I FOUND OUT that I suffer from something called "Racing thoughts".
Now this is why self-diagnosis is such a minefield. Because if I didn't know better, I'd assume "racing" thoughts are ones that appear quickly one after the other. Not so. My experience is the same as the wikipedia definition, where the head becomes full of music, voices, snippets, logos and mottos and swirling about. Like a radio tuned to several channels at once.
Racing thoughts may be experienced as background or take over a person's consciousness. Thoughts, music, and voices might be zooming through one's mind. There also might be a repetitive pattern of voice or of pressure without any associated "sound".
It is a very overwhelming and irritating feeling, and can result in losing track of time. Sometimes racing thoughts are accompanied by an elevated pulse, including drumming in the ears.
Generally, racing thoughts are described by an individual who has had an episode as an event where the mind uncontrollably brings up random thoughts and memories and switches between them very quickly. Sometimes they are related, as one thought leads to another; other times they are completely random. A person suffering from an episode of racing thoughts has no control over his or her train of thought and it stops them from focusing on one topic or prevents sleeping.
They don't make me feel anxious or irritable. To me, they're like free entertainment. They can even be exhilarating.
I also relate to the statement about a repetative pattern of voice... without associated sound. That's the milder version.
These are a symptom of bipolar disorder, anxiety and supposedly some obsessive-compulsive conditions and in their severe form are said to be exceedingly oppressive.
I mention these because they came back to me lately. The other night I actually lost track and thought my mobile phone was on speaker, because someone was blar blar blar-ing away at me.
I'm glad I actually know the name of this phenomenon, which, incidentally I'm sure is mostly not drug-induced. I like the kind of drugs that block things out. And those are the only kind I take now. Not psychedelics. Not crack. And certainly not that nasty cannabis stuff. Last time I toked on that rubbish I was hearing paranoid voices for several hours, which was highly inconvenient.
I was reading over personality disorder criteria. I am not flattered that the nut-nut nurse implied I might be on the anxious-avoidant or dependent "axis". I am diametrically opposite in many ways to such people. For example, I would never pass over to somebody else a decision affecting the course of my life. My family, who know me best, would frequently call me stubborn. That is the exact opposite of a dependent personality, who would give in to others' wishes as a matter of course.
The only personality disorder you could bundle on to me is the borderline type. (And the least flattering diagnosis, apart from "psychopathic" or antisocial personality disorder.) I've been told I have this twice, and what sets off alarm bells is the fact that both these individuals also have (actually, had, such a diagnosis ~ one committed suicide in January.
Here are the criteria:
1.Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5 [I don't think so.]
2.A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. [I wouldn't put it this way; but I have had a pattern of getting into over-intense frienships, and having read further, yes you could say this "criterion" applies. Though I wouldn't word my experience this way. You could say many if not most people feel such ambivalence.]
3.Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. [Absolutely. When I was younger I had almost no concept of who I was.]
4.Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5 [Drugs; food. Used to eat under 1500 cals a day as matter of course.]
5.Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself. [There was a period when I used to cut up with broken glass, but it only lasted a year and I don't do it now.]
6.Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). [Definitely some mood disturbance, sometimes to suicidal extremes. And often it is highly "reactive". Isn't everyone prone to be put in a bad mood when things mess up? Not all my moods are as brief as this criterion suggests.]
7.Chronic feelings of emptiness [Absolutely.]
8.Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). [I frequently feel irritated, but try to keep it under my hat.]
9.Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms [I don't think I'm anything like as para as I used to be. Some of those "racing thoughts" experiences have a dissociative quality, because they are heard rather than thought. I still suffer depersonalization and derealization, that is feelings that self and world are unreal, but not as hallucinatorily intense as in former years. ]
Personally I don't think I have any personality disorder. I know something is "wrong" with me. (Well, I don't feel "right".)
Further to yesterday's post, I feel an uncanny need for self-protection and care. Sorting myself out might be a nice place to start. I have access to doctors, so I may as well use them.
But I think psychiatry is a religion, involving its own world view and set of values. Doctors function as priests with nurses in roles parallel to monks and nuns. Psychiatry's holy trinity is pharmacology, counselling and the DSM IV-R diagnostic criteria.
I don't think I'm mad. But I'm absolutely sure that the world is.
Illustration: bubble reads "are we confused?"
MAD WORLD: TEARS FOR FEARS VERSION
EAMMON: DON'T WANT YOU BACK
I like this tune
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