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brassmonkey

Dealing With Emotional Spirals

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Happy2Heal
On 11/15/2016 at 8:28 PM, brassmonkey said:

So how can we learn to control such a destructive thought process?

 

There are four steps:

 

1. Identify that it's happening,

 

2. Defuse the situation,

 

3. Change the channel,

 

4. Go on with life.

 

Identifying the situation can be hard at first because it's very easy to fall into The Spiral.  A person needs to go through the entire cycle several times to identify the pattern and understand the progression.  I find that I can be well into the pattern before I realize that it's happening again.  Learning what one’s triggers are is a good place to start and previsualizing situations where those triggers might occur.  That way a person can "keep on guard" when those situations arise.

 

Previsualizing situations must be done with care, because it is essentially setting off a trigger on purpose.  It is very easy for the previsualization secession to get out of hand starting The Spiral off and running.  For a lot of people this could be called overthinking a situation.

 

It's frequently the little things that set a Spiral off.  Getting cut off in traffic, a coworker’s off comment, someone’s tone of voice.  When a spiral has ended, I try to go back and coldly analyse it to see what the trigger was for future reference.

 

Thought processes are a highly individual and private thing.  No one can really know what you’re thinking.  The thoughts we are looking at as triggers are our reactions to various stimuli.  It’s not the stimulus itself, but rather our “perception” of it and reaction to it.  We all have nasty people in our lives, people who will say mean things just to get a reaction.  They’re naturally triggers, we know it and can generally handle them accordingly.  Then there are the people we know who wouldn’t purposefully hurt us or just plain strangers.

 

They’re the unintentional and accidental triggers that can cause a lot of Spirals.  It’s all due to our “perception” of the situation.  You’re standing in line at the grocery checkout.  You made a little effort to look nice this morning because you feel bad and thought it might help your attitude.  The friendly person behind you acknowledges your efforts by saying “My, don’t you look nice this morning.”  You “perceive” a compliment and feel better.

 

However, the friendly person is chewing gum at the time.  That gum causes them to swallow in midsentence so it comes out like “My, don’t you look…….nice this morning.” That little pause, caused by an accidental swallow, changes your “perception” of a compliment to an insult.  It reminds you of the time your Aunt Sally, who had a cold, kept insulting your cooking because something “smelled funny”.  From there the thoughts snowball and The Spiral is out of control, wrecking your entire day and causing a major fight with your significant other.

 

thank you so much for all the work you put into this!
this is just what I seem to be dealing with now.

 

this is one of the best threads here.

 

I need to find a way to print this out!

 

 

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mariella

Wow!!! 

I just posted about struggling with this. It's amazing just how lost we get. Thank you for taking your time with sharing it brassmonkey. I've had to do this type of work with my cptsd. I had know idea I would need to do the same coming off AD. 

In a sort of funny way looking forward to the challenge. 💙💚💙

 

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YammySteph

Thank you for posting this! I will practice this. 

 

Sometimes I feel when I try and “change the channel”, those negative thoughts will push super hard back into focus. It feels like someone is taking control of my actions. It feels that it’s not in my control. That’s the most challenging part. 

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brassmonkey

Yea, that happens sometimes.  The trick is to just keep after it and keep after it.  the distraction of trying to change the channel helps to break the cycle so each time you do it you loosen the hold that the negative thoughts have.  After a while I found that using a key phrase like "I've already addressed this situation and thought it through, I don't have to do it again" then let it drop and go on with what I was doing worked pretty well.  It even worked when there had been a several week break in the thoughts.  It did take some time with using the key phrase and changing the channel to get the pattern established.  I also watched for certain times/situations where the thoughts would try to spring up with no real trigger.  Driving home from work was a challenging time for a while, but once I realized that this was a problem time of day I could be more on guard and catch things in the very early stages before they could really get a foothold.

 

Keep practicing, little by little you'll gain control and peace of mind.

