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Intrusive and Anxious Thoughts

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  • #433050
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome. I am beginning to understand better how terrible the scholarship application fiasco was for you, how powerless you felt in an unfair situation, which indeed breeds rage! I doubted it before, that a scholarship application being stalled can be a trauma, resulting in post traumatic stress disorder. I changed my mind: in your case, it was traumatic!

    “I was in a loop of enraging memories a few minutes ago as well. It becomes very difficult to not let the emotions take over, it is even interfering with my studies at time.. I took that anger on myself… I was taking some revenge by hurting myself… I began feeling anger towards life itself… I would like to know more about solving this unresolved anger“- angry, enraged, traumatized Kshitij.

    “I too feel a lack of self compassion in me, I feel that the only person who would look down on Kshitij is Kshitij himself… I judge myself. It’s me who fixes my self worth on my external achievements and my work… I cannot do what is required for me to find some peace and solace“- Kshitij means “born of the earth”, or “horizon” in Sanskrit. The name signifies (so I read) the point where the sky and sea appear to meet, creating a beautiful and symbolic connection between earth and sky.

    May your trauma and the rage it bred, evaporate as it meets the sky,; may it dissolve into the big blue, beautiful sky. You are a good person, Kshitij. I value you as a person, not as a student and professional.. just as a person. I don’t want you to suffer anymore. Please, give yourself the peace and solace that (I say!) you deserve!

    anita

    #433143
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you very much for your kind words, I felt really good when you used the meaning of my name to make it a symbolism of healing. I want to free myself from this trauma and suffering, its been too long but I don’t know how to give myself peace and solace among these intrusive thoughts. I know I lack self-compassion, for I at times judge myself for obsessing over these intrusive thoughts.

    Thanks for understanding my trauma about the scholarship situation, I really appreciate that, and I am saying so because most of the people around me couldn’t. They couldn’t understand why I had to be depressed about a ‘scholarship issue’. No one apart from my bestfriend was able to truly empathize with me, and as a result of this, no one apart from her knows about this intrusive thought situation. I am afraid to tell this to any of my other friends because I fear that my thoughts might get dismissed again, and I will look stupid in front of them for being traumatized over this thing. The worst part is that I am not being able to tell my therapist about this. She has been so helpful over the last two years and I am grateful for all her help and support, but something within me stops me from sharing all of this with her. This is when I have regular sessions with her and currently we are working on my enraging thoughts only. Its like a part of me is adamant to not approach for any professional help or even help from friends on this matter.

    Another thing I observed recently, that the scholarship situation at times makes me live in fear. Sometimes I see all what I am achieving and doing (touchwood) here, and then comes an intrusive thought with the fear that all of it can be lost, and I would have lost this if the situation wouldn’t have sorted. I had to recently file documentation for my monthly stipend and there was some issue going on with it, even that made me imagine the worst possible things. A flip side to this is my constant anxiety about ‘making the best’ out of this opportunity and a perpetual feeling that I am not doing as much as others are doing, I am lagging behind. I do not want to spend the two years of my masters consumed in these intrusive thoughts and struggling with my mental health because of them.

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

     

     

    #433160
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij: I will reply in the next 14 hours.

    anita

    #433182
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are very welcome, and thank you for expressing your appreciation!

    I want to free myself from this trauma and suffering, its been too long but I don’t know how to give myself peace and solace among these intrusive thoughts. I know I lack self-compassion, for I at times judge myself for obsessing over these intrusive thoughts“- the function of the emotional experiences of shame (judging oneself negatively) and guilt (judging one’s actions negatively) is to motivate a person to correct certain behaviors that need to be corrected, so to be a better person to oneself, and to others. Once the correction has been made, shame and guilt, having served their purpose, should be resolved and dissolved. When a person is stuck in guilt and shame, it’s like a festering wound in one’s mind and heart, filling the mind and heart with pus. There is no space for self-compassion when one’s mind-and-heart are filled with figurative pus.

    Earlier in your thread, you wrote: “there was a point in my teens when I began to feel as if I had nothing good in me apart from my academic“- you felt- feel that you were not a good person, nothing (almost) good in you.

