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Dealing with stupid fears

Misery

Photo-Negative
V.I.P Member
Okay, so, here's the thing: I am a really anxious person by nature. Always have been, always will be.

The problem with this is that it's easy to get scared by things that, logically, I know arent *truly* as horribly horrible as I'm mentally making them out to be. I know, I'm not the only one who deals with this. And I know full well that being on the spectrum absolutely plays into it.

In my case specifically, it's usually related to medical stuff (total hypochondriac). The pandemic in particular was very scary. Thing is though, there's a lot of very smart medical professionals in/near the family, people who are in the know, do the research, learn the facts, and give advice on what to do, what not to do, and so on. And I did my own research during the whole thing too. It wasnt hard. And we took all the steps and whatnot, super careful. It's not JUST the pandemic, any time I'm getting paranoid about medical stuff, they can help me deal with that with facts and knowledge.

But, that sort of thing doesnt really help the fear go away. And worse, it could be easily aggravated by certain things. You know... things like overly excitable news articles, the sort that are very specifically designed to scare the crap out of the reader even if they're making up a bunch of stuff to do so. That sort of thing obviously appears all over the net. Standard protocol around these parts. I know this. But I still get affected by it.

Now, why is this a problem? It's not just "oh I'm feeling anxious it's unpleasant". It's because I can get really DISTRACTED. Which could lead to actual dangers. As an example, I used to have a terrible fear of storms. Tornadoes, really. Many years ago, there was a particularly ugly storm hanging overhead. It hadnt REALLY done anything yet (and indeed, didnt do a bloody thing in the end), but it LOOKED horrible and of course some people were like "OMG IT'S THE END TIMES, ALL IS DOOMED, THE TORNADO OF LEGEND IS ON OUR DOORSTEP" which really didnt help. And, that day, I needed to drive somewhere to do something. So, I took my car, went out with all the scary hanging overhead. I couldnt stop thinking about it. Was driving VERY distracted.

And then BOOM. Car accident. I wasnt hurt, but... the car sure was. It led to the frankly ridiculous situation of, a few days later, driving to the repair place. With much of the front part of the outer shell of the car (whatever you call that) sitting in the backseat. This made sense at the time. Look, there wasnt any other good way to get it there.

It taught me just how dangerous that fear distraction can be, but... the lesson just refused to sink in.

It's not just danger, either. It can get in the way of, well, anything. Like, earlier today, I got into one of those paranoia / anxiety overload moments. And I couldnt DO anything. All I could do was pace and be freaked out. This lasted for quite awhile... not fun. I wont go into exactly what triggered it, as that's really not important, but again, I'd already been through the "logic" part of it before, with the help of people who understood everything way better than I do. Plenty of reason to NOT get freaked out. Still... it happened, and I lost like a good 3 hours before critical thinking took back control. As happens every single time in this situation, I then get to spend the next 30 minutes or so feeling like a total doofus.

So, I ask of you guys: If you experience anything like this, fear taking over where logic should reign, what do you do about it? Have you ever found anything that is effective in such a situation? Honestly I'm real darned tired of this happening over and over and would love some advice. Though even as I ask that, I realize it's hard to knock myself out of mental habits of that sort... that's part of how the whole autism thing manifests for me. Exactly why I feel like I should ask about it.


Incidentally, the non-fears are just as dumb as the fears in many cases. Medical stuff? Scares the heck outta me. An actual near miss while driving? Wont even raise my heart rate. My whole reaction in that situation is "well that sure happened" with a look of mild annoyance on my face, and then I go about my day as if nothing happened. I'm like that with some things, it makes no sense.
 

Silhouette Mirage

Slimepunk's Not Dead!
V.I.P Member
I've got those same tendencies, and I'll just fixate on my phobia the whole time in a complete state of paralysis. Thunderstorms do this to me, I think I've mentioned on here before, and I've had the same issue with tornadoes and hurricanes due to actually having some super traumatic brushes with them that might've scarred me forever.

I also had really bad medical phobias until every one of them came true, and I lived through them. Unfortunately most people aren't 'lucky' enough to just get their worst fears out of the way like this, but despite the ongoing repercussions and health problems I have now, I feel like a great burden was lifted in that department.

