Online forums

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please complete your profile

Complete your profile

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community.

Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

Join the online community Community rules Coping during the Coronavirus outbreak

Forums / Anxiety / ANXIETY - CATASTROPHIC THINKING

Topic: ANXIETY - CATASTROPHIC THINKING

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. leigh1972
    leigh1972 avatar
    4 posts
    18 April 2017
    I have had anxiety for as long as I remember and have mostly self-managed throughout my life with regular top ups of counselling when needed. I have found that my anxiety changed as I evolved as a person. When I was young my anxiety manifested in panic attacks, then as I got older into social anxiety. When I became a mum, it was back to panic attacks and also PND. Now in my 40's I am being visited by a seemingly unending flow of catastrophic thoughts - everything from being killed in a car crash to someone murdering my daughter. As a logical person I know this to be unlikely but once you pick up the thread of those types of thoughts, they are very hard to let go of. I find I can be having just a normal thought when it suddenly segways off into an absolutely diabolical scenario! Lately, I have been having night time anxiety... waking up consumed with terror over a 'noise' or else waking up petrified from a nightmare where I am being pursued. I am thinking its because my parents are embarking on their first overseas trip in early May, I have started a new job and my daughter is going away for a week in May as well. Any 'change' acts like a trigger for my anxiety to take hold. I have tried breathing through it, getting up and reading a book and getting up to have a cup of tea. I also self-talk but it seems the voice of my anxiety is stronger. Does anyone else suffer catastrophic thinking?
  2. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10183 posts
    18 April 2017 in reply to leigh1972

    Dear Leigh~

    I answered you post in home invasion. I guess this is a post that is going to take a bit longer to answer. There will be many here who have suffered in the same way and will be able to understand what you are going though.

    I've had anxiety, together with PTSD and bouts of depression for a very long time. I have not found one single thing that stops that type of thinking in its tracks. What I have found is that approaching the problem from several directions can be quite effective.

    Firstly I am under ongoing regular therapy, originally ordered by a GP but now with a psychiatrist. I take meds and have a number of strategies to minimize both background every day stress and coping mechanisms for anxiety 'attacks' as they happen.

    I try to avoid anything that I know can ramp up my anxiety levels, such as certain types of conversations, certain activities and in particular get to know my triggers - and avoid them where possible. Some stress in life is inevitable of course. Exercise and healthy eating combined with sleep hygiene all help. Also distraction - I tend to loose myself in books, and to a lesser extent in movies.

    When I'm in the middle of a anxiety 'attack' (panic attacks are different for me) with my thoughts whirling and 'catastrophic' consequences in my mind I try to do some sort of physical activity, go into a different environment, and use an app called Smiling Mind. I might also have a conversation with my partner if she is available.

    You sound like a whole host of trigger factors are taking place at the moment, parents away, daughter going away, a new job.

    Frankly I did not find I was able to soldier on by myself, I really needed both medical and family support. I know you said you had 'top-ups' of counseling. I'm wondering if that is actually enough - it does not sound as if it is effective at the moment.

    If you are not under regular care may I suggest you book a long appointment with your GP and set out your history, current state and what is happening in your life at the moment. I found I had to write it all out first, then share the paper, in order to give a clear picture

    This may result in meds, a Health Plan, a psychologist and therapy - something you can work on together

    You might benefit from a browse of the Forum to see how others have coped in similar situations. You could start here

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/anxiety/self-help-tips-for-managing-anxiety

    I hope you post again

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Boo1986
    Boo1986 avatar
    138 posts
    18 April 2017 in reply to leigh1972

    Hi Leigh,

    You are definitely not alone here. I also believe myself to be a generally logical and intelligent person, so find it quite frustrating when these thoughts pop up. In my mind, I can work out that the likelihood of these things happening is minimal, yet I can't seem to shake the feeling. Unfortunately mental illnesses are sometimes very illogical and just don't make any sense... however are often more an indication of how much stress you are currently under than indications of impending doom. Some of your stress is unavoidable, you care about your family and that is not going to change. Some of your stress is because you have changed jobs, any major life event can cause anxiety, but this may diminish over time as you become comfortable with your new job.