    I do not want to spend the two years of my masters consumed in these intrusive thoughts and struggling with my mental health because of them“- I think that being stuck in shame and guilt has been fueling your intrusive thoughts for a long time.

    Earlier in your thread, you wrote: “As my best friend put it for me – ‘you think you need to suffer again and again that’s why you drag yourself back to those thoughts and situations“- like your friend said, it is your need to suffer (a result of shame and guilt), that’s dragging you to (fueling) your intrusive thoughts.

    Here is more evidence of your shame and guilt (May 23): “I took that anger on myself…  taking some revenge by hurting myself… self-harming behavior (not physical harm) like discontinuing therapy, cutting off all friendships and relations, refusing proper diet and taking care of my physical health and even giving up my career aspirations… I judge myself“- you feel like hurting and harming someone you judge to be a bad person.  You wouldn’t be motivated to hurt, harm and take revenge against a person you judge to be a good person.

    May 23: “I sometimes feel that lack of self compassion is the very reason I suffer so much from these intrusive thoughts“-  shame and guilt (the figurative pus I mentioned above) leave no space for self-compassion. Shame and guilt are fueling your intrusive thoughts and causing a mix of despair, depression, rage, hopelessness, and bitterness.

    The sermons delivered by your father, was where and how shame and guilt were introduced into your mind and heart, weren’t they?

    “I am not being able to tell my therapist about this. She has been so helpful over the last two years…“- I hope that you manage somehow to tell it all to your therapist: you can start by telling her why it’s so difficult for you to tell her.

    When your shame and guilt are resolved, so will your unnecessary suffering, unnecessary because you are a good person, and good people should not suffer.

    anita

     

    #433229
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thanks for your empathy and insights. I never paid much attention to guilt and shame so it was a new perspective for me. Thank you for believing that I don’t deserve to suffer, because sometimes I don’t. There are days when I think of just resigning to my obsessive intrusive thoughts because I see no hope. To be honest I still do not know how will I recover, but I understand that getting in depths of my thought patterns and emotions is very important. Can I send a detailed reply to your thread by tomorrow EOD? In the meantime, I have a question- Are these intrusive thoughts that I experience or flashbacks? Or a mix of both? I sometimes feel that I am spiraling because of the traumatic memories of that difficult time while sometimes it feels like a compulsion to trigger intrusive thinking.

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

    #433232
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are very welcome. Yes, I do believe that you don’t deserve to suffer, very much so!

    Can I send a detailed reply to your thread by tomorrow EOD?“- yes, in the End Of the Day (I googled that, didn’t know the acronym..)

    In the meantime, I have a question- Are these intrusive thoughts that I experience or flashbacks? Or a mix of both?“- both, these are intrusive thoughts (thoughts that disturb you a lot) and intrusive memories aka flashbacks (memories that disturb you a lot). Flashbacks are visual and/ or auditory memories, as well memories that are strictly emotional and physical- no picture and no sound to the memories, only the emotional and tactile re-experiencing of the trauma.

    anita

    #433286
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thanks for your explanation and earlier reply. Now I read your thread, I find it easier to explain why after all I am unable to share my situation with anyone. It is indeed feelings of shame and guilt that don’t let me speak out loud what’s inside my head, and because of it I still cannot say all this in front of anyone. I feel that one reason behind my evident lack of self-compassion is this ‘figurative pus’ you mentioned, which makes me judge myself for my thoughts and doesn’t let me do thing for my betterment. But, I didn’t understand how my shame and guilt are fueling my emotions of despair, hopelessness etc.?

    I don’t know how much of a role my father played in this thing. Its true that my parents kept some unrealistic expectations from me in terms of academics, behavior etc. and I was criticized for every small thing, That did cause an internal critic within me but I do not particularly feel that my father’s sermons instilled shame and guilt in me. But, its been pointed out to me by some of my closest people that I do have a habit of self-loathing, so maybe that is related with my guilt and/or shame related with my intrusive thoughts? Please tell me something I can do to ease these harmful emotions so that I can reach out for help and stop giving so much pain to myself. I will try to talk to my therapist, I am thinking to send her a compiled journal entry but I feel I am not ready to talk about this thing in-person with anyone right now.

