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dancesintherain

intrusive thoughts of the self-harm variety

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I'm getting thoughts that I'm fairly sure I won't act on. Which probably makes them fall under my OCD, rather than actually as a self-harm thing.  But it's the first time that it's happened, so it scares me.

I'm laying in bed trying to fall asleep and the thought comes into my head that I should get (implement) and take a certain action with it. 

My mood is low today, but not unbearable.  I've been having trauma-related intrusive thoughts like crazy and some OCD-flavored ones for the fun of it. 

Is that what this is?  Should I be worried beyond just mentioning it to my therapist?

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Definitely mention it to your therapist. In my case intrusive self-injury thoughts can track with stress and anxiety lots of times, so they are not necessarily a sign of anything bigger or more dangerous all on their own. In your case, never having had them before, I would for sure bring them up, and try to figure out what’s going on. And I’m sure it goes without saying that it’s best not to act on them if you can avoid it, which seems to reinforce those thoughts for a lot of people.

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Thanks Harp.  I’ve added it to my therapy agenda today.  I actually wrote it down, crossed it out, and wrote it down again (I’m out of printer ink so I couldn’t just reprint).  I just don’t want us to spend an entire session on it.  It was disturbing, but at least for now it’s a one time thing and I really have no interest in follow through.

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I’ve got it on the list and I’m fighting the urge to cross it out again.  Or to retype the agenda without it. But then it’ll be obvious that I’m hiding something.

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Thanks for the nudge Juniper.  Will do.  I retyped the agenda so t would be at the top (and then stated that I had deleted it three times).

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so my therapist thanked me for not deleting it.

he then asked what explicitly the thought was.  he asked how i was feeling before it happened/whether i was depressed at all.  and context (i was in bed, etc.).  and whether i'd thought of or acted on this sort of urge before (no). 

he concluded that we can monitor for a week and see if it resurfaces.  he said that sometimes we have random thoughts.  But that it's obviously worth paying attention to, particularly if they persist. 

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22 hours ago, dancesintherain said:

so my therapist thanked me for not deleting it.

he then asked what explicitly the thought was.  he asked how i was feeling before it happened/whether i was depressed at all.  and context (i was in bed, etc.).  and whether i'd thought of or acted on this sort of urge before (no). 

he concluded that we can monitor for a week and see if it resurfaces.  he said that sometimes we have random thoughts.  But that it's obviously worth paying attention to, particularly if they persist. 

Are you happy with that plan? 

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Posted (edited)

It makes sense to me.  Do you think he missed something?  (Just asking since you were asking, so I wasn’t sure if there’s a concern.)

Edited by dancesintherain

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I have experienced these kinds of thoughts. Like Harp, for me they're an indicator of high stress levels but that can quickly snowball.

I'm glad you brought it up with your therapist. Did you discuss/do you have a safety plan (for lack of a better word)? Do you have a way to seek additional support if you find that these kinds of thoughts are overwhelming? And, critically, would you actually do it?

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1 hour ago, dancesintherain said:

It makes sense to me.  Do you think he missed something?  (Just asking since you were asking, so I wasn’t sure if there’s a concern.)

No not at all, just wondering if you felt that your symptoms got adequate attention 

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39 minutes ago, Geek said:

I have experienced these kinds of thoughts. Like Harp, for me they're an indicator of high stress levels but that can quickly snowball.

I'm glad you brought it up with your therapist. Did you discuss/do you have a safety plan (for lack of a better word)? Do you have a way to seek additional support if you find that these kinds of thoughts are overwhelming? And, critically, would you actually do it?

good questions.  I have an ongoing safety plan that has friend and professional contacts.  We didn't explicitly discuss invoking it, but it's my fallback.  We didn't do an explicit safety contract on this topic specifically, but I'm okay with that.  He's accessible by email and phone pretty easily, so I feel like that's an option.  And no, I don't think I'd act on it.  Particularly in the really graphic way that the thought came into my head.  I can't really picture doing it at all, to be honest, and don't have any history of it. 

36 minutes ago, Iceberg said:

No not at all, just wondering if you felt that your symptoms got adequate attention 

Gotcha.  I do feel like he gave it adequate attention.  I think if he had immediately moved to "we all have thoughts sometimes," I wouldn't feel that way.  But I think the fact that he took the time to explore them, get the context, get the details, etc. made the overall conclusion make sense to me.  Essentially "don't panic," which is what I was worried he would do.  I felt like he took me seriously and considered the risk, but he weighed that against the fact that I'll see him in a week.

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It used to happen all the time, whenever I was stressed, especially if I had to do social interaction. Then my tdoc was talking to me about visualization, and I realized that's what I was doing, I was visualizing it because it calmed me down, lowered my blood pressure. So that was important information, I knew I was someone who was already benefiting from visualization, I just needed to find a healthier place to go.
Now when i find myself doing it I know I am stressed and trying to calm down, and I use one of a bunch of other images I have come up with that help calm me down and focus on one of them instead.

It's different for everyone, maybe you'll be behind a waterfall, or in a forest, or on the beach, maybe stroking a pet, or whatever, some visualization that helps you calm down, include something for every sense if you can, not just sounds and sights but what can you smell, what temperature is it etc.

I hope that helps! We are all different and there are lots of different reasons people self-harm or think about it so it might not be relevant for you but there we go :)

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Thank you, it’s relevant.  I can’t actually visualize things well but I can think and feel them.  So if it happens again, I’ll try feeling like I’m at the beach or in the mountains (I’ll figure out which ahead of time).  I’m also supposed to work on attaching less to my thoughts, so maybe that’s part of the picture.

Its so weird.  For now at least it’s only happened once.

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