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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Knee jerk

What do you do when you brain is spinning in an obsessive thought loop and you can't make it stop? Instead the thought just gets bigger and bigger and more elaborate, and you're walking around looking normal but you're quietly hyperventilating and wondering if you'll survive this thing you might have conjured but are having physical and emotional reactions to as if it were real.

It is my nature to brace for the worst, but this is no way to live.

Thoughts? Advice? Tricks?


48 comments:

  1. Anything physical: swim laps (easy on the joints and see http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1997/05/26/water-babies), hike, dance to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" (I know, I know ..), clean ALL your windows (only if you're not feeling suicidal, please). S-x might or might not be advisable, though.

    Recite mindfully: poetry, the alphabet or the Lord's Prayer, first forwards and then backward (maybe not the Lord's Prayer backwards :-)). Try memorizing the Greek alphabet, forwards and, of course, backwards. Conjugate irregular verbs in a foreign language.

    If alcohol is your friend: get drunk (not too often).

    Do as my father used to do: Write the thought on a piece of paper and put it into a bottom drawer (alternatives: burn the piece of paper or throw it into the river).

    Knit a complicated pattern, do sudokus ...

    Oh, and let me know if any of these worked (some 30 years ago they helped me through an ectopic pregnancy)

    with you across the ocean and half a continent
    r.

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    1. Dear Regine, thank you for this thoughtful list. I am going to do some of these things. I am going to take up knitting first. You've just reminded me how meditative that can feel. xo

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  2. I completely understand this. I do exactly like this. I can't live like that.
    Which is why I'm on medication.
    Can you call your doctor and ask for a mild anti-anxiety med and then perhaps something like an anti-depressant that will help you? Nothing else I have tried works for me. I wish I had something better to offer.
    I love you. I am so sorry that this is happening. And it does you no good for me to tell you that all will be well. That, too, I know.
    But it will be.

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    1. Darling Mary, I know you understand. I think just confessing my brain sickness in a post helps a bit, as do the kindhearted connections in this place. I am afraid to take antidepressants; i have an addictive nature, and doesn't that just go hand in hand with this brain of mine? I think so many addicts start out just trying to self medicate. Maybe what I need is to go back to therapy. The last one I went to was to centered on blaming my mother, who of course had some blind spots, who doesn't make mistakes as a mother, but her intentions were always pure towards us, so while i could look at how some things might have affected me, i had no tolerance for blaming my recently dead mother. so i left. but now i need to find someone else because therapy does help me. Oh look, I'm rambling. Sigh.

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  3. When that happens to me, I pray. I pray that God takes these thoughts and feelings from me and I keep praying until they go away....

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  4. Set a timer and then go sit down and give yourself permission to just run with it. Think and go wild with the idea. You will find that it will spin its way out and you will come back to earth.

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    1. Ah Birdie, you have no idea how wild i could go with it...or maybe you do. xo

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  5. I think Sister Moon's tender advice so rings true. Don't be afraid to take care of yourself.

    Sometimes when I'm anxious, I go somewhere and sit still. And just people watch. Or I write. Or I pray. Coming into Grady gives me solace, too, but of course you're in New York. :)

    But really, just sitting still and letting yourself be reminded of how loved you are. From the comments I think this is a start. Your post is brave. Just like you. Love you so, my sister.

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    1. Kimberly, I love to people watch too, and i live in a great city to do that. Thank you for being here, dear one, and for the love.

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  6. Something ritualistic -- put the thought/thoughts on a piece of paper and then burn it. Write an intention down, read it and then put it away. Wait. Get out of town. Go to a therapist. Know that you've been here before and you always leave. Call a friend.

    Sending love.

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    1. Elizabeth, i like the idea of rituals, of burning shit. you're right of course. I have been here before so many times. will i ever grow past this? i love you.

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  7. Something in the water, girl. I'd offer advice but I'm in the same boat lately. I think Regine's list is a good place to start. The physical thing, she's right about that. Getting outside, a slow-paced walk in the park somewhere. One thing is to sit across from yourself and give yourself the love and acceptance that you'd ordinarily give someone else that you saw in pain- you'd be loving towards them, so treat yourself with the kindness you'd give a friend. Be your own best friend. And be genuine about it, because she'll be able to tell if you're bullshitting.

    You could take a little dip in the archives of your blog, too, to see vivid reminders of your own happiness and proof of the love you have wrought in this world.

    Also, acceptance of feeling shitty and curiosity about it rather than resistance. Tall order there, I know.

