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Intrusive and Anxious Thoughts

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  • #427880
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    So, this happened a few months ago. I had been accepted to one of the topmost universities at the global level for my masters. To fund my studies, I applied for a scheme provided by my local government. The criterion for the scholarship in that scheme was pretty simple, and I easily matched that because of the high QS ranking of my institution. But, as it seemed like I would get the scholarship without any hassle, the officers related with the scheme for some whimsical reasons chose to not let my application progress. It came to a point where I lost all hopes of getting that scholarship. But, it somehow got sorted and I was able to join the university.

    That time period of 2 months had terrible impacts over me. I had already faced some serious challenges in the past three years, including a chronic spine disease that kept me crippled for a year and resurfaced again in 2021, conflicts with family members especially my dad, a toxic relationship and panic attacks in the year 2022. I was able to manage all this with the help of therapy that I began in 2022. But, this time I felt completely shattered because as it felt that things were going good, something worse than my imagination hit me. It would have been so unfair and the subsequent circumstances led to severe breakdowns and downward spiralling.

     

    Now, even though the issues is resolved and I am studying at my dream place, I keep on getting flashbacks of that situation, and I sometimes keep on ruminating on what ifs like what if that situation would have actually happened. It is taking an emotional toll now and I am sort of tired of ruminating on intrusive thoughts and having breakdowns even though that situation didn’t happen in reality. Please suggest what should I do

    #427897
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti1502:

    It seems like the temporary halt in the processing of your application was one more difficulty than you could handle at the time, and it topped the amount of anxiety you were able to handle. Is it possible for you to see a counselor/ therapist, maybe within the university that you are attending?

    anita

    #427898
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear Anita,</p>
     

    Thank you for your reply. I feel that I won’t be comfortable in talking about this with anyone at the moment. Is there something I can do to avoid getting consumed by intrusive and anxious thoughts

    #427899
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshti1502:

    I will answer you best I can in about 16 hours from now, for now, if you are able to answer before I return: can you give me examples of your intrusive thoughts, the words constituting the thoughts, as well as when they happen most of the times, and in what circumstances during the day?

    anita

    #427921
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    My intrusive thoughts make me feel as if that situation has actually happened, and it is my reality. I get flashbacks of what I felt during that time, some examples are – “nothing ever gets better” “there is no point of looking for my wellbeing” “I’m tired now” and “this is so unfair”. I think my emotional state at that moment has left such imprints that they still affect me, making me ruminate over them even though my reality is different.

     

    There is no specific time of the day when such thoughts and emotions surface.

    #427922
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti1502: I am sorry about the delay in my response. I’ll be back to ytou soon.

    anita

    #427923
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti1502

    I am always amazed how we human beings give more weight & validity to some thoughts over others even when intellectually we know that they are not true or even helpful/relevant. The quicker we discern that we have fallen or in danger of falling into that particular rumination rabbit hole the better. Saying phrases like “Is that So?” or “That was then this is now”  can disrupt the line of thought process and then it gives you the option of do you  really wish to pick up that train of thought and run with it? Of course you may have to repeat this process a hundred times or more but each time you do,you are to congratulate yourself that you had awareness and slowly but surely you will gain control over where & what you want to place your mind on.

    Kind regards

    Roberta

    #427924
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Roberta,

    Thanks for your reply. I feel the same thing, it gets frustrating at times to ruminate on intrusive what if thoughts instead of experiencing my reality which is something I actually aspired for. I don’t want this thing to hinder me from using my opportunities here and enjoying my time.

    #427930
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti:

    You wrote about the moment your scholarship application process was stopped: “I think my emotional state at that moment has left such imprints that they still affect me, making me ruminate over them even though my reality is different“.

    The reality of your scholarship application changed, as it was processed and approved, but let’s look at what parts of your reality did not change (I am adding the boldface feature to the following quote): “I had already faced some serious challenges in the past three years, including a chronic spine disease that kept me crippled for a year and resurfaced again in 2021, conflicts with family members especially my dad, a toxic relationship“-

    – First, it saddens me that instead of your father having empathy and compassion for you for having a chronic spine disease- he’s been giving you difficult time on top of difficult time!

    Second, I assume that your thoughts about your chronic spine disease and about your toxic relationship with your father included thoughts like “nothing ever gets better”, “there’s no point in looking for my wellbeing”, “I’m tired now”, and “this is so unfair”!

    Third, your scholarship application was halted unexpectedly, and your previous thoughts resumed: “nothing ever gets better”, “there’s no point..”,  etc.

    The Trauma behind your flashbacks is not the halting of your scholarship application, but what happened before.. and still. What you are suffering from now, seems to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the trauma being your father’s toxic misbehavior toward you, and the chronic spine condition.

    What you need to do now, seems to me, is what is recommended for people suffering from PTSD. You can do an online research on the matter, if you’d like, and let me know of your thoughts..?

    anita

     

    #427932
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I certainly agree that there was a past baggage that added to my emotional issues. Here is the thing, I made significant recovery in my physical health by the end of 2022 and panic attacks also eased out by that time period. But, when the scholarship issue came, it shattered me because of the sheer unfairness of the issues and I began feeling that just when things started to become better, they went for worse. At this point my past baggage became really heavy  because I began to think that its pointless to keep hopes as all I got was traumatic setbacks again and again.

