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Thread: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

  1. #1
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    Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    One of the major issues I've faced for many years now is catastrophic or fantastic thinking. Not "fantastic" as in "wow, that's amazing!" but more extrapolating a tiny point to reality. Let me give you some examples of the latter, all of which have happened in the last 48 hours.

    On Friday I picked up an old wall-mounted electric fire from the late 60s/early 70s. Bought primarily as a source of spares should my mother-in-law's need them, I have also considered actually pressing it into service here at home as it's contemporary to the house.

    First issue was the three orange 'fireglow' bulbs had been replaced with CFLs, which due to their mercury content I have banned in this house. Not liking how this fire was rattling in the boot of this hired hatchback, I pulled over and removed them, placing them on the passenger seat (suitably separated) and drove home. On the way home I could hear a high-pitched noise which I assumed was coming from the bulbs, of which one must have got damaged. So I drove home, worried that one might be leaking mercury vapour. When I got home I tested all three and they all worked, so I felt somewhat more reassured but they are now outside pending recycling. The next morning I heard that same noise that bothered me whilst carrying the fire out of the boot of the car ready to hoover it out, but as this was without the bulbs I realised that it was never them all along.

    Once I had removed the fire I noticed the boot carpet had something white and fibrous on it. So my immediate thought was "asbestos" and sure enough, there was something sticky, patchy and fibrous on the back of the fire. But what on Earth could it be that had asbestos in it? Wetting it and scraping it revealed that at some point it had what looked like a blue-painted surface on it, so I came to the conclusion it was probably one of those textured wallpapers that had been painted and the fire put back on the wall before spots of it were completely dry.

    In the process of cleaning it, I thought that the back plate could do with a clean, so I sprayed my trust detergent solution onto it... and it ran brown. This immediately made me think "nicotine, I'll get poisoned by that" and although not coming into contact with it and subsequently putting gloves on, I thought "but what if the nicotine passes through the gloves?". Then I started to worry if the funny, metallic taste in my mouth was linked.

    Obviously, I'm still here (for the moment) but by now you should have an idea of what troubles me most these days in my life (chemical exposure having been the biggest issue for a LONG time) and I am just wondering how people cope with, or control this kind of thinking?

  2. #2
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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    My GAD brain always goes to "worst-case scenario." Always has, probably always will. Even though I've been stable on medication for a long time, it still goes there. But even though I have the thought, the meds really help with me not dwell on it.

    The other thing that helps me is to write the thoughts down. Somehow seeing it in print or on paper makes me realize how irrational I'm being--it usually takes a long time to get to worst-case. Another is simply telling someone. It's embarrassing, but when you say these things aloud to someone, two things happen: 1) you see how irrational it is and 2) a problem shared is a problem halved.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    If I say this stuff to a normal person, the reactions are usually quizzical at best and downright hostile at worst.

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    What would you consider as hostile, PM? Are people actually rude to you?

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    I can totally relate to your concerns as I think they are highly symbolic of these more enlightened times we live in, where many of us perceive potential hazards virtually everywhere, real or imagined.

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    What would you consider as hostile, PM? Are people actually rude to you?
    Someone saying "I'm having to deal with a 30-something with cancer and you're coming out with this crap? Stop being stupid." to my mind is perhaps hostile?

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pamplemousse View Post
    Someone saying "I'm having to deal with a 30-something with cancer and you're coming out with this crap? Stop being stupid." to my mind is perhaps hostile?
    While I believe to you, what you posted are real concerns, I read them and go Dealing with real physical illnesses, real financial difficulties and other extremely challenging life situations are taxing regardless of anxiety. To be consumed with thoughts that for all intents and purposes are fantasy, I can see how that would tick the box of someone dealing with real life challenges. I can also see why that would seem hostile to you based on the importance you give these irrational fears.

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pamplemousse View Post
    Someone saying "I'm having to deal with a 30-something with cancer and you're coming out with this crap? Stop being stupid." to my mind is perhaps hostile?
    I think you have to be selective in talking about these fears to friends? You're not being stupid because these are real fears to you and you know you're not being stupid. Fear is fear but having a "different" fear to recognised fears doesn't always get empathy and understanding from others because they simply don't understand so will give you the brush-off treatment.

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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fishmanpa View Post
    While I believe to you, what you posted are real concerns, I read them and go Dealing with real physical illnesses, real financial difficulties and other extremely challenging life situations are taxing regardless of anxiety. To be consumed with thoughts that for all intents and purposes are fantasy, I can see how that would tick the box of someone dealing with real life challenges. I can also see why that would seem hostile to you based on the importance you give these irrational fears.

    FMP
    I have those "real-world" challenges too. You wouldn't believe what the pandemic did to my personal finances, and my ongoing struggle to pay it off. Yet they don't seem to bother me; they're 'practical' worries which my brain is very well accustomed to dealing with. I wouldn't have lasted as long in my field if that wasn't the case.

    Sometimes I look back on what I have become worried about/blown out of all proportion in the past and think "Really? Did I really think that?" and think "Oh, silly me."

    But that only lasts until the next occasion and then it's rinse and repeat.

  10. #10
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    Re: Catastrophic/Fantastic thinking and how to control it?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    I think you have to be selective in talking about these fears to friends? You're not being stupid because these are real fears to you and you know you're not being stupid. Fear is fear but having a "different" fear to recognised fears doesn't always get empathy and understanding from others because they simply don't understand so will give you the brush-off treatment.
    In many cases my friends are much more sympathetic than my family...

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