real sure though, I am new to meds, but that is how I dealt with those thoughts for a long time, not sure what will happen next time. I'll let you know.
Avatar universal
I have had this problem a lot recently. I don't even want to say on here what they are they're very disturbing. They remind me of the suicidal thoughts I used to have, just popping up out of nowhere for no reason.
6986264 tn?1386805150
Intrusive thoughts like that are present in OCD, PTSD and GAD. In OCD you have obsessive thoughts that only seem to be eased by actions, such as researching, cleaning, locking, counting, many things. For instance I used to have a constant anxiety of having a medical condition, so I would regularly check my pulse, look at my skin color, check my temp ( I would carry around a thermometer) and kept a medical diagnosis book beside my bed that I would read everyday. I had intrusive thoughts of terrible things happening in 6th grade when I developed anxiety, and then they became specific when I developed PTSD, they were of events related to my trauma. One of the most helpful things, is to keep yourself busy with various things, or talk to people to distract yourself, and also recognize that these thoughts aren't things that you really want to do, it is anxiety and it does not mean you are a bad person or dangerous, just means you're struggling.
242912 tn?1402547092
I have suicidal thoughts almost constantly.  All my life this has been going on.  It shocks me when I read someone say this is a serious thing, and not normal...or when someone says they have NEVER had suicidal thoughts.  That amazes me.  

Yes, keeping busy helps to distract...except when in a deep depression, nothing helps other than to make a plan, then I feel better.  I know that's far from normal, too.  
Avatar universal
I have intrusive thoughts all the time, sometimes it's that I'll never amount to anything sometimes it's worse. Because you know you have them you're always in guard making sure you don't say the worst thing you could imagine, but because you're so focused on the worst thing you could imagine you think it anyway and then you're stuck wanting to tell that person what you thought about what they said because you feel that you're there with them under false pretenses, I don't know if anyone understands what I'm saying, I've convinced myself I must be a murderer, a peado, an animal abuser, when in fact I'm just a teenage girl who's on edge all the time about not saying bad things just because I can't stop my intrusive thoughts. Maybe I should go to a psychotherapist, any advice would be massively appreciated. Also my mania from all this has allowed me to become semi fluent in German..it'll be sad to lose that ability but I need to get better
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