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chronic indecision/ anxiety/ obsessive thinking is ruining my life. Does anyone else relate to this?(25 Posts)
I am so ill with anxiety that I get completely obsessed with the pros and cons of every goddamn decision I have to make and then beat myself up mercilessly when I think I have made the wrong choice. I think its about feeling out of control and having lost faith in myself to get things "right". I have always been an anxious/ depressive person but my problems have skyrocketed since I became pregnant 18 months ago.
I have had years of therapy, am on 3 different types of medication and have spent time in a mother and baby unit for several weeks earlier this year. I can't take much more of being like this and nor can my relationship. I feel physically sick and my head buzzes with anxiety for the whole time I am awake and I can't possibly imagine sleeping without medication. Sometimes I can't even swallow food, sometimes I binge. I have an amazing, beautiful son and although he is well loved and looked after and always has been I can't even enjoy being his mother a lot of the time because I am so bloody anxious.
This is totally crippling my life. I go on and on to my poor dp about whatever my current obsession is, and also seek the approval of other people about things that are frankly, none of their business, such as how I spend my time and money. I feel like a frightened child, lost and scared and alone. I often feel like my head is going to explode.
And I don't know how to make all this stop even though its destroying me.
Does anyone out there relate to this at all?
Sorry, bumping for you as don't know how to respond to this, but I am sure help will be along soon.
What kind of therapy did you have? I've just completed a course of CBT for anxiety that really helped.
My therapist talked about being unable to tolerate uncertainty being part of the problem, and having the need to constantly work to remove that uncertainty by obsessive planning/avoidance/constantly seeking reassurance from others etc.
It came as a revelation to me when she told me decisions don't have a right/wrong answer, just possible options (growing up every decision did have a right/wrong answer and I was shouted at if I guessed incorrectly). I learnt to make decsions by at the start just picking an option at random and going for it. As I learnt that the world didn't end (which took a surprisingly long time), it became easier (though still isn't always easy).
My anxiety was completely out of control to the point where I couldn't function. I twitched and stuttered terribly, I had times where I just couldn't move or speak, I was paranoid, found it hard to leave the house and the amount of stress caused hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Because of the hallucinations etc I was put onto anti-psycotics which pretty much turned me into a zombie. I was pregnant with dd at the time and was on the drugs until she was 5-6 months old. I could worry/get worked up on them but it happened less and less (though on the downside I was pretty much an emotionless zombie with no facial expressions, no ability to hold a conversation and plenty of other problems as well). On the other hand I could function enough to leave the house (though not enough to look after the kids or even myself).
I don't know if the cbt will last - its only been a few weeks but at the moment I'm drug free and coping.
I experienced this for 18 months after the birth of my baby. It was horrible and I nearly cried reading your post as it brought it all back. My head constantly swimming with anguish over every little thing. I found it particularly hard relaxing around people and suffered a chronic fear of negative judgement even with my oldest friends. I have a history of depression but didn't feel depressed, just anxious constantly and wired as a result. Decisions over silly things were so hard and I dreaded my child hurting herself as I felt I wouldn't have a clue how to deal with it, especially in public, I didn't trust myself to do anything right and life was unnecessarily hard. I was laid back before and hated being stressed over stupid stuff. I had catastrophic thinking all the time too. Cleaning and tidying the house were the only things I could do right and the house had to be spotless if someone was visiting, everything else felt out of my control.
One day in a 5 min check in with my psychiatrist I tried to explain that despite me appearing to function ok I really wasn't (i was convinced my anguish was obvious but apparantly not). I told her how I recently hung out with a group of my oldest friends and felt really anxious around them and was trying too hard, it was so distressing as I normally loved being with them and found it relaxing. She said "well people change, maybe you've changed". Well that freaked me out. When i got home i was so angry and adamant that this was not the 'new me'. I still can't believe she said that but ironically it helped me find the solution that worked for me.
