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  1. #1
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    Sep 2018
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    61

    Intrusive thinking about rabies/bats

    So, I've been having really bad anxiety about rabies for the past, probably month or so. It started with a specific incident several years ago that I was concerned about. Then my mind started searching for other instances in my past where there might have been an exposure. Then I kind of started with the invisible bat syndrome, as I like to call it. It probably didn't help that I read a few of these threads with people who are very afraid of bats. I've always been afraid of bats anyway, so it didn't completely come from here. Anyway, it triggered this new obsession where anytime I'm outside, I'm looking around for bats... even in the middle of the day. Yesterday, at about noon, I was on the walkway up to my house. I was wearing flip flops. I noticed my foot brush something, looked down and saw a piece of a plant, like literally a clump of grass. Noticed a little later that my big toe was hurting just a touch and when I looked closely, there was what seemed to be a mark. I went back outside and looked at the sidewalk and the grass near the sidewalk. No bats. But now, I'm having this intrusive thought where my brain just keeps saying, "but are you sure there wasn't a bat?" and there is a very clear image of a dead/downed bat on the sidewalk that pops into my brain. Now, it's this vicious cycle of "well, what is real? which memory is real? was there or wasn't there a bat on the sidewalk yesterday?" And I'm like, well, that's ridiculous... you've never seen bats around this house. But my brain goes, "well you haven't seen any yet. Or that you know of. And maybe you did see one yesterday." I'm essentially questioning my reality, like I keep thinking, am I convincing myself that I saw a bat or am I convincing myself that I didn't see a bat? It's made me really confused and panicky.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    23,888

    Re: Intrusive thinking about rabies/bats

    Commando bats! Faces smeared in camouflage paint waiting to strike! Evil little critters!

    Going back to check is likely a compulsion which will you may feel with reassure you but will only reinforce the need for a fear you don't need to have. The same with checking your surroundings all the time when out.

    Try to reduce these checking behaviours until you eliminate them because they are counter productive to your recovery.

    Expose to the environments you fear, which reducing checks, will help you to habituate to places you fear where something may happen. Try to be in these places and work on telling yourself you are fine and to experience your surroundings more mindfully e.g. feel the wall you lean (how it feels, how texture changes, is it cold, etc), breathe normally, look at things you wouldn't because you would be normally be scanning for your threats, etc. These can help you feel more at ease in a place.

    The subconscious is going to work this way because it's how it is designed. Fight of flight is expecting to see a big nasty bear and it's going to keep you on your toes. That involves the questioning too. Was that rustling a bear?

    Imagery is common with intrusive thoughts, much of mine had imagery of harm. Working on intrusive thoughts by learning not to react to them negatively helps greatly. Reduce reactions and work towards a "meh" instead as your subconscious will give up trying eventually and it will mothball this stuff.

    False memories are certainly a part of anxiety, they are a theme in OCD, for instance. It's another way of tricking into obsessing over the theme and introducing the doubts that anxiety thrive on. It plays into the hands of our Cognitive Distortions, All-of-nothing thinking in this instance, as it knows we ever get a 100% answer with a memory and they can get blurred. It tries to introduce bias towards the negative to add to confirming the "possibility" it is right.

    So, learning to tolerate doubt is important.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    61

    Re: Intrusive thinking about rabies/bats

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    Commando bats! Faces smeared in camouflage paint waiting to strike! Evil little critters!

    Going back to check is likely a compulsion which will you may feel with reassure you but will only reinforce the need for a fear you don't need to have. The same with checking your surroundings all the time when out.

    Try to reduce these checking behaviours until you eliminate them because they are counter productive to your recovery.

    Expose to the environments you fear, which reducing checks, will help you to habituate to places you fear where something may happen. Try to be in these places and work on telling yourself you are fine and to experience your surroundings more mindfully e.g. feel the wall you lean (how it feels, how texture changes, is it cold, etc), breathe normally, look at things you wouldn't because you would be normally be scanning for your threats, etc. These can help you feel more at ease in a place.

    The subconscious is going to work this way because it's how it is designed. Fight of flight is expecting to see a big nasty bear and it's going to keep you on your toes. That involves the questioning too. Was that rustling a bear?

    Imagery is common with intrusive thoughts, much of mine had imagery of harm. Working on intrusive thoughts by learning not to react to them negatively helps greatly. Reduce reactions and work towards a "meh" instead as your subconscious will give up trying eventually and it will mothball this stuff.

    False memories are certainly a part of anxiety, they are a theme in OCD, for instance. It's another way of tricking into obsessing over the theme and introducing the doubts that anxiety thrive on. It plays into the hands of our Cognitive Distortions, All-of-nothing thinking in this instance, as it knows we ever get a 100% answer with a memory and they can get blurred. It tries to introduce bias towards the negative to add to confirming the "possibility" it is right.

    So, learning to tolerate doubt is important.
    This is all good advice, especially the "learning to tolerate doubt" portion. It's just very hard when my brain thinks it's currently in a life or death situation and is telling me to get the shots because now I'm not sure which memory is real... It's just the imagery of there being a bat on the sidewalk, and then thinking "that's not real. Or was that real, and now you're trying to convince yourself that there was no bat?" It's a vicious cycle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    61

    Re: Intrusive thinking about rabies/bats

    I'm now worried that I'm convincing myself that there was no bat, when there actually was a bat and not the other way around. I'm worried because now I feel like I don't know which is the true memory, and it will have deadly consequences if I'm wrong.

    I keep telling myself, that if I had seen a bat, there is no way I would have just gone inside... I would have taken a photo of it/called animal control/run into the house screaming/called and told somebody about it...
    Last edited by Panicandpeace; 06-10-18 at 02:04.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    61

    Re: Intrusive thinking about rabies/bats

    Any thoughts on getting the pre-exposure vaccination series? For peace of mind? Has anybody else done this? I know this won't get to the root of the issue, which is why I'm seeing a psychiatrist this month for CBT. I know I need to work on how my brain thinks because I'll just go down another wormhole, once I'm at peace about this. So, I realize this would NOT be a solution, but rather, it would offer a sense of peace regarding this particular phobia.

    My only fear, because I read an article about scientists who were working on a late stage rabies treatment cited an article that said, delay in treatment with the modern rabies vaccines may actually accelerate the development of the disease. Which, of course makes me think, omg then what if I do have it from years ago, and the pre-exposure vaccine awakens a sleeping beast?

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