Everyone experiences them once in a while especially after a restless night without sleep or under high stress. Racing thoughts are when our minds won’t shut off and we wish it would shut up.
But what if racing thoughts was a way of life, something you were forced to live with every day and night of your life. Such is the fate of many who live with certain mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder and dissociative identity disorder.
What Exactly Are Racing Thoughts?
While it is tempting to simply give racing thoughts a one-word explanation, miserable, a further explanation is required.
Racing thoughts are a string of quickly changing thoughts that occur one after the other and might encompass many unrelated subjects or just one topic. Racing thoughts move rapidly in a sequence with one thought triggering a following thought keeping the person experiencing them from relaxing, attending to anything else, or sleeping. Many hear racing thoughts as a voice in their mind they cannot ignore but others experience them as subtle background noise.
In dissociative identity disorder, both kinds of racing thoughts are common as the alters keep the waking self from relaxing or sometimes being capable of concentrating. The waking self may hear the racing thoughts as the voices of the alters or experience a subtle rumble such as standing in a crowd where one voice is indistinguishable from another.
Ways Racing Thoughts Effect a Multiple Socially
Racing thoughts cause multiples (or anyone else who experiences them) to have problems with their communication skills. Because their minds are moving so quickly from subject to subject, the people with whom they are holding a conversation can get lost or misunderstand what is said.
To the multiple, the conversation is completely understandable. They are able to keep up with their own thought processes and are unaware that the other person is shutting them out because they are flitting so quickly from one subject to the other.
The result of this inability to appropriately communicate can mean that others avoid them or even tell the multiple they are weird making the person feel even more self-loathing than they did before the encounter.
Ways to Cope With Racing Thoughts
To conquer the problem with communicating while experiencing racing thoughts is to become and remain aware while you are speaking. Keep the other person in mind and slow down. Most importantly, listen too, don’t just ramble on and on.
Also, take some deep breathes and calm yourself using a grounding technique. This is especially vital when trying to go to sleep. If the racing thoughts persist, get up and write every thought you re having on paper, in essence, downloading thoughts from one’s mind to paper. Writing things down helps to empty and calm the mind.
Turn off all electronics an hour before going to bed. While it may seem odd, racing thoughts are agitated by watching television, reading the news on a phone, visiting social media sites, or texting. Put the phone down, turn the sounds off, or better yet turn the phone off.
Yes, turn the phone off. People lived for eons without their phone binging and bonging in the middle of the night.
You Are Not Alone with Your Racing Thoughts
While many people do not experience racing thoughts, enough do to make it clear that it is a symptom that is not acknowledged enough at this time. Often, people who are multiples report racing thoughts to their Psychiatrist or therapist only to be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder or another mood disorder.
Unfortunately, you are not alone in these experiences as thousands if not millions of multiples face this problem with the mental health professional community. This miscommunication often leads to years of wasted time as multiples are treated for the wrong disorder and medications that will never work.
Lithium is a medication that is prescribed to stop racing thoughts related to mania in bipolar disorder, but it is rarely helpful for multiples.
It is vital to remember to reach out to others who live with the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder to exchange information and to receive help in understanding and living with racing thoughts.
The reason is simple. To understand that you are not alone.
“Just remember, you are not alone, in fact, you are in a very commonplace with millions of others. We need to help each other and keep striving to reach our goals.” ~ Mike Moreno