Intrusive Thoughts: Splinters in One’s Psyche

Intrusive Thoughts: Splinters in One’s Psyche

For what seemed an eternity (in reality it was “only” about 21 years), intrusive thoughts consistently attacked me with the ferocity of a pack of hungry wolves preying upon a defenseless herd of deer.

My young Bipolar mind was plagued by them a good third to half of the time. Sometimes they immisserated me by continuously running in the background, like really bad Muzak in a retail store -nauseating and inescapable. Other times they crippled me psychologically by dominating my consciousness and obliterating pleasant, rational thoughts.

Generally they involved catastrophic projections based on very unlikely outcomes over which I had no control anyway.

Tormenting me with insidious anxiety that the house was going to burn down because the coffee pot was left on or that my parents were going to die or that I was going to accidentally harm my infant sons or that I was going to become an addict (that one came true) or that I was going to die any time I had a slight injury or minor ailment or another of a host of statistically unlikely events, intrusive thoughts consumed my existence to the extent that they sucked every subatomic particle of joy out of being alive.

And until I was blessed to discover talk therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, psychotropic medications, and, eventually, spiritual 12 Step recovery, I was a psychologically abused slave to intrusive thoughts, as one was either plaguing me, or in the intervals when they were dormant, I was experiencing a constant existential dread of their next manifestation.

It’s worth mentioning that when intrusive thoughts did hijack my mind, my natural instinct was to strive to will them away. But as I learned the hard way through many years of short lived successes and failed attempts, usually the harder I willed, the stronger they became.

Eventually I turned to alcohol to drown them. Little did I know that while drinking would submerge them for short durations, those monstrosities could swim. And when I sobered up, they resurfaced with a vengeance!

Thank God for palliatives, coping skills, medication, support, fellowship, therapy, and spiritual transformation.

And love to all who still suffer from frequent intrusive thoughts.


“Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that seem to pop into your mind out of nowhere. Such thoughts can take the form of any number of offensive ideas. The content is commonly violent, sexually explicit, or otherwise socially inappropriate. These thoughts may be directed towards loved ones, people who are close by, or oneself.”

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