I don't really have any advice, but I found that if I can power walk or run in the face of danger, it really allows me to live out the fight or flight that my brain is telling me to do. So if I'm going through a period like that and I have access to my treadmill, I'll just run for an hour or something and it kind of solves itself. Sitting in one place, totally frozen is my tendency, but it makes the ordeal about 1,000% worse, so I just try to do the opposite now.
 

Outdated

Active Member
When I was first living in remote bush I was very isolated, and your mind can play a lot of tricks on you. For me it wasn't so much fear as depression. I found that when I was feeling down I had a lot less energy and I'd start taking shortcuts in the way I did things, in a true survival in the wild type of situation this leads to stupid mistakes that can lead to death.

What helped me to properly grab a hold of myself was imagining what would happen, if I seriously injured myself it would take weeks before any of the local people realised they hadn't seen me for a while. By the time anyone found me my bones would have been scattered by wild pigs and dingoes.

It didn't stop my bouts of depression but it taught me to slow down and be much more methodical in everything I was doing.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
For me Its a progressive controlled exposition to the feary thing, if possible with a person I trust.

Also I have learn never to call my feary part stupid or to disminish it. On the contrary, listening to my fear, accepting it, taking note of what things do I fear, and ... doing some kind of pact with myself about what progressive steps would be ok to do.

But that is just my case.
 

Knower of nothing

Well-Known Member
I definitely have the same problem, but I'm kept out of situations where it might cause serious danger. No matter to what degree the fear is managed, it's a fact that it takes resources to keep in check. Resources you need to focus on what you're actually doing. If you're busy mentally guiding yourself through the steps of not to be afraid and remain mindful, I can't imagine multitasking that with driving.
 

Progster

Gone sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
I have problems with anxiety, too. I'm on medication at the moment. I'm not proud of that, don't like having to go down that road, but it's the only way I can cope at the moment.
 

1ForAll

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
@Misery First it would seem you'd need to know the more likely source of those intense worries and fears, as some could be caused by one thing, and another worry or fear could be caused by something else. It could be GAD and/or PTSD related, for instance, or some Autism or ADHD executive functioning issue behind that. Then research ways to better those worries and fears once the suspected cause is more known. There is no exact way to treat any worry, fear or condition, and as any other conditions we have can interfere or make things seem more static or worse there, so sometimes we will have to resort to trial and error to see either what works, has no effect or makes thing better.

But, regardless of the cause and any conditions involved, the prioritization of the treatment needs to be there, to know if it will work or not. Medical persons and others can give us direction and advice, and we can research things as well, but if we do not act and have the motivation, energy or belief in its success, or if the treatment is triggering us in some way or too large for us to begin with, we may need to break things down more first, or go at a slower pace, or involve a treatment that our mind and/or body is more receptive to first, to get used to fearing treatments less, or to get used to having treatments over longer term. Otherwise, more failures will occur.

There will be some medical persons and others who will just look at signs and symptoms and they'll make quick judgments and assumptions for the treatment, or they'll categorize a patient and think this treatment will work the best. Too often these persons let their book knowledge, protocols and bias' cloud their judgments, and they may think one reason is likely behind the difficulties, or one solution should make things better, and if they do not analyze or pick up on details well. When one has two or more conditions though, or when things are not clear there, things are not that simple, and as some causes can be genetic in origin and some environmental. So, the key is to understand some likely causes, but to try various approaches to see what may work the best for each.

There are certainly several ways to reduce fears and worries, but sometimes doctors don't even agree too there as it all depends on that patient and any other condition(s) they have that may at least partially contribute to those, their stress and pain tolerances, their patience, their ability to prioritize any treatment plan, their targeted efforts there, their receptiveness to new ideas, their judgments, and it depends on that specific fear or not, whether it seems more rational or not as not all weird things we say or feel can be seen as paranoia or hypochondria too, if we have seen traumatic or many very negative similar experiences or if we are more aware of even the slightest of pains, signs or symptoms because of our genetic body makeup, like for many of those with ADHD and Autism too.