    I wish you felt better. I'm sorry you're suffering.


    love,

    Scott

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    1. Dear Scott, let's row that boat for all we're worth until we see land. and maybe we can jump into the water and take a swim now and then, and practice having faith that no sharks will be interested in us. Why is it that when we are in this place the love people feel for you doesn't seem to penetrate the anxiety and fear and sadness? i feel alone. unloveable. i really like the idea of non resistance. I hope you feel better soon, too, friend. And thank you for this beautiful message. Love.

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  8. Not all therapists are into framing in terms of blaming. With a bit of trial and error and no doubt luck and grace as well, it should be possible in NYC to find a really smart one who has the chops to do powerful work with you.

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    1. A, i was so perplexed that she was so intent on blaming my mother, who had just died. i had a good, not a perfect, mother. The therapist was really good in other ways, but i couldn't really deal with that blaming thing. Yes, I'm sure there is someone else out there who will be just right. I have had wonderful therapists before, one who pretty much saved my life, but she retired and moved south to be with her grandchildren. Thanks for the kindness i sense in your comment. Thanks for being here.

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  9. Therapy, meditation(use music or a single candle) warm baths, swimming, knitting, I also play with or pet my cats...sometimes I try to watch movies...Hugs.

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    1. e, i'm really warming to the idea of taking you knitting again. you're the second person to mention it. thank for being here, friend.

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  10. A few more thoughts- antidepressants can not, as far as I can see, become abused. I mean- they do nothing in the way of any sort of immediate gratification. Nothing.
    And I didn't want to take them either but I reached a point where it was do something or...well.
    Do something.
    I exercised like crazy, was taking yoga three times a week, took all the "right" supplements, ate well (could hardly eat at all, truthfully) and none of that helped.
    I think another thing that played a big part in my initial bout with anxiety was hormones. Menopause. I am also on biodentical hormones and I think they help me tremendously.
    If going to the therapist is something that helps, then do it! Yes, m'am.
    There are never too many tools to go into the toolbox for this particular malady. Never. Just as there is no one answer, there can be many things which help and which bring relief.
    And I tell you again- I love you.

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    1. Cosigning statement on antidepressants and potential for abuse. Most issues with these medications occur with abrupt discontinuation which isn't a form of withdrawal at all.

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    2. Interesting distinction about withdrawal versus symptoms that attend abrupt withdrawal. Thank you both for these insights on antidepressants!

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  11. Also, I have not read the book cited in the link I'm going to give you but I think it is probably a wonderful book and I do intend to. I love this author.
    http://www.matthaig.com/reasons-to-stay-alive/

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    1. Mary, I remember you wrote about that book on your blog once. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely take a look.

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  12. Early on after my shitty diagnosis I went to see a therapist as I thought I was unrecognisably mad and sad and so on. She was very blunt but I have come to cherish her advice over the years:
    Don't run from it, write it down, whatever it is that frightens you so much, do that as often as you need to. Don't read it, do that later maybe, but most of all, observe yourself as you write it down. Watch yourself being able to do it, being compentent and whole, accomplishing this task for yourself. And remember that in doing so you are not alone, that this is what many many people are going through right now.

    I admit it doesn't always work for me, if all fails and I am fit enough, I go outside, no matter what time of day or night or weather. That or mindless distraction, watching entire tv series or making jam or baking bread listening to weird podcasts. I have cleaned all the cuttlery, refolded all the sheets, rearranged the bookshelves while crying buckets of tears and waiting for the world to end. Which it never did.

    Be well, trust yourself. Don't blame yourself. You are complete.

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    1. Thank you dear Sabine. Go outside. Distract yourself. Write it down. All great suggestions. xo

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  13. What works for me (though may not work for anybody else) is to go into it as deeply as I possibly can. Lean in, so to speak. It is painful and difficult, but it's the only thing I've ever found to make the perseveration stop.

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    1. NOLA, perseveration, now there's a word. I wish I understood it less well. Thank you.

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  14. This is a tricky fish for me.... a familiar yet slippery foe! Sometimes it helps to share my thoughts, shed light on the demon and have someone help rein in my brain but other times that feeds the fire. Writing out my thoughts and trying to process the issue away can help, but sometimes logic just doesn't pierce the obsessive aspect... In those times I have to get physical and distract myself from the thoughts or go the other direction and meditate or relax until the thoughts subside, occasionally the only reprieve is medication or time for the anxious thoughts to burn themselves out.

    Unfortunately I think it's a case of finding what works best for you at any given time, a sometimes time consuming and sometimes frustrating case!

