Intrusive Thoughts & The Junkyard Dog

I’ve been reading so many blog posts this morning about intrusive thoughts. It’s heartbreaking. So much suffering out there. I wish I could give all the bloggers battling intrusive thoughts a big hug! Reading their posts, I got this image in my head of intrusive thoughts being like a junkyard dog.

Before I jump into the analogy, I thought I’d share how hilarious it was to try to find just one picture of an angry barking dog for my post on pexels. I searched using all kinds of different words, like “angry, barking”. Without exception the first pictures that popped up are of a woman wearing some kind of a Santa outfit holding a sweet little dog. I will put one of her pictures at the end. (It gave me a good laugh.) None of those dog pictures were anything other than, ‘aw, aren’t they so cute’ pictures.

And…intrusive thoughts aren’t cute. They are like angry, junkyard dogs.

They are noisy. If you’ve never experienced intrusive thoughts, imagine what it would be like if an angry dog followed you around all day barking nonstop. Now add the extra layer that you’re the only one who can hear it. Can you imagine trying to get any work done, or have present and engaged conversations while an angry threatening dog is growling and barking at you? How about trying to remember what you needed to do today, that meeting at 2 PM, take meat out for supper before you leave for work, get gas before you run out… [BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!] Intrusive thoughts are noisy, persistent, and they use up most of our brain power that we’d otherwise use for whatever we used to use them for — pre intrusive thoughts.

They are uncontrollable. I’m not going to be able to control intrusive thoughts any more easily than I can control a junkyard dog barking at me through a fence. He’s there for a reason: to alert the junkyard owners that there’s a threat they need to respond to. It doesn’t matter that I’m a smiling, little overweight, slow-moving, gray-haired lady who is super nice and has stopped in her tracks. [BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!] The dog can’t tell I’m not a threat. Intrusive thoughts can’t tell there’s no current threat either. Intrusive thoughts are SURE there’s an active, scary threat happening RIGHT NOW…all day long. Tomorrow, too. And the next day. Expecting someone to control intrusive thoughts is like expecting them to control a guard dog, while they are wearing a burglar outfit, carrying some scary-looking pieces of equipment. Good luck. Guard dog wins.

They jump out of nowhere. I actually am a little afraid of dogs. When I was a little girl, I witnessed my mom being attacked by a dog. If I can punt the dog with my foot, I’m not afraid of it. But if it is any bigger and I don’t know the dog, I’m afraid of it. I gave up taking walks in neighborhoods I don’t know because invariably while I’m strolling along happily without a care in the world, SURPRISE!, here comes a territorial dog charging at me barking his brains out. The surprise of suddenly being confronted by a loud barking dog is jolting, to say the least. That’s how intrusive thoughts work, too. Tootling along happy as a lark, going about one’s business, about to be the best and most productive day ever, la la la look how pretty the sky is today, and [BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!] The surprise attacks of intrusive thoughts (for me) were the worst, ruining perfectly lovely days I had worked so hard to achieve.

They spiral. Unfortunately, it was easier for me to spiral out of control with intrusive thoughts if they jumped out at me unexpectedly. When it’s a slow burn to all-consuming intrusive thoughts, it seems more manageable. Of course that’s just a feeling. The more we try to “manage” them, the more of them pop up. “Oh look, suddenly I’m not just facing one junkyard dog…this junkyard owner has five of them! Now my nerves are REALLY jangly!”

They follow you home. It doesn’t seem to matter where we go, they go with us. We could be in the safest place ever, our most favorite sweet-smelling, good-memories-here place, and darned if that dog didn’t find his way in and [BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!].

I hope the foregoing description can be of use to someone who is struggling to explain what it’s like to have intrusive thoughts. It is true that the more we focus any effort on not thinking them, the louder they seem to bark.

I want to offer encouragement. I’m free from intrusive thoughts. First I started having fewer of them. Then they started to carry less and less pain or suffering attached to them. Less flight/fight/freeze responses to them. Suddenly, the few I had were easily dismissed. Now I don’t have intrusive thoughts. I do still get triggered, have panic attacks, and other symptoms associated with PTSD. But I’m not battling intrusive thoughts.

God led me out of intrusive thoughts through a journaling process that is based on Philippians 4, from The Message Bible. If you are are struggling with that awful junkyard dog, PLEASE, I beg you, give God and this journal process an opportunity to help you. It took a little time, but here I am today, set free from the most persistent, frequent, and debilitating symptom PTSD threw at me. What if you could get free, too?! What do you have to lose? (Answer: just 10 to 15 minutes is all it takes each day to work the journal process. See the links below to see what it looks like or request a free copy.)

God loves each of us so much. He can feel so far away, so unreachable, when we’re battling the horrible manifestations of PTSD. I want my blog to be a safe space. Everyone welcome here. We need each other in the trauma-experienced community because we understand each other. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That friend is Jesus. Your pain and suffering is real to Jesus.

Please consider giving the journal process a try, or reach out to me by email at howdy@thephilippians4project.org.

Here’s where you can see it, learn more about the journal by clicking here.

Here’s where you can get a free copy sent to you by clicking here.

If this topic interests you, here’s another post about it: Freedom From Intrusive Thoughts

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
Photo by Katya Wolf on Pexels.com

These were just some of the funny options when looking for “angry dog barking” photos. Hilarious! Hope they make you laugh.

Keep the conversation going! Comments are welcome! Do you struggle with intrusive thoughts? Did my description capture it? What did I leave out?

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