Although it is obviously true that medical persons can be very helpful at times, whether general doctors, pediatricians, specialty doctors and mental health providers, and especially if they are close to family and caring and put in the efforts there, we cannot assume most have all the answers for us, and as they are not us, and as they are educated and trained to see things certain ways and often categorizing things. As well, they have rules and protocols to follow, many have only so much time for patients, or they may sometimes let their emotions or past medical opinions, insurance coverages, or fear of lawsuits cloud their judgments or tie their hands. As well, being around medical persons too much can naturally cause not more ease, but cause some to worry more too, as medical people often want to look for problems and talk about problems.

So, I think if you get varying advice here from the forum, consider all of that information to supplement whatever you already learned how to tackle worries and fears. Do not rely on one source, or a one Bandaid fits all approach. What worked for me to reduce my worries and fears, for example, did not work for my wife, as we have different conditions and severities, and/or different past environments creating/that created those worries, if not a combination of causes, and thus we had/have different limitations, tolerances, and abilities in tackling those. Each person will often respond differently to the same treatment, and especially also if more than one issue is the cause. The key is perhaps to focus on our treatment and mental health efforts, and to be open minded to trying new things, if what we were able to try for a reasonable amount of time did not better those other things tried.

In my case, I finally found out what worked for me, to reduce my daily minute by minute social fears, obsessions and worries related to that, some of which were rational thoughts I had because of my many painful experiences which showed the fears and worries to be justified, but others more irrational as I'd categorize or embellish difficulties or reactions because of intense emotions involved, and so I did things step by step there. But my worries and fears were partially from very low self-esteem and across-the-board negative thinking related, so some of the things I did for me may not be for everyone, if other things or conditions caused their worries and fears, and as many of my difficulties were environmental caused.

I just decided that for me, as I am sensitive to meds and prefer other treatments to that, finding self-help techniques to think more positively, worry less and to build my self-esteem was the preferred solution. That could be through mind diversion and positive thoughts of some unrelated person, place or thing, as soon as I became aware that negative worry or fear was building in my mind, or in other cases telling myself that brief worry or fear was justified or in order to learn from it, but then finding something positive to focus on about that issue instead or visualizing often the outcomes desired to get positive reinforcements that way, instead of through immersion therapy which in my case made things worse because I took more negatives there from those experiences.

Also, I did activities I enjoyed or was good at those times a worry started to appear, or sometimes I would resort to using humor or being around more positive persons too. That could make things at least temporarily better too, to create less times of fear and worry, and to get into better routines there. And I tried too altering my expressions and postures to a happier and calmer state to see if that could make me feel less tense, negative and to get me out of some worry that had begun. But, for those with PTSD, ADHD, GAD, or even severer Depression or Autism or other condition issues, meds or other treatment approaches may need to be considered, too, like if one has prioritization, planning or judgement issues, or if they have adaptation difficulties, intense emotions, difficulties with following steps, stress with details, and/or if they don't have that energy, motivation, or belief to overcome, or if the tolerances or abilities are too limited, to name a few.

The keys for me were to find and act on strategies that I felt would work for me, and we all here can find and do the same best for them as we all can have different needs there. The goal was to get me into more healthier routines daily where I worried less and thought more positively. Then it would become more habit or instinct for me to worry less or think more positively whenever such experiences occurred, that otherwise would have caused some prolonged negative thought pattern difficulty, which would have only initiated or exasperated the physical signs and symptoms, thus fueling more fears and worries. In essence, I got to my point in my late teens and twenties where my condition and thought processes and fears were so bad I needed to stop that endless harmful thought pattern cycle, knowing otherwise things could be static or progress to a point of no return.

My goal was simply to improve my mental health situation such that any worry or fear would now be usually brief or be at least more manageable or less distressing, if not become no more worry or fear at all. Like, for the pandemic situation, after those early self-help efforts, my mind now would not fret over that. I just focused on my efforts on doing all those basic cautionary steps and limiting times in public. I never worry about getting covid thus, as the other things I have no control over. I focus on just what I can control through my reasonable attempts and from learning from each situation and trying my best. Positive results will more often occur than not I feel when we have a healthier and brighter mindset, and even if some negative happens despite that, that worry is, again, usually brief and the focus is on learning from that than on any harm from that.

