“A lot of the pain that we are dealing with is really only thoughts.”
As a person who has suffered with untreated Bipolar Disorder, Alcoholism, Porn Addiction, and emotional trauma, this statement doesn’t just speak to me. It assaults my ears with a bone-rattling, cacaphonous din.
For 26 years, and through parts of my Recovery over the last 25 years, my thoughts absolutely tortured me. Unbidden, unwanted, intrusive and agonizing ruminations would cause me to worry about some minute detail for hours on end. My only means of relief were through rituals, like checking repeatedly to ensure I had turned off an appliance or locked a door, a distraction, like TV, or sleep.
As I grew older, I did learn to immerse my brain in alcohol, drinking into oblivion to finally get a few hours of escape and relief. But that meant waking up and facing the pain again. Or getting drunk again. Neither option was desirable or sustainable.
I also had deeper ruminations that lasted months about potential future catastrophic events that were highly unrealistic and that rarely came to fruition.
I cared deeply about people. So much so that my ruminations were sometimes about me hurting them accidentally. Or about something happening to them when we were separated. My malaptive means of self-preservation was to force myself to quit caring.
There was no stopping those wicked ruminations and the pain my mind was inflicting on me, despite throwing every ounce of will I possessed at them. That just made them stronger and made me more miserable.
I had long thought that obsessions and compulsions were symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, but I recently read that racing thoughts, which also plagued and immiserated me, are. Obsessions and compulsions are not.
I also just read that up to 35% of people with Bipolar Disorder have a comorbidity of OCD. Looking back over my journey, trials, and tribulations, I am thinking I could well be among the 35%. More will be revealed.
Either way, I was afflicted by obsessions, compulsions, ruminations, and racing thoughts. And they did cause me a tremendous amount of pain.
Until I found Recovery. Therapy, medication, exercise, talking to others about my obsessions and ruminations (used to be too ashamed), prayer, 12 Step recovery in AA, CBT, and Exposure Therapy (see the links below) have given me a life in which I am not longer helpless WHEN these thoughts attack.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
And for that I am grateful!
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY WORKS!
EXPOSURE THERAPY WORKS!