Intrusive Thoughts: It’s A Bipolar Thang

You know, I hate it when I’m having a perfectly good day, doing my thing, and then suddenly my brain goes PFFFFTTT! and produces a noxious cloud of thought that’s so unpleasant it could clear a room. The experts call these brain-burps “intrusive thoughts”, and I can tell you unequivocally that they suck.

Just last night, I went downstairs to take my nighttime meds and was happily contemplating the fact that we’d made it to our wedding anniversary in good shape, when a stray thought came flying in from the back and slammed into me with the force of a knockout punch.

WHAM! All of a sudden, I was envisioning a time when Will would no longer be here, and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am going to be in serious trouble if/when he passes away. Despite all the promises I’ve made to him, despite the fact that I’ve sworn to our kids that I’d never do anything foolish, I honestly don’t know if I can stay safe if something happens to him.

As melodramatic as it must sound, I cannot imagine wanting to be in a world without Will. I can’t imagine wanting to exist even a single day after he’s gone. Does that make me crazy?

So there I stood in front of the sink, trying not to choke on my eight-and-a-half pills and bawling like a baby while attempting to reason with my recalcitrant brain. Where the hell had THAT come from? I demanded to know. Here I was having a lovely evening, and now it was ruined by this upsetting thought. Why??!

As it happens, it’s really very easy to explain. Still in the rosy flush of newly-won remission, I had momentarily forgotten that we bipolar folk have a big problem with intrusive thoughts—random musings that pop into our heads at any time, for any reason or no reason. And these thoughts are NEVER pleasant; in fact, they are almost universally distressing.

It’s not just a bipolar thing; in fact, it’s common in many types of mental illness. But BPers are notorious for these unwanted and often gruesome brain-spasms, which often haunt us even outside of mood episodes.

That’s what got me, and in the light of day I know it was nothing but a short-lived brain chemical shitstorm. It did, however, get me to thinking that I might want to develop a safety plan for myself in the event that things do go sideways for Will, because I really AM unsure if I can keep my promises to my family.

I don’t want to have to find out. But as good as things are right now, they can change at any time and then we’d be right back where we were two months ago. It happens every day out there in the cold, cruel world of cancer…..and frankly, that scares the hell out of me.

So as much as I want to be 100% positive at my next appointment, I think I’ll let my psychiatrist know about this even though it was probably only an intrusive thought. Those are going to penetrate my protective medication shield every now and again. Yet my immediate and visceral reaction makes me wonder if it wasn’t a warning of some kind, and it might be a good idea to have a plan in place if the fecal matter does collide with the rotary ventilation system sometime down the road.

All of which serves as a reminder on this rainy autumn evening that even when I’m stable, I still have a disease that really f*cks with my mind every now and then. Good times!

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

3 thoughts on “Intrusive Thoughts: It’s A Bipolar Thang

  1. We also get intrusive GOOD thoughts – and some of those can be given the weight they deserve – ie, we will get through this, we can be happy, we will/are succeeding, etc.



    1. I’m glad you get intrusive good thoughts. With me, it’s all negative and it sneaks up on me when I least expect it, as it did the other night. It’s been a while since I had one of those, so it caught me by surprise. Used to be I had ’em all the time… with being properly medicated they don’t come around too often.


      1. I dunno bub, I’ve read some of your “good” intrusive thoughts, but anyway, I am glad your meds are working well! Oh thank God for the good bits, the bad bits are SO bad… xo


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