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Topic: Intrusive thoughts, what do I do?

  1. sar3658
    sar3658 avatar
    26 posts
    24 February 2018

    Hello

    I am a 17 year old girl and have been suffering extreme anxiety for the past few months that has come out of nowhere. Always been anxious person growing up but it seems my mind has just taken over.

    I started to believe I was going insane with depersonalisation and my thoughts constantly told me that I was insane and the world was not real. I started to research on intrusive thoughts and OCD and found that it is common for people to have sexual thoughts about family members. I read this and was so shocked this was happening to some people but over the course of a couple of days I couldnt help but think if I start thinking about that stuff. So of course my mind started thinking those things to the closest person in my life, my mum. This is the hardest thing to write because I've never experienced anxiety so bad. This happened about 4 weeks ago and was put on medication by my GP although haven't told anyone about my intrusive thoughts. While my anxiety died down a lot for about 2 weeks I started getting very anxious again about week 3 of the tablets and of course the intrusive thoughts have come back bad. I can't even sleep at night and I feel like I can't come back from this and I'm so scared to seek help from a psychologist because I am 17 and what if they think I have a very bad home life and need to speak with my mum or anyone else about what I'm going through.

    Family is the most important thing in my life and I'm so close with everyone, have had such a good upbringing and love them so much especially my mum she is my best friend and it gives me such severe anxiety as to why I am thinking these things. Even when these thoughts cross my mind and my anxiety doesn't get too bad I start to question whether I'm getting used to this way of thinking and if I'll start to like the thoughts which gives me even more anxiety. Honestly I don't know what to do :(

    3 people found this helpful
  2. Croix
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    24 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Dear Sar3658~

    Being 17 is confusing enough trying to lean about oneself, people, sex and life without illness making it worse. Having anxiety colors your whole life and one spends an awful lot of time trying to live with the condition. It is limiting and frightening and makes one feel alone too.

    A lot of people have unwanted thoughts, they are extreemly worrying and can make one question who one is. They are however unwanted thoughts not you.

    Actually you sound a very sensible and caring person. There are a lot of good things you speak of. You live in a loving family and you have just started to seek medical help. There are a lot of people that hesitate to do this fearing the consequences if they do. And your initial treatment shows promise.

    Everyone is different and so treatment is not quite cut and dried. Your reactions seemed pretty good for a little while then tailed off. Your GP may have told you that meds do take a while, sometimes several weeks, to stabilize and become properly effective. I've started on a lot of different courses until I found one that works. Even so occasionally the dosage has to be varied to compensate for changes in my life.

    So I'd suggest going back to your GP to get your regime tweaked. While there I'd strongly suggest you discuss these thoughts. It is not a good idea to just hope they will get better, you do need a professional to help you sort the problem out. Because it is a something that often comes up doctors and other medical professionals are quite used to treating it and you can expect things to get better

    If you think the matter is too hard to deal with face to face you have several options. Writing things down first and giving the paper to your GP. Calling eHeadspace 1800 650 890 or the Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 is another. They specialize in people under 25 and are very sensible and can be a real comfort.

    Normally you are in control and get to tell the medical people what you will let them say. The only exception is if they believe you are in danger, in which case looking after you comes first. There is no reason to think that a bad home life will be assumed. You have to remember that while this condition is new and strange and frightening it is something they see quite often.

    One of the big traps I fell into was thinking my illness and my thoughts were my fault, that I was a very undesirable person and things were a reflection of me. Simply not true. Illness can shape our thoughts. Now I know better.

    Croix

    3 people found this helpful
  3. Summer Rose
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    24 February 2018 in reply to Croix

    Hi Sar3658

    I am sorry that you are feeling so unwell and confused. I am so pleased that you reached out to this community with your post. My daughter has OCD and anxiety and I have cared for her for the past six years, since her diagnosis at age 13.