I did mountains of googling over the next week. I read about the fear centre in the brain and as I understood, it could be fooled into believing stuff that wasn't true but had the potential to be rewritten. I read that the stress hormones coursing through my body were messing with my adrenals, all interesting stuff, scary too. I figured I had postnatal anxiety but specifically social anxiety or social phobia. I was shy as a child, always a bit fearful of people in authority, avoided public speaking, those seemed to be traits. I read about hypnotherapy being an effective treatment and found an app for my iPhone. I had nothing to lose and it was only a couple of quid. Every night for the next week I listened to it and just thought it was relaxing and helped me get to sleep. Less than a week later life was easier and my ruminations were lessening and a week after that I was back to my old self. Best of all I could laugh at myself again, I missed that! I would never have expected such fast and frankly amazing results from any therapy. I can only assume that in a deep state of relaxation the recording resonated with me, the words were exactly what i needed to hear. I mean it can't possibly work for everyone but honestly it's worth a try.
I'm now about to have my second child (due date today actually) and while I'm fearful of the anxiety happening again I know I can reach for the hypnotherapy recordings again and trust them to do their magic.
Oh incidentally, a few months after my recovery I noted horizontal bumps on all my fingernails. I discovered this can be a sign of recovery after a long period of stress (nails don't grow well when body is stressed but resume on recovery, hence the bump). I was able to calculate growing rates and measure the distance of the bump from the cuticle and sure enough, the bumps started the week I recovered. I loved that I had physical proof of my mind overcoming something awful.
Sorry this post is so long. I don't post much but needed to tell you this. I just know without a shadow of a doubt that this tiny silly app fixed me and gave me back my life so I suppose I'm a bit evangelical about it. I keep meaning to send a testimonial to the guy who made it too. His name is Andrew Johnson
I hope you soon find what works for you and wish you well. I had CBT for depression too and it is very effective. Believe that you can get better and try everything. You will get out of this.
Oh thank you, thank god. Am so pleased there are others who have felt like this. Its just so hard feeling so alone in this.
armadillo "having the need to constantly work to remove that uncertainty by obsessive planning/avoidance/constantly seeking reassurance from others etc. " is spot on. And blox- catastrophic thinking, "head constantly swimming with anguish" (couldn't have put it better myself) and not trusting myself, yes, yes yes.
Have been awake pretty much all night and feeling just terrible today because this morning I have to give someone a decision today which you would think is literally life or death. There is just so much here for me to obsess about with this one-I have not slept properly for ages over this and I feel a complete wreck. Dp says there is no right or wrong answer and its ok to not get things perfect but I am terrified, even tho rationally speaking I know nothing is worth this stress.
I'm not going to say what the decision is because I'm paranoid I come back from making it this morning and someone has given me advice I'd not thought of that would have made my choice better and that would kill me, I'd start thinking what an idiot i am. Get the picture?- I'm a freak!!
The sad thing is its over something thats meant to help me but because it requires decisions its wrecked my head and I feel on the point of physical collapse due to exhaustion.
AAAAARGH. I hate being like this!
Hi racingmind - sorry to hear you're struggling so much with anxiety. Ok, first thing - you're NOT a freak. Being excessivey anxious is more common than you think and yes, the whole thing is exhausting. In the first 6 months after my DS was born I suffered dreadfully with racing thoughts, constantly whirring round in my head as I examined and over analysed everything - even analysed my analysis. I felt mentally and physically exhausted and I thought I was trapped in the confines of an over stimulated, badly wired head.
I too had CBT and it really helped. My therapist showed me something called the 'worry tree.' We realised that my way of dealing with uncertainty in life was to worry excessively, which is a false way of trying to control the future by obsessing constantly. The alternative to worrying or ruminating is to 'problem solve' or write down ways you could deal with the issue to provide a solution. If this didn't apply, then (and this was the hard part) it was a case of letting the thoughts pass through my head, but not being controlled by them. By accepting that thought isn't fact and that you can observe a thought and distance yourself from it at the same time, you realise that you are no longer a slave to your thoughts.
It's not an easy fix, but it does work. it requires practice and dedication.
