Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

I've developed a horrible intrusive thought relating to endless suffering, and I feel like it's ruining my life.

Community Member

Hello everyone, I'm new here. I've been trying to recover from my latest bout of depression, but there's a recurring scary thought that keeps me down and makes me feel like I'll never feel joy again. Maybe getting it off my chest will help me at least a bit.

First I'll give some background on my situation. I've suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and I've been finding it extremely hard to move forward in life and be independent. A year ago I had a huge mental breakdown from a long period of stress, sad events, fear and hopelessness and I was basically living in a perpetual panic attack for days on end. It was the first time I've experienced panic attacks and they hit me like a truck.

A few days in, the suffering inspired a really scary thought. I was calming myself down from an attack with the thought that at least this horror can't last forever, for anybody, but of course my overactive brain thought up a concept where suffering can happen forever, and it will happen in the far future, or is already happening "somewhere". It got really weird and science-fictiony and told me I can never recover now that I know that. I couldn't do anything to shut the thought down, it's like the thought made itself impossible to argue with. So that thought alone created many more days of constant panic attacks and what seemed like severe existential OCD. At my worst I felt like I was barely even on Earth anymore and I really thought I was going to end up insane or die.

To my surprise I ended up recovering (I had a few therapy sessions and medication for a while but I'm not sure to what extent that helped) I think from exhaustion and somehow convincing myself that the very fact that this thought is so ridiculously painful and unrelenting says more about my anxiety than actual "reality."

But even so, that thought stayed with me, always in the background but quieter and easier to shake off. Then I had another long bout of stress this year and my mood tanked, and I started thinking about it too much and obsessing over it again. Now I'm depressed about how my brain can't shut it down completely and finally give me peace. I feel like all I'm doing is living a lie when I feel "ok".

I don't know how there are people who truly believe this kind of thing (hell) and are mentally fine with it? I can't live with the knowledge of so much endless suffering. Does anyone have any kind of advice for me?

25 Replies 25

Thanks heaps for the info jonjr.

Hi Butterfly26,

I'm glad you are feeling a bit better and that your mood has improved the past few days.

If it is OCD part of the OCD cycle is analysing and questioning our thoughts, the OCD cycle is vicious but its a cycle that you can become aware of and learn to disengage from at every stage of the cycle, so you don't get any further into it. ( It takes practice)

Next time you catch your self trying to find a solution for these thoughts, please direct your attention straight away to something in the present moment, like if your sitting down how does the chair feel? (really put your attention on feeling it, what can you hear? what can you smell

By doing this you are taking your attention out of your mind and onto something in the present moment, ( you are breaking the OCD cycle).

When you have these intrusive thoughts just try to learn to redirect your attention onto something in the present moment so you don't get so caught up in them and the cycle.

Try not to question them or annalyse them.

Have you ever practiced meditation?

I understand your feelings about struggling that you can't feel peace and happiness I also felt this way when I was in the grips of my condition but looking back on it, it wasn't my fault that I felt this way because I was stuck in a viscous cycle ( it was part of the condition) and I couldn't feel this way because I didn't have the tools I needed to break free of it but that all that changed after the professional help I received and I've now found peace and happiness again and you will too!

You just need to be taught the tools and once you have them you will be able to put back in it's box what s bothering you....... BUT you need to be taught this it's not something we just know but once you have the correct treatment and health professionals behind you you can break free.

I'm sorry that your boss said to you what they said, you know yourself and please never feel pressured to do anything.

I understand that your boss wasn't saying this to you in a mean way but I believe that people need to think before they speak because they don't know what you are going through.

Please know I'm here and I totally understand were you are at, I'm more than happy to support you on your journey.

Through your journey you will have up's and downs but always remember you are never alone and there is always hope and one day in the near future you will feel joy and peace once again within yourself.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Butterfly

To say that the mind (the brain at work) can be a tough thing to manage at times is an understatement. The way it can create either a heaven on earth or a hell on earth is questionable. The way it can have us shift realities under a variety of circumstances is also highly questionable. My heart truly goes out to you as you work so hard on trying to make sense of the places your mind leads you to.

Having come out of a decade and a half in depression some years back, I'd regard myself as having become a devotee when it involves researching how I tick and how human nature ticks in general. It almost feels like a part time job, based on the fact I find it all so fascinating. How we tick mentally, physically and naturally are fascinating areas of study. Yes, I'm one of those mind/body/spirit woo woo gals 🙂

How we experience life from a mental perspective holds so many factors, based on what we know, what we don't know (what feels foreign to us or what we have no reference for) as well as being comprised of all our belief systems is one fascinating area of research. How we experience life from a physical perspective (biological, chemical or state of physics) is another fascinating area. How the mind and body constantly work together in the ways they do is absolutely incredible. I think my favourite area of all would have to be the natural or spiritual side of things based on the unique take on life that it offers. I think I love this area most because it can appeal to the natural philosopher in us, the natural wonderful self (full of wonder), the emotional self or 'the feeler', the intuitive self and the self that has a fascination with the nature of reality. It's a bit of 'a rabbit hole' area of research, theory, study and experience. Researching outside the square can become addictive 🙂

Based on what you write, you sound like someone who's wonderful (full of wonder). You also sound like a bit of a philosopher and somewhat of an analyst. You definitely sound like a feeler, someone who feels so deeply and is sensitive to what they feel/how they feel life. The ups and downs of being a feeler can create such a roller coaster experience in life to the point where it can feel like torture at times.

