The thoughts can be the weirdest and most frightening thoughts you can imagine. They feel totally out of place and shock a sufferer. Years ago when I had panic disorder and was exhausted and sensitive, I would get strange thoughts popping up quite regularly.
One day I was peeling potatoes in my kitchen with a sharp knife. One of my children was playing in the kitchen at the time. Suddenly out of nowhere I thought that had I better put the knife down or I may stab my child! I felt fixated on the knife for a few seconds as if it was glued to my hand, then dropped it and walked out of the kitchen. This began my fear of holding knives. I did not feel safe holding a knife. It petrified me; such was the effect that one thought had on me.
This is just one example of many such thoughts I had. I believed in all of these sudden scary thoughts and felt totally unable to stop them.
Over the past few years, whilst helping other people address their chronic anxiety issues, I have seen many who have experienced the most appalling thoughts that have scared them terribly. Common intrusive thoughts with high anxiety levels are that you may hurt yourself or others, especially those close to you. Several ladies have expressed their suitability as mothers, because they have had a fleeting thought of harming their children in some way. They believe that if they are capable of thinking these thoughts, then they must be capable of carrying out the suggestions of them. One lady was so scared that she asked her husband to take care of the kids as much as possible, and she kept her distance.
I must say at this point, that it is highly unlikely you would ever carry out an action related to these kinds of thoughts and it doesn’t mean you are going crazy.
You may actually love your children so much and be feeling worried about your ability to cope. A thought about harming your children could purely be centred around your love for them and a feeling of helplessness.
Other Intrusive Thoughts
I have heard people mention many different but equally disturbing thoughts. Some of the worst ones are attached to a depersonalized or derealized state, posing the question of one’s very existence. The unreality felt at times by those who are very sensitized by anxiety, throw sufferers completely off balance.
Other common intrusive thoughts are about:
- Commiting suicide
- Suddenly dying
- Never finding a cure
- Brain tumours
- Going crazy
- Behaving strangely in public
- Being deserted by everyone
- Losing control generally
- Being allergic to everything
- Being punished
Some of the thoughts can seem obsessional-compulsive in nature and can cause ritualistic behaviours in order to prevent something awful from happening.
Most of all anxiety sufferers are bewildered as to why they should be feeling unreal and why they are having strange thoughts in the first place. Many can’t believe for a moment that it is only anxiety.
Chronic high levels of anxiety produce a steady stream or rushes of adrenaline. The pouring out of adrenaline keeps us on high alert preparing us to fight or run away. When there is nothing legitimate to run away from, the energy produced by adrenaline has nowhere to go. Have you seen how nervous people wring their hands, talk fast, rush around, play with their hair, and move around in their seats? This is all about having excess physical and mental energy. They have all this energy and yet they feel exhausted. It is a vicious cycle causing a burnout.