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BloombieK

Thank you very much brassmonkey for such valuable information.  I've read  your posts several times and have found that I've been on emotional spirals, several at times, not knowing about it.  I knew about rumination but you explain very clearly to me how they work and that they can be difused.   I'm happy that now I can identify them, the triggers, and  am hopeful to find patterns and to get better at difusing them with practice.

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Grayskies

Good evening

 

I have tapered down another 10% after starting this process last month. My biggest concern is that I feel so much more sensitive, like my armor is gone or something. I feel like it is much easier to hurt my feelings and I am very easily irritated. I don’t want to flip out at people and I have a job where I cannot lose my cool at all. Does anyone have suggestions for dealing with these emotions that feel like a lightening strike when they happen? I almost don’t even see them coming and then I feel stunned. 

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mariella

I know where you're coming from Grayskies. You described it so well, the armour has come off.  It's what's going on for me now. I'm afraid to go to the next taper. 

I'm so sensitive to everything, even food, my stomach is shocking. It needs food but it doesn't sit well. 

I wish I could advise you, but I myself need to know what to do to make it a bit easier. 

We are all in the right place to get help and support. 

Hang in there! 

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Grayskies

Mariella—  good to not feel alone in this, what is truly one of the most challenging things I have done in my life so far. 

So far the only thing I can think of doing is a good pep talk before I start my day.. knowing this will happen and that I should probably just do everything I can to sit with it and not react. If I still feel the next day that something should be done, I can do it... but in that moment generally my decisions are very irrational. I suppose this is just mindfulness. I have also been practicing eft tapping a lot regarding my fear of tapering down— this seems to be helpful and allow me to focus on my strengths and protective factors that will contribute to success. It’s easy to get swallowed up in the fear that “I can’t really do this” or “I will need to be on meds my whole life.” 

Still absolutely terrified at times but this is what I have come up with so far. Sending you strength and support! 

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brassmonkey

Hi Grayskies-  I love your attitude and perception of what is going on with your taper. It can't be taken lightly but can't be rushed, let's see how tomorrow is before making any decision. That will serve you well while you taper.

 

Fear of tapering is a prime example of Spiral Thinking and can be handled in the same manner.  There is no easy way past the next step, we all know it's going to hurt, but it's a step that  must be taken if we are to get anywhere with out taper.  There are things that can be done to lessen the effect of the symptoms, timing, taper percentage, stability are but a few.  Knowing and  Understanding that what ever happens is only temporary is a major factor in getting through with less disturbance. Psyching ones self out before a drop is a big cause of trouble.

 

I remember giving oral presentations in class back in high school.  I hated it. I would start getting upset several days before and by the time I had to present I would be a total mess.  But I would make it through the presentation and get a good grade.  I finally learned that all the worry was for nothing and would just make things worse, so I started to try and control the negative self talk before hand and as long as I had my material prepared, what use to be torture became a tolerable experience. Since then I have gone on to do many presentations at corporate levels, small gatherings, act in films and on live television.  I get quite nervous before each one, but by knowing that it will all work out I can get through it and get through it well.

 

The same goes for tapering.  Once you've done a couple of drops in the correct manner a person should have some idea what to expect.  They can either be afraid of it and make it worse, or accept what ever happens and ride it out in style. It's all personal choice.

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mariella

thankyou for your support Grayskies.

 

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Justcope

Thanks for this post. For me, spirals are my main and worst symptom. I had this problem before starting meds - leading to anxiety and so was put in meds. I thought I had developed enough skills to come off ADs with the help of a lovely therapist, but nope- bam! Spirals are out of control! Talk about losing complete confidence in yourself. That’s when the whole “I’m going to need meds forever” speech/spiral is in full force. 

I think a big trigger for me is heart palpitations. For me it just triggers anxiety and then lasts for ages. Then thoughts accompany it to try make sense of the anxiety. I’m not so good at catching it in time though. 

Think I’ll need to read and re read this article over and over to get the concept. 

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