Brene Brown quote overthinking

My Struggle with Overthinking

So… last night was a bad night. An overthinking night.

I haven’t had one of these in a long time. One of those nights when tiredness brings on a barrage of negative thoughts. Memories from the past I’d rather forget (and some that I actually haven’t thought of in years). And not just the memories but their feelings too. Which means I end up ranting to myself and crying alone… for hours at a time. Overthinking is bad for me.

It actually got worse after a comment that I “always sleep late” and me pondering if I do and why, which impacted on me feeling misunderstood and judged. Overthinking has a domino effect: one thought leads to another, leads to a bad feeling, leads to another…

Why have I slept late for most of my adult life?

I’ve never naturally been a morning person. Sometimes my brain switches on at night and won’t switch off. More recently it has been focusing on re-arguing old arguments, saying things I wish I’d said out loud to a person who is not there. Or just thinking about work – ideas, things to do tomorrow, the endless to-do list.

I hesitated in the middle of the last paragraph when I thought “People reading this are going to think I’m crazy.” But I decided to write it anyway to show what my brain does when sleep-deprived and overthinking. Hopefully I’m not the only one? The whole thing concerns me because I know that not sleeping well at night due to overthinking or anxiety, and then sleeping late the next day are one of the signs of depression.

Depression?

I’ve struggled with depression ever since childhood. Thankfully I’ve never been on medication for it (although there were times when maybe I really needed it) but it’s been there on and off. A combination of being a HSP, dysfunctional family dynamics and being socially isolated at a younger age have all contributed to it in different ways.

But I am still here. I survived.

I decided to go to therapy in my early-20s to try to deal with the low feelings was having after finishing university: I realised that I had few skills for the real world and no confidence. My elders advised me that getting a degree was all I needed to succeed in life. Just that when I finally got one, I realised it wasn’t enough at all. I felt lost and alone.

Therapy didn’t solve all my life problems but it helped me find my voice, something I desperately needed. It gave me a space to bring my anger and sadness and gave me some skills to help deal with real life situations, including relationships with guys, an area that I felt I utterly failed in.

Overthinking and a Lack of Self-Care

Fast forward to today and it’s been a while since I’ve had a bad night like this. When these come around it triggers me to investigate.

How is the self-care going, Mary?

Simple things like eating habits that have slipped, my vitamin intake and sources of stress in my life come under scrutiny. Another great practical solution is also to dip into “Women Who Think Too Much” which reminds me of how to break the pattern of rumination. This book is an absolute godsend.

The Culprits

About four or five days ago, I ran myself ragged completing a project for a deadline. I pushed my body way beyond the point of tired. And why? Because I determined that it needed to be done before the morning. In fact, that is one major reason why I don’t go to bed early. Not resting until the job is done.

Whilst I do need to keep things consistent with work and keep to time, this isn’t quite in line with the whole ‘self love’ thing, is it? One night of over tiredness and insomnia can lead to a chain reaction of negative thoughts which become overwhelming.

And now I think about it, that’s when the thoughts and insomnia started.

So clearly, my organisation needs improvement, as well as a healthy dose of self discipline that makes me stop when I need to. Easier said than done. (I’m a recovering perfectionist, forgive me, I’m working on it.)

But hang on, another culprit looms to mind…

Coffee.

Coffee and I have a weird, love-hate relationship. Basically, I love coffee but my body is not so enthusiastic about it. Especially when my consumption gets too high. My body starts sending me signals that it’s not happy, including the repetitive thoughts thing… oh yeah, that’s what caused this last time…

But you know when you do something so much out of habit that you don’t see the wood for the coffee beans? Yeah, that right there.

I’m gonna have to cut out coffee again. 😒

Positive Action

I decided to put all this insomniac energy into something more constructive, like planning my social posts and writing this. And in the meantime, I started to ponder the bigger picture.

Not the bigger picture of “it could be worse.” (Not that annoying, trite, smug ‘You could be starving somewhere in the world right now, instead of thinking about your insignificant first-world problems.”)

The bigger picture of “But really, my life is light years from what it used to be.”

From a shy introvert to a confident blogger. From failing with the fellas to having serious relationships.  I run my own business. I’ve made and kept positive friends. My bank balance is in the black (mostly!) I have a relationship with God that’s based on my own experiences, not the dictates of others. I’ve visited multiple counties on my own. I’m open to new experiences instead of being closed-off and fearful like I used to be.

Contrary to my clouded thoughts, my life really is a lot better than I thought.

So, what is the purpose of all this rambling?

Just to share that if you have a sleepless night due to overthinking sometimes like me, it’s ok. You’re not crazy. And it’s ok to get help. Whether that be a book, a person or a blog post like this.

And just a small encouragement that positive action can really be a kick in the teeth to repetitive negative thoughts.

Wishing you health, happiness and beautiful hair.

Mary.

6 Replies to “My Struggle with Overthinking

  1. I can understand your struggles. I also get them sleepless nights when my mind is troubled about something…..I end up with lots and lots of thoughts. It’s not craziness at all…we just have an active mind. We care about things and so in the quiet of night we tend to think about it in perfect peace. I usually just have a cuppa tea in bed and then finally or eventually I will fall back asleep. I also will catch up on my lost sleep the following night or so until I have another episode. But yeah also finding something to do quickly during that time is constructive however you could end up getting carried away and not going back to sleep at all….and I have my 9-5 job to go to….so I just try to relax. Oh I also put some meditation or my son calls it sleep music on to relax my mind.
    Thanks for sharing Mary

    1. It helps me to do something to just break the cycle of thoughts in my head – I must admit, blogging and focusing on my goals – as well as more of a regular sleeping pattern! – have helped immensely. I’m so happy that this post touched others like this, I didn’t expect it to!

      Thanks for your comments, Candise. x

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