    One more thing, Anita. I feel like my intrusive thought patterns have also harmed my perspective towards life. Sometimes when I am in a spiral, I feel that life is pointless. Somedays I am upbeat, but remaining days I am just down in the dumps, and then I begin thinking like this. For example this thought came to me- I gave a huge amount of effort for my masters, even when I was struggling a lot with my mental and physical health, and all of it was on the verge of becoming zero- I couldn’t do anything. And when I finally got the scholarship, even in that I was just a passive recipient, it just happened to me.  What is the point of putting in your life and efforts when everything is so random? When everything is decided by supposed uncontrollable factors that in real life are actually like that scholarship official, what is the point of things after all? True, at the end, getting that scholarship had become as random as the entire fiasco, and all these thoughts seemingly make me question everything. Its like I achieved my goal, but am paying a high cost for it. After all, these intrusive thoughts and emotional issues  are also a challenge. So does this mean that anyways, all I have to do is to keep facing challenges? I cannot remember the last time when I had a long period of substantial mental peace. How does it make sense after all? It feels like no matter how hard I try, I can never find mental peace, and even after moving to a better place in life (like getting the scholarship) will bring more trauma.

    Thanks

    Kshitij

    #433287
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome!

    I didn’t understand how my shame and guilt are fueling my emotions of despair, hopelessness etc.?“- to be stuck feeling ashamed and guilty is a terrible emotional experience. If calm and contentment are like the sun gently shining above you, relentless shame and guilt are like thick hail dropping on you from above, hitting you, bruising you. When the hail can drop on you at any time, winter or summer, spring or fall, then you get desperate and hopeless.

    I was criticized for every small thing“- I think of these criticisms as thick hail dropping on you, hurting you, making you bleed.

    I do have a habit of self-loathing, so maybe that is related with my guilt and/or shame related with my intrusive thoughts?“- yes, I believe so.

    Please tell me something I can do to ease these harmful emotions so that I can reach out for help and stop giving so much pain to myself”– to ease and resolve these harmful emotions (shame, guilt, self-loathing), you have to.. heal the shame that binds you. I am using a title of a book I read long ago: Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw.

    Here are a couple of quotes from the book: “There is no way you can share your inner self because you are an object of contempt to yourself. When you are contemptible to yourself, you are no longer in you. To feel shame is to feel exposed in a diminished way. When you’re an object to yourself, you turn your eyes inward, watching and scrutinizing every minute detail of behavior. This internal critical observation is excruciating. It generates a tormenting self-consciousness that Kaufman describes as ‘creating a binding and paralyzing effect upon the self.’ This paralyzing internal monitoring causes withdrawal, passivity and inaction”,

    “Toxically shamed people tend to become more and more stagnant as life goes on. They live in a guarded, secretive and defensive way. They try to be more than human (perfect and controlling) or less than human (losing interest in life or stagnated in some addictive behavior)”-                  do these quotes speak to you personally, Kshitij?

    I gave a huge amount of effort for my masters, even when I was struggling a lot with my mental and physical health, and all of it was on the verge of becoming zero- I couldn’t do anything. And when I finally got the scholarship, even in that I was just a passive recipient, it just happened to me.  What is the point of putting in your life and efforts when everything is so random?“- You cannot be calm and content unless you experience that you do have control over some parts of what happens to you life, that you can make some desirable things happen and avoid some undesirable things; you have to become active, not passive, when it comes to your life.

    It feels like no matter how hard I try, I can never find mental peace, and even after moving to a better place in life (like getting the scholarship) will bring more trauma“- the difference that will make all the difference for you, is to believe that you have what it takes to handle difficulties and challenges, that you are strong enough and resourceful enough.

    For as long as one believes that one has no power over one’s life, no control, no say.. every difficulty can feel overwhelmingly huge.

    anita

    #433474
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    I thought that I’d look up some quotes about hopelessness for you. I think that the following apply to you, as well as to me and many others (I am adding the boldface feature):

    “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” (“… helplessness induce(s) hopelessness”),

    “In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive

    “The world is bad but not without hope. It is only hopeless when you look at it from an ideal viewpoint

    when things go wrong, don’t go with them“,             “do not despair, do not give up, look for the sunlight through the clouds“.

