Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

Intrusive thoughts..

(26 Posts)
BlankSpace1 Fri 25-Nov-16 21:34:10

This is a difficult thing to post, because if I say it out loud somehow, I feel like a terrible person. I have two little girls, one 2 and one 8 weeks, and before I go on, I need to make it clear.. they're my world. They are loved, looked after, pampered and protected. My heart beats for them!

Ever since I became a parent, I've had these involuntary thoughts come and go, and it can be from a number of triggers! I could see an article about someone who has harmed a baby or toddler, and immediately I imagine it being my child. But just just a passing thought, like a graphic role play of their reaction and upset in whatever the situation may be.
I could drive over a bridge, and my mind goes 'what if someone threw her in' and then follows the images of them, falling, landing, struggling.
The most recent one, which sounds insane I know, but our family is going vegan, and part of this decision is animal cruelty. I recently watched footage of how some seafood is eaten alive, there was a lobster that was not just boiled, but slowly heated to the boil, alive. A day later, I'm not every thinking about it! In fact I was on the toilet!!! The thought comes into my mind, accept it's my children in the pot. The images, the pain, it's all there!
Every time this happens my reaction is the same. I burst into tears, go and hug my children whilst telling them I'll always protect them and feeling like the worst person alive.
I will always try to think about something else as fast as possible, but I don't know what's wrong with me.
I'm too scared to tell anyone incase they think I'm a danger and take away my babies. I cannot stress enough, I would never harm a hair on their body, I would die for them in an instant. But it's getting unbearable. I feel guilty, crazy, dirty, and trapped.
I suffer from depression, and have had a bit of a rough life so far, I need a lot of help that I struggle to get, but I don't know what this is confused
Please, does anyone have any answers?

Ballstowinplease Fri 25-Nov-16 21:50:18

Intrusive thoughts are awful but they are just thoughts.
I had intrusive thoughts start when my baby was just 8 weeks old. I won't tell you what I imagined incase I trigger anything in you but the ones you described are very dull compared to what my brain thought up!
I had a cycle - Because I was very tired and anxious a thought came to my head. I would immediately think that I was a evil hideous perverted beast for thinking the thought and therefore would go into "I'm such a terrible Mother! mode"
EVERYONE has these thoughts - EVERYONE! It just that most people don't even register them. But the problem is thoughts breed thoughts and the cycle continues.3am thinking is terrible for a new mum!
I went and sat with my GP and told him all the weird things I was thinking expecting him to call the police or certify me! he just nodded and said you aren't going to shock me. The thoughts are just thoughts and there because you are tired and anxious.
I didn't had PND but I had PNA and PNOCD. I took citalopram and had CBT and its been a long year of self discovery. Also talking about it with say 10 mates - 3 of them have been treated for the same thing!!!! We women don't talk enough.
You are normal... so normal. Seek some help from your GP or HV. Mine were AMAZING - My GP told me that my anxiety was so bog standard and he saw people like me day in day out. You aren't alone it will get better. You aren't evil, thoughts are just thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are unplanned unpleasant thoughts.
There is also a lot of good books on intrusive thoughts - DON'T GOOGLE!!! A good book on PND will tell you that actually women who are really good protective mothers have these thoughts as it is a worst case scenario planing and protecting constantly. Women with intrusive thoughts don't hurt anyone. You are a great mum. Trust me.

Ballstowinplease Fri 25-Nov-16 21:52:33

Oh and don't push the thoughts out! Let them come and think. "Oh that thought is my anxiety, poor me for having a thought like that. Thank thought is nothing to do with me, its a symptom" - Thats what really helped me.

Ballstowinplease Fri 25-Nov-16 21:53:55

that not thank.

Puffinitee Fri 25-Nov-16 21:57:29

Firstly, well done on recognising these thoughts for what they are: intrusive.

I have also suffered from intrusive thoughts in the past and they have recently come back because my anxiety is worse. In the past I kept thinking I should leave my partner, which would make me really upset and made it very hard for me to enjoy my first serious relationship (could be anxiety rather than intrusive thoughts, but I had very little control over them). I also had very violent images that would pop into my head, of how I would self-harm or kill myself. I should stress here that I have never been suicidal or self-harmed! At the moment, my intrusive thoughts function as a sort of distraction to my anxiety: if my anxiety peaks, the thoughts pop in as if to distract me, but they're upsetting in and of themselves.

