Anxiety and Having Intrusive Thoughts of Ending it All
My anxiety is, thankfully, well managed right now. But six months ago, my anxiety was so bad that I couldn't escape the intrusive thoughts that taunted me to end it all. I had intrusive thoughts of suicide.
Intrusive Thoughts About Suicide Didn't Bother Me When I Was Depressed
Along with anxiety, I suffer from depression. In 2012, I got so low that I considered suicide, which I wrote about here. My thoughts of suicide came from a place of deep, utter despair where there were almost no thoughts at all. There was only numbness and emptiness. I had no intrusive thoughts back then, only a deep desire to end the sadness.
Intrusive Thoughts About Ending It Are Not Like Worry
We all have worries of one kind or another, especially during these tumultuous times. For instance, among other things, I worry about the pandemic, the climate crisis, and the war in Ukraine. Here are just a few of my thoughts:
"How long will COVID last? Is another variant ahead? The planet's in dire straits with all the bush fires, the floods, and the tornadoes. Another war? Can't we all just live peacefully? Why are there still power struggles and land grabs?"
I worry about the cost of living, housing, and healthcare. Here are a few more of my thoughts:
"How will my children afford groceries and their rent? Are their jobs secure? How will I afford my retirement? What if I need medical care?"
Don't get me wrong; I know that worry can become excessive, and you can spend endless amounts of time down seemingly bottomless rabbit holes looking for answers to repeating questions. But for me, worry—even excessive worry—is not the same as having intrusive thoughts.
Difference Between Excessive Worry and Intrusive Thoughts
I never quite understood the difference between (excessive) worry and intrusive thoughts until very recently, when I endured several months of panic and heightened anxiety.
It happened at night. I was sound asleep and woke up in full-anxiety mode. Conscious and while trying to calm myself down, taunting thoughts ran through my mind:
"Do something, anything, to stop this. Get up. Do something to end this fear. Get out of bed. Do it. Get out of bed right now. End it now. It'd be simple. This fear is too much. You could end it all right now. Now, end it!"
Now, I don't want you to think I was hearing voices. I wasn't. These were my own thoughts. I was insistent, imploring myself to end my misery, giving myself suggestions. It was so weird and terrifying. Thankfully, and by the grace of whatever higher power is at play—if you believe in such things—I had the presence of mind to understand that these thoughts were part of my illness. I understood that these thoughts were, in fact, the inner voice of my anxiety.
Seeking Help for Intrusive Thoughts
Having considered suicide in the past, I feared I might go through with what my thoughts were encouraging me to do. This fear of follow-through prompted me to contact my doctor, who I got in to see the very next day. In addition to the antianxiety medication I was on, she prescribed a low-dose antipsychotic, which provided immediate relief—thankfully. I then spoke in detail with my therapist, who helped me understand intrusive thoughts a bit better, and gave me some tools should I experience them again.
Having thoughts like the ones I described was so scary and new. I'd never experienced anything like it before. I truly hope that anyone who experiences intrusive thoughts—however they may present for you—will reach out to their healthcare provider immediately. They should not be ignored. Help and support are available.
Scott, L. (2022, March 23). Anxiety and Having Intrusive Thoughts of Ending it All, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2022/3/anxiety-and-having-intrusive-thoughts-of-ending-it-all
Author: Liana M. Scott