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Unwanted Thoughts

by MJ
(UK)

Hi, I'm so glad to have found your site. It is very helpful.
I have suffered on and off with anxiety/panic and scary thoughts since I was little. It has caused me to have several breakdowns and several visits to hospital. I am a mom of three lovely children but this affliction is robbing me of all my joy, even though I've been a Christian for years and have always trusted God to help me, this latest bout of fearful thoughts and dreadful anxiety has even caused me to lose sight of my faith in Gods help which is really distressing to me. The thoughts I have stem back to when I was small and are always of a sexual nature. I think all sorts of horrid things about myself, which have no basis in truth or reality. I was made to feel afraid and ashamed of sexual things when I was small and ever since I have feared the subject. I have thoughts about other people as I pass them or see them which I do not wish to have and I think I am such a bad person for having these thoughts, to the point that I have attempted suicide twice before I became a Christian, because I felt I didn't deserve to live because of having such horrid thoughts. I am plagued with guilt over these thoughts and this creates awful anxiety and panic. I know so many scriptures that assure me there is no condemnation for those in Christ, but no matter how many times I tell myself, the fear seems to prevail and I feel utterly condemned and terrible. Please would you help me by suggesting a strategy for recovery. I am so tired of believing lies and feeling so powerless. Thank You. MJ

Reply from Sound-Mind.org

Hello MJ,

First I just want to say how sorry I am for your struggle. Surely suicide is not the answer to this problem and I am so glad that you are alive!Many people who have never suffered obsessive, unwanted thoughts don't understand how painful and debilitating they can be. It is most definately, in my opinion, one of the worst symptoms of anxiety. Please be encouraged MJ. Overcoming persistant, unwanted thoughts takes some time & patience. Dr. Claire Weekes says it best in her book, Hope and Help for Your Nerves on page 127, "You will never lose your obsession while you are trying so hard to do so. In fact, you yourself have established it by trying to push it out of your mind - in other words, by fighting it." I have learned this to be true myself, the more you want the thoughts gone, the more they persist. You must recognize they are only thoughts and thoughts in themselves pose no threat. God knows your heart MJ. He knows that you don't take pleasure in these thoughts. Religious/spiritual obsessions like this (the ones that we feel interfere with our faith) are most bothersome because they are not an actual part of who we are or who we choose to be. The best way to overcome this problem is to accept your thoughts for what they are - only thoughts. Recognize that they cannot hurt you or force you to do anything you do not want to do. Accept 100% that they are there and stop trying to push them out, instead recognize them as a bad visitor who is allowed to be there but deserves NO special attention. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." It is always good to replace your thoughts and to keep your mind looking for all that is good, but at the same time you must accept that those unwanted thoughts are there and they are nothing but a distraction-nothing but NOISE. Don't go looking and checking yourself for these thoughts. If you do, you will find them and only become distressed. Instead, accept they are there and that as long as you look for them, you will find them. The more you make of these thoughts, the more importance you give them and the bigger they get, so accept them, do not run from them, just accept and MOVE ON thinking those thoughts that are true and right. I found great help in another book called Learning to Tell Myself the Truth
by William Backus. He is able to bring this all into a Christian perspective. Obsessive thoughts/unwanted thoughts are a symptom of an exhausted mind. Anyone who battles this understands what I am saying - it is exhausting and this very thing keeps you on the anxiety/panic treadmil. Hang in there MJ. One day at a time. Whatever you do, DO NOT give up!
~Susan
PS) I encourage you to read the books above. Try to at least get them from your local library. Dr. Weekes has a way of bringing understanding like no other.

Comments for Unwanted Thoughts

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Sep 22, 2011
hello unwanted thoughts
by: Anonymous

Hi MJ, for some reason my post did not work when I tried commenting on your post. Being a nervous person my mind is worried it may have somehow got lost and sent to my facebook! which of course did not happen... but I will be worried about it anyways before I fall asleep lol. Anyways I know how you feel... and I think my intrusive thoughts might be similar to yours. I am also female, I would like to connect with you and share experiences and help each other heal from this sickness, and be free from the personal hell we have created in our minds.