    Congratulations for being so brave to share the type of thoughts you are experiencing. I know it was very hard. I truly understand your confusion, shame and fear. I want to reassure you that it is okay. The types of thoughts you describe are unfortunately part and parcel of OCD.

    Your thoughts are not you. They pop in and out and you have no control. You are not OCD. You are a kind, loving person who is unwell at the moment. Try to remember that and focus on who the real "Sara" is. I made a book for my daughter, full of photos, stories memories, so that she can always turn to it and remember who she really is. Maybe you and your mum could make one together.

    The third thing I want you to know is that you can get through this. Your treating doctors will understand OCD is responsible for your thoughts. They may ask questions about your home life but they would likely do that anyway. They will help you manage better and get on with your life. They can review your medication and organise better treatment. And, perhaps more importantly, I suspect your mum will also understand.

    My daughter fell so ill that she spent time in hospital. I remember, at a really low point, desperately asking one of the nurses if she'd ever get better. The nurse held my hand and told me she would with the help of family. I hung on to that. I clung to it a life jacket in the middle of the ocean on a stormy night.

    My daughter and I--our whole family--got through it. She graduated high school, is going to uni, has a caring boyfriend and lots of friends. Our family is stronger than ever and we share a deeper compassion for others as a result of our experience. It took time, effort, the right treatment and heaps of love and understanding. You say your mum is your best friend, I encourage you to lean on her and allow her to help you find the light.

    I am always here for you, too. Feel free to post anytime, I will keep an eye out for you x

    3 people found this helpful
  4. sar3658
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    26 posts
    24 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thankyou so much for your kind words and I'm so happy to hear your daughter and you are doing fantastic.

    Its just so unlike me that I am going through this and I'm so scared to see a psychologist about it. Will they tell my mum? Will a psychologist and the medication actually help me?

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Summer Rose
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    24 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sara3658

    What's happening to you isn't fair and I know it stings. The truth is that anyone can fall ill. Mental health conditions don't discriminate. The good news is that many people recover. Yes, I believe with the right help and your loving family that you will get better.

    Seeing a psychologist is an exercise of hope and trust and it's good that you're asking questions. In my opinion, the most important thing is to find the right one. Someone you feel comfortable talking to and who is offering you the treatment you need. BB has some questions on its website that you can ask when you meet the psychologist and then you can decide if it's the right person for you.

    Psychologists operate in different ways. However, you should be able to talk to the doctor and set the "rules" around privacy together. In our case, my daughter's sessions were private. If they had something to share that, would help me to help my daughter, I was invited in for the last ten minutes. If I wanted to talk to the doctor and they both agreed, I could ask to join them for the last ten minutes. If wanted to talk to the psychologist alone, I always asked my daughter first and told her what I wanted to discuss so she wasn't blindsided.

    The psychologist never divulged private information, she would talk to me in generalities. To this day, I only know the details my daughter wanted me to know and that's okay because I was getting the information I needed to help her. My daughter had her privacy, she never felt betrayed by her doctor or me and she had my best support. The only exception to the rules was if the doctor or I thought my daughter was in danger.

    You are older than my daughter was at the start and I don't know how far you want to involve mum, so your rules may be different. That's fine. The point is that you get a say.

    You have to try working with a psychologist and taking medication to start learning what will work for you. It's a very individual thing. There can be a bit of trial and error. I encourage you to follow the medical advice you are given and try and be prepared to change course, if required.

    For us, a combination of medication, CBT, a very good paediatrician and a capable GP were required. Your journey may be different, it doesn't matter as long as it gets you where you need to go.

    Does this make sense to you?

    3 people found this helpful
  6. sar3658
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    26 posts
    24 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose
    All of this does make sense thankyou so much. I would prefer if the psychologist kept our sessions just between us and didn't involve other parties such as family members. Im so scared to open up to anyone such as a psychologist what if they think I'm a freak or they've never seen this case of OCD before? I'm also worried that if these sinister thoughts carry on they will be permentely there and hard to change because that's what I feel at the moment.
    1 person found this helpful
  7. Croix
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    24 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Dear Sar3658~

    I have to say Summer Rose is spot-on and giving you excellent realistic advice. It's very fortunate to find someone who has such an exactly similar experience.

