Hello I need help and advice.
I have an extremely vivid imagination, which has some positives, especially when it comes to my writing and art. However I feel like my imagination is doing more harm than good for me.
I imagine such awful and very scary worst case scenarios in my head and convince myself they are going to happen to me. It makes me distressed and very anxious and I worry myself so much I make myself physically ill. I constantly live in fear of something truly horrible happening to me. My parents are concerned about me and my constant obsessing and worrying is destroying my relationship with my boyfriend (we've been together nearly 2 years).
So far I have imagined that I will die from a deadly disease soon, I will get cancer and not know about it and then I will die a horrible death, that someone will murder me in the street, I will get kidnapped, I will get locked in someone's basement forever, I will get accused of a crime I haven't done and will have my name and photo blasted all over the media, I will go to prison, I will get burned alive, someone will throw acid at me in the street, I will be a victim of a horrific assault or accident and will be disfigured, I will get raped and contract HIV or herpes, I will live in poverty after Brexit.....all these crazy things. Neurotypical people have constantly told me these worries are absurd but I somehow have come to a conclusion as to why each of those things will happen to me in the future. I spend all day and night worrying and thinking about them - I don't sleep, I have bad eating patterns, my house is a mess, I don't look after myself and I never get anything done due to my constant obsessing and panicking and overthinking these horrific scenarios.
I am seeing a counsellor again next week for the first time in years. I just want these thoughts to end I am so so sick of feeling like this.
This is something I came across in my own counselling. I don't know if it fits your experience, but I'm gonna put it out there, just in case it sounds familiar:
A neurotypical (NT) mindset thinks in language-based, culturally associated symbolic webs. (i.e. if you say "table" they think of the word 'table', and all of the vague associations to a table, including it's social value etc).
Autistic individuals often think in linear and visual terms. (i.e. if you say "table" we simply conceptualise a complete visual image of a table).
Part of being autistic is being bombarded with the same influx of sensory data as NT's are, however we lack the same mechanisms to manage the wealth of incoming data in the same way. Thus, we can feel absolutely engulfed by a constant influx of sensory input, which can lead to exhaustion and overload.
This overload can also include increased (over) cognitions, as we attempt to (over) process all of the variables and data.
Now, it's been suggested to me that thinking in literal visual terms may not primarily be autism in itself, but an associated defence mechanism to try and better manage more of the incoming data via a more efficient means. After all, as the old saying goes "a picture paints a thousand words." So, our thinking in visual imagery is kinda a 'cognitive short hand'.
Now, due to our impaired social skills, communication difficulties and different sensory / cognitive processes, we often worry more (worry being considered in the classic CBT sense as anxiety about a future, hypothetical event - possibly because we're always trying to think our way through life, rather than having that wider, intuitive instinct that the NT's seem to have to guide them. Autistics also often use worrying as a means to rehearse and mentally practice future events, given our preference for familiar routines).
Consequently, when we worry, autistics actually see the focus of their worry in a more detailed, complete and encompassing picture - it's actually far more vivid and real to us in our mind's-eye than what a similar worry would be to a NT (i.e. an autistic worry is in much 'higher resolution' and far more literal).
As such, worry can possibly be a far more stressful event for an autistic individual, because it's experienced as more real, and therefore more of a threat.
What do you guys think? Does this feel right to you?
A great explanation. When we believe our thoughts, we suffer and because we see them in visual form, in more detail, it stands to reason we will suffer more. Really good explanation. Thanks for that. I’m glad you put it out there.