Bipolar's Racing Thoughts Can Bring Up Bad Memories

September 4, 2017 Shelby Tweten

Bipolar's racing thoughts can bring up repressed memories. It's best to face those memories and bipolar's racing thoughts head on. Here's how I cope.

One of the hardest symptoms of bipolar disorder is racing thoughts. These racing thoughts can lead to flashbacks of things you've tried to forget. When I'm manic, I'm left with little-to-no sleep because I just can't seem to shut my mind off. I'm left reliving every bad thing that has happened to me and I begin to obsess about everything that could happen to me. Bipolar's racing thoughts are hard to deal with.

How I Explain Bipolar's Racing Thoughts

The entry titled Racing thoughts on Wikipedia states,

Racing thoughts can be brought on by bipolar disorder, defined by mood instability that ranges from extreme emotional highs, mania, to severe depression. During the manic phase of bipolar disorder is when racing thoughts usually occur.

The way I try to explain racing thoughts to people is that there are 15 TVs on in my head and I can't turn any of them off. As my mind jumps from one thing to another, my anxiety builds. I'm stuck on a seemingly never ending cycling between depression and mania. One second I'm watching a show on TV, the next I am crying over something that happened years ago. Suddenly I have a headache and I can't shake the sadness. Once night falls and I'm alone in the quiet, my mind is loud and I realize I'm not going to get any sleep from the overwhelming anxiety that has covered my body.

Bipolar's Racing Thoughts May Bring Up Bad Memories

On top of having mental illness, I have lived through experiences no one should endure. For a long time, I blamed myself. I saw the chaos as something I deserved for "being crazy." I felt like people were hurting me in response to my aggression and instability. As I got older, I realized that there was no excuse for the things I went through. Most of the time you can't escape bad circumstances. All you're left with is picking up the pieces.

Coping Mechanisms

My biggest coping mechanism has always been watching television shows or movies to escape my own life. I can become completely engulfed in these stories and learn more empathy from how I felt for the characters.

If I can't sleep I will lose myself in writing. Writing down my thoughts while I'm unstable helps me understand things better after my episode and/or cycle is over.

There's nothing better than becoming self-aware. Although there's nothing worse than remembering something that left you so emotionally damaged that your mind tried to block it out, repressing memories can lead to more instability later in life. Allow yourself to feel those feelings and consciously address the memories, then work on letting go, because repression will keep them circling back around.

Whether it's good or bad, life goes on, and once you start to notice your triggers it will be easier to escape the darkness.

APA Reference
Tweten, S. (2017, September 4). Bipolar's Racing Thoughts Can Bring Up Bad Memories, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Shelby Tweten

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Lizanne Corbit
September, 5 2017 at 3:23 pm

This explanation is fantastic -- "The way I try to explain racing thoughts to people is that there are fifteen TVs on in my head and I can’t turn any of them off. As my mind jumps from one thing to another, my anxiety builds." Anxiety is so often like a horrible snowball effect. A full blown avalanche can be triggered by one seemingly "small" thing. This is a difficult concept for some people to understand but the experience can leave people feeling drained, and helpless. I love your coping mechanisms. I'm so glad you found things that have helped you and thank you for sharing them so that they may also help others. Noticing your triggers is a powerful tool to have in your belt.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 5 2017 at 11:47 pm

Thank you so much for understanding. One of the only things I know about my real dad is that he also was mentally ill. When I started showing signs, someone that knew him said that that was his explanation. From that moment I knew that we had at least one thing in common. It's been my description ever since!

September, 5 2017 at 11:54 am

Great post and video, thank you for sharing

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