As for my wife, with different personality and conditions, her focus was not on doing those self-help treatment techniques like I did, as we tried that on her and she could not do that or regularly do those, for varying condition, prioritization, attention and intolerance reasons, so her focus was on one or two meds, avoiding her triggers as much as possible, having me do those things she really could not do, and in spending her time mostly on activities she enjoys like coloring, journaling her thoughts, being on support forms, and in being around me too, to get that more positivity, calm, and confidence needed, from sensing that in me from all those activities I do, and in my often healthier attitude and behaviors shown. So, there won't be a one solution for everyone, as each case and situation is different. Things can get better for most of us though, if we follow and act on those paths best for each of us after finding out more things there.
 
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Nervous Rex

High-functioning autistic
V.I.P Member
For me, I have to "talk myself down off the ledge" quite often. Here are some methods I use:

Reasoning with myself
Think about how likely/unlikely the current cause of my anxiety is.
Think about how I have managed similar situations in the past.
Make a rough plan to deal with the cause of my anxiety.
Think through the worst consequences and accept them. That doesn't mean "Yeah, everything will be fine", but more like, "Okay, I will deal with that when the time comes ... if it comes."

Identify the source of my anxiety
It helps a lot to know that what's going on in my head is really all just in my head. I have to tell myself that it's just my own feelings and not reality around me that's doing this.

I have also noticed that if one thing in my life is out of whack, it affects everything else. So I may feel anxious about traffic, but the real cause of my anxiety is a work deadline. When I realize what the original cause of my anxious feelings is, I can put it all on that and not let it affect other things.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I basically live an anxiety base life. That means in neurotic fashion, l try to plan for any contingency that may pop up. I plan A thru plan G for trying to get things done. And l stay on top of stuff from working as a paralegal and bookkeeping, which means you check and double check, and you try to keep all this together.
Is it practical? I am not sure, it's just how l roll. And l try to anticipate any distractions, tomfoolery, and bureaucratic BS, and general incompetence which is pretty much a given when you look at our public school system.

Excuse me now, why l pop a prozac.
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
So, I ask of you guys: If you experience anything like this, fear taking over where logic should reign, what do you do about it? Have you ever found anything that is effective in such a situation?

Spending time with family and friends is the best thing I've found that helps.
 

SusanLR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
For me, I've found the sink or swim method has changed my life whether I like it or not.
With medical, I was afraid of doctors and dentists starting as a child, but I was always sick with something that forced me to go to doctors and gradually the fear subsided as I became curious and interested in medical arts around age 18.

I'm still afraid of surgery, but again, life has thrown me into some major stuff and
I survived. Of course, this was nothing I had any power over happening to my health, so I had to just face it.
At first, being in the hospital or having surgeries was so traumatic that I had major
anxiety and meltdowns. Sink or swim. I sank at first, then as more things happened the anxiety became better.

The second traumatic time in my life was when I lost my parents and didn't make
enough on disability to find a place to live.
I was desperate and found an elderly man who wanted a house companion and
rented half his house to me for rent I could afford.
Now, I had to face some of my worst life fears.
The trauma of the loss of the only family I had ever lived with.
Move in with a stranger that turned out to be ill tempered and be yelled at all the
time like I had never been used to in my life.
Stop panic attacks so he wouldn't see them as I knew it would make him angry
and I would be scolded for being weak.
Hide the fact I took Xanax to do so. He would call me a dope head if he knew.
Drive him in heavy traffic to go places. Something I was not used to.
Grieve alone. When I saw me cry, he said I was weak, and he didn't like seeing weak.

Sink or swim. I had to endure. I had to have a place to live.
Still in same situation and coping with new health problems.

The one thing I will not do is drive during bad thunderstorms.
We have large strikes where I live and if one hit close to car while driving
I would probably lose control.
I pull off somewhere and wait for storm to pass.

I think the way I've survived all this is to take daily time to self for meditation
and relax or nap to calming music. Also guided imagery CDs when needed.
 

Bolletje

Overly complicated potato
V.I.P Member
I haven't really found a good way to deal with it yet. I've recently had issues where I would be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety at work, which was incredibly distracting. I knew I was making mistakes and was anxious about harming patients (which obviously made the anxiety even worse) so now I'm on sick leave trying to figure this whole thing out.
I can do mindfulness exercises at home to take away the immediate anxiety attack, but it doesn't take away the fear.
 

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