Updated: Mar 17, 2020

My first memory of obsessive/intrusive thoughts is admitting to the doctor that I was too scared to hold big kitchen knives as I had visions of stabbing myself, or worse, stabbing my partner. Now please do not get this confused with someone that wants to/considers doing these things. An obsessive/intrusive thought is not you, it is your mind thinking of the worst possibly thing you can do in any living moment and re-running it over and over like an old VHS movie.

We all get intrusive thoughts to an extent. Some people feel drawn to the tracks when a train goes roaring by, or drawn to the edge when standing up high. This becomes pure-o when that thought becomes so repetitive that it starts to affect your mental well-being, causes anxieties, becomes upsetting to deal with and changes your behaviour. I often describe pure-o as mind Tourette’s. My mind thinks of the worst possible thing that can happen in that moment and replays it to me over and over again.

My particular pure-O is predominantly based around my death so over the years I’ve had to cope with the following:

  • Driving on motorways - feeling hyper aware that I could easily just spin my steering wheel and cause a massive crash and harm myself (and others)

  • Holding kitchen knives and picturing over and over the thought of stabbing myself or my partner. I don’t like to have knives in sight as it triggers these thoughts. I remember being in an apartment in Spain and all the knives were lined up on a magnetic wall mount. They had to be put away in the draw for me!

  • Standing on balconies or other open high spaces as I see myself falling/jumping off to my death. I now avoid hotels with high balconies as I’d constantly think about going out and jumping off. Even if I’m at a swanky hotel roof bar it will make me really uncomfortable if I know sudden death is a mere run and jump away!

  • When I have been to zoo’s in the past thinking about jumping into the bears/tigers/rhinos/gorillas enclosures. Once in Thailand there was a back yard filled with crocodiles (no ide) and I couldn’t stop thinking about jumping in.

They are the main ones I can recall but I’ve also had some odd ones:

  • Being in an aeroplane by the toilets where the doors are and wanting to see if I can open them

  • The thought of taking off my engagement ring and throwing it into the sea or out a car window

  • Feeling very uncomfortable holding people’s babies as I think about throwing them

  • Being at work and thinking about getting naked or standing up in a meeting and shouting that the boss is a c*nt

  • Thoughts of telling my husband I’ve cheated on him (even though I haven’t) as I know those words would change everything

So there you go, a look inside my mind! I’m lucky that my pure-o doesn’t affect me too badly (however, I am currently struggling again with motorway driving but I’m lucky enough to be able to avoid most triggering situations) and although I get weak knees and these thoughts make me feel super uncomfortable I can just about cope with them.

There is help out there for people that suffer with the same or similar things - CBT is one of them. I’ve always been too lazy to give it a go but support is always there if it gets too bad.

I wanted to share this as I know there is a whole spectrum of OCD/pure-o/obsessive/intrusive thoughts and I want people to know that it isn’t you!! It’s a glitch in your mind and you can get help and support. I am aware that people get these thoughts around:

  • Violence

  • Sexual violence

  • Inappropriate sexual thoughts (family, children Etc.)

  • Death

  • Always thinking bad things are going to happen to your loved ones Etc.

  • And many more...

These are all ‘normal’ and all awful to have to cope with so please don’t suffer in silence!

There is a website I found https://www.madeofmillions.com/ocd/intrusive-thoughts which I hope you find useful. Here is a snippet:

4 out of 5 people experience intrusive thoughts, including thoughts about harming themselves or people they love. For 1 in 50 these thoughts become harder to dismiss, so they compulsively try to make them stop. These thoughts repeat over and over, faster and faster, making the fear we might act more real. For us, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are a constant struggle. To cope we might form weird habits, withdraw from friends or avoid certain situations.

Check these out to read more:

Does Pure O Exist? | OCD-UK

Symptoms of OCD | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems

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