     

    I personally think that if it’s related to the symptoms of PTSD, it is connected more with the scholarship issue; honestly speaking I had never felt such low, and despair and I almost wanted to give up. Thinking about my condition at that point frightens me up now thinking about it, I feel I was on the verge of getting into depression and I didnt want to do anything to avoid it at that point of time. will do my research related to PTSD. Thank you very much

    #427933
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti1502:

    You are very welcome, and I am glad that you will be looking into online information PTSD.

    Here is the thing, I made significant recovery in my physical health by the end of 2022 and panic attacks also eased out by that time period“- recovery from severe anxiety is not a linear process, as in once recovered, always recovered. There is progress, relief, then something negative happens and there is regression, and healing needs to be resumed.

    personally think that if it’s related to the symptoms of PTSD, it is connected more with the scholarship issue”– I understand that the intrusive thoughts occurred following the scholarship issue, but .. do you think of a halting of a scholarship application process as a traumatic event, in objective terms?

    anita

     

    #427941
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear Anita,</p>
    Many thanks. The scholarship issue was a traumatic event for me because it threatened to lay waste an opportunity that was quite significant for me, and the biggest challenge was that it was due to entirely unfair reasons! The officers in charge were deliberately not letting my application process. It brought at the same time, an unbearable mix of emotions like despair, frustration, bitterness, hopelessness etc. I felt that no matter how much I tried, things would always get worse. I think because the situation was grave and had high stakes, it became traumatic.

    Looking forward to your suggestions and response.

    #427942
    anita
    Participant

    Dear kshiti1502:

    You are welcome! I understand better why this event was traumatic for you, a big part of the reason is that it was, as you said, “entirely unfair“. I want to reply further Tues morning, when I am better focused (it is Mon afternoon here).

    anita

    #427947
    Tommy
    Participant

    [quote quote=427880]Now, even though the issues is resolved and I am studying at my dream place, I keep on getting flashbacks of that situation, and I sometimes keep on ruminating on what ifs like what if that situation would have actually happened. It is taking an emotional toll now and I am sort of tired of ruminating on intrusive thoughts and having breakdowns even though that situation didn’t happen in reality. Please suggest what should I do[/quote]

    You know what needs to be done to get you out of this cycle of believing your thoughts more than the reality. You need to release the thoughts of these possible tragedy. To not bring to mind these thoughts. It will take time to make your mind run a routine of being mindful of your thoughts. Control your feelings and what concerns you. Sure it is not an easy thing to do when you are in the middle of the thoughts. Feelings pop up and discord takes over. But, if you keep the practice of being mindful of the present and the things you need to do and think about then eventually you will make progress to living in the present and being happy. But, if you continue to ruminate over the past then all hell breaks loose. You will lose yourself in those thoughts. I wish you strength and a good handle of those things you need to deal with. Good Luck.

    #427955
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshiti:

    (I am adding the boldface feature selectively to the quotes):”I get flashbacks of what I felt during that time, some examples are – ‘nothing ever gets better’ ‘there is no point of looking for my wellbeing’…  I began feeling that just when things started to become better, they went for worse. At this point my past baggage became really heavy  because I began to think that it’s pointless to keep hopes as all I got was traumatic setbacks again and again… It brought at the same time, an unbearable mix of emotions like despair, frustration, bitterness, hopelessness etc. I felt that no matter how much I tried, things would always get worse. I think because the situation was grave and had high stakes, it became traumatic”-

    Despair is the complete absence of hope, and Hope is the expectation or trust that something positive will happen in the future as a result of your efforts today. Here is a quote (from good reads) about despair: “Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing is to lose your reason for living“.

    To counter and defeat your personal despair, Kshiti, clarify to yourself what is your personal, chosen Reason for living, a purpose for living related to something you value most. And focus on that reason every day, state it for yourself when you wake up in the morning, when you go to sleep at night, and in-between. If you would like to share your thoughts about this, please do, and hopefully.. I can help you in the process of finding and choosing your own, personal Reason for living.

    Helplessness is the feeling and belief that you have no control over what is happening and what might happen next, that no matter what you do, you can’t prevent bad things from happening, so what’s the point.

    It is true that we are all helpless in some situations and lots of people do find themselves in helpless situations such as wars, earthquakes or, on a smaller scale, financial bankruptcy.. or the loss of a scholarship. Here The Serenity Prayer can help (it definitely helps me). You can repeat it to yourself in the following words, or you can customize it to fit your religion or lack of religion, to English or another language: “god, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference“.

    This prayer/ focus is about adopting a calm state of mind, as calm as possible for you in regard to situations you truly cannot control, and to adopt a courageous state of mind in regard to situations you can control, at least in part, and then put this courage into action. You can think of courage as Strength in the face of Despair.

    Here are a few quotes about courage (good reads): “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts”, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are”, “Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”.

    Back to your words, Kshiti: “It would have been so unfair… it shattered me because of the sheer unfairness.. the biggest challenge was that it was due to entirely unfair reasons!“-

    – Here are a few quotes on Fairness aka Justice: “Nothing is to be preferred before justice”, “Win or lose, do it fairly”, and “Life is unfair. And it’s not fair that life is unfair”.

    Kshiti, accept with as much calm as you can all that you truly (and sadly) cannot change, and focus on changing what you can: practice fairness and justice in your choice of words and actions, and encourage others to do the same.

    anita

     

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