Feb. 21st, 2011

another_constellation: A white man smiling at a laptop (Default)
This is a copy-and-paste from a comment to VP, which was useful for me in articulating a type of panic I get.

The distinction you make between having violent thoughts and being afraid you would hurt someone (accidentally) is something I experience fairly often when I am panicking. I fixate on a few phrases that aren't actually scary themselves, but the fact that they are repeating and not what I actually feel is very upsetting to me. There are a variety of "what if" phrases that recur that I find particularly upsetting-- among them is "what if I kill everyone in the world?" For me, that question and the fear I feel in response to it is not a fear that I'm actually going to hurt someone, it's a fear that I'm having a thought that I'm not supposed to have, one that deals with big questions, questions bigger than my own mind, and that feels like a question that I, when i am well, would never (need to) ask.

It sounds like what you were afraid of is that you might get the urge to hurt someone, and that you wouldn't be able to stop that. Most people without panic disorders or mental illnesses feel this. When they are driving, they worry that they will miss a light and hit a car. When they hold a new baby, they are scared they will drop hir. In other words, they feel scared that they are going to accidentally (not maliciously) harm someone else.

For me, because my question "what if I kill everyone" comes in the absence of actual homicidal thoughts ("I hate this person and they should die," "that person doesn't deserve to live," "I want to kill that person in X way") I believe that what I am actually experiencing is panic, pure and simple. I'm feeling the worry of a new driver in the wrong context because I have a problem with panicking and worrying that I am a bad person and unusually prone to bad things.

"What if" questions like mine, or ultimatum-style statements like "if I don't do Y thing, Z will happen" are characteristics of panic disorders or obsessive-compulsive thinking. For me, I believe it's a mix of panic disorder and "purely obsessional" OCD (I have the thoughts, which I can't stop, and typical compulsions like hand-washing won't prevent or stop them. Having the thoughts is both the obsession and the compulsion. I have to keep having the thought until the panic stops or I can work out a way to explain that I'm not "really" having the thought).

I explain all of this because I know that panic feeds panic. You have the bad thoughts and then you worry if that is how you really feel, and then you worry that whether or not you "really" feel that way, having it alone makes you a bad, dangerous person. I've definitely been there. The way it manifested for you on that particular day sounds very scary, but also not something you necessarily need to be scared of (if you see the difference).

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another_constellation: A white man smiling at a laptop (Default)
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July 2011

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