Catastrophizing

I have a love/hate relationship with this word. I love it because it sounds cool – Catastrophizing… it sounds bombastic; like it holds weight and gravitas. It’s also a nice long word and I like those because they make you sounds smarter than you really are. However, it’s something I do on a regular basis. I do it every day, in fact. It might be something small that triggers it, or it might be something not so small. Either way the sensation that comes with it is an awful one.

I recently started reading a book to help with my Borderline Personality Disorder and it says the following on Catastrophizing:

“Catastrophizing: This is always expecting or imagining that disaster will occur no matter what, or that terrible things will happen on the basis of a trivial setback.”

It’s something the BPD sufferers do a lot, but also those who suffer from anxiety problems will too. For example, I started chatting to someone on Imgur messaging after making a post. We talked for a few days and then she vanished for weeks. My brain ran into overdrive thinking the worst. In this situation most would probably feel similarly, but it happens with EVERYTHING. Even something as simple as cooking chicken… which I now can’t do because I begin to catastrophize that I’ll undercook it and kill everyone in my house by poisoning them.

There are two major problems with catastrophizing; firstly two sides of my brain begin to argue with each other. I liken them to the angel and devil sat on my shoulders, but in this case they’re the logical and illogical sides of my personality. They bicker about the outcomes and most of the time the devil wins. Which is frustrating because I’m generally a logical person in life, but this can’t be helped, no matter what I tell myself.

The second issue with it are the physical symptoms that come along with it. The heart palpitations, the sweating, the stomach turning itself inside out, the dizziness. It’s not a pleasant feeling and once it gets going, it’s hard to stop. It basically causes panic attacks every day that range in severity.

The frustrating thing is that the catastrophizing is always ‘All or All’. There’s no ‘Nothing’. There’s never a “not to worry, everything will be fine”. The reaction is always turned up to eleven – death, destruction, etc. It’s probably the worst part of my BPD, if I’m honest because it makes me feel like I’m going insane. At times I’ve been so bad that I was rushed to hospital (about 7/8 weeks ago) or feel like I’m constantly about to shit myself with worry.

It’s something I really want to learn how to counter and control. At one point, several years ago I stopped leaving the house because of my fear of what might happen. Thankfully I’m not that bad anymore, but living every day with a constant churning of mind and body is something I’d like to change.

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