Life with an overactive mind: I have a strange pain in my back and I start to obsess that it might be cancer. Or, the muscle twitch in my chest could be the beginnings of a heart attack. Or, right before bed I think of a minor irritation I had with my BHH two days ago and I bring it up with an accusatory edge in my voice; even though we are both tired and it wasn’t that big of a thing.
It is sort of a ‘somatic’ thing, but not really. The medical term for body pain originating in the mind is: somatic (or psychosomatic symptoms). I’ve mentioned several books and theories about somatic symptoms in the past. Dr. John Sarno coined something called TMS — wherein the mind distracts a person from painful emotions by causing a random pain in the back, or neck, or leg. Thereby distracting you from that which is even harder to bear. Like the emotional heartache of grief, stress, or an unsuitable-to-you career choice. Those deeper issues can disappear when your mind is focused on whether or not you will be disabled by the pain in your neck, leg, back, etc.
During my thought processing time today–wherein I was again going over old journal notes — I came across something intriguing that I had written down. I think it came from my therapist originally. She likely took the note down from someone else.
“An overtired child will insist it is not tired. In reality you KNOW the child needs a nap. But the more tired the child is, the more the child will declare she is NOT tired. A wise parent ignores the child’s protests, removes the stimulation from the child and gives her a space in which to rest and sleep.”
My notes continue to say that I need to treat the obsessive thoughts popping up into my mind, usually about health concerns or my marriage or that I am not doing enough with my life, just as the parent treats the overtired toddler. Ignore them. Don’t give them air. Consciously give my overactive and extremely tired mind the rest it is actually telling me that it NEEDS.
I’m not sure if there is a word for that kind of thing either… Some might call it ADHD, or OCD, or PTSD or C-PTSD. All I know is that I know my mind, my emotions, shoot — even my spirit…is tired. And that it keeps insisting it can ‘still do this’. This being: maintain a high intensity, high stress, highly productive existence. In reality, my mind has been overworked by years of trauma, and then years of denying trauma, as well as some addictions to control and intensity–things which I keep fueling. I have listened too many times to the inner-toddler insisting she wasn’t tired and made myself even more exhausted as a result. I fear that what has resulted is a middle aged crank case who desperately needs a break but won’t give herself one and thereby makes everyone else around her…miserable.
This morning I do recognize that my mind is overworked, overtired, in need of a break. But just like that toddler I can also see how it is STILL insisting right back to me, “I’m NOT tired!”
This is what it looks like when I fall for that lie: I google what a heart attack feels like and get even more concerned about this weird pain in my chest. Or I watch that thriller murder story at 8PM instead of reading a subduing book so that my sleep cycles can maintain their regular-ness. Or I start another round of the WWIII fight I had with my husband last week.
I do all those things over and over because I allow my mind to fool me. It tells me in this excited you-can-do-anything-you-want voice: you are not tired of this emotional roller coaster you’ve been on your entire life! You actually love it!