    Any doctor or psychologist will have seen umpteen cases of OCD and other illness and will recognize them for what they are - just the same as they would recognize diabetes or malaria. There is no way they would regard you as a freak, just someone who is unlucky enough to fall ill.

    I can't see any way you will be stuck forever with these thoughts, and the earlier you get treatment the more quickly things will improve. Yes treatment helps, I can vouch for that, as can Summer Rose.

    When you do contact medical professionals there is nothing to stop you saying up front about your preferences, with no family interaction without your permission.

    It gets better

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  8. Summer Rose
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    24 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sar3658

    Thank you for posting. Once you communicate your preference and your rationale to your psychologist and mum/family, I'm hopeful it will be respected. Now you have a strategy for managing this aspect of treatment. Well done. If you want to change this approach at some time that's fine too.

    With regards to your concern about opening up about your thoughts to the psychologist. Let's look at the evidence. You have opened up to me and I don't think you're a freak. I understand you are unwell because I understand the illness. I am not shocked, I am sympathetic. I know it is horrifying for you. Your psychologist will understand too. And, better yet, your psychologist will be able to help you heal.

    You don't have to tell the psychologist everything at once. You may feel more comfortable taking some time to get to know him/her a bit. You also don't have to say things out loud. You can write things down. Some things you may choose to keep to yourself, I know my daughter did. If you don't get the response you need, then you find another psychologist.

    I think you may be getting ahead of yourself with worries that the thoughts will be permanent and I believe your condition is causing you to think this way. Please believe me when I say that you can learn to varying degrees to banish the thoughts, ignore the thoughts, distract yourself from the thoughts or even change your thoughts.

    Yes, it will take some time but look at how far you have come--even just today. You are seeking help, you are thinking about your treatment, you are asking good questions, you are talking to the bb community. You will get there.

    2 people found this helpful
  9. sar3658
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    26 posts
    24 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thankyou both for your advice and kind words it's helping to much.

    I just can't seem to stop the anxiety and even when I am fine and I question whether I secretly like these thoughts which seriously gives me so much more anxiety!

    2 people found this helpful
  10. Summer Rose
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    24 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sar3658

    You are most welcome. From our experience, you can try a few things at home by yourself to minimise the anxiety.

    Deep breathing. Mindfulness. You can download an ap; my daughter likes the Headspace meditation ap. A soothing bath. Exercise. Walk, run or do some jumping jacks to try and shake it off. Immerse yourself in computer game or good movie. Write yourself a few key phrases that you can read when you need them. For example, "I am unwell but I will get better" or "They are just thoughts and they cannot hurt me" or "I am doing all I can to get well one step at a time" or "It gets better".

    You can also keep posting whenever you need to. You are on one of my "threads" now, which means I can see your posts and so can Croix. So can many other people. People that care and want to help. You are not alone.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. sar3658
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    26 posts
    25 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hi Summer Rose

    ive been trying medidiation and going about daily activities. Some times I feel fine although the thoughts are still there I can manage the anxiety. When my anxiety is low it's like my brain thinks "we can find something else" and then I get even further into my thoughts thinking "what if I actually like them?" Which sends me into another anxiety episode where I can't sleep, eat etc and scared to be with my mum in case I can't look at her the same. Honestly so worried at the moment and my thoughts are making me feel like there is actually something wrong with me? :(

    1 person found this helpful
  12. geoff
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    25 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    hi Sar, I also have OCD myself and had it for 58 years, but the more you try and stop these 'intrusive thoughts' the longer they will happen, and it doesn't mean that you are a bad person at all, just carry on with what you are doing and they will fade away.

    There is lots more to add on to this.