Wondering whether the science fictiony reality shift you experienced felt a bit like 'The Matrix'. Not sure whether you've ever seen the movie.

Community Member

Thanks guys for responding with so much help, it's nice to not feel alone in this. I agree with all you've said. Thank you for the OCD advice Petal22, and I agree that people need to watch what they say and it would be nice if they were more knowledgeable about anxiety/depression. It's such a common thing that they shouldn't just assume everyone they know is currently capable of everything that they themselves are. Also I have practiced meditation before to help with anxiety-induced procrastination. I think it did help me. I will look into it again.

Therising, you're right, my mind does feel like a rollercoaster. When I fall into a mental health crisis I feel like I keep switching between different realities which is disconcerting. It makes it hard to"recover" when you feel like you're just blinding yourself from the bad side.

And I haven't seen The Matrix, I've always been meaning to see it but these days I'm scared that it'll trigger something 😅

Thanks again, helpful and kind people like the ones on this forum are what helps me to get out of a negative-thinking slump. Hopefully I'll continue to recover and at least be able to keep that awful thought from popping up every time I try to feel happy.

That’s ok Butterfly26 happy to support you 😊

Im glad that you have tried meditation, I believe that meditation got me over the line…. Try to find a meditation that’s guided for learning to watch your thoughts.

I did this type of meditation in my therapy and the benefits I gained from doing this where amazing. It taught me that I’m not my thoughts but the watcher of them. ( it takes practice)..

One tip, in your recovery you will learn many things and one of those things you will learn is that it’s ok to have intrusive thoughts… you will no longer feel the need to try and stop these thoughts re occurring you will learn to allow them to be there and float on by just like leaves on a stream. ( it takes practice)……. and in your own time things will start to come together for you and these thoughts will no longer have the power over you to interrupt your happiness because you will be in control.

Please feel free to check in with us.

I'll keep what you said about meditation in mind. Thank you so much for the encouraging words 😊

Hi Butterfly

I get where you're coming from with your apprehension when it comes to Watching 'The Matrix'. One movie that seriously messes with me and I just can't watch it again is 'The Butterfly Effect', with Ashton Kutcher. Another I'll never watch again is 'Mother!' with Jennifer Lawrence. That one was a trip, I think because I watched it as I was semi dozing, in a semi dreamy kinda state. Never good to watch a trippy movie in a semi conscious state. They say it's when your mind is open to suggestion. The mind is truly interesting thing, the way it works and sometimes doesn't work.

The concept of reality's definitely a fascinating topic. So many different opinions on what it is and how it works. From science through to spirituality, the range of opinions are quite stunning. In some cases, it's suggested that the highs and the lows of a situation are 2 sides of the same coin. Nothing about the coin changes. In other words, the situation itself doesn't change, it's the flip or different perspective that changes how we experience the situation. For example, you could be having another absolutely horrible day at work, perceiving that day as an added form of torture. It's depressing, stressful and triggering and could have you believing there's no real point to life other than ongoing sufferance. On the flip side, if you could be led to fully believe without a single doubt in your mind that it's a necessary day in a long line of many necessary depressing, stressful days at work that are designed to push you out of that job toward the job that sets your soul alight, the depression and stress may be experienced differently. They may experienced as a depressing and stressful form of inspiration, as opposed to complete hopelessness. From the 2nd perspective, you may allow yourself to be pushed out of that job faster, looking for anything negative that will do it. Hope that all makes sense.

Part of the Yin Yang philosophy involves there being 2 aspects that make up the whole, both the dark and the light. Of course, philosophy and a simple coin analogy don't ease the overwhelming struggle that can come with depression. They can simply point to how the mind can work at times.

One of the strangest movies I've ever seen I saw today with my daughter, 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'. Now that one was a serious trip, based on the idea of the multiverse/multiple realities. A very strange one indeed 🙂

Community Member

Oh great, I tried to search up other people with similar fears to me to feel less alone, and right there was a website page pretty much telling me my fears were actually "likely" and based in "modern science".

I wasn't going to post again but I'm so angry right now. I feel like my recovery got kicked back to square 1. I wish people could realise the consequences of what they share and to who. And I wish physicists could just stop digging up and sharing creepy concepts to begin with... Honestly I don't know who to be angry at.

I'm reminding myself that all this is beyond human understanding anyway and I shouldn't treat everything as truth. I'm sorry for being a pain.

Hi Butterfly26,

Your never a pain to us, and please post when ever you want to… we love hearing from you 😊

Ok let me share another tip with you……. When I was going through OCD one of the things I would do is google certain things the reason I was doing this was to seek reassurance and to try to lower my anxiety by doing this. ( it was part of my OCD cycle)………

I learned in therapy that this was actually a compulsion of mine.

In order to break free of the vicious cycle of OCD I had to stop performing this compulsion.

Please try to resist the urge to google certain things.

Also we don’t really know who writes this stuff on google they could be anyone.

Please don’t believe that your recovery went back to square one because this isn’t true.

Some days in recovery you will have good days and bad days.

If you are feeling like things are going very fast inside your self please bring your attention onto something in the present moment and not what’s going on inside your mind.

Just breathe

Remember you are learning…… take it easy on yourself.

Thank you Petal22. I won't look up this stuff anymore. I guess it was a compulsion for reassurance, I wanted someone to prove me wrong but instead got the opposite.

I'm focussing on looking at positive things now.