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When Intrusive Thoughts Make Me Question 'Where Is My Mind?'

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Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

I find myself listening to this Pixies track fairly often, reciting and questioning the chorus in my head. Where is my mind?

For few years it has been missing — or at least particular fragments have. The parts that give you the ability to stay calm, approach situations and life with a level head. The parts that help you be happy, comfortable, confident, sociable and motivated. I say “and” as if the list is complete, but unfortunately the list never seems to reach a definitive end.

Every morning is a struggle. Before I even make it out of bed, my anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) kick in, sending obsessive, intrusive thoughts flooding into my body as if I am being possessed by the worst kind of demon. I feel instantly drained, demotivated and worthless. I naturally begin flicking through my past, searching for things I want buried but can’t help but dig up again. Analyzing a conversation I had with a work colleague a couple months back, concerned I made myself look foolish or made her feel bad or this or that. Was that person really waving to me or to someone else? Why did I wave back when I didn’t know? I don’t want to look stupid, I’m just setting myself up to fail here. Oh I should’ve said something. Then it would have been less embarrassing. But then it might turn it into a big deal when it isn’t, but it is to me. Do I care too much?

The uncertainties and doubts rapidly spread to the present, usually relating to a very important question: What shall I wear today? I want to feel comfortable, I want to wear something no one will say anything negative about. But at the same time, I want to feel myself so if I freak out or have a panic attack or feel unbearably low, I’ll feel confident enough to make it through the day without crying too many times. Man, I look underdressed. Now I look overdressed. I guess I’ll give up and accept today is going to be a bad day. What about breakfast? Hmm, what to eat? Something light because I want to have a big lunch and want to be hungry. If I’m not hungry enough but still buy food out of routine, I won’t enjoy it and will have wasted money. You know what, I will buy food. But wait, I might not like it and then I’ll feel irritated all day. Maybe I should eat because I don’t want to get back into the swing of anorexic thoughts that will devour me whole.

I don’t think people realize thoughts about normal, everyday things — as well as more significant and scary thoughts — ruminate as soon as I open my eyes and progress until I fall asleep. My period of “rest” is rudely disturbed due to unsettled sleeping patterns caused by intrusive thoughts punching at my eyelids and pulling at my hair. I don’t think a lot of people understand washing my face is challenging, entering school is challenging, walking the few paces to the library is challenging. Deciding what to have for lunch or when to go to the bathroom seems ridiculously challenging to me. People with anxiety, depression and OCD — as well as a multitude of other mental illnesses — worry about these things and wonder about exaggerated possibilities all day. I know I do at least and it’s so flippin’ hard.

Please give us a break. So many illnesses are invisible to those who don’t know the tell-tale signs. You don’t know who may be having a difficult time with their mental health. Patience, support and compliments go a long way to someone who is struggling. For 30 seconds or even a little longer, showing you are there and you care could make someone’s chest feel a little less tight and their stomach a little less knotted. It may even put their head in the air and their feet on the ground.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: February 14, 2017
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