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Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?
Why is that? What is the core of those feelings?
A person who may feel like they’re losing their mind could be going through several different problems with different solutions.
So what we’re going to do is dive into these various problems and their potential solutions to hopefully give you something to consider.
If you feel like this issue is negatively affecting your ability to conduct your life, it would be best to talk to a certified mental health professional about what you’re experiencing to get to the root of the problem. It may be more serious than what you can address through self-help.
If you think you might need therapy, we recommend you consider the online therapy provided by the website BetterHelp.com where you can receive the help and advice you need from wherever you are in the world.
Click here to learn more or to book your first session.
That being said, let’s look at those reasons for the way you’re feeling and their potential solutions.
1. Mental illness.
A variety of mental illnesses can make you feel like you are losing touch with reality. They can cause you to misinterpret reality, feel emotions that don’t reflect reality accurately, or do things entirely outside your nature. In addition, drastic personality changes are a hallmark of trauma or mental illness.
Mental illness can sometimes manifest out of nowhere. A person can just be genetically predisposed to developing a mental illness, and then they do. Some serious mental illnesses that can cause people to question their reality have average onset ages in the 20s. For example, the average onset for schizophrenia in men is in the early 20s, women in the late 20s to early 30s. Source. The average onset for Bipolar Disorder is about 25 years old. Source.
That’s not accounting for several other mental illnesses that can affect how you perceive or interpret reality. For example, a person with OCD might feel overwhelmed because they can’t fulfill their obsessions or compulsions. A person with anxiety may be overwhelmed because they are experiencing intense fear or panic.
That can all be overwhelming and cause a person to feel like they are losing their mind.
Solution: If you feel like you might be developing a mental illness, the best thing to do is get professional help right away. Some common things to look for include being afraid of yourself, your thoughts or feelings, or having irrational thoughts. Mental illness often causes people to act outside of their typical character. If you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do with no understandable reason, it may be a symptom of mental illness. If you consider hurting yourself or someone else, you should definitely seek professional help immediately.
The long-term effects of stress are well-studied. When a person is under stress, their brain fires off a response to produce a bunch of hormones and chemicals to deal with the threat. Source.
The problem with long-term stress is that it locks the brain into continuously producing those chemicals. And those chemicals and hormones are not healthy to have in your system in the long term. For example, cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases glucose in your blood, causes your brain to use more glucose, and increases hormones that can help to repair damaged tissues.
But it also curbs natural processes that would not serve you in a fight-or-flight situation. It suppresses your digestive system and hunger and alters immune system responses and growth processes for the worst. This response can also disrupt mood, motivation, fear, and anxiety. It can make anxiety and depression much worse, to the point where you may feel like you’re losing your mind.
This is one of the many reasons that situations like chronic poverty, domestic abuse, and working in a terrible job for a long time can have devastating consequences on a person’s mental and physical health. All of them are extremely stressful long-term situations that cause your brain’s natural alarm system to fire off to produce those chemicals to help you survive. And that’s not something that should be done over years or decades.
Solution: Oh, just change your situation! That’s just so easy, right!? Just get out of poverty! Just leave that domestic abuse situation! Just quit your job! Ridiculous sh*t that you probably expected us to say with some cheery can-do attitude. Right?
Hey, I understand that it’s not that simple. But if you can find a way to relieve some of your stress or make it a goal to change your situation, that would be the ideal thing to do. In the meantime, do the best that you can with your situation. Try to find activities that can help you de-stress and create some peace. If only it were simple, huh? Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in.
Do you ever feel like you drive yourself crazy? You just latch on to a particular thought, usually negative, and just keep spinning it around and around in your head? It ruins your mood, it consumes your thoughts, and you keep coming back to it, no matter how hard you try to get off of it!
This is one of the ways that you can experience rumination. And rumination can make you feel like you’re losing your mind because you’re not having healthy thoughts. Those thoughts are likely driven by anxiety and fear of whatever is spinning around in your head.
Rumination can make a good situation bad and a bad situation much worse. For example, let’s say you get stuck on the idea that your partner is cheating on you. Hell, they may be. Maybe they are acting sketchy as all hell. They’re protecting their cellphone like it can grant them immortal life, they’re having late-night conversations with someone, and they’re spending a lot of extra hours “working late.” Everything seems to add up to the person being unfaithful.
But maybe they’re not. Maybe they just found something interesting online that they’re taking part in. Their focus on their phone might be because they’re playing some time-sensitive game, as developers are wont to do so they can milk more money out of their players. And maybe the person is actually working late because their employer is understaffed.
Rumination can spin those negative thoughts into something overwhelming, stressful, and anxiety-inducing. It can feel like you’re losing your mind.
Solution: One of the best ways to deal with rumination is to disrupt and break up the thoughts. When you find yourself stuck in the spiral, use some disruption method to break the spiral. Here are some methods of disruption you can try.
Exercise. Put on a podcast, get out there, and do some exercise. It’ll give your brain something else to focus on while you’re encouraging your brain to produce more feel-good chemicals from exercising.
Watch something funny. A comedy will give you some distraction as you pay attention to the material and produce more feel-good chemicals from (hopefully) laughing and smiling.
Puzzles or video games. Any puzzle or video game that will force you to think about it is a good option. Sudoku, crosswords, word searches are all good options. You can buy books of puzzles at basically any store with magazines or by the checkout counters. A video game is also a good option if it will make you think about it.
Hobbies. Do you have a hobby you can throw your mental energy at? That’s also a good option.
Basically, anything that will force your brain to think about something other than the ruminating thoughts. It will help you reground back into the moment and hopefully pull your thoughts under control.
