Catastrophizing help

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
I wanted to see how people coped with catastrophizing. That part of my brain seems so deeply embedded, almost primordial. I'm able to put more distance between me and the catastrophe these days, and I want to see if I can make headway into dealing with it. If a neighbor complains about my lawn, I slowly come to believe that I'll be kicked out of my house. I can easily find the series of steps that would lead to that. Or if I mess up at work, I become convinced that I'm going to be fired. Though I always get a good annual report. Most of the time, my catastrophic reaction is in response to something I said or did to someone, especially a significant other. Sometimes it takes a few minutes or hours, but I'll begin to ruminate about the consequences of what I just did or what just happened and I'll come to the epiphany that catastrophe is coming. I then get swamped with terror and helplessness, and I just want to curl up in a ball. Sometimes I'll even fall asleep. I think it's my brain trying to reset or trying to power down. When I was a kid, the tiniest infraction would set off my narcissistic, psychopathic, sadistic dad. My dad had no problem brutalizing me for the slightest annoyance that I caused him. Once he abandoned me for a whole night and morning when I was a toddler because he didn't like the way I chewed my food. So for me, my earliest experiences gave me the notion that any little thing could lead to my world ending. Am I doomed to always react catastrophically? What can I do to be more proactive about ending such catastrophizing?
 

grit

Not Active
I think as humans we are complex beings and sometimes in order to function or get things done we either the the longest way to get there cause that is all we know or short cut cause we are intelligent being or naturally stumble up on some other way.

Reading your post, I got stuck on this line: "
Most of the time, my catastrophic reaction is in response to something I said or did to someone, especially a significant other.

I wonder if that is maybe your holy grail.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I think I do less catastrophizing now than I did. Part of what has changed is I'm able to recognize the underlying fear and nurture it. Hmm... having troubles finding the right words to explain. Like if I make a mistake at work, the first reaction is to think something horrible is going to happen. But I can stop that from growing by allowing the feeling to happen but recognizing it's a young part inside and that I am no longer you and helpless. That I get good reviews and appreciated. That mistakes happen and most of the world does not react like my family did when I was a young kid. It's a lot of self talk inside.

Not sure if that's helpful at all.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @grit and @Muttly. Glad you're getting less reactive. I think I am too. The problem for me is that the imagined catastrophe is within the realm of possibility, in which case, I would do well in preparing for it. My family did get evicted from an apartment when I was a child, I have gotten fired. So I can't say these things won't happen. But I think the idea of accepting the feeling and identifying it sounds like a good approach.
 

Friday

Moderator
Right Size.
And then what?
Sourcing.

^^^^
NOT in that order, or any particular order. In point of fact? I’ll run them backwards. 😉

Sourcing is like what you did with “This comes from my dad looking for any excuse -or none- to XYZ”. I hit someone’s dog a few years back, and by the time I got home I was already packing us out in my head so by the time I got the car stopped I was in motion; and debating about whether we had enough time to scrub out identities in addition to grabbing essentials (5 minutes? Or 30?). It’s mixing up the past and present. Where my head was at? Hitting someone’s dog who ran out in front of your car was total justification for killing you & your family. WHY I kicked into that headspace? I don’t know. Something triggered something. With the plates of my car, in good legal order registered to my own name and my address, since I stopped to help? We were all as good as dead, if we didn’t leave, and leave NOW.

Right Size In this white picket fence first world life? Even running over someone’s child isn’t justification to kill them, much less their whole family. So whilst in my head it was a matter of life or death, in reality? I wasn’t even going to get a vet bill, or a ticket, much less a beat down or death. They were the ones legally in the wrong, their dog off-leash, and it ran out into traffic. How BIG a problem is? Very much depends on time and place. It ALSO very much depends on the people involved. Including my own self.

And Then What? Is a game I play to Kill. The. Anxiety. Because if there was actually a crisis? I’d sort it. No worries. It’s the waiting for a crisis to land that spins me out. It doesn’t matter how off the wall my “what if” brain is spinning out... I ask myself “and then what”? And I follow the chain to it’s end (or tree from branch to bud, if a lot of other options spring to mind). It breaks the anxiety loop by actually tracing out / tracking down what to do next. I’m going to jump away from my dog example for a moment to touch on job loss / eviction. Becuase you’re smart, you’re a good mom. So what you’d ACTUALLY DO if either of those 2 things happened? Will flow rather easily. Number 1, no matter what else, you’d make it manageable for your kids. Moving on from there? You lose your job? And then what? You start applying for others. You get a new job. Or? You don’t get a new job. First choice ends the loop, second one keeps moving. Okay. And then what? You apppy for unemployment, and disability, and start those balls rolling. And then what? Keep applying for new jobs. (What if you still are t getting a bite, but need food, rent, etc.?) then you apply for food aid, and emergency aid, and see if your area has banned evictions during the pandemic, and (list goes on). And you just keep on ticking down the list until all the 😲 OMFG WHAT IF?!? actually has... answers. Reasonable, rational, I not only can but would and shall do that, answers.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
Right Size.
And then what?
Sourcing.

