Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some clarification on Obsessive Thoughts

I have several people email me about worry and anxiety because they too sometimes get worked up about imagining a loved one dying. So, I wanted to clarify. I think a lot of us have these thoughts, but the guideline is usually how they are effecting your life.

For me the OCD part is that I feel the compulsion to focus on various horrible things happening to my family as a way of warding horrible things off. For me the obsession is making God realize that I deserve to have my children and to keep him from taking them from me. The compulsion then is to really feel the experience so that then I won't have to actually experience it. I will spend the entire night or a weeks' worth of nights experiencing say, the van going off the bridge over the Mississippi River on our way to Chowder's parents' house over and over. I panic about how to save everyone. I see their faces as they plea for my help. I watch the fear in the ones I can't get to as they drown. I swim to shore with the chosen child/ren. I plan funerals. I live with the guilt. I replay it all over and over and over. I will go a week with no sleep. I will grieve and grieve a loss that has not even happened. But, this is my way of convincing God that he doesn't need to take one of my children from me, that I can get the lessons and deserve the blessings. This compulsion keeps us safe.

Since I am on my meds, I think "this is what it would be like if Chowder dies" but I don't replay the death. I don't slip into that place of uselessness because of the obsession. Does that make sense?

So, I think the occasional worry and anxiety is just part and parcel of loving someone. But, if it is beyond that and interfering with your ability to function, than I think you should definitely talk to someone about it.


gem said...

I have read your description of this before and have also read your other blog on a few occasions a few years ago so I realise how distressing it is for you and I agree completely. It is an entirely different entity to normal worries and anxieties we all have. When I discuss this with patients I always use the cut off that it is pathological if it interferes with your ability to be happy in your day to day life then these thoughts and worries are significant.
Again, I am so glad the meds are kicking in.
Good Luck.

Bridgett said...

I was going to say exactly what gem just said.

For a long time, my mother was convinced I had some sort of OCD, mostly on the "compulsive" side of the disorder. I personally think it's actually a neurological disorder in my case, but regardless, it came down to that question--does it interfere with living your life? And the answer was no, at least the way I live my life. If I worked at a stressful job like, say, over the road trucker or waitress or nurse, I'd probably be in trouble. But luckily, I'm home with kids and before that, i taught school where my particular compulsions seemed normal.

I refer to those "this is what it would be like" fleeting thoughts as negative fantasies. When they dip into deeper involvement, in my case I call it "post partum depression" because that's when it happened to me (post Sophia, but not since for some reason...).

I need to talk to you more in person. I feel like I never get to.