Anxiety: it’s all in your head… yeah right, just like Cancer!

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Yep, this is one of the most common phrases I’ve often heard people telling me, or others, when we show our anxiety or talk about it.

“It’s all in your head. Get over it!”

“You just have to stop thinking so much!”

“It can go away if you fight it!”

“You’re just have to be positive!”

So in this series of blogs, and as someone who does suffer from anxiety disorder (though not in the extreme), I’ll be going over some of the anxiety symptoms I’ve experienced and still experience on several occasions.

Welcome to Episode 2. If you haven’t read Episode 1 yet, I recommend you do so first, by clicking here. I am not doing this to attract any form of sympathy or pity. I am doing it for two main very important reasons:

  • As stated above, to shed light on the ignorance out there who believe anxiety is nothing to take seriously.
  • Even more so to those who, like me in some way or another, have experienced these – or other symptoms. You’re understood. You’re not alone.

> Episode Two: Racing Thoughts

If you’ve read about panic attacks (or, even worse, have experienced them) and thought they were terrible, then I really wish you never experience racing thoughts.

How will I explain them? Imagine your brain is an SQL database. SQL Databases are very complex and usually hold enormous amounts of data, so I think comparing our brains to an SQL Database is a good metaphor. Imagine this SQL Database full of photos. Like an SQL Database, our brain is very organised… usually. What would happen if these organised photos within your brain get all jumbled up so suddenly? What if the sectors separating photos of ‘distant past memories’ from photos of ‘recent past memories’ all of a sudden got mixed up? What if they got so mixed up that some of them even ended up in the ‘just dreams’ photos section, or the ‘imagination’ photos sector, while others also ventured into the ‘ideas of things i could do in the future’ or ‘scenes i saw in a movie’ sector? Imagine all that data in your brain suddenly losing the tag which tells you whether “this was just an idea you once had” or “this happened in reality 2 days ago” or “you dreamt this, it didn’t happen”… Terrifying, no?

Now, to put you more into perspective with the above. Imagine that all this mumbo-jumbo of photos suddenly started to present itself in your head, but very fast and very – as explained above – mixed up. Let me picture it for you. Imagine I had to start showing you these photographs one after the other. But at a very fast pace. So fast that I do not let you stop and you have not even a second’s chance to look at each photograph and deduct whether it is a memory of the past, a dream, a thought or idea you once had, or a scene from a movie you once saw. No, I don’t let you stop at one single photograph. So you know they all look familiar, but before you have time to focus on any one of them it is immediately replaced with another one; another one which you don’t have time to familiarize with or focus on, because it’s immediately replaced by another one.

Crazy right? That’s how racing thoughts feel, when they happen. Your ‘inner eye’ is suddenly filled with these images and you cannot stop them as they flash in front of your brain one after the other. You cannot concentrate or focus on anything else. Did I say ‘crazy’ in the first word of this paragraph? It’s damn scary, you can trust me on that one! Sometimes they last a couple of minutes… the most recent ones I’ve experienced lasted for a couple of hours (maybe because I’m getting older, of course).

The best thing I’ve found that works (if you can say that) is to try your best to ignore them till they pass. If you can, go and lie down a bit and try to rest, that has often helped too.

Hope that helps!

See you on the next episode 🙂

John

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