What you are undergoing is OCD. I understand how distressing this might be for you. But there is a way you can manage it. Before that, it is important to understand OCD and its mechanism. OCD is where you have recurrent intrusive thoughts that cause you great distress. You may also have repeated behaviors that you do to prevent or reduce anxiety. So the example, you gave about walking down the streets, right? in that, your thought that appears suddenly is intrusive in nature. Incorrect appraisal of these thoughts makes you feel anxious because the meaning of the thought is distressing. As a result, you start thinking of new thoughts. This mental activity is the compulsion you do to reduce the distress caused by these obsessive thoughts.
Hence we feel highly responsible to manage our thoughts and their outcomes. In OCD, we believe that we possess the power to prevent the negative outcomes that these intrusive thoughts might cause.
In your case, there is some thought-event fusion. You believe that these thoughts influence the events of your life.
As a result, you start avoiding things to reduce these thoughts.
What you need to understand is that, yes, this disorder is complex. But definitely not stupid. OCD is more common than you think. And has biological influences too. So it is not your fault to have this disorder or these thoughts.
There are 4 steps you can follow every day to manage OCD on your own.
Relabel: First recognize these obsessive thoughts. You need to identify these thoughts in detail to understand that whatever you are thinking now is a part of an obsession. You need to become aware that this thought you have is a symptom of a medical disorder. Hence, you are relabeling these disturbing thoughts and actions as Obsessions and Compulsions. By labeling, you begin to understand that these thoughts are false alarms with no basis in reality.
Re-attribute: "It's not me. It's my OCD." This helps you remind yourself that these obsessive thoughts are not meaningful. Attribute these thoughts to a medical condition. This prevents incorrect appraisal of these thoughts. You can't just get rid of these thoughts. the more you attempt to get rid of it, the more meaning you are ascribing to the thoughts. Hence, acknowledge the thoughts as a part of OCD - a medical condition. Meanwhile, do another behavior. Put aside these thoughts and feelings and get on with what you normally do. The more you make them go away, the more stress will pile on. This will just increase the distress level. Once you learn to reattribute, you compulsions will reduce as you don't see a meaning in the thoughts. slowly the thought-event fusion will begin to fade.
Refocus: This takes quite a lot of effort. You must learn to mindfully switch to another behavior. Direct your attention to something other than OCD. Its easier said than done. You can follow a fifteen-minute rule to help you with this. The idea is to delay your response to these thoughts for 15 minutes. Slowly try to increase the gap between the thought you have, and the consequent action you take as a compulsion. In this delaying period, relabel, reattribute and refocus. Keep a journal, if that helps.
Revalue: The three processes of Relabel, reattribute and refocus will help you reduce the value you place on these OCD thoughts. In OCD, we must learn to train our minds not to take these intruding feelings at face value. these feelings mislead us due to biochemical changes in our brain causing OCD.
Practice these 4 steps every day.
These 4 steps are widely used by clients with OCD, and it has been found effective as a self-treatment method. I am sharing a reference for you to read. Please go through it. Every step is given in detail.
I hope this helped. Please take care. If you require any other help, leave me a message and we shall schedule a session.