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When Anxiety Presents Itself as Irrational Thoughts

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Anxiety is an extremely complex thing. It can be classified as an emotion, a disorder and a feeling. It also has the ability to present itself in many different ways. It can present itself as anger and sadness. It can present itself physically. Some experience only one of those things, some experience a couple of those things, and some, like me, may experience all of those things.

Often, the feelings associated with how anxiety is presented are hard to put into words, but I’m going to try my best here, while I presently sit with what I’m talking about. My anxiety, as I write this, is presenting itself as irrational thoughts. However, to me, they are completely rational. Rather than specifying what my irrational thoughts are exactly, I’m going to provide you with an example of something similar to the whole picture, just to paint it for you a bit:

If I were to send a text message to a friend asking them if they want to go to lunch, and they don’t respond, I’m likely going to think one of or all of the following; “They’re mad at me.” “Are they OK?” “They hate me.” From there, it’s going to escalate. Keep the word “escalate” in the back of your mind for me. “Everyone is mad at me.” “One day everyone is just going to stop talking to me.” “Everyone hates me.” From there, we get to the point where it becomes to what others may see as “irrational,” but to me, it’s rational. “They’ve hated me this whole time.” “They think I’m the most annoying person on the planet.

A little disclaimer: that specific example isn’t a personal one. Like I said, I was attempting to paint a picture. The picture could also be painted as being worried about a pending zombie apocalypse because someone you know has been feeling under the weather. It can sometimes get to that level of irrationality.

Many things make anxiety presenting itself as irrational thoughts difficult. The first thing may be trying to explain it. Something I’ve learned is that you should never have to explain yourself when you’re feeling anxious, and when your anxiety is presenting itself as irrational thoughts, how are you supposed to explain it anyway? It’s incredibly frustrating.

On a more personal note, I’d be having a good day today, but all of these irrational thoughts that I’m having are making it difficult. I tend to beat myself up over it from time to time. One side of my brain says, “You have no reason to believe that this is a thing that could happen.” The other says, “OK, but it could.” Both sides go back and forth and argue about it.

My irrational thoughts may also be easily triggered. It’s so easy for my anxiety to jump on a statement and take it and blow it out of proportion. This tends to happen more often when I’m having a good day – my anxiety is like: “She’s having a good day, time to take a statement and create some irrational thoughts over it.

What I want people to know about my “irrational thoughts” is that I’m fairly self-aware, and those thoughts aren’t by choice. I don’t choose to take what you say and twist it in my head to turn it into something bigger than what you meant. What may be irrational to you isn’t irrational to the part of my brain that is wired to think a certain way. If it had an off switch, I would use it.

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Getty image via V_sot

Originally published: March 1, 2018
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