25 December 2023
One man’s struggle with intrusive thoughts during the holiday season and how he found solace and acceptance through therapy and his faith
The holiday season is often associated with joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for some individuals, it can also be a time of heightened anxiety and intrusive thoughts. In this article, we explore the personal journey of Ian, who has struggled with intrusive thoughts since his teenage years. Ian shares his experiences of feeling inadequate, the impact of his faith on his intrusive thoughts, and how therapy has helped him gain control over his mind. Through his story, we gain insight into the challenges faced by those with intrusive thoughts and the power of self-acceptance and faith in overcoming them.
The Origins of Intrusive Thoughts
Ian’s journey with intrusive thoughts began during his teenage years. As a gay teenager attending a Catholic school, he grappled with chronic guilt and shame. These feelings were amplified by intrusive thoughts that made him believe there was something innately wrong with him. Ian shares how a suppressed memory of seeing pornography triggered a spiral of self-doubt and the belief that he needed to “please God” to avoid punishment.
Intrusive Thoughts and the Holiday Season
The holiday season became particularly challenging for Ian as he struggled to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. Intrusive thoughts such as “I don’t deserve presents because I’m gay” and “I don’t deserve to feel festive” plagued his mind. These thoughts led him to emotionally retreat from others and isolate himself during the holidays. Ian also experienced selective mutism, a common trait among autistic individuals, which further exacerbated his feelings of isolation and detachment.
Taking Control Through Therapy
Recognizing the need for help, Ian sought therapy to gain control over his intrusive thoughts. His therapist helped him understand that he was not alone in his struggles and that his perceived sins did not make him any less deserving of love and acceptance. Through therapy, Ian learned to manage his intrusive thoughts and gained a newfound sense of self-awareness.
Faith as a Trigger and a Tool
Ian discovered that his faith was both a trigger and a tool in his battle against intrusive thoughts. The religious component of Christmas heightened his sensitivity and made him more susceptible to intrusive thoughts. However, by recognizing this connection, Ian was able to develop a greater understanding of himself and his triggers. He learned to use his faith as a source of strength and resilience, rather than allowing it to fuel his intrusive thoughts.
Finding Hope and Looking Forward
After years of struggling, Ian has finally found a sense of peace and acceptance. While he acknowledges that he may never be completely free of intrusive thoughts, he has learned to manage them and take control of his mind. For the first time in a decade, Ian is looking forward to Christmas, embracing the joy and possibilities it brings. He is grateful for the tools he has acquired through therapy and his faith, and is excited to see what the future holds.
Ian’s journey of overcoming intrusive thoughts during the holiday season is a testament to the power of self-acceptance and faith. By seeking therapy and developing a deeper understanding of himself, he has been able to manage his intrusive thoughts and find solace in his faith. Ian’s story serves as a reminder that while intrusive thoughts can be overwhelming, there is always hope for healing and growth. As we navigate the holiday season, let us remember the importance of empathy and support for those who may be battling their own inner demons.