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Reply To: Irrational Fear Taking Over My Life…Please Help

Reply To: Irrational Fear Taking Over My Life…Please Help2013-10-01T12:51:50+00:00

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(Did I get that right?)

I have similar experiences. In general, strong reactions to the mood of any entertainment medium, and well…everything. Once I become overwhelmed or triggered, it can take hours to calm down.

Having noticed this about myself…I try to avoid triggers that I know will send me over the edge.

Part of the “panic” for me is believing my reactions are “wrong” – that I shouldn’t be sensitive or upset. That I should be able to control myself. That if I’m upset it means I’m a bad person. All my life people have accused me of being immature, a drama queen, self-absorbed, “too sensitive,” or an attention hog. These are old, tired messages that serve no useful purpose and tend to prolong the crisis.

My first suggestion would be to not give yourself a hard time for feeling upset (if you tend to do that – I don’t know)  because in my experience those thoughts compound the problem. It is what it is.

Secondly, stock up on positive triggers you can use as an antidote to the negative triggers – whatever those might be for you – a stack of romantic comedies, happy pop music, going outside, recordings of rain sounds, dancing, aromatherapy bath salts, meditation, video games – something with an emotional or physical component that will bring on an internal shift. If I have the presence of mind, I might try to do something creative or watch a documentary. But whatever it is, the antidote usually has to be pretty strong and works best if it  incorporates multiple senses. That’s how to get outside of myself and shut down that loop. Not always easy to do at 2:00 in the morning.

What I’ve learned is that some of that panic can on a life of its own – although it  seems meaningful, it really isn’t. It’s just my brain running wild. I don’t have to take the contents of my mind all that seriously. It will pass. It is kind of illusory, really – because when I feel better, most of what I was flipped out about will shrink down to manageable size.

Rather than trying to attack the problem head on – instead of wrestling with it or trying to figure it out, you might experiment with ways that give you a mental “change of venue.”

I think of it like being in a physical place I don’t want to be. Get up and go somewhere else. Sorry I’m rambling, but what I’m trying to get at here is that maybe there’s nothing to figure out. The trigger happens, it launches a mental state, that noise won’t shut off, you feel stuck. Therapists will try to get you to figure it out, but in my experience, examining the problem makes it worse, because the problem is not the contents of what you’re thinking or feeling,  the real problem is being stuck in a negative feedback loop. Shut that puppy down as quickly and thoroughly as you can. It may take some experimentation, but I’ve learned to do it. (The other night I was losing it, so I watched an inexcusably trashy, sentimental film with an obnoxiously happy ending – and life went on). It helps to assemble the resources ahead of time.