You might find it surprising and even embarrassing that we all have had at one time or another some unwanted and even alarming thoughts. While standing on the edge of a cliff the thought may come to you, “Jump!”. Crossing a bridge, maybe this bizarre notion, “Turn the wheel and drive off the side”. These imps of the mind, can be the most inappropriate thoughts at the most inappropriate times. I have read and talked to many people that have had strange thoughts. One friend told me once she looked at a kitchen knife on the counter and the thought that flashed through her mind was “Stab your daughter”. Something she would never do, and yet it was there in her thoughts. Another told me of a time when she looked at the gun they had at home and the thought that she could use it to shoot everyone was just suddenly in her head. These thoughts are scary. A young woman shared with me an experience she had as a child. She would have these sexual thoughts about people she knew. She had never been exposed to anything that would lead to this kind of thinking, but there they were, these pictures and images. It was so troubling and began to make her anxious and feel guilty. Where do they come from? Personally I think all these and others come from the pit of hell itself. From the very enemy of our soul. Like a thief, he has come to kill, steal and destroy. Learning to dismiss them, to name them is important. Of course you aren’t going to jump. Recognizing that you are not alone is comforting. When these thoughts came to my mind it horrified me. I would be washing the dishes and come across a sharp knife and it just scared me. Bizarre thoughts came to me. We all have read the stories of people who actually do act out horrible deeds. Could you be one of them? The fact that you are troubled and concerned that these ideas come to your mind is the first sign that you are not, but also knowing that these crazy thoughts are not actually unusual. Quite frankly, most everyone I spoke to could relate in one way or another. For someone who has anxiety, the thoughts only add to the issue.
Stuck thoughts, another type of unwanted thought pattern, are the ones that form a brick wall in your mind like a prison you can’t escape from. People describe them as an unending loop. No matter what you do, you seemingly can’t stop your mind from thinking of the stuck thought over and over again. They can occupy your mind like a neon light blinking out of control while you are trying to focus on anything else. What actually happens in the brain is interesting and helpful information. With anxiety comes stress. Stress increases the electrical activity in the brain. This will cause an increase in thought generation, which can cause thoughts to replay over and over again. Stress and with it anxiety, heightens the activity of the amygdala, which is the fear center. It also suppresses the activity of the cortex which is the rationalization area of the brain. Therefore the thoughts feel more ominous with a reduced ability to dismiss them. It doesn’t stop there, stress taxes the body causing fatigue. It can also reduce the quality of your sleep, leaving you tired. A tired brain does not fight well. A hyper-stimulated brain and a tired body is often a recipe for “stuck” thoughts. So what do you do? There is lots of information that can be researched. These are some things I tried. First, every thought does not get permission to be taken seriously. Actually telling my thoughts, I’m not going to listen to you today. I know my mind is tired and I’m not thinking clearly. Taking thoughts captive, and politely dismissing them. Sometimes this was more difficult than other times and I needed to distract. Go for a walk, change your task, anything that deliberately changes your focus. The last thing you want to do is worry about your thoughts, it adds fuel to the already established fire.
The other thought that found it’s way into the forefront of my mind was one of not wanting to go on. I was so weary and felt like such a burden to my family. It began to make sense to me that everyone would be better off without me. I tried to rationalize this with my husband. I could understand that there would be sadness, but certainly within a short amount of time everyone would move on and be better for it. This is a lie. I didn’t dwell on the process, but just knew I wanted this all to be over. I asked John to keep guard of all my sleeping pills I had in the cupboards. To put them somewhere I couldn’t find them. The longing to go to sleep and not wake up just seemed too tempting some days. I would beg God to take my life. I was believing lies. I needed truth spoken over me continually. For all of this, these thoughts, this experience, I am extremely grateful. When someone comes to me now, I don’t find myself wondering, “how could you feel this way?” “I don’t understand how someone could get to this point.” No, I get it. And that is a gift.