Anxiety's Racing Thoughts and Self-Harm Relapse Prevention
Everyday is a struggle – all those dealing with anxiety's racing thoughts and self-harm understand that. But anxiety is an issue that every human being puts up with, whether or not they want to admit it. For those who cut, pull hair, burn or head-bang, anxiety is usually what controls the self-harming behaviors (When Anxiety Leads to Self-Injury).
Over the years, I’ve come up with a definition, or title rather, for racing thoughts that make your brain go non-stop with negative thoughts pushing away all positive ones. This definition describes how it feels when your brain is on overload and you cannot separate your thoughts out.
When anxiety takes over your brain, you can experience racing thoughts, which I call Jetson thoughts.
When Racing Thoughts and Self-Harm Meet the Jetsons
So, here is a quick summary of who The Jetsons are, if you do not already know, and how they relate to anxiety and self-harm. The Jetsons were a futuristic family on TV whose make-believe world featured flying cars that zigged and zagged quickly in the sky.
When I experience anxiety, I feel as though all those flying cars are moving at warped speeds inside my brain with different music playing in each car and with each driver going somewhere different as fast as they can. I can’t control what car to stop and what car to drive.
For self-harmers, this tends to be how your brain works when fighting the urge to cut or burn. You want to make that mark, but know you really shouldn’t. Then your brain jumps back to how badly you want to do it, and then thinks about that flying car going in the right direction. Suddenly, your brain becomes flooded with anxiety and it’s hard to decide what to do with that anxiety (How to Stop Self-Harm, Self-Injury Behaviors).
Racing Thoughts Can Cause a Self-Harm Relapse
For years, I’ve struggled with Jetson thoughts because, well, it just comes with being human. When I self-injured, it was more difficult to pick and choose which cars to park and which cars to keep flying, and this usually led to my cutting. Now, even though I still struggle with bipolar disorder, I am learning how to deal with racing thoughts better.
Anxiety does not usually just disappear. It can lessen, but it’s always there. There are anxiety disorder treatments, like therapy and medications, but those Jetson thoughts don’t always go away.
You have to do something about them.
How to Manage Racing Thoughts So You Don't Self-Harm
Here are a few personal ideas on how to organize the anxiety flying around in your brain when everything seems to be getting more and more overwhelming:
- Stop what you are doing, close your eyes and breathe. Yes, it is cliché and every therapist will tell you breathing helps – but it really does work -- if you take the time for it.
- Use positive self-talk. You’re not crazy if you stop to talk out loud to yourself. It helps you organize what’s going on in your brain in a way that you can hear it clearly.
- Make a list of your anxieties. Write down all of the thoughts going through your head even though this list could possibly become your next big novel.
- Put on relaxing music. Sometimes, music can drown out those thoughts taking you over so you can focus on the ones that are most important.
- Do not self-harm. Do not think that cutting yourself will make these thoughts disappear. They may go away for a short time, but they will come back and be stronger than ever.
Aline, J. (2013, June 14). Anxiety's Racing Thoughts and Self-Harm Relapse Prevention, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2013/06/jetson-thoughts-self-harm-and-anxiety
Author: Jennifer Aline Graham
Love this article. Thank you.