Not being able to trust my own thoughts is unsettling at best but when they are monumentally absurd then it can be terrifying.
I have panic attacks on a regular basis and sometimes as a result of these panic attacks my brain will give me some ‘untruths’. For example, I will have thoughts of,
‘You’re doing everything wrong.’
‘Nobody actually likes you. They pity you.’
‘Why do you think you can do that?’
‘This success is for someone else, not you.’
Now, these, for me are manageable, I can tell my brain to ‘fuck off’ and I know that these thoughts are rubbish and will go away soon.
However, there can be times when a thought creeps into my head that is terrifying and as this will be in a time of anxiety and potentially depression, then it can be more difficult to push those thoughts aside. And these particular ones will be more foreboding than the ones I mentioned above.
I once believed that a man was living in my loft, and I shall tell you my reasoning for this, which is as irrational as actually believing someone was in my loft!
This was years ago when there was just me and Christopher. I am very cautious with locking doors, windows etc… to an OCD extent and I don’t mean that in a ‘jokey’ sense, I actually have OCD with checking lights, doors, ovens, hair straighteners etc.
So, I know that I wouldn’t leave a window open. Which is weird because if I could rationalise that then I wouldn’t have to constantly keep checking windows and doors, because I know I wouldn’t leave them unlocked!
Anyway, i came home one day from somewhere ( can’t remember where) and we had a blind on the kitchen window and the window was a top opener. I could see the shadow of the handle was upright, so the window was unlocked and would open if someone just pushed it or pulled (from outside). Now, this was weird to me for two reasons,
1. I would never leave the house without checking all the windows
2. In order for me to open or close that window meant I would have to climb up on to the kitchen counter. Something I would remember, surely!
I do believe I was already on the brink of some sort of mental breakdown at this point and it didn’t just come out of nowhere. I think, initially, I brushed this off, reasoning with myself that I must have opened it at some point and just not closed it properly…
Then a tray went missing from my kitchen. A tray. I still don’t know where the damn thing is! But I had suddenly dreamed up this ridiculous story that someone had broken into the house, set up camp in my loft and sneaked down to steal a tray… Absolutely ridiculous and seems like nonsense to me now, but right there and then it was very, very real. And I was terrified.
I have to admit that the thought has crossed my mind in recent years, but for some reason I can talk myself out of it.
It’s difficult to train yourself to trust your own thoughts. Or not trust them, depending on the situation…
I have a bedtime routine that exhausts my mind. I have to check the back door and window, twice. Then I check the washing machine, freezer and dryer. Then the oven, but I have to touch the oven knobs and count them to know they are off. ( I know how ridiculous this is!)
Next is the living room window, then the porch and front door. I had started checking a candle on the fireplace (which hardly ever gets used) but I quickly stopped doing it because otherwise it would become another THING.
After this I go check the office windows and the bathroom windows, then I can go to bed.
If I then get in to bed and suddenly my brain tells me I haven’t done one of those things, I have to go back and do it all again.
If Christopher gets up to get something to eat or get a drink then I have to go downstairs just in case he sets fire to the house (even though he might just be getting a glass of water..)
This is exhausting and I honestly do try to not do it but then I can’t sleep. I am going to try a method of eliminating one thing. And hopefully cut it down gradually. I mean we still have to make sure the house is safe obviously, but this goes beyond that.
I have many of these examples. Locking the car is one. I will press that lock button about 5 times as a I walk away from my car. Sometimes I can do it once and walk away, other times I have to go back, several times!
I would love to have a carefree mind, even just for one day, I would love to not worry as much as I do! Actually, I’ll take an hour! To just not have a care in the world.
So, if you have a friend who has this sort of anxiety or OCD or some sort of mixture of this type of condition, then just be mindful that they find it more infuriating, exhausting and tedious than you do. And as much as an inconvenience that it might for you, just imagine living with it every single minute of every day! We don’t want to be like this, it’s not a choice, trust me, nobody would choose to be like this!
Just be patient, be kind and try to not interrupt them when they are carrying out these behaviours, because you’ll just make them have to start all over again!
Reforms are slow, but they never go backward. – Belva Lockwood