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    1. HBF, writing generally works well which I think is why I have a blog, but of course, one can't post quite everything on a blog, because even if the people who comment are warm and supportive you never know who will find your blog (potential employers, professional contacts) and have an impression of you that you might not desire them to have. Then again, maybe that is just the illusion of control, which is part of my issue anyway. Thank you for your suggestions and your understanding of how it is. I wish you days with no fire, just fresh soothing water. xo

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  15. The only way I found to deal with obsessive thoughts was to try to distract myself (going for a walk, doing a chore, talking to a friend, reading a book), and when it worked - even if it was only for a second or two - I was able to reason with myself and say to myself, if distraction worked once it can work again. As time went by I could forget the obsessive thoughts for longer and longer periods. I haven't had the problem in years, probably just because I've never again had as much time as I had back then. Sometimes I worry about whether it will come back when I am older and not working and don't have family close by to be looking after. But I try to remember that the first step for me is to do something besides thinking, and then notice when I have not had the obsessive thought for even a moment, and build from there. Good luck.

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  16. P. S. Came over from Ms Moon's blog. I don't usually comment, just because I'm trying to reduce the amount of time I spend on the internet. It's not working :)

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    1. Jenny O, I'm so glad you commented. I love your suggestions and hearing your story. I think it does help to be busy, but the kind of busy that is connected to other people. Working alone as I do, self-directed, sometimes, no matter how much work there is, obsessive thoughts intrude. I think you're so right about distraction, though. Thank you for being here, and for chiming in.

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  17. You got so many great suggestions here. I won't add more. But I want to say you are loved dear woman.

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    1. Joanne, I'm overwhelmed by the comments here, the wonderful, creative and thoughtful suggestions, the understanding, the kindness. This is truly a healing community, and I am grateful for every person who reads here. Thank you, dear one.

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  18. I think physical activity and mental diversions -- like hobbies -- are the key. Keep yourself occupied. You don't need to overdo it, and indeed there is value in reflecting on your feelings an inhabiting them -- so you don't want to be active to the extent that you AVOID how you're feeling. But being busy is good.

    There's also a time when it's perfectly reasonable to seek professional help and guidance, and, as Ms. Moon said, possibly medication. If you get a therapist, talk to them about your misgivings about meds and see what they say. You need a therapist who works for you, and clearly your last one didn't, from what you said about their focus and technique -- but there are lots of therapists out there and surely one who can help.

    Thinking of you!

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    1. Steve, you have a certain pragmatism that I love. You're so reasonable in your assessment, and so trustworthy. I'm glad we're friends.

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  19. Replies
    1. Candice, we should talk one day about HOW to meditate. I'm not sure I've ever done it "right." xo

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  20. The only two things that work for me are Yoga With Adriene (youtube) and Wellbutrin. Alcohol is self-medicating, but I don't think prescribed medications are. My own experience with Wellbutrin was that it worked immediately and that when my body was ready to stop, I stopped, and that was that. I have no idea what your experience with medication might be. I got to a point where I realized I didn't have to feel this way, and I didn't have to "manage" depression on my own. And I agree that your last therapist was not serving you, but another one might. I love you Angella. I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. Please take care of your dear self.

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    1. Vesuvius, thank you for this, sweet friend. I love you dearly, too.

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  21. These comments are all so great, and so different. I think the message is to try everything and see what works.

    For me, when my brain is doing the obsessive pointless loop thing, it's very different from being sad or depressed or even just being worried. What helps me is taking a very low dose of an anti-anxiety medication. Not an antidepressant or a sedative, and not anything that I take every day - I take it maybe once a month or two months and, for me, it basically just derails the loop.

    Everyone's brains are different, but that works for my brain. Hope your brain feels better soon. :)

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    1. Thank you dear ellen. Could you email me and let me know what anti anxiety medication you take? I think I may have to look into this. Love to you.

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  22. Just stopping by to see how you are doing today. Hoping today is lighter.

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    1. Thanks, Birdie! I do feel somewhat lighter, though standing on the verge, you know that feeling where anything could tip you in the wrong direction? But I have received so many wonderful comments here, so many things to try, and it helps more than people probably know, and it makes me feel connected to something beyond myself and this outer world that plays tricks on my perception sometimes. Thank you for checking on me! xo

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  23. Do you see how loved you are?
    You are.

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  24. I breathe. Run. Watch TV. Meditate. Drink. Sleep. Read. Knit. Write. Garden. Play piano. Cook. Listen to the radio. Breathe some more. Listen to music and try to concentrate on only that.
    Or: do the worst case scenario exercise: ok, say it happens, then what do I do? Now I have a plan, Iet it go. x

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  25. Oh yeah and therapy was great. Did years of that. Years!

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