Noisy Thoughts

“A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.”
– Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

All tangled up
Photo by Matt Artz on

Sometimes, I “should” all over myself, and it leads to a noisy mess in my head.

Let me explain. I am a naturally curious person, and I have a pretty good memory (if I do say so myself). I’ve had variants of therapy a couple of times in my life, and have done a lot of research in how to handle depression. This leads to a couple of things. First of all, I overanalyze a LOT of things, and this is where, I suspect, some of the anxiety comes into play. I’m always thinking about how what I said is being received, worried about being judged, and thinking of how I could have said or done things better. I also rehearse conversations in my head. A lot. My mind doesn’t like to be quiet.

On top of all that, as I’ve focused on externalizing my depression and overcome the ideation I’ve struggled with in the past, I frequently end up with a battle in my mind. I’ll have a thought, and immediately recognize it as unhealthy or distorted, and try to stop the thought mid-thought. Then I wonder if I’m being too hard on myself, and if I should let myself feel my feeling, even if it is tied to a distortion, and it just cycles around for awhile.

For example, at a recent session with my therapist, I was reacting to something as I was working through something, and ended up saying something along these lines: “The first response that came to mind was that I feel stupid about (whatever we were talking about), but I know I shouldn’t say my feelings are stupid, because they’re just feelings. But I don’t want to not allow myself to react however I’m going to react, but I also know that I shouldn’t call myself stupid…” It continued along this vein for probably 5 minutes as I talked through this whole ordeal until I came to a resolution. Because I expect to be judged, even by my therapist (which is another whole category of distorted thinking that I’m still working on), I expected her to be looking at me like I had two heads, or suggesting that I have bigger issues than just depression and anxiety. Instead, she looked at me and smiled. She said it was great to see me work through that whole ordeal on my own, and talk my way through and out of the distorted thought.

It's OK to not feel OK sometimes
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Now, just because, in a way, she praised my noisy thoughts, my mental runaround every time I realize I’m about to have a distorted thought/reaction doesn’t mean I magically am OK with it. I’m not. My mind is a frustrating place to be sometimes, because part of me, the inner child, I guess, wants to just react, wants to have space to learn how to feel her feelings and react appropriately. Then, the mental academic wants to constantly apply everything she’s learned in every situation, and frequently tries to override whenever she suspects something unhealthy or distorted is about to bubble up in conversation (whether actual or mental).

Am I anxious and nervous about publishing a post called “Noisy Thoughts”? Am I thinking that readers might think I’m nuts? Absolutely. But I’m publishing it anyway, because this is a process, because I know, logically, my concerns are being blown out of proportion, and because I hope that, in publishing this, I can help someone who is having a hard time finding their way out of the storm. Because the mind can be a noisy place, especially when you’re battling a mental illness, and it’s OK. It’s OK for things to be rough as you work through the transition to a new normal. Some days don’t feel OK, and that’s OK, too. My story is not over.

Does your head feel too noisy sometimes? How are you working on quieting or accepting your mental noise?

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