    I will continue this as I have to go, sorry. Geoff.

  13. Summer Rose
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    25 February 2018 in reply to geoff

    Hi Sar

    Sweet girl, there is nothing "wrong" with you.

    Picture OCD as a schoolyard bully--I'm sure you've met at least one over the years. A bully likes to mess with you, they persist, they seem to know how to hurt you every time and they don't like to lose. But when you can finally stand up to them, you can prevail. OCD is messing with you. You will learn how to stand up for yourself.

    I really need to encourage you to go back to see your GP as soon as you can this week and get the ball rolling towards finding psychological help and perhaps adjusting your medication. You don't have to tell mum all the details, just tell her that it's important and ask her to make the appointment.

    It should be enough to explain that you are experiencing unwanted, disturbing thoughts that are scaring you and making it hard to function. Your GP will know what to do. And it's okay, he or she has helped other people just like you, my daughter and Geoff before.

    One step at a time, for now let's focus on getting back to the GP and getting the referral you need.

    1 person found this helpful
  14. sar3658
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    26 posts
    25 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thanks so much for your help Summer Rose, I will make an appointment for this week.

    Will I have to tell my GP what the thoughts are about? Because I'd rather do that with a psychologist in which I trust.

    2 people found this helpful
  15. Summer Rose
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    25 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sar

    No, you don't have to tell the GP what the thoughts are about.

    The GP may not even ask. But if he/she does ask it will likely be because they think that information can help them make a better referral and because they want to help. Telling the GP you're not ready to talk about the thoughts to him/her is fine. Saying you are experiencing unwanted, disturbing, recurring thoughts, along with the anxiety, tells the GP what he/she needs to know.

    My daughter experienced the same fears as you. Your worries and concerns are normal in these circumstances. Please know that you control disclosure--when and to whom is your call. It will be okay.

    1 person found this helpful
  16. sar3658
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    25 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hi Summer Rose, I have taken your advice and booked in an appointment to see my GP this week. I will tell them that I am having disturbing intrusive thoughts that are debilitating however won't be specific.

    My brain is now telling me that these thoughts aren't even intrusive anymore but I know they are my head is all over the place at the moment and it seems my medication isn't even helping anymore!

    My brain is now telling me I like them and that there is indeed something wrong with me. I read someone once that said if you are having anxiety about your intrusive thoughts it means you definitely don't like them and that they are in fact intrusive. Hopefully the GP and psychologist will help me

    2 people found this helpful
  17. Birdy77
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    25 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    ❤❤❤

    Wow the interaction between Sara and Summer Rose ...

    So beautiful

    ❤❤❤

    1 person found this helpful
  18. Croix
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    25 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Dear Sar3658~

    You are quite right, you worry about them and that is an indication you don't like them at all. Sadly illness makes things much less clear.

    I think that illness can take things we quite rightly love or feel strongly about and put them together in a horrible way, this is what causes the distress - that plus the fact they keep on coming. The illness makes you think because these ideas are in your thoughts they are yours. They are not. You are still exactly the same person you were before the thoughts started, and will be again when they are banished.

    I found this out when depression told me I was a failure, everything was hopeless and my family did not want me. For me on the inside this seemed logical and true. Later on when I was better I found the illness had put those ideas in my mind. There was not a scrap of truth in them. Things were not hopeless and my family still loved me very much (and still do). I felt 100% better about myself too.

    Going to the doctor, or seeing psychologists, or psychiatrists, is not the worry you might think. I've been to many, and have found understanding, comfort and real help. Because you have not been there before it does weigh on the mind.You will be in charge and it will be fine.

    You are a sensible and courageous person dealing with a difficult and unpleasant situation.

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  19. Summer Rose
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    25 February 2018 in reply to Croix

    Dear Sar3658

    I think Croix has hit the nail on the head. Re-read paragraph two of his above post and keep re-reading it every time you feel that worry creep into your mind. He has explained what is happening far better than I ever could. And he is right.

