Intrusive Thoughts of Myself Dying

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

At random times of the day -noon or night, there’s never consistency- I will get a ‘flash’ or a ‘clip’ of myself moments before becoming seriously injured or what looks like could only result in premature death, in wherever my current environment is. These clips are intrusive, I never think them up myself, plan them, etc. They just show themselves to me while my eyes are still open.

It started a couple months after a bad concussion I suffered in October of 2012. When the first one came, I was startled and with the next few, I kept an ‘art journal’ of the clips, hoping that would help me cope, but it’s been over a year now and I’ve tried many things and the only thing that seems to be working is self harm (bruising). I now have really bad anxiety, fear of premature death, and I’m really starting to wear thin with the added stresses of university and general life choices. I’m scared and I just want it all to stop. If anyone has any idea what could be happening to me and has any suggestions to make it stop or at least bearable again, please help me… Thank you in advance.

A. The concussion must be considered as a cause of your symptoms. You did not mention what led to the concussion. Was it a car accident? A slip and fall? Whatever happened that led to the concussion may explain why you subsequently developed anxiety. It may be a coincidence and the concussion and subsequent anxiety are unrelated but without more information, it’s difficult for me to gain insight into the cause.

It’s good that you have been recording the picture flashes. That information could help your doctor or a mental health professional determine what is wrong. My recommendation is twofold. First, it’s important to report these flashes to a medical doctor, perhaps the individual who treated your concussion or your primary care physician. If you’re not seeing a primary care physician, then it may be advantageous to consult a neurologist. A neurologist can determine if the flashes are related to the concussion and make treatment recommendations accordingly.

Second, I would also recommend that you consult a mental health professional. A therapist could determine a possible diagnosis but more important, provide you with the appropriate treatment for your symptoms. Generally speaking, anxiety seems to be at the heart of these issues but a therapist would gather more information about your symptoms, and your psychosocial history, and provide you with a more specific answer about what might be wrong. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Intrusive Thoughts of Myself Dying. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/11/intrusive-thoughts-of-myself-dying/