I've battled with intrusive thoughts that cause me a great deal of anxiety and guilt, but recently, something came up that increased it by tenfold. An older friend of mine who has been dealing with PTSD and hasn't had the ability to receive professional services came out and told me something that has been haunting him. About 35+ years ago, he committed murder of a stranger in what he describes as an act of self-defense when hitchhiking. He describes it as something he never would have done if he didn't feel danger in the situation and not as something he wanted to do. He also told me he's never confessed this to anyone before. I also know he is someone who would never harm anyone presently.
My intrusive and anxious thoughts are centered around this: No matter how ill-intentioned the victim was that facilitated the crime in being committed, someone out there who loved this person (i.e., family) never found out what happened to them. I feel so much guilt, constantly -- all day -- that I know a piece of information about someone, somewhere regarding their fate. And I know the person involved in it. SO much guilt.
Here's how I try to calm myself down: I know nothing about this person that I'd be able to share with law enforcement, even if I wanted to. All I know is that it happened. My knowing of the incident just means that: I know about it only in minor detail. I don't possess any actual information that could help lead to their discovery. I also know that my friend, who I couldn't imagine harming a fly prior to this revelation, states he acted in self-defense and suffers a great amount of emotional distress years and years later.
But I can't stop that nagging thought that I am a horrible, evil, vile person for not sharing what I know. I feel TREMENDOUS responsibility. I feel like I can't talk to anyone about it in my life, and the thoughts are causing me a great deal of distress. I think what might help resolve it is if others, outside of myself, were to tell me their thoughts on the matter and help me see it more objectively. I need to know that I'm not doing anything wrong (if indeed I am not doing anything wrong).