Anxiety and obsessions

I go through a lot of intense anxiety, as well as depression, and generally I'll be worrying to death about things I know I don't need to worry about it, or which I should put aside for now and deal with later. People have always told me I should be able to do this - choose to worry about something later, or dismiss worries from my mind - but this seems utterly impossible to me. 

Is this part of the obsessive way an autistic mind works? I know I obsess over mundane things too which don't cause me anxiety but which I feel compelled to do, and also I get pleasure from obsessing over certain interests. Do we just have to accept this worry as part of the obsessiveness?

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  • I've read this thread with interest. I have wondered for a long time about obsessive thinking about AS and can relate to what you say. I have realised that I can have thoughts on repeat but they are not always necessarily worries. My CBT therapist said it could be to do with uncertainty. However I have identified that some of these repetitive thoughts are not about uncertainty. (One of them, I felt very certain about something and it was very positive but difficutl to stop thinking it).  I wondered if it was OCD but I dont do any behaviours to go with  any of the thoughts.  As another example, I know EVERYONE gets songs stuck in their head but I feel it's excessive with me. My mind is constantly whirring around. If it isn't worry it's repetititve thoughts about something or a song. I cannot switch off.

    The whole idea about "worry time" is absolutely ridiculous and I think for a lot of people who have GAD, it is unrealisitc. I think a lot of worries can stem from our emotional rather than rational brain. So to think about things rationally (Oh, I'll worry about that later) is difficult. What does help with me for worry is thinking about Schoedinger's cat. Is it dead or alive? You don't know till you look in the box. Similarly, you don't know the outcome of something until it's happened, so it could go one way or the other. Why should it always be the negative outcome? Easier said than done to think this way!!! But I'm getting there.

    My assessment report mentioned about getting stuck on thoughts. I don't know how to become unstuck. Sometimes I don't even know I am stuck on something but it makes me brain hurt haha. I have started doing mindfulness. I'm feeling the benefits already. It's helping me chip away at this.

  • I identify with what you say, and I also struggle with the idea of 'worry time'. When something happens to make me worry I sometimes get a massive spike of dread and anger and all sorts of excessive negative emotions and thoughts. It feels like I will never control this, but I do try, and I use the techniques you've described. I know I wasn't always quite this reactive, there were times in my life when things didn't bother me quite this much. As a 33 year old I have concerns that younger adults and children don't have, but its not just that.

    This rating feelings on a scale of 1 - 10 can actually sometimes help me, so long as I think of it like this: if anxiety can be rated for most people at about 1 or 2 or 3 most of the time, and then something happens to make them more nervous or anxious, it will push it up to a 3, 4 or 5, but if someone is living their life at a 5 most of the time, and then something anxiety provoking happens, they will be pushed up to a 7 or higher, close to a panic attack probably. So if I can find some way to bring the normal level of anxiety down it might lower the intensity of my spikes of anxiety.  

  • Yes, I actually found it difficult to put my anxiety onto a scale as such because I felt there were different levels of intensity (techniques for anxiety such as breathing etc made no difference) and also depending on if I knew the source of what caused it. I also realised, during the safety of a buddhist yoga retreat where I decided not to mask, that what I thought was a 0 actuslly wasn't.  It was only at the retreat I discovered what 0 actually felt like.

    One thing which helped through CBT was getting out of the habit of trying to find a reason for the anxiety. "It's never usually just one thing".  Another, which was a massive help, was not to see it as good or bad days. If i think "great! Im having a good day!" itll set me up for a fall because it will come back. I see them now as days. If something happens,  then it happens. I know from my own experience of exposure therapy, which has given me my own proof, that anxiety will always eventually go down. These mindsets have helped even me out a lot more but it's taken my own exploration through CBT to learn it myself.

    Going back to the numbers, I think for people who have GAD and/or AS the base level from which we are starting is higher. Now, after CBT and further understanding of myself, I feel this base level has reduced somewhat relative to myself. So it can be done if you want to work at it. 

    I also think, and this might sound contradictory, that I have a higher threshold than others for putting up with anxiety until I do something about it. I think this links with alexithymia but also masking in that I just carry on with things because I think it's expected of me, or I don't know how I feel till its too late.

    As a 33 year old I have concerns that younger adults and children don't have, but its not just that

    Would you care to tell me more? I may be able to relate to it.

  • Bills, less time to make something of my life, (in my case) worsening physical health, receding hair... So okay not all catastrophic issues, and I know when I was young I had terrible anxiety and depression, and older adults who told me to buck up because 'when you're older you'll realise how hard life really is' made me feel belittled, so of course kids can have it just as bad. I just meant my load of worries has only increased over time.

    Interesting that you went on a buddhist retreat, how was that?

    Apologies for the delayed response, I'm going through a terrible time of depression at the moment and often it's all my energy is going on the basics like work and getting food in. 

  • I've recently realised that it's like being in a semi-permanent state of stage fright.

    Since my diagnosis, this is how I explain how I feel to people. I remind them of the time that they've had to go up on stage or speak in public and had that nervous feeling and then said "that's how I feel most of the time".

    I think I've always been dealing with that feeling while trying to behave normally and not show it.

    It's like having committed a murder and being worried about getting caught. For me it means that I worry all the time. If I'm worrying about a specific thing and that happens to be real and resolved, my mind then moves on to a new thing to worry about.

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  • I've recently realised that it's like being in a semi-permanent state of stage fright.

    Since my diagnosis, this is how I explain how I feel to people. I remind them of the time that they've had to go up on stage or speak in public and had that nervous feeling and then said "that's how I feel most of the time".

    I think I've always been dealing with that feeling while trying to behave normally and not show it.

    It's like having committed a murder and being worried about getting caught. For me it means that I worry all the time. If I'm worrying about a specific thing and that happens to be real and resolved, my mind then moves on to a new thing to worry about.

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