The underlying point here is that it doesn't have to rule your life - you can breathe a big sigh of relief because you're not alone and this can end. Just be gentle with yourself, it may take time but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Take care xxx
Thank you natsyloo. I can't tell you the relief I feel just to have actually admitted this and to know that I am not the only one to have experienced it. It's a specific thing, around decision making which has always been there but is now so much worse since pregnancy, so I've never quite felt like this was PND in the sense that most people understand that term. I was working with a therapist who is there for specifically post natal issues and she actually said you're problem is not to do with having the baby. I know PND isn't that simple but the point is I have always been like this to some extent but kind of had it under some kind of control.
I did make a decision today and that is the second fairly big one this month. Ok so I put it off to the very last moment, was in tears and needed permission from someone I hardly know to make it but its done now.
This weekend was a watershed for me because it all got so out of control I felt like I was dying and (after 18 months pretty much solid of this) I actually reached a point of no return, at least I hope so, where I realised I quite literally cannot live like this anymore. I was readmitted to the mother and baby psychiatric unit a few weeks ago and had to discharge myself after one weekend because I could not stand being there and being in hospital is no longer the right kind of treatment for me, so there is really nowhere else for me to go.
blox thank you so much for the recommendation. I have tried hypnotherapy sessions and have several cds like these but cannot even relax enough to listen to them, they even kind of stress me out a bit because I get so frustrated. Even the hypnotherapist I saw said my anxiety was beyond her capabilities! How wonderful you are having another child and overcome so much, I wish you all the very best with the birth x
My anxiety was a life long problem (I was anxious even as a very young child due to my childhood) as well but it was a certain series of things that blew it up to the point where I could no longer function. Me being pregnant was a coincidence. I've heard about post natal anxiety but always supposed that was baby focused. I had generalised anxiety - anxiety with no specific focus i.e. I could be anxious about anything and everything. One of my worst worries was that I would get too worried and not be able to cope I was terrified that I would lose my mind through worry - made worse by the hallucinations etc which just seemed to prove it was happening.
My therapist recommended a book 'feel the fear and do it anyway' - said it is very american but good, I haven't tried it though.
By the time I went to the CBT I was desperate for anything that would help. But interestingly enough she made me go through my positive beliefs about worry/anxiety. I didn't think I had any but it turned out I did e.g. by worrying I could prevent mistakes/bad things happening, being worried made me more alert and observant, being worried made me more concientious and work harder, worry motivated me. Of course these were all bullshit but they were also pretty subconcious so I acted on them without realising. Once I was aware of them it was easier to notice when they came into play and refute them.
The other major thing I had to learn was how to function without anxiety - I had never done it and so didn't know how. I started by asking dh/close friends how they managed to do certain things without the anxiety - a big thing for me was what the motivation behind doing things, anything in fact, was if it wasn't anxiety. It was a revelation to find out how others think. It wasn't that they didn't worry at all - but it wasn't continuous or behind everything they did.
Making the differention between what is normal 'good' worry and what is over the top is still taking some practice and I do need to watch myself. But I do tend to try and rely on myself for that rather than constantly seeking external reassurance (e.g. from my dh).
We also did a lot on stuff that is supposed to reassure that actually makes the problem worse (e.g. seeking external reassurance).
Also my therapist brought in the idea of proving something within e.g court. Bear in mind a lot of mine was tied up in paranoia so it may not be entirely relevant to you. So if I believed Jo Bloggs thought xyz how rational was it, what evidence could I use to support it. Or if I believed if I did x then abc would follow what evidence did I have of that actually happening, how likely was it. It helped me start to assess things on a more rational basis.
She also introduced 'worry time' which was a set time of day, undisturbed that was set aside solely for worrying about things. Things you thought of during the day were to be put off until worry time (unless you actually had to act on them before then). She also brought up the idea that say something is happening in 30 days time, and there is nothing more you can do about it, nothing you can change, then why waste 30 days of your life in pointless worry. You can put off the worry until the thing actually happens.
Putting off the worry took work but it happened (mostly) in the end.
I appreciate all this stuff may sound like basic common knowledge to most people but I had no idea about all this stuff.
Totally identify armadillo- I really get what you mean about the belief that anxiety motivates you etc. I try to accept that stoppping worying will not stop me doing the things I need to to it will just stop my life being hell in the process.
