There was a time, only a few years ago, that I believed that having a mental illness defined me, that there was nothing else about me. I knew logically that I was other things, but we all know that logic and thoughts don’t always go hand in hand when you are in the middle of disordered thinking.
This belief can sometimes come about because of the language with which we talk about our mental illness to those around us. I believed that I *was* depressed and therefore used it to define who I was, instead of saying that I *had* depression. It was through this line of thinking that I had become my thoughts, and believed them to be true.
Believing that my thoughts were absolute truth, is probably the hardest thing I have had to deal with. There are still times when I believe with all of my heart, the things that I am thinking. I find it hard to determine where the illness ends and where I begin. Even the thoughts that I don’t believe, I have to work hard to diffuse them, to stop them having power over me.
A lot of these thoughts, and beliefs have no evidence. I write them down on a piece of paper or imagine saying them out loud and suddenly they don’t have that same power over me. They seem silly, stupid even. The diffusion is just one step of the process though and the next step is to replace them with thoughts that are based in truth. This step is the one that I struggle with the most.
I can easily dismiss the thoughts as silly or stupid, I’ve had a lot of practice at calling myself names. However I still have that little niggling ‘what if’ thought growing in the back of my mind. What if the thoughts are true? What if I am unprepared because I believed that those thoughts were untrue? I start to trip myself up, and I get myself into a worry cycle.
The next step might be the hardest for me, but I am looking forward to seeing my mind blossom once it is no longer under the pressure of the negative thoughts. I can’t remember a time where those thoughts weren’t a part of my life but I know that I can do it.
Do you struggle with negative thoughts? What strategies do you use?
Linking up with Zanni for Sunshine Sunday
It can be so easy to get caught up in your own thoughts and I often start questioning myself as even though this is ‘what I want’ I always have that doubt in the back of my mind that I am just fooling myself.
Absolutely struggle with negative thoughts – I think to be human is to struggle with negative thoughts. I think the ‘gift’ of mental illness for you Tegan is your fantastic awareness through therapy and your own self-study of the power of thoughts and how to overcome them, plus your passion to teach others to do so. Enjoy blossoming – it is spring after all.
Good for you, Tegan. It is hard to break that cycle of negative thoughts and to stop your mind spiralling further and further from your control. I do struggle with negative thoughts at times. If I find myself getting into a cycle I try to train myself to turn each negative into a positive. Easier said than done sometimes though.
I love your positive attitude coming through here, Tegan. I can easily get lost in negative thoughts if I let myself.
I try to look forward as much as I can, and can usually see the positive if I try.
I can easily get carried away with my negative thoughts. Breaking the cycle can be so tough. After a few sessions with my psychologist I learnt (and applied) a few tools.
My favourite is to imagine a flowing river and to place my negative thought on a leaf and watch it go down the river. It doesn’t mean that it goes away or that it’s been solved but for now, I’m just letting it go and hopefully letting it dissipate on its own accord.
The other one is to say to challenge my brain and the negativity, “Ah yes, here we go again…trying to catch me out are you? Well, it’s not going to happen”
It’s still a learning process. The important thing is to be easy on yourself and give yourself the time you need.
I used to Tegan. My internal dialogue was mainly negative. But over time, particularly in parenthood, it’s improved. Mainly now it’s less about me. I tend to focus on external things rather than internal things. For me, being creative and focussing on the children has been the antidote for my negative thinking. I still at times feel down, but I accept it as a feeling, and don’t try to get too overwhelmed by it. Thanks for taking over Sunshine Sundays for me xx