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  • Catherine Benfield

What to do When Intrusive Thoughts Spoil Something Nice


catherine eating a cake in a cafe


This was my first trip out to a wonderful beach side cafe. It was just after moving. It was a hard-earned visit which I’d been looking forward to for a long time before we even moved. It had beautiful food, delicious coffee, an incredible view of the sea. It was glorious… and OCD completely annihilated it.


There were dogs everywhere in the cafe (I love dogs!) and I became super focussed on contamination. They were coming up to us, my son and husband were stroking them, and it sent me into a frenzy - not that you’d know by looking at me in the reel. All I could think about was poop and contamination. The intrusive thoughts were LOUD and instead of enjoying my food I had to force it down. I couldn’t magic the situation better and I felt angry and frustrated - life seemed so incredibly unfair.


Over the years, I’ve learned a few things in recovery that I tried to put into place to help address what had happened at the cafe.


⭐️ I used the annoyance to motivate me into doing some exposures. Contamination is a new one for me - I want to get on top of it quickly.


⭐️ I spoke to someone about it - I chatted to my husband about how sad it had made me and shared my feelings.


⭐️ I promised myself I’d go back and I did. OCD wasn’t going to win. I can’t say it was a perfect visit unaffected by OCD, but I didn’t engage in avoidance and that is a huge win!


⭐️As hard as it was, I accepted that it had happened (this has taken me some practice over the years). Fighting against what had happened, and criticising myself/ocd was just going to add to my pain.


⭐️ I went home and spent an hour cuddled up with my cat and a book. If I am going to have to deal with OCD (and it is far less than it used to be) then I am going to balance it out with some things I love!


It can be devastating when OCD spoils something you have been looking forward to and I hope this post has helped in some way.


Sending you all loads of love xx




Further Reading


  • Intrusive thoughts can often be experienced as urges and bodily sensations. This can feel particularly frightening. Read all about it here on our post with the wonderful OCD Specialist Kelley Frank.


  • Want to learn how to spot some of the sneaky compulsions that can rise as a result of uncertainty? Noticing them is the first step to overcoming them! Check this post out.


  • If you are dealing with distressing intrusive thoughts and are wondering how to get help. This will help.



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