I have no faith in myself or other people, eg. I don't belive that if someone says they'll do something they will actually do it so I struggle trying to cope with everything myself and feeling very alone, when I really need to learn to trust more. I also have a problem accepting help as i ws brought up to believe that if anyone does anything for you they will basically resent you for it.
Am really struggling today as waiting for someone to come round and help me get something important done to do with my work (computer stuff I don't know how to do myself) and am struggling with all of the above beliefs and feelings.
I am fascinated by people that don't worry about things, I can't imagine what its like not to constantly fear the worst and feel under such immense pressure all the time. It definately goes back to childhood doesn't it, how you learn all this self defeating energy draining crap.
Have woken up again today just flooded with adrenalin. Have big day tomorrow which needs a lot of organising, and even though I'm ahead of schedule (due to anxiety of course) I feel sick because I am going to be in a position where I feel people are going to judge me.
This is all about me getting back to work. I am only going to be doing a couple of days a week in a job where there is very little stress- this is all I can possibly cope with, but everything feels like an intense pressure right now. I cant be signed off as am self employed and also being on the sick makes my anxiety really bad (its the expaectation that you will have to get better haha). Once I am there I will be ok its just I hate people looking at me and expecting things from me right now. Usually with this job I can kind of blend into the background but tomorrow bit of a hurdle. Terrified I won't sleep tonight. God I hate myself right now.
Google 'mindfulness' techniques. It's helping me into a happier present, it's the 'what ifs' that do your head in.
DD has chronic paediatric eye inflammation which I manage virtually alone due to NHS lack of funding target, lost job, unsupportive family etc, while pretending everything's fine for everybody else.
I've learnt this from my high-stress top docs and surgeons: slow down, one thing at a time, live in the present.
Thanks eicosapentaenoic have been using that advice to get me through this morning. Sorry you are under so much stress. Have managed to have something to eat now so at least that is something.
I know exactly what you mean about pretending to be fine.
Even when I have been hospitalised, only my partner and sister knew I'd been admitted. I would take dp out of the ward every day (too anxious to just sit there all day- you dont get daily therapy or anything you just have to sit there in front of the telly or something and that is too hard for me to do, amd also would worry about ds being in there all the time- worry, worry. worry on and on it went). During this time I met friends on the street and I would smile and say I was fine. I'm so good at this (years and years of practise) that when I did once tell a friend I suffered from depression she actually laughed and said don't be ridiculous. I have since, after a lot of persuasion from dp told a friend recently that I have bad anxiety at the moment,and she has been supportive, but still feel like there are very few people who wouldn't be a bit "oh my god, this person is not like me, she has been in a mental hospital" if I told them how bad its actually been.
It is also because I can't bear people thinking that I am not happy to have my son, I try to protect him by pretending to be ok all the time in case anyone thinks he is unwanted or I don't love him enough. I am that woman who doesn't go out without her makeup on (not that it does me much good these days as I am so exhausted and overweight I look like shit anyway), who everyone thinks is coping. I feel like a robot smiling and pretending to be ok. Dp says be more honest with people as it is a strain on him too, but I just hope that one day this will all blow over and it will be a phase of my life that no one needs to have known about. Inside my head is constant fear and dread but no one would ever know. I sometimes wonder how many other people are out there walking the streets feeling like they are about to die but putting on a front.
Imagine a world where it was ok to admit to being like this and people were just kind to each other. The hiding from the judgement and the stigma is a big part of the problem.
Racingmind: Hi there, just got back from London hospital eye exam with DD, checking in to see how you're doing.
'Mindfulness' and living in the present is a joy - sometimes I get a rush of happiness just to feel the sun, hear the birds, see them swooping about, watch the cat stretching on the neighbour's fence, feel the warmth of the children. It's OK now so it'll be OK in the future.
The other major help has been a regular meet-up with women friends. All we do is drink coffee and talk, but it is every week and we look forward to it.
Another useful thought has been 'that's good enough', nobody's perfect, we're all human.