    And a quote (medium. com/ why I am not in a hurry and you shouldn’t be either) about mental rushing (such as perhaps, … Intrusive and Anxious Thoughts): “Being in a hurry is not solely a visible action. It is an internal state that comes from the human desire to speed up time in the hope of achieving the result faster. We may also say, it is an internal aggression toward time… hastiness leads to suffering and a loss of presence in the present moment…  People who speed up time drastically lower their energy levels and start getting chronic fatigue and sick… You must let go of rushing, internally as well as externally. It’s as much a mindset as a behavior that you are letting go of”

    anita

    #433475
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you very much for looking up quotes for me. Really means a lot. But, I don’t know why reading quotes has become an anxiety trigger causing intrusive thoughts/flashbacks just as it did now. I used to follow a lot of quotes and thoughts pages on social media too but ever since the intrusive thoughts situation has arose, reading any type of quote, especially related to things like hope, resilience etc. gives me terrible anxiety and often lead me to a spiral of flashbacks. Please do not take it as a complaint, it is really a very kind thing, but this is something I thought I should share with you.

    The quote about mental rushing: the moment I read it felt personal. It felt so true. I do not know in what ways it is true, but it felt very relatable. Even beyond this, I am feeling lonely and miserable these days.

     

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

     

    #433477
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome, but I am sorry the effect was negative.

    I don’t know why reading quotes has become an anxiety trigger causing intrusive thoughts/flashbacks just as it did now… reading any type of quote, especially related to things like hope, resilience etc. gives me terrible anxiety and often lead me to a spiral of flashbacks“- maybe (?)  because such quotes create pressure in you, pressure to become more resilient and hopeful, and pressure of any kind is the least of what you need.

    “Please do not take it as a complaint, it is really a very kind thing, but this is something I thought I should share with you“- I don’t take it as a complaint; I take it as a compliment: that you feel safe enough with me to tell me your truth. I very much appreciate you sharing this with me. Now I know what I didn’t know before because you told me, so thank you!

    The quote about mental rushing: the moment I read it felt personal. It felt so true. I do not know in what ways it is true, but it felt very relatable“- slowing-down is the cure to rushing, isn’t it. That’s what Mindfulness is about, guided meditations online, even relaxing music.

    Even beyond this, I am feeling lonely and miserable these days.“- I am sorry to read this.. Socializing is another slowing-down/ calming activity. I wish there was a group of people you can spend time with for a couple of hours every afternoon or evening, or every other day..!

    anita

     

    #433478
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for being so understanding! I think its a sort of pressure, but I feel some kind of fear or threat from reading these quotes.

    I don’t know what to do to slow down. I think a part of this rushing is also because of my intrusive thoughts. This is what I wrote in my journal just a few minutes back-
    <p style=”text-align: justify; background: white; margin: 0in 0in 7.5pt 0in;”>“Sometimes it appears like I am living in a state of constant fear. Occasionally a fear grapples me when I think that all what I am doing and having right now could have been taken away, but on other times this same vicious cycle makes me anxious about not doing enough, not making the best out of this opportunity. What is the result? I feel that I am always rushing, that I am lagging behind, that I have been able to do nothing and others are doing far better than me. I feel terribly lonely at times, maybe I suck at making friends and social connections. Maybe there is some imposter syndrome. A part of me feels constant fatigue, partially because from the past two months my sleep pattern has been really bad. I cannot really sleep before some time past 1 no matter how hard I try, and I do not know when was the last time when I slept without waking up a couple of times at night.”</p>
    Socializing hasn’t been easy for me. It is never easy in Oxford, but it has been particularly rough for me. As a result, at times I feel friendless here, all around me are acquaintances, course-mates and housemates but no real friends. Maybe it is all my fault, I am not anyways very good in socializing. I have exams in less than two weeks of time, that is also adding on some stress.