What I learned from a counsellor who helped me massively with my relationship anxiety and intrusive thoughts is the following:
- intrusive thoughts are often about 'taboo' subjects like sex, religion and violence. I would therefore say it is not surprising yours focus on harming your children, that is definitely a taboo.
- people who intend to act upon such ideas do not get distressed by them: someone who hurts their children will have thought about it beforehand, but the thought won't make them as upset as you are. This is a crucial difference - the fact that you get so upset shows that you would never, ever act on these thoughts!

I hope this helps. I would suggest seeking some help to deal with these thoughts. I had EMDR, which is usually used to help people who are traumatised, but it worked quite well for me. Knocks you for six though! Any decent therapist will understand that these thoughts are intrusive, and you are not about to hurt your children. I would be careful about sharing it with non-professionals though, as I feel it can be hard for people to understand if they haven't experienced it themselves.

Last thing: you are not a bad person! Do let me know how you get on!

Puffinitee Fri 25-Nov-16 22:01:01

Good point about acknowledging the thought as a thought only, nothing more. That was definitely mentioned in one of my many counselling sessions, and I'd forgotten completely about it!

And YY, most people have these thoughts, it's only a problem when they start to properly intrude, rather than just being passing things.

msrisotto Fri 25-Nov-16 22:05:30

Hi op, try not to worry. Loads of us get intrusive thoughts. I have loads, most ridiculous such as imagining if I suddenly kissed my boss, or seeing someone obese and wishing I was too, or imagining I might spin the wheel of the car while driving. The fact that these thoughts freak you out shows you that you are not a danger to anyone, the opposite in fact! If you enjoyed the thoughts that'd be a different story. Try to laugh them off. They wouldn't happen if they didn't push your buttons.

Ballstowinplease Fri 25-Nov-16 22:07:07

I would say do talk to those who know you well about your thoughts. My husband and best mate laughed when I told her some of mine and it made me realise I wasn't evil or horrible... I'm sure you wouldn't tell all and sundry but please speak to those close to you xx

Chocness Fri 25-Nov-16 22:10:03

I remember very vividly having a similar experience OP. It was horrible so I truly feel your upset. I did some reading around and found out that it was all linked to vulnerability, both mine and that of my LO. Now when they come up I just remember that and they go away as I'm not frightened of them anymore. I think I was also testing my love for my little one with these thoughts. I.e. If they disturbed me then I must love him otherwise I wouldn't be troubled by them as much. Please also bear in mind that your hormones after pregnancy will still be settling down and this impacts the ability to think straight, likewise broken sleep from the demands of a newborn which from experience is very tough on thinking clearly. I also had a bit of a rough life and have suffered with anxiety for most of it which means I need a bit more support than the next person. I confided in a friend which really helped as well as my HV as to how scared I was of my LO's vulnerability and it helped a lot.

gamerchick Fri 25-Nov-16 22:11:29

This is actually more common than you think OP, just people don't talk about it because they personally think they're odd.

It's a form of anxiety and usually it goes on it's own. You'll always get them by surprise now and then but its common.

However be observant and if they become overwhelming and start to really affect your life please don't hesitate to see your GP.

Finelinebetweenchaos Fri 25-Nov-16 22:12:12

OP - I have this too! Incredibly detailed and often weird as well as traumatic and horrific thoughts. I have quite a lot of anxiety about my kids and pregnancy / birth in general too. I'm always catastrophising and often end up in tears!

It used to bother me much more until I watched a TV show about OCD. On the show there was a boy who had intrusive thoughts about harming others and he was terrified and so upset about it. Much worse than me as I don't think I'm actually going to do it. Anyway, the psychologist on the show explained that many many people have these thoughts and actually, if you have them, you are less likely to do something than people who don't have them. So this is a manifestation of your anxiety about being a good mum - not a sign that you want anything to happen to your babies!

