A few weeks ago Adam and I were watching Russell Howard’s tv show and one of the stand up comedienne’s came on stage and started with a skit about thoughts that just pop into your head, that you can’t control, that have no place there really and are just a bit… random.
I didn’t know that apparently this is a common thing, known as “Intrusive thoughts”.
Well blow me down bishes, I thought this was just me. I suffer with these thoughts terribly – who knew that a comedy show could be so enlightening.
Basically, intrusive thoughts are just that – intrusive, unbidden and often unshakable and unpleasant. I’ve always worried that it is just me that has these thoughts, thinking there was something wrong with me. These thoughts can be anything from planning out odd scenarios to “what ifs” of varying degrees. Mine almost ALWAYS centre around my children and they can vary from what if something happened to one of them, what would I do if XYZ and they often come late at night or during periods of stress. I also get them surrounding work – what if this happens, what if I can’t help support our family, what if I’m going to lose everything tomorrow because I just delete my accounts in a moment of total madness. Sounds odd right?
Apparently not for creatives and people who suffer from anxiety.
Yep, I had no idea that this was a thing but apparently its very much a thing and it’s all linked to that anxiety that I mentioned last week that I said I wasn’t prone to… apparently I was wrong, I’m very prone to it I just didn’t realise that this is how it was presenting. One of the most common thoughts when I was desperately tired with a constantly breastfeeding Edith was what if I suddenly snap? What if I can’t cope and I suddenly just… SNAP! Omg… and then I would build contingencies in my mind and be unable to get to sleep until I could plan around it. Yep. I had to plan around it – same as now that they are older. What if we go out and one of them gets lost? What if they get taken?
An overwhelming panic often sets in that I can’t control. I find myself fidgeting as if I can physically remove myself from these fears and worries, which them makes me question my own sanity. Why do these thoughts pop into my head? I can be thinking about the shopping and what I need to meal plan next week and the next moment I’m watching Reuben being led away by teenagers to a certain doom that I can’t prevent and making a mental note to talk to him in the morning about the safety of NEVER going off with anyone, even if they seem like “big boys” and how important that is to remember.
If you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from intrusive thoughts (or perhaps yours are slightly less… extreme) then you probably won’t understand. I often thought it was a part of post natal depression, something I was never diagnosed with though looking back at the fug I felt I was wading through, it seems likely I was suffering more than I care to admit.
Another thing I’ve discovered after researching this anxiety reflex/symptom, is that these types of thoughts are a coping mechanism for an anxious mind, but specifically are common in creative minds.
When people refer to me as a “creative” I always laugh. I am NOT creative in my mind. Creative people are the ones who make pinterest worthy crafts and recipes, creative people are hipsters that are totes rad and far FAR too cool for school, whereas I’m that person that is not only at school but the valedictorian of uncool and corporate. Funny how stereotypes twist things in our minds even when we do our best to fight them off. I am a creative, the way I can see a solution to marketing issues, create campaign ideas and advertise outside of the box. Those are creative things, they aren’t products of a corporate mind set, they are simply basic creativity that doesn’t fit inside a box.
So, intrusive thoughts… I wish I could tell you that knowing what they are has made it easier for me to control them and find them less horrible at times but, alas, no. Then they wouldn’t really be intrusive anymore would they. As a control freak it is something that really frustrates me and that I can feel totally overwhelming but as an issue solver (who ironically hates puzzles and riddles – go figure) I feel the need to solve the issue and once I’ve done that the thoughts pass. On occasion I can just stop them in their tracks and say “not tonight motherfucker” but that is not a common thing.
If you suffer from them, just know that you aren’t the only one. They suck, they are common and your brain is basically a giant dickhead but you’re stuck with it because it’s also the thing that tells you when to breathe… so maybe let it off once in a while when it goes doo-lally.