Hello to my ADHD peeps and ADHD loved ones living with ADHD. Today we are going to talk about how to manage intrusive thoughts and hopefully some of these tips can help you or can help someone you know manage this pesky symptom that just won’t go away. If you need a recap on intrusive thoughts click here and you can read up a little bit on this symptom.
First off one of the hardest things about intrusive thoughts is the fact that they can be either scary or they can be downright awful. People rightfully are nervous about them and afraid to talk to someone about them for fear of being judged or exiled because of them. Biggest thing to remember is you are not the only one having these thoughts and experiencing the burden is very difficult, especially if you are doing it all alone. So if you feel comfortable talking to a friend I would suggest doing that. If you feel your thoughts are over the top and you believe that it would be over sharing you can always talk to a professional about what is going on, especially if these thoughts are making you nervous or if they are getting more out of hand. Therapists are here to help you and get an idea on what is going on and if talking out these problems is helpful they are a great source of help.
Second one of the biggest things I have noticed is stress is a big trigger for intrusive thoughts. When I was overseas I had a lot of intrusive thoughts. They would bombard me after a long day and they would become progressively worse the more stressed or angry I became. This environment was perfect for these thoughts to become worse because you could use dark humor and blurt them out loud and people thought it was just part of the dark sense of humor that stressful jobs have. I would not recommend using dark humor as an outlet for these thoughts because it just enables them to persist and progress. When I came back from Afghanistan and started dealing with my demons from overseas I started to realize just how unhealthy the mental health culture in the military is. Cries for help are stifled by leadership stating it was just a joke don’t take it too seriously. Don’t surround yourself by people who take mental health as a game. Mental health is just as important as physical health even if culture has not caught up with this concept yet.
This leads into my next point, reduce the stress where possible. If you are struggling to breathe and work is piling up and bills just keep coming and you are sinking, ask for help. Let’s say you are living paycheck to paycheck and you can’t take time off because you are afraid you can’t make ends meet. Look at options, are you bad with money? Ask a friend for help. It is embarrassing at times but if you never learned how to make a budget you would be amazed to see what kind of money you are throwing away every month. Social support is so important these are the people that are going to be able to help you when the world is collapsing around you. Making sure that your mental health is healthy is important to ensure that you are healthy and one of the easiest ways to mess up your mental health is to allow toxic stress to continuously hit you. Take time every night to do something for yourself even if you only do it for five minutes.
Understanding is another key to these thoughts. People used to believe that these thoughts meant you really wanted to perform an action. I’m just going to use an example so no one take this seriously it really is just an example for demonstration sake. Let’s say you are walking in a park and see a person on a bike and your mind pops up with the idea wouldn’t it be funny to knock that person off of their bike. That is an intrusive thought not what your mind subconsciously wants to do, which is a huge difference. The point of explaining that is just because you have a thought doesn’t mean that you really would think that is funny it is just a thought that hijacked your brain for a second. The reason I explain that is because you have to be resilient with these thoughts. What some people do is they run away from the triggers of these thoughts and that is also not healthy.
This should be a given but never act on an intrusive thought. Having ADHD hyperactivity or ADHD combined presentation means that you most likely display impulsivity. Which means that you are more prone to doing something without thinking which is a dangerous combination when combined with an intrusive thought. The key to this is something my mother told me a really long time ago when I used to just do stuff for the thrill of it. If a thought comes into your head that you want to act on. Give it a second and think about it again and see if it is a good idea. Let’s go back to our hypothetical example (disclaimer I don’t hate bikers). This biker is minding his own business and you think I’m on the same pathway the biker has to pass me and there is a lake right there how funny would it be to walk in front of his path and he losses control and falls in the lake. Step back for a second think about that thought again how would I feel if someone steered me into a lake because they thought it would be funny. Put yourself into that perspective and do a double take on your thought and realize it would be a really mean joke on an innocent person that didn’t deserve it.
Hopefully this was helpful if you would like me to add to this with something that you think is a good strategy I would love to hear it. Remember people are there for you if you are really struggling with thoughts and they are being persistent ensure that you are seeing a medical professional. They are used to working with these sorts of cases and they can guide you in a direction that is healthy. Also I say this often but make sure you are taking care of yourself. Your job and bosses for the most part are not going to make sure that your mental health is okay, that is your job for the time being until work places are held more accountable. If you are struggling reach out and you will be surprised who is out there and who is willing to talk with you. I still get texts every once in a while that are out of the blue from someone I haven’t talked with in years and they are just looking to talk to a friend or rant. Be compassionate we never know what others are going through. Whether we like it or not we are all stuck on this extremely fast spinning planet (Earth rotates at about 1,000 mph; 1600kph)
Take care and have a nice day everyone.
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