    I'm really proud of you for making the appointment with your GP. You are amazing.

    What you are planning to tell the GP is perfect. Be sure to ask your GP for what's called a "Mental Health Plan". Do not stress about this document. It is standard paperwork and it is kept confidential. You need it to access Medicare subsidies for your appointments with the psychologist (you will initially be entitled to 10 appointments).

    This means Medicare pays a big chunk of the bill and you (or mum) pay the rest. You need to physically take the plan to your first psychologist appointment. The receptionist will liaise with Medicare and from that point the billing/rebate system kicks in.

    As soon as you have the referral call to make the appointment with the psychologist, as there is sometimes a wait to get in. You can, however, ask to be put on a "wait" list so that if someone calls to cancel their appointment you might get offered an earlier spot. You will just need to be prepared to drop everything and go on short notice. Or you can ask your GP to help make the first appointment for you. If your GP calls and requests an appointment, as a matter of priority, it could help.

    Will mum or dad or a friend be with you at the GP?

    1 person found this helpful
  20. sar3658
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    25 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thankyou so much Croix this has helped a lot. My brain is telling me that I may be secretly liking the thoughts but I know they are wrong to think about and therefore that's the cause of the anxiety. However I know deep down this isn't me and is causing me such severe anxiety because I want to stop thinking like this.

    hi Summer rose, the GP and I have discussed going on a mental health plan before so now I think I will. It will be just me at my appointment.

    2 people found this helpful
  21. Summer Rose
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    25 February 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sar

    Good decision with the mental health plan. Good luck with the appointment. You are brave and strong and I know you can do. If you feel like it let us know how you go.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, sweet girl x

  22. sar3658
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    11 March 2018 in reply to Summer Rose
    Hello this week I am going to see a psychologist for the first time. The thoughts and anxiety are still here and I'm scared they are never going away and I'm just a "freak" so I'm praying the psychologist will help. I'm still scared she will think I am very very mentally ill and might tell my family. Do you think they will help me? I'm beginning to feel truely disconnected from who I am as a person. The most important thing in my life is my family so I feel like a completely different person with these thoughts :(
  23. Summer Rose
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    11 March 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Hi Sar3658

    I'm really glad that you posted. I have been thinking about you and wondering how you are doing.

    You will be okay at the appointment. The psychologist wants to help you and has the skills to help you. Don't forget to take your mental health plan with you. It's normal to be nervous, even scared. Your psychologist understands this and I am certain he/she will do their best to put you at ease.

    Yes, I believe things will get better for you. This is a really important first step. Your psychologist will not betray your trust--it would be unethical. Remember: you set the ground rules around privacy and confidentiality at the appointment. Write down your thoughts around this issue before the appointment, just in case you get nervous or forget. You may also write down some questions to ask, like:

    • Have you treated someone with my particular kind of illness before?
    • What are all of my treatment options?
    • In what ways do you think these treatments will help?
    • What are the best options for me?
    • When will I feel better? (It’s important to know when your planned treatment is likely to start working. This will help you to know what to expect, and also when to go back to your doctor if the treatment isn't working.)
    • How often will we meet and for how long?

    Believe me when I say that the "real" Sar is there. You are still you. You are not your thoughts and you NEVER will be.

    1 person found this helpful
  24. sar3658
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    12 March 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thankyou so much Summer Rose, I can't express to you how much your kind words are helping me.

    Should I tell the psychologist my thoughts on the first session or wait till the second? I'm very embarassed to share my thoughts and have never told anyone of them so am very scared.

    2 people found this helpful
  25. Summer Rose
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    12 March 2018 in reply to sar3658

    It is my pleasure, sweet girl. I feel lucky to have met you, too.

    The decision on how much to tell the psychologist is entirely yours. If you feel you need to just get it out, to feel relief and to receive reassurance, then it might be good for you. If you feel that you're not ready, that's okay too. Your psychologist can start helping you immediately, even without the detail of what the thoughts are.