Having said that, short courses of antidepressants have been good, I'm sure there's a chemical side to this. Sunshine helps.
I know you will feel better at work. Wish you good comfort.
Hello,I have suffered from severe obsessive compulsive thoughts all of my Life.Please do not feel alone.I have had a very painful Life,with many tragedies,but we sisters with ocd (thoughts) are survivors.Can I recommend the DON`T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF books by Richard Carlson.They are excellent for a quick fix,or to take the froth off the pain.I sometimes read mine before going to work.I have often being appreciated for being a kind person who understands.Maybe this describes you too.I am also v v reliable.
So not all bad news associated with our imps. Take Care - you are NOT alone and have many gifts,you may have OCD but it does not HAVE you x
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I don't know if any of the previous posters are still lurking, but I wanted to say thank you. Chronic indecision/ anxiety/ obsessive thinking describes me on a bad day (today) exactly. There has been some really useful advice given here. It really is those decisions that trigger it all, and the thought that there's no going back, so it's easier to stay put.
I hope you are all doing well.
I have had depression and anxiety (plus sometimes paranoid thoughts/OCD) for most of my adult life (I'm 39). I've tried counselling, psychotherapy and various different types of prescribed medication. You name it.
I've had a breakthrough recently. I decided to remove all gluten from my diet, and lo and behold, I am feeling a lot different - much more calm, confident and the depression is lifting. It may have been that all along.
I also started taking a high strength multivitamin and mineral and got my iron (ferritin actually) levels checked out. Although my ferritin level wasn't classified as being anaemic, I believe the level that mine is at is, for me, sub-optimal and I started taking an iron supplement. I am feeling 100% better.
I am not trying to flippantly say that by taking a vitamin pill you will suddenly feel better - but I think my case highlights the importance of the power of nutrition, nutritional deficiencies and food allergies/intolerances.
I hope you are doing ok, OP.
Yes I can relate to what you feel OP, I am really obsessional in my thinking especially when there is a decision to make. The way I see it is that my brain won't shut
the fuck up. Drives me mad. I have Aspergers so I think in my case it stems from being overly logical, I tend to analyse everything to within an inch of its life and fret about every possibility.
Wish I knew what to suggest but I'm stuck too
Just wanted to say what a useful thread this is. I haven't even read and absorbed all the posts yet! Racingmind and others, hope you're feeling OK today.
I'm very interested in what Armadillo wrote: "by worrying I could prevent mistakes/bad things happening, being worried made me more alert and observant, being worried made me more concientious and work harder, worry motivated me."
I can't currently shift my belief in all the above! It was a revelation to see someone else put it down in writing. And you can see it's not true? I wish I could.
racing mind wondering how you are feeling? Reading these posts with interest as went through post natal anxiety early this year. Medication, Prozac, really helped me, did you say up had tried meds?
Hi Racingmind. I am diagnosed OCD and avoided being diagnosed for many years because I didn't want to face that I had it. I found CBT hugely helpful, although exhausting, it definitely took the pressure off my partner. We also worked out some coping strategies for me which I have to remind myself of every now and then, especially when I am having one of my 'bad days'. Have you got coping strategies?
Dear racingmind Im so glad to know Im not on my own.
I greatly feel for you as Im in the exact same position. And can't find a solution, Im healing towards my 30th birthday not achieved a thing cause of this problem. Life passes so quick and Im in another conflict with myself, I don't want to waste anymore time.
This is me. You're not alone. It's torture.
I'm currently trying to find the strength to go down Shnitzel's route. It all started for me after the birth of DS and I'm certain something freaked out my hormones and I've never been right since.
I've heard it takes 18 months for hormoes to right themselves after a DC and I think I was just starting to feel more like 'me' when I fell pregnant again (a surprise)...
I also feel much better of an evening, which is when cortisol dips to its lowest. Anyone else?
I'm determined to try the nutritional/exercise route to balancing myself out as I just can't go on like this. My life is just about enduring pain at the moment - an indescribable mental weird strange awfulness in my head that's just not going away. I'm also starting CBT soon.
A lot of this is resonating with me, thank you.
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