Sep 06, 2011
posted 1st part 3 times? this is the 2nd part...how come I cant see or edit?
by: Anonymous

Telling people did not help these thoughts go away. I do not have a mental illness and know the truth about the thoughts, no I am not a bad person, no I do not have a desire to do bad things. But this does not make them go away. And my intrusive thoughts seem to plague me worst when I am trying to grow as a person, such as socializing in a large group, learning a new task, reading an interesting book, trying to develop my mind in some kind of way!!! This demon comes and words flow through my mind and I fear they might never go away. I know the drugs have probably only ruined my mind and caused my anxiety to increase...although it is unfortunate that I have come across a drug that seems to quite them and make me feel okay, and it is Oxycontin, probably the worst most addicting drug known to man. I am going to treatment soon, and I have chosen a treatment center with a psychologist so I can speak to them about this because I contribute my addiction a great deal to the intrusive thoughts that plague my mind. It is honestly like living in my own personal hell inside my mind. I am not Christian, but Native American. I have been told by healers that I carry a burden from my past life. This did make sense to me, like maybe this is karma for something I did in a past life? but because I may have been a sociopath I could not feel remorse, so now I feel guilt and anxiety over something that was not even wrong or evil. That brings me ease to say that, I did not do anything wrong or evil, I was a child and it was a normal thing to do. Anyways this is the very first time I have spoken out online about my troubles... and it has been good. I sorted a few things out... I should get some help... maybe see a medicine man or healer, see a psychologist, and get off drugs! Of course I am going to leave this poste, and being a person with anxiety I am going to freak out thinking someone is going to know I wrote this and figure out it is me!!!! hahaha anyways this has been a long rant! but it was good to finally get it all out! by the way I would like to try and chat with you more about it MJ, it would be nice to try and get in contact with you!! take care and I hope we both get better, we can pray for each other :)

Sep 06, 2011
I know how you feel hun
by: savemefromthecreeps

Hello MJ, I feel and hear your pain completely! I have the same unwanted thoughts and have dealt with anxiety since I was a child. They stem from several sexual experiences which by the way are normal for many children to experience, and is actually encouraged in some cultures. At the age of 19 I started to get bad anxiety right before I started my first year of college. I thought I had HIV, which I had absolutely no reason to believe I had such a disease, but I got tested anyways convinced it would come back positive. I was literally sick with the thoughts I was going to die of this disease. It of course came back negative. Then I started college and my mind went back to the thoughts of my childhood, these sexual encounters that I had not told anyone about. Horrible thoughts raced through my mind each day, I could barely focus on anything in class. I stayed up paralyzed in fear in a psychotic state. Luckily and thanks to my loving boyfriend at the time I did not have to be hospitalized. He knew something was wrong but I kept it inside for the first 3 days of college not sleeping at all. He said if you don't sleep tonight we need to have a talk after work, I know you have to tell me something. So I did not sleep, and when he came home I told him about my experiences as a child. He did not look down on me or judge me and told me everything was fine. We dated for another 4 years and I was comforted by him because he knew this. Once we broke up I began this viscous cycle of telling knew boyfriends about this, and getting into co-dependent relationships, and heavily into drugs and alcohol.

Sep 06, 2011
I know how you feel hun
by: savemefromthecreeps

Hello MJ, I feel and hear your pain completely! I have the same unwanted thoughts and have dealt with anxiety since I was a child. They stem from several sexual experiences which by the way are normal for many children to experience, and is actually encouraged in some cultures. At the age of 19 I started to get bad anxiety right before I started my first year of college. I thought I had HIV, which I had absolutely no reason to believe I had such a disease, but I got tested anyways convinced it would come back positive. I was literally sick with the thoughts I was going to die of this disease. It of course came back negative. Then I started college and my mind went back to the thoughts of my childhood, these sexual encounters that I had not told anyone about. Horrible thoughts raced through my mind each day, I could barely focus on anything in class. I stayed up paralyzed in fear in a psychotic state. Luckily and thanks to my loving boyfriend at the time I did not have to be hospitalized. He knew something was wrong but I kept it inside for the first 3 days of college not sleeping at all. He said if you don't sleep tonight we need to have a talk after work, I know you have to tell me something. So I did not sleep, and when he came home I told him about my experiences as a child. He did not look down on me or judge me and told me everything was fine. We dated for another 4 years and I was comforted by him because he knew this. Once we broke up I began this viscous cycle of telling knew boyfriends about this, and getting into co-dependent relationships, and heavily into drugs and alcohol.

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