I found that by acknowledging the thoughts - as PP suggested - and then just allowing them to gently ebb away without getting stressed about them or indulging them has really helped. I don't try to stop them but say "this isn't a helpful thought so I'm acknowledging it and letting it go" and then try not to worry about it. I also consciously avoid reading horrible stories if I can. It just adds fuel to the fire and, let's be honest, worrying about something now isn't going to make it less likely to happen or make it easier to deal with tomorrow - it just ruins today!

Do go and see your GP if you are finding it hard. This is very common and is a symptom of anxiety / OCD so don't feel that you need to cope alone if you are finding it overwheming!!

PleaseGetOffTheTableDarling Fri 25-Nov-16 22:14:34

Hi OP,
I just wanted to add my voice to those saying you're not alone. I have these thoughts too, and they really escalated after the birth of my DCs. They did diminish again though - I hope that reassures you.
Please don't feel like a terrible person, you sound like the opposite! Congratulations on your new DD, I wish you a peaceful night x

BlankSpace1 Fri 25-Nov-16 22:22:58

Thank you so much everyone, I feels good to know I'm not alone.
I did briefly speak to my partner about it, and he agrees even he gets them now again, although rather more mildly, but he was understanding. He's extremely supportive, which I am lucky for because sometimes my mental health completely cripples me.

I am currently going through CBT, only to complete it and then hopefully get more serious help when it doesn't work (not to be pessimistic, but my issues run deep and I have tried talking before, I work in mental health so know about the process and If I was rich I would pay for a psychiatrist!)
So I may mention it to them as I've never thought about it being a form of anxiety!

It's just horrible as mine seem to be so graphic, and always concentrated on pain and suffering. I love them so much, which is why I feel guilty for even feeling this way.

I do try to avoid anything negative at all, and I find that it's only with stories that apply to my children's age group. If I read the same thing about an adult, I am less phased. I will try to just review them and move on when they come now, and feel less bad about it.

pklme Fri 25-Nov-16 22:30:50

Definitely add it to your counselling /GP appointments- it does sound like a form of OCD.

Wavingnotdrown1ng Fri 25-Nov-16 22:54:08

Me too! I had intrusive thoughts after giving birth and had to see a psychiatrist who assured me that it was a fairly common reaction after childbirth and when sleep- deprived. I also found that the anxiety and guilt meant I couldn't sleep, thus making the problem worse. I now think I had a form of OCD at the time, having read about it. I agree that probably most people have similar thoughts but it's taboo to admit to it, especially if it regards thoughts about your children. I got better when I had counselling for PND, later met another parent who'd had a similar experience and from seeing my lovely health visitor on a regular basis who had seen it all before and reassured me that I was a good mother. I also avoided things like TV news and certain types of TV, noise, newspapers etc, as I found them triggering. You will feel better eventually and please don't think you are alone.

Twogoats Fri 25-Nov-16 22:59:15

I read something about this a while ago, apparently it is something which has benefitted our evolution, which is why we still have it. When you think of something bad, it actually usually improves your child's safety because you're more likely to fix something you deem as unsafe.

happy2bhomely Fri 25-Nov-16 23:16:18

I get this. Lots and lots of really disturbing stuff about my children. I also get more random ones, like, I can be chopping a carrot and think how easy it would be to stab my husband. Or when I stand on a train platform I get an image of pushing someone. Or if I'm up high I think of jumping.

I am not suicidal or even feeling low, and I have no intention of hurting anyone. I struggle to switch my mind off and often have 10 different trains of thought happening at the same time. I have terrible nightmares too.

It's weird, because I am a naturally optimistic person. I'm not a worrier. But I am a planner. And a bit of a control freak. I can't bear the thought of being caught off guard and in a way, by imagining some of the worst things I can imagine, it's almost like preparing myself, so I won't be shocked when it does happen. Even though I know it doesn't really work like that!

I used to ponder on these thoughts, trying to get to the bottom of them. But now, I treat them as passing clouds, and when I notice one I mentally fan it away until it fades into the distance.

I don't watch things on TV that I know will trigger the thoughts.

Mine are always worse when I'm very tired and they are definitely hormone related. I can't take any hormonal contraception because they make my anxiety unbearable.

I hope you find a way to get through them.

msrisotto Sat 26-Nov-16 07:54:30

It's not a form of OCD on it's own (unless it is accompanied by you ritually doing things to avoid the thoughts coming true.)

