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12 Intrusive Thoughts You’re Not the Only One With Chronic Illness Having


Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

For those living with a chronic illness, intrusive thoughts can sometimes feel overbearing. Perhaps you have a constant feeling that you’re a burden to your loved ones, regardless of whether or not they actually feel that way. Or maybe you feel like it’s your fault, that something you did caused all of this to happen. You might wonder about the future and worry about what it will be like. A lot could be going through your mind.

Thoughts like these can be overwhelming and even scary sometimes. If you have a chronic illness, you might start to doubt yourself about what’s real and what’s not. That being said, it’s perfectly OK to feel these things. Chronic illness isn’t the easiest thing to deal with and intrusive thoughts do happen. If you have these feelings or if you are struggling with your mental health while living with a chronic illness, please know it’s OK to reach out for support and that resources are available.

We asked The Mighty community what intrusive thoughts they have experienced because of their chronic illness and how they cope with them. Comment below to tell us what intrusive thoughts you’ve had to deal with while living with a chronic illness.

Here’s what our community told us: 

1. Feeling Guilty

“Lots of thoughts of guilt, feeling disgusted and angry at myself, and the thought of ‘I’ll never get better.’ It’s a terrible way to live.” – Lindsey G.

“Guilt. Constant guilt over everything I feel like I’m ruining. I always feel like my girls deserve better than the sick mommy who can’t hide her illness anymore.” – Mindy A.

Some helpful stories:

2. Fearing You Could Die at Any Moment

“[I fear] I’ll pass at any second from something. Every symptom all of a sudden scares me. The side effects from the meds scare me. That I’m worthless and that people think I’m negative from admitting I’m in pain all the time and being vocal about my illnesses. That it will never get any better than this.” – Kel W.

“[An intrusive thought is] that I’ll have a heart attack from the tachycardia spiking when my spasms affect my vagus nerve. It will pop into my head at any time regardless of my heart rate.” – Chrissy K.

Some helpful stories:

3. Thinking No One Takes You Seriously

“[I have the thought] that everyone thinks I’m always complaining and am lazy. That I just want to stay in bed and sleep all day. I wish it were that simple. No, I don’t enjoy sleeping till 10 a.m. and going out for an hour then having to come home and sleep because I can’t function. Three and a half-hour nap later and I still feel like garbage. But it’s ‘all in my head.’” – Lolo M.

“That everyone just thinks I am faking and want this type of life for some sick reason.” – Alexandria M.

“[An intrusive thought is that] no one believes me, not even myself sometimes.” – Tammy D.

Some helpful stories:

4. Doubting That Your Illness Is Real

“[Worrying] others think I’m making it up… sometimes it leaks into doubting myself too, ‘Am I making it all up?’ I know I am not, I know I have real pain and fatigue and struggle, I know I have test results and doctors and diagnosis for a reason… but still I feel like no one believes me. It’s a struggle living life as though everyone thinks you are a liar. To combat [this] I usually talk to my mom or a close friend who I can be open with about these thoughts. I’ll also go through photos of times when I was younger to give myself a more tangible comparison of life before being sick.” – Bay H.

“’I could be faking. Maybe all this pain really is in my head. Maybe I am crazy.’ It’s terrifying, honestly, because I know the pain is real, but every day I hear that it could ‘just be anxiety.’ As if that would make it any less real.” – Libby L.

“‘I feel OK today so I must be fine and just exaggerating the pain.’ To get out of that, I just remind myself that I am allowed to feel good but still have a chronic condition.” – Grace H.

Some helpful stories:

5. Feeling Hopeless

Most of the time, when I go to bed at night, I wish that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I feel like I can’t deal with this for the rest of my life. I don’t want to die, but I also don’t feel like I’m really living. The thought of 30-40 more years of this, makes me want to curl up and cry. I’m trying to stay active and reach out to friends to do things that distract me from the pain, but I spend a lot of time feeling very alone.” – Stacie B.

You might feel like things get to be too much sometimes, but please remember to reach out to someone you trust for encouragement when you need it.

Some helpful stories:

6. Thinking You’re a Burden on Loved Ones

“[I fear] I’m a burden on my husband and my family. They can never truly understand, so why would they continue caring in the long run?” – Christy H.

“[An intrusive thought is] that no one will ever love me. I feel like a big burden to my family.” – Ashley D.

Some helpful stories: 

7. Wondering If You’re a Bad Parent

“[I worry] I’m useless and a horrible mother because I can’t always be and do everything I want to for my family.” – Leslie L.

“[An intrusive thought is that] my family would be better off without me. That with me gone, maybe they’d have a chance at finding someone who is more fun and more energetic; someone who could be a better wife and mother than I can be.” – Bonnie P.

Some helpful stories:

8. Believing You’re Not Worthy

“’I’m not good enough. The old me was better in every way.’ I think this is true as I have lost longtime friends who don’t understand. But I still have old friends, and have made new friends. New friends who only know the new me – and still like me. So despite everything going on, the new me must be doing something right.” – Isaac C.

You might believe you’re not worthy due to your chronic illness, but please remember that you are deserving.

Some helpful stories:

9. Feeling Convinced You Won’t Find a Partner

“[An intrusive thought is] that no one will ever want me because I am ‘damaged’ goods. I have to stop and remind myself of all the amazing things I have done and still do daily. And that anyone would be lucky to have someone as strong as me.” – Hannah N.

“[I fear] I’m never going to find a partner or have a family of my own because I’m too sick.” – Charlotte A.

“[I’ve had the thought] that no one will ever love me romantically because I’m too much work.” – Jordan H.

Some helpful stories:

10. Assuming No One Wants to Be Around You

“[I worry] everyone laughs more and has fun when I’m not there. Sometimes I don’t cope well with this but that’s mostly when I’m already down and probably am not much fun to be around.” – Hazzy W.

“This is difficult to admit and bring to light, but honestly I tell myself all the time that no one wants to be around me. It’s entirely difficult to be around anyone who doesn’t understand the many symptoms I go through. It’s almost easier for me to tell myself to harden, before anyone has a chance to break me with their judgment.” – Aaren E.

Some helpful stories: 

11. Feeling Convinced That Your Illness Is Your Fault

“[I have the thought that] being sick is somehow my fault. If I had just exercised more, ate healthier, payed more attention to the things going in/on my body…etc. I know it’s not true but the thought definitely comes up.” – Abbey D.

“I often blame myself. I play the ‘If only I had not eaten the _____’ or if only I were more disciplined about exercise or if only I were stronger emotionally… it’s all a blame game though. I blame myself for the way I feel instead of loving myself through it and trying to heal. It’s the equivalent to kicking myself when I’m down. I’m really working on not doing this!” – Danna T.

Some helpful stories:

12. Feeling Worried About the Future

“[I have] thoughts telling me to be scared of what could happen to me or something is seriously wrong with me when I have unexpected pain. Or that I should just give up on everything since it will never end.” – Kate R.

“I worry how I’ll deal with it as I get older and slower and if I ever find myself alone. I have to pray for peace of mind to get through those thoughts.” – Naomi V.

Some helpful stories:

Please know that if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to reach out to someone you trust. If any of these intrusive thoughts sound familiar, know you are not alone.

Here are some other chronic illness articles about life with chronic illness: