I've developed a horrible intrusive thought relating to endless suffering, and I feel like it's ruining my life.
Hello everyone, I'm new here. I've been trying to recover from my latest bout of depression, but there's a recurring scary thought that keeps me down and makes me feel like I'll never feel joy again. Maybe getting it off my chest will help me at least a bit.
First I'll give some background on my situation. I've suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and I've been finding it extremely hard to move forward in life and be independent. A year ago I had a huge mental breakdown from a long period of stress, sad events, fear and hopelessness and I was basically living in a perpetual panic attack for days on end. It was the first time I've experienced panic attacks and they hit me like a truck.
A few days in, the suffering inspired a really scary thought. I was calming myself down from an attack with the thought that at least this horror can't last forever, for anybody, but of course my overactive brain thought up a concept where suffering can happen forever, and it will happen in the far future, or is already happening "somewhere". It got really weird and science-fictiony and told me I can never recover now that I know that. I couldn't do anything to shut the thought down, it's like the thought made itself impossible to argue with. So that thought alone created many more days of constant panic attacks and what seemed like severe existential OCD. At my worst I felt like I was barely even on Earth anymore and I really thought I was going to end up insane or die.
To my surprise I ended up recovering (I had a few therapy sessions and medication for a while but I'm not sure to what extent that helped) I think from exhaustion and somehow convincing myself that the very fact that this thought is so ridiculously painful and unrelenting says more about my anxiety than actual "reality."
But even so, that thought stayed with me, always in the background but quieter and easier to shake off. Then I had another long bout of stress this year and my mood tanked, and I started thinking about it too much and obsessing over it again. Now I'm depressed about how my brain can't shut it down completely and finally give me peace. I feel like all I'm doing is living a lie when I feel "ok".
I don't know how there are people who truly believe this kind of thing (hell) and are mentally fine with it? I can't live with the knowledge of so much endless suffering. Does anyone have any kind of advice for me?
I understand Butterfly26, your learning there will be ups and downs.
I used to do this aswell and it would only make things worse for me.
I think it would be a great idea for you to stop looking up this type of thing.
I think its fantastic that you are focussing on looking at positive things now, positivity is great it will always make you feel good.
My news feed is full of positive affirmations. LOVE positivity
When I was in the grips of OCD I actually realised that part of myself being so unhappy was because of the way I viewed my world, I used to view alot of things in a negative way, it wasn't a nice way to live always having that negative energy running through my body.
So I decided to change all of that and the inner work began to changing my negative mind set to a positive one. It took hard work but it was well worth it.
We are all on a journey Butterfly26 and our journeys are what mold us into the person we are becoming.
I think, when we have an open mind this is like a gift but when it's open to the kind of stuff we don't need to explore or shouldn't be exploring (for one reason or another) things can take a negatively mind altering turn which can do more damage than good. Knowing when to close our mind to something is incredibly important. As you mention, with 'The Matrix', you've closed your mind to watching it which is good. Trust your instincts and don't watch it. Maybe at a later time you might feel compelled to watch it, some years down the track. Maybe you'll never watch it. Not a problem. For now, you feel the need not to watch it. Go with that.
When googling stuff, if a part of you strongly dictates 'Don't look into this', trust that part of you and don't look into it. On the other hand, there may be another part of you that strongly wonders. The challenge may come down to suppressing that wonderful part of you, in favour of trusting the sage in you. Instinct is something you get a feel for, with practice.
I've found, through my own experience, an open mind needs to be carefully managed, very carefully. Some key questions when doing research could be
- Am I observing other people's theories, as opposed to observing proven facts? Am I open to both facts and theories or philosophies and, if so, which theories specifically? Will I take them with a grain of salt, erring on the side of caution? Science/physics has a lot of mind altering theories that can take us down a kind of fearful rabbit hole. A lot of it I just won't look into because it's very doomy and gloomy and it can leave you vibing in a terribly helpless state
- If you're relying on modern science to give you proof of how you're feeling or how you're experiencing or perceiving life, be careful. Modern science is one view and some of it appears hopeless and can even be insulting to someone who's looking for natural answers or solutions. Life is multifaceted and science offers a look into just some of the many facets
- Be careful with certain spiritual belief systems, be they religious or non religious. Don't believe everything your hear or read. While some aspects are inspirational, others can be destructive or at the very least unhelpful
Born with an open mind, it's rare we're taught how to manage it strategically. Instead, it is simply filled with stuff, the kind of stuff we're left to deal with/make sense of. Learning how, when and why to open it and close it is a challenge.
Thank you everyone for your replies, and sorry I replied late, I've actually been feeling better and was trying to get back into my old habits from before I was a wreck. Like I said it feels like such a random rollercoaster. Sometimes my brain is just good at shutting something off and saying it's probably rubbish. I don't really understand it, it makes me question everything, but I'm glad it happens. I'm trying to keep it going.
I am very facinated by science and physics which I guess was my downfall because that's how I come across these terrifying concepts. That interest doesn't go well with a person who is anxious and who can't stop thinking... I kind of wish I was never interested in it at all!
But anyway, you've all been such a big help and I don't know how to express my thanks for your support. Hopefully I'll be able to manage this.
With your love/hate relationship with science and physics I'm wondering whether a certain facet of quantum physics would prove to be of some help, without causing fear or stress. How our cells vibrate on an energetic level is a fascinating topic. Things like what makes them vibrate at a higher/faster rate or lower/slower rate or what raises their performance or puts them into a state of dis-ease or unease can be helpful to know.
As I may have mentioned, can remember when my love of quantum physics first developed just after I came out of depression some years back. While I thought it was a strange interest to begin developing, I came across a few other people who'd experienced the same thing (developing this interest not long after coming out of depression). My interest expanded into metaphysics and then certain aspects of spirituality. There's the 'S' word that can make a lot of people cringe, shake their head and roll their eyes 🙂 My interest in spirituality largely relates to its perspective on energy and how energy ticks. So, while from a spiritual perspective we may hear 'Find the tribe you vibe with' (the circle of people you best function with), from the perspective of quantum physics you could say 'Find the circle of people who lead your cells to vibrate (vibe) at optimum levels, which keep them out of a state of dis-ease, upset or dysfunction'.
It's actually interesting how science is beginning to recognise the benefits of certain spiritual practices that have been around for thousands of years. Meditation, for example, has gained much scientific attention over recent years. While science studies the effects of meditation through brain waves, cell performance and chemistry, spirituality defines the ability to alter our vibration to a certain level as experiencing the vibrational feeling or signature of 'peace'. You could say 'peace' is energy in its most relaxed state.
Whether it be science or spirituality, they're both rabbit hole experiences. It's a matter of (once we've entered) which offshoots are worth exploring and which ones we're best taking a detour away from.
Hi Butterfly 26,
Thats ok happy to help you and I’m glad you have been feeling better.
Try not to question your thoughts just let them be there and float away, the more attention we give to our thoughts the more power we give them….
What we give attention to we give power to.
Yes it’s a roller coaster but the more you practice your skills the more smoother your roller coaster will become.
Remember to practice to stay in the present moment.
Really looking at something in the present moment like a beautiful flower gives us a sense of aw and let’s us see the magic of every day life that we get to be a part of.
Have a lovely day and please reach out to us anytime.