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

    #433479
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    You are welcome, and thank you for your appreciation and grace!

    This is what I wrote in my journal just a few minutes back- ‘Sometimes it appears like I am living in a state of constant fear… anxious about not doing enough, not making the best out of this opportunity… that I have been able to do nothing and others are doing far better than me“- the pressure to do more, to make the best out of this opportunity, to do as well or better than others- is causing you anxiety.

    What is the result? I feel that I am always rushing, that I am lagging behind“- I read that Rushing and Being late/ lagging behind are two sides of the same coin.

    A part of me feels constant fatigue, partially because from the past two months my sleep pattern has been really bad…“- I checked, it’s 1:40 am where you are (at the time I submit this post). The pressure and the anxiety that goes with it is exhausting you.

    If.. if you truly, deeply understand how harmful pressure is for you, how it is congruent with failure, (and incongruent with success), is there a way for you to form the intent to remove any and all pressure from your mind, as in saying: if I fail, I fail, so be it..?

    I am not anyways very good in socializing“- no wonder, being that you are under so much stress, and so exhausted.

    I have exams in less than two weeks of time, that is also adding on some stress“- removing the unnecessary, harmful pressure from your mind-  will lower your stress level and promote your chances to do better academically.

    anita

    #433510
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kshitij:

    “I don’t know what to do to slow down. I think a part of this rushing is also because of my intrusive thought… It is never easy in Oxford“-

    – J. Mark G. Williams also studied in the University of Oxford, and is currently a professor of clinical psychology there. He is a leading expert on Mindfulness. I first heard of him in 2011 when I attended psychotherapy (U.S.). My therapist at the time gave me homework assignments that included listening to one of Mark William’s guided meditations every day.  Some of the audios I used to listen to are still online, free of charge (last I checked).

    One book he authored is called Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a hectic world. I just noticed that there are YouTubes available where you can listen and watch him talk. Also, he has his own website.

    I read that together with other researchers, he explored the impact of Mindfulness– Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on intrusive imagery and intrusive thoughts in severely anxious patients, and found that MBCT significantly reduced the frequency, distress and intrusiveness of intrusive thoughts and images.

    anita

    #433670
    kshiti1502
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you very much for introducing me to the works of J. Mark G. Williams. I will look up his books and audios for sure. What you observed is true, I am rushing, I do feel lagging behind, and that does cause me exhaustion. You used the right word- ‘pressure’. Ever since I have come here, and I think since even before that, I am living under self-inflicted pressure, as if I am running against a sand dial. I was not like this earlier, for the most parts of my life before my third year of under-grad, I tried to protect myself from external voices, from comparison, from looking down upon myself. But now, it feels different. Ever since I read your post, I have tried to give myself some relaxation. At this point, I don’t think I feel ‘happy’ at all, like genuine contentment. A few great things happened the last week and while I was excited when I got to know about them, deep down a part of me wanted to rush back to my room and cry. I want to release this pressure now.

    Isn’t this ironic that my intrusive thoughts and flashbacks are hindering me to experience that very reality for which I faced all this? When I was in that difficult situation, I wanted to be here, and when I am here, I cannot enjoy it to the full because of my what-if thoughts. I feel sad to see that these things are in some ways hindering my present. And just like that, I scrolled my mobile phone for less than a minute and I came across something that again triggered my anxiety and intrusive thoughts.

    About shame, I do not know if these quotes apply to me, at least it does not appear right now…but I do accept that I have a habit/tendency of self-loathing from a long time. It is also true that sometimes I try to micro-analyze my actions and zoom in on even a small ‘mistake’ that I might have done. But its very clear that I do feel shame to bring these thoughts up for discussion, I feel they make me a lesser person. I feel I am a hopeless person, strangled in this spiral and stupidly causing myself more pain and suffering.

    Meanwhile, I was able to share my feelings with my therapist through a written document. She has suggested that we can first talk about why I am not able to share these things. I have booked a session for this week, but in some moments I feel like bailing out. Today evening itself I had almost sent her a message asking her to cancel the session. But I hope I give myself some strength and at least go for the session.

     

    Thanks,

    Kshitij

     

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