^^^^
NOT in that order, or any particular order. In point of fact? I’ll run them backwards. 😉

Sourcing is like what you did with “This comes from my dad looking for any excuse -or none- to XYZ”. I hit someone’s dog a few years back, and by the time I got home I was already packing us out in my head so by the time I got the car stopped I was in motion; and debating about whether we had enough time to scrub out identities in addition to grabbing essentials (5 minutes? Or 30?). It’s mixing up the past and present. Where my head was at? Hitting someone’s dog who ran out in front of your car was total justification for killing you & your family. WHY I kicked into that headspace? I don’t know. Something triggered something. With the plates of my car, in good legal order registered to my own name and my address, since I stopped to help? We were all as good as dead, if we didn’t leave, and leave NOW.

Right Size In this white picket fence first world life? Even running over someone’s child isn’t justification to kill them, much less their whole family. So whilst in my head it was a matter of life or death, in reality? I wasn’t even going to get a vet bill, or a ticket, much less a beat down or death. They were the ones legally in the wrong, their dog off-leash, and it ran out into traffic. How BIG a problem is? Very much depends on time and place. It ALSO very much depends on the people involved. Including my own self.

And Then What? Is a game I play to Kill. The. Anxiety. Because if there was actually a crisis? I’d sort it. No worries. It’s the waiting for a crisis to land that spins me out. It doesn’t matter how off the wall my “what if” brain is spinning out... I ask myself “and then what”? And I follow the chain to it’s end (or tree from branch to bud, if a lot of other options spring to mind). It breaks the anxiety loop by actually tracing out / tracking down what to do next. I’m going to jump away from my dog example for a moment to touch on job loss / eviction. Becuase you’re smart, you’re a good mom. So what you’d ACTUALLY DO if either of those 2 things happened? Will flow rather easily. Number 1, no matter what else, you’d make it manageable for your kids. Moving on from there? You lose your job? And then what? You start applying for others. You get a new job. Or? You don’t get a new job. First choice ends the loop, second one keeps moving. Okay. And then what? You apppy for unemployment, and disability, and start those balls rolling. And then what? Keep applying for new jobs. (What if you still are t getting a bite, but need food, rent, etc.?) then you apply for food aid, and emergency aid, and see if your area has banned evictions during the pandemic, and (list goes on). And you just keep on ticking down the list until all the 😲 OMFG WHAT IF?!? actually has... answers. Reasonable, rational, I not only can but would and shall do that, answers.
I finally got a chance to read this...Wow, yeah. That's really helpful. Understand the source, assess whether it's the right size, and pin down the anxiety to reality. I think I have trouble with all three, and assessing it's the right size the most. Also, because my triggers are primarily interpersonal, it's not tethered to concrete consequences. My dad didn't "like" something I did, so that justified him ending my world. I assume and try to figure out how to appease everyone's being mad, critical, and hateful of me. But that is almost always vague and unknowable. People may indeed hate you for either good or irrational reasons, and you may never know for sure. As for trying to understand the source, that's almost everything I do related to my cptsd. That's hard for me too. Van der Kolk talked about how the parts of the brain that experiences time is affected by ptsd, and the result is that past and present is erased when one is genuinely triggered. But I do think that's key in working on catastrophizing.
 

intothelight

Sponsor
I can so relate to this post as I have a tendancy (*cough*) to see the worst case scenerio. So when I spin out on the "what ifs", I make myself write down all the possible outcomes and then realistically assign a probability to each one. It helped me to focus and let the logic take over rather than the PTSD brain being in control. As time has gone one, I mentally stop myself and do a reality check so I am not writing out lists so much. One advantage though is having more than one "plan" and there have been times that has been really useful.
 

{hot~tea}

New Here
I definitely relate to this in all aspects of my life, but especially work and relationships.
Last night I had a really bad fight with my live-in boyfriend. We were drinking and staying up watching YouTube, which is something we both enjoy doing to spend quality time with each other when we both have days off. But I was tired and achy and kind of wanted to go to bed. I stated a few times that I was going to go to bed, but he coaxed me to stay and hang out with him. I didn't mind too much because I liked knowing that he was enjoying my company. But when he was ready to go to bed, I lied down and did something weird to my back so that I couldn't move. Him showing a lack of concern or support set me off. I raised my voice, cursed him out, and shoved him with my feet. I do think that in that moment he was being a douchebag, but after I started crying, he stayed and held me and encouraged me to let all of my tears out which was probably the first time he responded that way since we first started dating 3 years ago.
No real point to my story, just wanted to share my example of catastrophizing. His initial lack of empathy and gaslighting flashed me back to feelings of abandonment and rage for the part in me that experienced that as a child/teenager.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
o when I spin out on the "what ifs", I make myself write down all the possible outcomes and then realistically assign a probability to each one.
Instead of letting my thoughts snowball in my head, maybe writing them down will help pin down the fears and make me confront them. I do think that putting out the fear into the world and having it reflected back can be a reality check.
His initial lack of empathy and gaslighting flashed me back to feelings of abandonment and rage for the part in me that experienced that as a child/teenager.
Yeah, sadly getting triggered often ends up hurting others which I try to keep in check.

I'm actually going through some real, serious stress right now, and I'm realizing that my catastrophizing is at work still. I can add layers of stress to an already stressful situation by piling on all sorts of historical shit on top of the existing shit. But for the first time, I'm aware that possibly the bad stuff still doesn't lead to the worst case scenario, and I'm aware that the vague threat lurking behind the bad stuff may just be me and not the world giving me a smack down. It's just stuff I have to deal with.
 
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