Everyone has intrusive thoughts

For me CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) had it pros and cons.  Not all the methods worked for me but one piece of information which really stuck with me and which I believe to be vitally important for anyone battling OCD is that:


You are not weird or strange for having them, you are just less able to dismiss them. During one of my sessions I was given the below information which I am now passing on to you in the hope it will help.

normal intrusive thoughts

The table below shows the results of research findings from a survey of 293 students (198 female, 95 male), none of who had a diagnosed mental health problem. The column on the left shows the type of intrusive thought and the 2 columns on the right show the percentage of women and men who said they had experienced that particular thought.

  item female % male %
1. driving into a window 13 16
2. running car off the road 64 56
3. hitting animals or people with car 46 54
4. swerving into traffic 55 52
5. smashing into objects 27 40
6. slitting wrist/throat 20 22
7. cutting off finger 19 16
8. jumping off a high place 39 46
9. fatally pushing a stranger 17 34
10. fatally pushing friend 9 22
11. jumping in front of train/car 25 29
12. pushing stranger in front of train/car 8 20
13. pushing family in front of train/car 5 14
14. hurting strangers 18 48
15. insulting strangers 50 59
16. bumping into people 37 43
17. insulting authority figure 34 48
18. insulting family 59 55
19. hurting family 42 50
20. choking family member 10 22
21. stabbing family member 6 11
22. accidentally leaving heat/stove on 79 66
23. home unlocked, intruder there 77 69
24. taps left on, home flooded 28 24
25. swearing in public 30 34
26. breaking wind in public 31 49
27. throwing something 28 26
28. causing a public scene 47 43
29. scratching car paint 26 43
30. breaking window 26 43
31. wrecking something 32 33
32. shoplifting 27 33
33. grabbing money 21 39


  item female % male %
34. holding up bank 6 32
35. sex with unacceptable person 48 63
36. sex with authority figure 38 63
37. fly/blouse undone 27 40
38. kissing authority figure 37 44
39. exposing myself 9 21
40. acts against sexual preference 19 20
41. authority figures naked 42 54
42. strangers naked 51 80
43. sex in public 49 78
44. disgusting sex act 43 52
45. catching sexually transmitted disease 60 43
46. contamination from doors 35 24
47. contamination from phones 28 18
48. getting fatal disease from strangers 22 19
49. giving fatal disease to strangers 25 17
50. giving everything away 52 43
51. removing all dust from the floor 35 24
52. removing dust from unseen places 41 29

Purdon C. & Clark D.  Obsessive intrusive thoughts in nonclinical subjects. Part 1 Content & relation with depressive, anxious & obsessional symptoms.  Behav Res Ther 1992;31:713-20

Conquering mental health naturally

So the last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling a bit.  I’m not sure how other peoples OCD affects them but I tend to find – having dealt with it for years – that day to day I do OK.  It no longer stops me getting out and doing things and I’m pretty good at dismissing the thoughts when they pop into my head.

However every now and again a new thought will appear and for whatever reason, I’m not feeling quite as strong as usual and it manages to creep in.  Now I find – and I would be interested to know if this happens to anyone else – that once this has happened, even if I can dismiss the thought that same day, in the days that follow I seem more susceptible to my OCD.  I’m not sure why and so this is what has happened over the last few days, my walls have been weakened so to speak.  So when this happens, what do I do?

Well it’s a good question and I am still learning myself what works.  I have in the past tried anti depressants and I know they help a lot of people but personally they’re not for me.  So I try the natural approach, here are some of the things I like to do:

  • Get Out – For me it’s important to get out in the air, go for a walk, anything so I’m not cooped up in the house.
  • Socialise – If I feel up to it, I socialise.  I know this isn’t always easy, believe me, but there’s no better distraction than being in the company of others.  It can really help to normalise a situation
  • Talk to someone – If you have someone you feel comfortable talking to about your OCD then talk to them, don’t bottle things up.  This is how the thoughts escalate out of control
  • Exercise – I try to Exercise, go for a run, go to a class at the gym, get those endorphin’s moving.  It maybe the last thing you want to do but it will help.
  • Be mindful – live in the moment, remember, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, live in the present“.
  • Distraction, distract yourself with an activity, something you enjoy and find absorbing, you will be surprised that your mind will completely forget the thought. I always think if I am able to forget about the thought then it can’t have been that important in the first place.
  • Meditate –  I’ve always found this one tricky as it involves clearing the mind, not always easy when you have OCD!
  • Watch what you eat and drink –  I think we’re probably all aware that caffeine, alcohol and too much sugar are not going to help mental health.  This one isn’t always easy admittedly but even small steps towards eating and drinking better will help.  Just one less coffee a day, one extra piece of fruit, baby steps.
  • Remember to like yourself – remember who you are, you are good enough.
  • Write it down – when I started this blog – admittedly not long ago – I did it to try and help others with the little I had learned over the years, however surprisingly I’ve found it therapeutic to write and so I now use this very blog as one of my coping strategies as well.

I have to admit when you’re feeling low any of the above can feel hard to achieve, it can be much easier to stay in and mope.  Also the results can sometimes take a while to happen, I had a conversation with my other half just this week about how I was doing all the right things and I was still feeling anxious.  I ended up going for a run in the rain at 9pm, just to try and get rid of the anxiety that was sitting on my chest.  It did work, but was a huge effort.

I will continue to build my list and as I find new ways to help the OCD pass I will share them.  I hope this list can help when you’re feeling low, maybe keep the link saved so you can refer to it when needed.  Stay strong people!