Sometimes when people come to see me, they can be worried that, given the wrong push, they’ll go crazy.
They’ll end up hurting someone, embarrassing themselves, or thrown in the looney bin.
With Panic fears, sometimes people can be afraid that if their anxiety goes any higher, they’ll lose it. They’ll go insane, or lose the plot.
This can be a fear of temporary insanity, where they panic and run out of a board meeting or punch and kick people in a desperate effort to leave a plane.
Or it can be a fear of more permanent loss of faculties, resulting in drooling in bed or in a Psych ward for the rest of their lives.
Now with Generalised Anxiety, we’re talking about what’s called Type 2 Worry.
This is when someone worries about the effect of all the worrying they’re doing.
In this instance, it’s the worry that all this stress from worrying will cause a breakdown.
With Generalised Anxiety, the worrying feels really out of control.
It seems like there’s nothing you can do to stop worrying.
And so it can feel like you’re hurtling towards this outcome of having a mental breakdown, with nothing you can do to prevent it.
Your brain will give it a good go though, and will likely try to worry at it till it goes away.
Am I right!?
Now if you are wondering what happens with OCD…
This is when there is a fear of doing an action they don’t want to do.
Like murdering your mum with your favourite steak knife, or running over some random pedestrian.
Or it can be a Pure-o style overanalysis of intrusive thoughts that are assumed to mean something terrible about you.
Maybe that you’re deranged, or a danger to others.
Or people can be terribly afraid that they, deep down, hold beliefs or urges that they don’t want to have.
We can fear that we’re attracted to children, or are a different sexuality than what we thought, or aren’t attracted to our partner anymore.
The irony is that the fear comes from these beliefs not fitting us.
That disconnect is what causes us to recoil from the possibility.
But, brains being brains, they then go on the hunt for certainty that we’re safe from this possibility, and so begins the endless analysing that comes with this kind of anxiety.
Maybe they’re defective, have loose wiring in their brain.
Sometimes people are worried that they’ve really got to do something soon, before there is permanent damage.
These kinds of beliefs are frightening, and they can also be pretty harsh on your self-esteem.
Think about it.
If you think you’re defective or faulty, that your emotions are too much. That everyone else has it together and you’re the odd one out…
Then you’re going to be seeing your value, your worth, as being less than others.
Now when we do this, we tend to put ourselves forward less, withdraw from others more, and overall we feel crappy. We tend to feel pretty down.
Our beliefs about what anxiety is and what causes anxiety can really affect our mood, how we view ourselves, and whether we bother to seek help.
This is where getting a really good idea of what anxiety is, what causes it, and what it can and can’t do to you, is so very very important!
And you can take that further by following a step-by-step process.
One that walks you through how to work with your brain to regain control over your worries and overanalysis, and start to gain lived experience that anxiety can’t make you go insane.
When people have been through this process, they feel more confident of what adrenal sensations are and that they’re really uncomfortable, but they’re not going to hurt them.
They understand that we all have intrusive thoughts about running people over, or stabbing them, or pushing them off cliffs.
It’s just that, most of the time, people see them as nothing more than an errant thought and brush them off with barely a second’s notice.
People who have been through this process understand what Worry is and why we do it.
Why trying to “not worry” won’t work and what does, so they can do this instead and feel in control of their thoughts again.
In a sense they were never out of control, it’s just that they were holding onto a strong belief that worry would help them prepare for and prevent danger, and the brain was just following the script.
And, even though it can feel like it when our minds are racing, worries are not a sign of insanity.
You’ve probably heard this before, but if you are wondering if you are insane, you cannot, by definition, be insane.
Insanity requires you to be delusional.
In other words, have no insight into your anxiety.
You would just believe that certain terrifying things are real.
For example that people are tapping your phone.
Or that people on the TV are judging you and talking about you.
Insanity is when we lose touch with reality.
When this happens, someone is diagnosed with a delusion, which is quite rare.
With anxiety, people generally have insight that the level of fear they’re experiencing is more than required.
There’s a mismatch between how you feel and what you logically calculate.
This is because we have two distinct parts of the brain each calculating separately.
Your midbrain is linked directly into your emotional responses, and this is where you then end up with a discrepancy between how you feel and what you’re consciously thinking.
When the feeling is “scared” and you don’t really think you need to be quite this scared, that shows you have an issue with anxiety.
The very fact that you are concerned about your anxiety shows that it’s anxiety and not a delusion.
It’s not you losing it, going crazy, or having a breakdown.
It’s a common anxiety process.
It can be learned about and it can be changed and remoulded so you can be a bit more comfortable in your own head.
So, next time you find yourself worried that you’re going insane, know that the fact that you’re worried shows that you’re not going insane...