You’re visiting a friend at his 20th floor condo. He takes you out on the balcony for a marvelous view of the city. Suddenly you feel the urge to take a flying leap.

You’re walking down the sidewalk and coming your way is a woman pushing her baby in a stroller. You can’t help but wonder what would happen if you tore the stroller from her hands and flung it into the street.

You’re carrying your two-year-old down the stairs, and after three steps you want to toss her over the banister.

Whoa! Am I suicidal? Am I homicidal? Have I gone absolutely mad? My God, will I actually do it? Will I be taken into custody and spend decades in a jail, or padded, cell?

Relax, will ya’?

Take a look at these pieces of narrative from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR)…

Obsessions are persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress. The most common obsessions are…aggressive or horrific impulses (e.g., to hurt one’s child or to shout an obscenity in church).

Feel any better?

I remember my very first intrusive thought. I was a sophomore at Michigan State University and was trying to initiate a good night’s sleep. The Grand Trunk Railroad tracks were about 200 yards from the dorm, and I heard a freight train passing by. I suddenly felt the urge to run to the tracks and throw myself upon them.

The intrusive thoughts multiplied and diversified over the years, horrifying me upon each visit. Then one day, in the quest for answers to what I later came to know as panic disorder, I learned an unexpected lesson.

I was experiencing intrusive thoughts. Obsessions!

What an incredible amount of relief that revelation provided. Believe me, the process of identity and insight will kick a dent in anyone’s anxiety disorder.

You know, I remember some ten years ago a friend asked if she could confide in me. I couldn’t believe my ears when she revealed she’d been experiencing intrusive thoughts. Of course, she had no idea as to what they were and was frightened silly.

Think she was relieved when I shared my experiences with her?

You bet she was.

Author's Bio: 

After a winning bout with panic disorder, a career in the business world, and a part-time job working with socially challenged adolescents, Bill found his life's passion and work. So he earned his master's degree and counseling credentials, and is doing all he can to lend a hand to those having a tough time.

Bill has some powerful mentoring and service packages available on his website, which include his panic attack education and recovery eWorkbook, "Panic! ...and Poetic Justice." The eWorkbook is ready for immediate download. You'll also find a link on the website to Bill's "Panic Attack Freedom!" blog. Lots of good stuff going on and much more to come.

In addition to doing psychiatric emergency work, Bill continues to do a lot of writing and speaking. He's conducted numerous mental health workshops for non-profit organizations and remains available to present more. Bill is a national and local member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (N.A.M.I.).

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