Definitely related to anxiety (i'm a clinical psychologist) so do mention it to your CBT therapist. And while a Psychiatrist might be able to give you medication....it won't get to the root of it for you. But it might dampen down the anxiety. Your call.

1. Its very common. Nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Having the thoughts (especially if you find them distressing) doesn't mean that you will act on them. In fact, because you find them distressing, you are less likely to do it.
2. It is harmless. You can safely just ignore that it happens.
3. Avoiding negative things won't stop it. You risk narrowing your life down with no great reason. Fair enough avoid negative things that you don't enjoy watching, but please don't think it'll reduce or stop the intrusive thoughts because it won't.
4. I highly recommend mindfulness, the philosophy where you acknowledge thoughts and feelings but don't get carried away with them. Just recognising them as existing but moving on. I really got into this via Yoga which I also recommend, but really mindfulness is the key ingredient.

Ballstowinplease Sat 26-Nov-16 16:05:44

It's not a form of OCD on it's own (unless it is accompanied by you ritually doing things to avoid the thoughts coming true.)

This isn't true. You can have OCD without ritually doing things to prevent harm. This is my diagnosis and experience.

allegretto Sat 26-Nov-16 16:11:19

I have always had these and it is true that if you try to repress them, the more they come back. The first holiday I went on when my son was born we were staying near the beach on the third floor and I continually thought about throwing him off the balcony. I knew I didn't want to throw him off the balcony but my brain couldn't stop thinking about it.

More recently, I read an article about Pure OCD and they mentioned intrusive thoughts and also that one person would retrace the route they had driven in the car to check that they hadn't accidentally run anyone over. I have done this several times. blush I thought everyone did now and again but DH assures me he never has! I would suggest going to your GP if you are finding it difficult to cope with these thoughts (although mine was worse than useless!) But be assured you are not alone!

Chemistria Sat 26-Nov-16 16:24:59

Oh my god reading these are like being in my mind. I also have this and it got worse after I had my first child. I used to think I had schizophrenia when I was 17 although now I realise it was these ridiculous thoughts, I think it's far more common than people realise. When I opened up to one of my best friends she said she has exactly the same thoughts but has never told anyone.

Mine are mainly heights (I can't stay in a hotel with a balcony as I used to be convinced I'd sleepwalk off the edge, now it's that somehow I'd throw my child off) which like PP said is the least likely thing in the world we would do.

I'm incredibly overprotective of my child and I also think that plays a part - I think of literally the worst scenario and if there's no way it can happen, then my brain makes me think of me causing something!

Also I never know where any hammers are in our house when we do DIY as I hide them somewhere I know I'll forget so I don't kill OH in my sleep which has been a long time fear confused

I spoke to a Dr before who said its people with these thoughts that are the least likely to every hurt anybody, which made me feel so much better and I hardly have them anymore.

VilootShesCute Sat 26-Nov-16 16:29:41

I know how you feel. I have ocd and intusive thoughts crippled me. My life revolved around them it was grim. Just remember, they are just thoughts. We are allowed and capable of thinking anything be it mild or horrific but if you're not acting on them, you're fine. flowers

MrsWooster Sat 26-Nov-16 16:31:17

What everyone else said. Whether or not the thoughts constitute OCD, they are Def part of the anxiety thing and can be managed through cbt so please don't think you are abnormal, a danger or incurable because you're not..

BlankSpace1 Sat 26-Nov-16 17:29:16

This definitely needs to be talked about more! Maybe even warned by professionals so that when it happens you don't feel insane and too scared to tell anyone!

I have also had vivid nightmares, they're horrible! My latest one was I woke up in the night and put a bath on for my baby, I put her in the tub and went downstairs, when I came back up she was laying on the bottom and I tried desperately to revive her but it didn't work, I woke up in floss of tears checking my baby, ever since I've been terrified of doing something in my sleep, thinking I'm going to do this while I'm in a daze sad

pklme Sat 26-Nov-16 22:00:47

That's awful, it must be so scary for you! Can you reassure yourself by tying something noisy to your door handle, so you"ll wake up? I don't believe you need to, but you may feel better.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now