Compulsive Disorders: How to Manage Constant Obsessive Thoughts
Managing Obsessive Thoughts
Having obsessive thoughts has its ups and downs.
On the plus side, we can always get the details down to the nitty gritty. No problemo’!
We’ll give you every little detail from each crack and crevice in the darkest recesses of the issue.
On the negative side, we sometimes continually dwell on the most insignificant mundane aspects of the problem.
The result isn’t always an equally balanced scale of grapes.
The Challenge of Obsessive Thoughts
Being a deep thinker myself, and forever obsessing about the “little things”, I’ve found the struggle to be quite demanding. The thoughts can seemingly go on forever in our spinning wheel of imagination. It’s not that we WANT to continue dwelling on it, it’s just that we feel it with much more INTENSITY than the average Joe or Jane. The normal guy says, “this cast iron skillet is warm”. We see and feel it as “this darn skillet is red hot….!”
What are obsessive thoughts? According to the DSM-IV manual of mental disorders, obsessive thoughts fall under the category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I’m focusing (obsessively) on the “Obsessive Thoughts” category. Here’s the description from DSM-IV:
Obsessions as defined by (1), (2), (3), and (4):
(1) recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress
(2) the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems
(3) the person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action
(4) the person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed from without as in thought insertion).
How Obsessive Thoughts Work
Gee, that’s deep, isn’t it? Here’s how I describe it in normal, everyday language: These obsessive thoughts can take the form of many things: an action, thought, feeling, emotion or a person. The little or BIG thought of something or someone is apparent. It continues to grow, metamorphosis, and evolve into a constant entity in our mind. Then it begins to stay longer and longer, creating a sense of normality in our brain. After an undetermined amount of time, we begin to associate the thought as “average and normal”. When the logical part of our weary brain wishes to let go of it and move on, the obsessive spark grabs hold of the thought, image, or person and clings tightly because it feels “normal”.
Nothing is immune from the “obsession spark”. It clings to hurtful events, sadness, depression, anger, fear, and people (or a person). It even attaches itself to situations we don’t want to think about!
The Negative Side of Obsessive Thoughts
Obsessive thoughts are intriguing. It can usually (but not always) focus on an event, person or action that was hurtful; almost like wanting to unwillingly torture yourself. When the event or action takes place, you may deal with it in the healthy way of an average person: grieve, get angry, sad or happy, and move on for a short period of time. What happens after that is amazing.
“It”, being the event, action or ‘person thought’, always makes a U-turn like a boomerang and heads right back at you and hits you in the face, sometimes with the full power of a tornado. Then the cycle starts again as the pangs of the “thing” knock you down and attack your emotions, making you sad, emotional, or anxious. At this point, the fight starts all over again to rid yourself of the pain, thought, feeling, emotion or image. This is only the negative side of it.
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Obsessive Thoughts Aren't Always Negative
The positive side of obsessive thoughts can be helpful. Obsessive thoughts are definitely thorough! We don’t miss a thing. On the down side, this sometimes backfires because we may miss the OBVIOUS because we’re so wrapped up in the insignificant detail. It's all about learning to manage the obsessive thoughts.
The roll of medication in treating obsessive thoughts.
Again, I'm speaking from personal experience and I'm not pulling the information from a difficult manual. But if it wasn't for the roll of medication in the treatment of OCD, many people could be a lot worse off. Fortunately, there is a drug called Luvox (Fluvoxamine). The action of the drug seems to block the thought from giving one that "kicked in the ass" feeling in the chest, thus preventing a "complete obsession" that could last for hours. During these "complete obsession attacks", one may continually, with no ability to stop, focus on the image of what is in your mind, as if it's mocking you. After taking the medication, when the thought "hits", the result will be only a fleeting image of the inflated feeling.
Recovery & Self Help for Obsessive Thoughts
There are ups and downs to managing obsessive thoughts, for sure. Since we “deep thinkers” seem to have a tendency toward it, we have to learn to deal with the issue and recognize it for what it is. The hardest part is letting go of intrusive thoughts that are of a hurtful nature. so how do you let go of the thought?
Try focusing on a happy event. Another suggestion is to get involved in fun activities, be around other people or go to a movie. I found that joining a support group helped pull me through. Keep moving! Physical activity works wonders on your brain!
If an individual chooses not to go on medication, then the battle can be more difficult. But with continual acknowledgement, medication, and support, we can all find a way to get beyond the hurdle and run to greener pastures.
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