    You are smart. The first thing you did when realising you were unwell was to reach out for help. You are strong, as you have made the appointment and you are ready to attend alone. You are brave, sharing your inner most thoughts with me. I have no doubt that you will make the right decision for you on the day.

    Do you want to share with me on what day you are seeking the psychologist?

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  26. sar3658
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    13 March 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hi Summer Rose

    Today I had my first appointment. I loved my psychologist she was very friendly however I just felt too embarassed and ashamed to tell her about my thoughts. I want to tell her about them at my next appointment however I'm just so scared she will think I'm insane/psychotic!

    What should I do??

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Summer Rose
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    13 March 2018 in reply to sar3658

    Good on you, Sar3658! I'm so pleased the session went well.

    You say you want to tell your psychologist about your thoughts at your next appointment. I think that if it's what you want, it's a good idea.

    Try to put your fear of the psychologist's potential reaction aside because I believe it's irrational and part of your illness. Your psychologist is a highly trained professional. Your thoughts will not shock her. She will not think you insane and/or psychotic. She has no doubt treated others with similar issues. She will help you and I have no doubt that you will receive unconditional support and understanding from your doctor.

    If you can't say it aloud, how about you write the thoughts down and give them to the psychologist on paper? How does that solution feel to you? Is that less scary?

  28. MsPurple
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    13 March 2018 in reply to sar3658

    hi sar and summer rose. I thought I'd join this conversation as I myself have some experience with anxiety, depression and intrusive thoughts.

    Sar I know what it is like to be scared to tell your therapist some of the thoughts you maybe having. I just to reassure you that it is not you, it is the illness causing you to have these thoughts. I couldn't help the thoughts that would pop into my head. If I could they would occur. But for me talking about them really helped. It helped me understand why I was having those intrusive thoughts and specifically what would trigger them. Some of my intrusive thoughts were to do with self harm. Although I wasn't doing it at the time it was still scary having these thoughts pop into my head randomly.

    When I struggled to tell my therapist something I actually emailed it to him. Now this isn't always gonna work, because he is the only one that ever emailed me with links and stuff. But I told him one thing I was doing that I couldn't say in session. He reassured me that this is normal for those with GAD.

    Like Summer Rose was saying, they have heard a lot of stuff. It would surprise you that a lot of people are having similar thoughts and issues, but no one seems to be saying them openly so no one is aware how common it is.

    I am really glad you got along with your new psychologist. For me it took a few sessions to feel completely comfortable.

    2 people found this helpful
  29. sar3658
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    13 March 2018 in reply to MsPurple

    Hi MsPurple and Summer Rose

    Thanks for sharing! What if my psychologist hasn't seen a case like this? I'm only 17 so I feel like these thoughts are really concerning. I know intrusive thoughts are common but I feel as if my certain intrusive thoughts aren't especially at my age.

    I think writing them down would be a good idea. Do I bring what I have written to my next appointment? Ms Purple, what did your psychologist say to you after you wrote to him? Although I really like my psychologist, I've never had experience in opening up to a stranger and have only expressed my thoughts on this website so I am scared.

  30. geoff
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    14 March 2018 in reply to sar3658
    Hello Sar, firstly you have an illness, as I've said I also have it, but it certainly doesn't make me any weaker than anybody else, who knows the psychologist may also have it.

    Please trust me over time they will do either of two things: go away or you will know that any intrusive thought will not happen, that's when you begin to accept them, and once this can happen, they eventually will fade away you will be detracted by something else, but you will be happy to forget that thought, that's exactly when it will disappear.

    After 58 years if an intrusive thought comes to mind I can quite easily just let it pop in and then roll out.

    My twin doesn't have it and he has never told me off, even when we slept and studied in the same room, it was a long room.

    Back in those days, I had no idea it was an illness called OCD, I only found out when one of my sons was diagnosed with it.

    to continue. Geoff.

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