Valerie Rice | March 5, 2021
Have you ever been going about your day, minding your own business, and suddenly envision yourself throwing yourself off a bridge? Yeah, same, that’s an intrusive thought. How about that time you left work and suddenly found yourself in your driveway? Yup, me too. How about that time you went to the grocery store and bought a bag of rice that was not on the list because it was essential only to get home to find 3 others in the cupboard? Totally a thing. Our brains do things without us realizing it. These common behaviors that occur with mental illness can range from terrifying to irritating, so let us demystify a few.
I’m going to start here because it can be incredibly terrifying. Millions of people have these thoughts all the time, and go about their day. HOWEVER. A lot of people misinterpret this as an urge to hurt oneself or others. In reality, for those who can’t just shake them off, this is a sign of anxiety. The rumination we have is the result of an underlying issue such as OCD, PTSD, or another anxiety based disorder. Our brains are constantly seeking danger in an effort to protect us. When we have anxiety, that mechanism kicks into overdrive and starts sending us these horrible and intrusive thoughts to scare us away from activities that it perceives as threats. And it works. We start to avoid activities and people our brains trick us into believing can be the source of harm. We do not actually WANT to yeet ourselves off a bridge, or drop our babies in the Grand Canyon (actual terror of mine from years ago). We are afraid, irrationally so, but that is irrelevant to our survival brain which is in overload. Finding and treating the cause of this overdrive is essential to easing their occurrence, intensity, and our rumination.
THE SPACE OUT
Ahhh, yes. When the human goes on autopilot even when engaged in dangerous activities (driving). Well, your brain has decided to do something else. Seriously. Your brain, like it or not, has turned inward to digest information and is aying minimal attention to the immediate mundane task while allowing more of itself to focus on the internal information. Is it great? No, but whatever, right? Almost all humans I have met do this for short amounts of time. It becomes a problem in the form of maladaptive daydreaming, dissociative disorders, and catatonia if it happens for extended periods of time and causes major disruptions in your life. Big words, scary words, psycho-babble words, alright? Basically, you live more in your head than without. It is okay (-ish), your brain is doing something it thinks it has to do to protect you. This is typically the result of trauma and you should go see a trauma informed therapist. Also, get tested for neurodivergence. I’m not saying it will be easy, but at least you will learn some cool tricks to adapt to the weird wilderness of what people call “normal.”
ALL THE EXTRAS
Well, here we are, we have 8,ooo pounds of rice and ike, a leg of lamb. Cool. if this happens a lot, you probably have issues with executive functions and working memory. Ta-DA! I was not trying to go for bubble bursting today, but it is not uncommon to find adults with undiagnosed ADHD these days. Why, you ask? Well, I will tell you. Today’s adults were raised by a generation of negligent and selfish parents who would prefer to believe that their children needed a good smack instead of help. So if you find yourself unable to start and finish tasks, manage time, remember whether or not you did “the thing” and so you repeat it or never do it, and more!, you should um…see about that ADD/ADHD darling. There is help to be had and you will feel so much relief.
Okay, listen. I went over a LOT of information in a mildly tongue-in-cheek manner. And I had a good reason too. Not only is it important to remember that human behaviors fall along a curve, it is also important to respect yourself. If you feel as if something is off, go get it checked out. The worst that can happen is you will be right back where you are, and you’re already there, right? So take a seat, a deep breath, and dive into a little introspection next time your brain ramps up something weird. Until next time, Be Well!