Dissecting intrusive thoughts

Another busy day.

The last few days have been hectic. They’ve been a good hectic, but hectic none the less. The type of hectic where if I don’t pump the brakes I am going to be headed for a world of hurt.

Pumping the brakes is exactly what I am going to do. This evening I’m tidying up a couple of loose ends, then tomorrow I have an appointment in the morning, then making a run to Stettler. In short, I’m not going to be dedicating a whole bunch of time to my work stuff, because I’m tired. I need to rest and recharge.

It’s something I have to do since I deal with this beast in my brain. I think I am getting better at finding balance. I’m forcing myself to back off a bit.

When I was first diagnosed with a mental illness, I swung the range from thinking it could be cured by the right pills to losing hope, and using it as an ever handy scape goat.

Today, I realise that while their is no cure, the diagnoses help explain my issues but they are not a licence to act like a jackass. Meds help too, but again, they are not a definitive cure. When I was early into this mental health journey, I would have made the connection that no cure equals no hope. And I would have been wrong.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder are notorious for seeing things in black and white. Either or. If there’s no cure, I need to die. Something I have learned in the 20 or so years that I’ve been dealing my mental health issues is that there is an entire rainbow of colours between the two, though they can be hard to see sometimes. Finding that colour means you are heading towards recovery.

It’s work though. Some of the toughest work I have ever done. I still have the abandonment issues. I still have a hard time connecting with people, because I still either under-share or over-share with little in the way of middle ground. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had intrusive thoughts invading my mind threatening to overwhelm me. Somewhere on this journey I have learned that as uncomfortable as they are, intrusive thoughts are just that; thoughts. They are neither good nor bad unless I act on them in a given way. Thoughts can be scary. They can be frightening. They can also be disarmed.

One of the DBT skills I really worked on in one of my man groups was keeping thought records and thought stopping. A thought record is a way of dissecting a thought.

It’s generally set up some thing like;

  • Intrusive thought
  • How it makes me feel
  • Evidence for the thought being correct.
  • Evidence against the thought.
  • Verdict on whether a thought is reasonable or not.

When I first started doing thought records, they were a pain in my ass. I was always able to find the evidence that ‘proved’ the intrusive thought was correct. Rarely did I find evidence contradicting the thought.

Today, when I am feeling well and rested, I can start taking an intrusive thought apart just about as quickly as it comes to me.

It doesn’t make the thought any more comfortable, but knowing a thought is an over reaction makes it easier to sit with. The intrusive thoughts don’t last forever.

I hope this helps bring some understanding into the thought processes I have in my brain.


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