Thursday, June 9, 2016

Intrusive thoughts

For a long time since grade school, I have struggled with intrusive thoughts. Senseless, repeating, often over the mistakes of the past. They are thoughts that can't be shut out no matter how hard one tries. Sometimes they replay for weeks, months, even years.

I remember my first intrusive thought, when I had a grade school crush. The boy's image would replay inside my head for many times, 24/7 actually. This crush is the cause of so much of my childhood shame - I was made to talk to this guy by a friend who threatened to withdraw her friendship if I didn't do her 'dare' she assigned me. So I did. I only realize now that she made us her pawns, because she would flirt with the guy and feeds like a vampire on my jealousy, which in the end was all done to feed her ego. But that was the first time I was so obsessed with a person, to the point that I even imagined that the person was secretly in love with me (and I am so ashamed of this part) and that we could communicate telepathically.

But then, as childhood crushes go, my world then was 'devastated' when they gave gifts to another girl. I know that these are childhood memories that the people involved have forgotten now, but to me it is so unsettling. When I remember it I want to die of shame. I hate the thoughts. It took me years to let it go and move on.

I only learned that the correct term in psychology is 'intrusive thoughts' from the novel The Drowning Girl narrated by a girl with schizophrenia. She described the thoughts as something like white noise from a pair of headphones, always playing in the background, but on some days they invade everything that the noise is all you can hear.

I am writing this because I am having an intrusive thought that makes me doubt my existence. It plays so loud inside my head that sometimes I slap myself awake, but it has been playing for weeks. I totally forgot about it for years but when I went back home it just went back. I sort of wish I didn't leave Manila if my mind was going to be this way again.

This has gotten to the worst point when my classmates laughed at me when they sometimes see me 'talking to myself', because sometimes the thoughts in my brain, I'm imagining that I'm speaking them. So this leads to me having a funny-looking mannerism that makes me look insane without me realizing it. I'm so surprised sometimes and always remind myself to check up my behavior and thoughts at every moment, but sometimes it is so hard.

I lived in a Buddhist monastery last year, but why didn't I learn to let this go? Buddhist thought teaches that when a thought comes, just let it be. They are impermanent, they are only thoughts. I try to tell myself that the past doesn't exist, only the present moment is real. But I don't know why I'm still like this. I'm considering treatment for this kind of anxiety, but maybe that only entails money. "You'd still waste cash for a doctor?" my mother said to me. It causes so much shame.

But writing it out made me feel better. They are only thoughts, concentrate on the present moment, I tell myself, or those Bible verses,

Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Philippians 3:10-14, NIV "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

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