    The strategies you have used so far are great, keep at it! :) You can also try some mindfulness exercises which may help. Try to analyse your thoughts and feelings, and if possible, separate them. Reassure yourself that you have taken adequate precautions to avoid any serious harm, and that you will be able to cope in the very unlikely event of an emergency. Remember that the feelings and thoughts are just that, feelings and thoughts, by themselves they do not pose any actual threat. They can be considered and questioned, you can linger on them if you wish, but afterwards, you also have the power to dismiss these thoughts if you choose. It takes practise, but you can gain control of your own mind, and even the responses/feelings that occur as a result of the catastrophic thinking going on in your mind.

    I have also found that limiting stimulants helps. I avoid coffee as much as possible, and remind myself that if I have had a coffee, this may cause my mind to race and think this way, but the thoughts are not reality and although I seem to "sense" danger (and would normally trust my gut feelings), my senses have been altered and cannot be relied on.

    If possible, do you have a close friend, someone you can call when these thoughts pop up, someone you trust and respect... they can help you rationalise and provide you with perspective as sometimes your thoughts may be too intense to rationalise on your own and may instead spiral out of control. If not, I write notes to myself to read when I can't think straight, so my usual rational mind can guide me when my irrational thoughts are taking over.

    Hope this helps you too xo

    1 person found this helpful
  4. leigh1972
    leigh1972 avatar
    4 posts
    18 April 2017 in reply to Croix
    Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I find that whilst counselling is excellent and has definitely helped its also about finding the right one. I guess its like anything... you have to find someone you are comfortable with. I am also on medication that very definitely helps otherwise I know for a fact I am rendered frozen with anxiety without it. I am going to see a counsellor on 2nd May so am looking forward to that with optimisim, as she comes highly recommended.
  5. leigh1972
    leigh1972 avatar
    4 posts
    18 April 2017 in reply to Boo1986

    Thank you.

    It is hard as an intelligent, logical being to make sense of it all, and perhaps, even harder to be logical when its all happening. I do find certain things provoke my thinking into negative action and have narrowed it down to being careful what I watch on tv, social media etc. We think they don't have an impact but they definitely do, as evidenced by the catastrophic news reporting that is also reflected in my catastrophic thinking. I am also trying to be careful what I eat as I find that anything caffeinated can set me up for a 'fall'.

    One of my good friends also suffers anxiety and we are always there for each other. I also have other friends that don't have the affliction but accept me for how I am and try valiantly to understand.

    It can still feel lonely though, especially in the dead of night when things always seem so much worse!

    Thanks for your reply - I found the opening sentence so comforting.

  6. Boo1986
    Boo1986 avatar
    138 posts
    19 April 2017 in reply to leigh1972

    Oh yes I'm the same! I avoid watching "scary" movies, or anything overly sad, and watching the news. I have weeded through my social media to make sure I see mostly happy things and have blocked some family and friends that only seem to post morbid or terrifying things as there is not point in it. It is just creating fear and negativity and not helping whatever cause it claims to.

    Loneliness is a terrible feeling, and again is illogical at times because you can still feel lonely even when you are not alone. For that, I definitely recommend a pet. I had Sarge (pictured) but he passed away, and now I have Holly. She is my company whenever I am alone, just to have a physical presence near me is very comforting. She is someone to cuddle when I can't or don't want human interaction. Animals are very understanding and affectionate without being judgmental at all. Worth looking into if you haven't already :)

  7. Jessicatherese94
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Jessicatherese94 avatar
    197 posts
    21 April 2017 in reply to leigh1972
    Hi Leigh, totally feel you. I have thoughts like this a lot too. I write down every single thought I'm thinking and then try to challenge them (imagine you're the high school debate team) and ask questions such as is this likely to occur, how likely is this to occur on a scale of 1 to 10, is an alternative (and nicer) outcome more likely to occur. In regards to someone hurting your daughter, I'd ask "is it more likely that someone will not hurt my daughter?" "What evidence do I have that something like this could actually happen?" etc. I used to have night panic too, and I noticed the effects of it subsided when I hugged myself, drank a glass of water, wrote down what I was feeling. Even acknowledging the anxiety is there and saying "Hello anxiety, yes I know you are here, but I am going to try and sleep now." Also couldn't recommend the app "Booster Buddy" more. Download it and see what you think. I hope I helped somewhat.
  8. Wornout worrier
    Wornout worrier  avatar
    2 posts
    23 April 2017 in reply to leigh1972

    Yes, just recently my daughter went to school camp. The week prior I was so convinced something would happen to her i ended up presenting at the ER with chest pain.

    It can be very consuming.

Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.


Sign me up