Similar to rumination, overthinking can cause you to feel like you’re losing your mind. The difference is that overthinking is often rooted in the future or past. You may find yourself continuously going back to a past circumstance, thinking about what you could have done differently, thinking about what you should have done differently, but none of that matters anymore. It’s done. It’s over with.
Maybe you find yourself on the opposite end of overthinking. You could be trying to predict the future, consider every possible angle, and find a way to make everything perfectly align so it will be successful. Well, I don’t know about you, but any time I’ve ever gotten screwed by something in the future, it was always something I never saw coming.
It was like I was at a stop sign, carefully looking in both directions before driving forward, and then a plane fell out of the sky on top of me. And it’s like, “I never saw that coming!” Because that’s just how life is sometimes. All you can do is trust yourself to know how to adapt and roll with it.
Solution: Overthinking can be the product of several different challenges. It might be caused by avoiding the wrath of a previous abuser, anxiety, or a strong need for control. Since overthinking is often rooted in the past or the future, mindfulness can significantly help control it. Mindfulness is all about being rooted in the present. That way, you can deal with your present instead of living your life in the past that can’t be changed or a future that can’t be predicted.
There are a couple of different ways you can practice mindfulness.
The first is meditation. Meditation is a well-studied and proven method to reduce stress, overthinking, and being in the present. Something as simple as five minutes of meditation can help you reboot. If you’re interested in learning, just give it a google or look on Youtube. There are slightly less than a billion resources on how to meditate out there.
The second is grounding. Just stop and use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique when you find your mind distracting.
Look for five things around you. Then, consider those five things closely. What are they? Why are they there? Do you like them? Do you not like them?
Feel four things you are currently experiencing. That might be the wind, sunshine on your skin, rain, cloth on a piece of furniture, whatever. An excellent thing to use is an ice cube. The sharpness of the cold can really help cut through overwhelming thoughts.
Listen to three things in your environment. Cars? The sound of a creaky house? Music playing somewhere? Birds singing? Dogs barking? Whatever you can hear, find three things.
Smell two things around you. That’ll be easier in some environments than others. It might be cooking food, the smell of exhaust, or outdoor air. Every season has lovely smells if you happen to live in an area that actually has seasons. You may also want to consider keeping a scented candle on hand. That’ll give you a smell and something to look at.
Taste one thing. If you don’t have anything to taste, just lick the wall. I’m just joking. Don’t do that. Can you taste something? A drink? A bite to eat? If available, you may want to consider keeping some chewing gum or hard candy to suck on. If you don’t have anything to taste, you can always just think about a taste you really enjoy. Think of a favorite food, drink, or candy.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a common way to defuse anxiety and panic attacks. It can help you reground yourself if you find your mind overloaded and overstimulated.
Do you ever find yourself looking around at the world? Looking at the people that are in it? Looking at what they do? And find yourself asking…what the f*ck is going on? What is wrong with people? What is wrong with this world? Did I take crazy pills and wake up in topsy-turvy land?
Yeah, it’s pretty wild out there. War, poverty, politics, pandemic, people generally being garbage to each other. It’s a lot to deal with. It’s so much to take in.
But, unfortunately, it can also make you feel like you’re losing your mind when you’re hammered by so much negative information all the time. In the United States, the political situation is so divisive and causing so much conflict that it’s destroying relationships and families.
What can you really do about that?
Well, there are some things you can do about that.
Solution: Reduce your time on social media. Social media algorithms are set up so that they are going to serve you content that they think you’ll want to see. And if you are looking at the news or political content, they will serve you up more news and political content. That can trap you into a cycle of just dwelling on these negative things because you are constantly bombarded by them.
Disconnect yourself from the 24/7 news cycle. It’s good to be informed. But it’s also good to keep in mind that the news primarily functions off of telling you the terrible things in the world because that’s what enthralls people.
“If it bleeds, it leads.”
And it leads because people love a spectacle. Deep down, they want to be shocked. They want to live vicariously through people going through it. They treat suffering like a spectator sport, but what they don’t realize, to quote Mr. Nietzsche, “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back at you.”
What does that mean? Well, it means that if you’re not careful, you can lose pieces of yourself by immersing yourself too much into the abyss. Just watching people suffering can be enough to cause secondary trauma to people. Hell, a whole nation was traumatized by 9/11 by watching that plane crash into that second tower.
One plane? Probably a terrible, tragic accident. Second plane? Wait, is this a movie? No, this isn’t a movie. This is the news. Did someone do this on purpose? But why? And on that day, our country changed dramatically, arguably for the worst.
It’s good to be informed about what’s going on in the world, but you don’t have to eat a steady diet of terrible and tragic things. Set yourself a limited time to catch up on the news, then distance yourself from it. All you really need is a couple hours a week to get caught up.
As you can see, there are a whole lot of things that can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Anything from too much stress to trauma to just trying to be aware of what’s going on in the world. The best way to handle it and bring those thoughts under control is to get to the root of the issue so you can address that particular problem.
That may not be something you can easily identify. But, if you can’t, do look into seeing a therapist. Talk about what you are feeling to get the help you need. There’s no shame in seeking help for such a massive problem.
Again, we recommend you check out BetterHelp.com and consider the online therapy they offer. They only work with certified and experienced therapists, so you can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands as you work through whatever is causing you to feel this way.
Click here to learn more or to arrange your first session.
You may also like:
- 5 Things To Do When Your Life Is Spiraling Out Of Control
- 21 Things To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
- How To Stop Living In Your Head: 6 Tips That Really Work!
- 6 Reasons Why You Don’t Know How You Feel (+ 4 Ways To Find Out)
- 10 Effective Self-Soothing Techniques For Adults