Being Afraid Of Your Own Brain When You Have Mental Health Problems

I feel like there is someone in my brain who is trying to kill me. It feels like I am being stalked by something, like a lion stalks a gazelle, but I can’t see how close or far away they are because when I turn around there is nobody there. Nobody else can see them either, they are in my head and unfortunately my eyes are positioned in a way that I can only see the outside world rather than what is going on internally (sort it out evolution for goodness sake, you gave us opposable thumbs now can you please work on swivelling eyes…And whilst you are at it can you please take this appendix away because it is taking up valuable storage room).
I am scared that this thing in my head is going to succeed in trying to kill me and I am also scared that it will fail. I don’t like being chased and sometimes I just want the thing to catch up and get whatever it is planning over with.

You might be wondering how on earth it is possible for someone to be afraid of their own brain because surely if the brain belongs to me, I am in control of it and what it decides to do. You don’t go round worrying that your own fist is going to punch you in the face because if your fist were to ever get such an idea it is likely you would tell it that you would rather not be punched in the face and could it maybe do something more helpful like make you a cup of tea.
That’s the thing though. I don’t feel in control of my brain and I don’t feel like I know what it is going to do at any given moment anymore. I always thought that if I owned my brain and my brain was me, then I would know my way around it. I would know every lobe, every memory, every thought and every desire because…well…they are supposed to be mine. If I have a secret that I keep from other people I tuck it away in my secret brain cupboard so they won’t be able to find it, but lately it has felt like my brain has a whole separate section where it is keeping its own secrets in its own secret cupboard that I cannot access.

“Maybe it is a nice secret” I hear you cry, “maybe your brain is preparing you a surprise party” but I don’t think that is the case, partly because it doesn’t feel like a nice secret and partly because I know for a fact that my brain hasn’t been balloon shopping recently and as I have said many a time on this blog, one cannot have a party unless there is at least one balloon present. If there is something magical in this secret cupboard, I know that it is not Narnia and is more likely to be a direct doorway to the White Witch.

I am worried that I am not making any sense and that I am being confusing in this post but if I am I guess that would be an accurate representation as to how things feel with my mental health right now, confusing and making little sense.

The Depression and BPD are still there, the OCD, and anorexia still have their claws in and dictate every one of my actions, yet still it feels like there is something different, something weird going on. I am more out of control than ever and half the time I don’t know who I am or what is going on.
I keep seeing things and I can’t tell if they are real or if I am imagining them. It started off as spiders, not the most pleasant things to imagine crawling around you and I would far rather imagine waddles of penguins approaching if I have to imagine anything, but I don’t think I have much of a choice in the matter. I started seeing spiders out of the corner of my eyes yet I was able to turn to face the place I thought I saw a spider and I could see that there was nothing there. Now though the spiders are bigger and they have tails. They also have fur and have lost four of their legs. They are rats now. Even when I know I am alone in a room I can feel people standing behind the curtains or crouching just outside beyond the window sill. I don’t know what they are doing there and it must be incredibly stuffy wrapped up in a curtain for hours every day (I can confirm this after years of playing hide and seek as a child), but they stand there anyway.

I am scared that I am actually “going mad”. More often than not I have been having to wake my mum up in the middle of the night to come in and sleep in my room because I don’t feel safe from my brain. It is as though, if I close my eyes and go to sleep for a minute, I am leaving myself unguarded and it will be able to sneak an attack in whilst I am busy being unconscious. I don’t understand the logic behind this fear as surely if I am asleep, my brain is asleep too, yet still I feel so disconnected from it these days that I can’t be sure what it is up to when I am not looking. It is clearly doing something underhand during my snoozing of late because I keep waking up screaming and often have no idea why.

I stay awake all night to keep myself safe and I also have stay awake all night to guard the house, because if I go to sleep ,not only will my brain start wreaking havoc but the people outside below the window sill will also find a way in somehow. It is ridiculous, if there ever was an intruder in reality I highly doubt my presence would be the thing to deter them (a point my psychologist pointed out last week…I think she was trying to be helpful but to be honest I took it as rather rude because clearly rather than assuring me of my safety she is actually implying that I don’t look as terrifyingly strong and powerful as I clearly am and I take the insinuation that I could not intimidate a burglar very offensively.) Still, logical or not, sense or nonsense aside, the feeling that I must guard the house is always there.

It is just a difficult situation to be in because I know that I should be responsible for my own mental health and therefore should be responsible and keep myself safe. I am 25 years old, certainly old enough by society’s standards to look after myself but I don’t feel responsible or in control and consequently I don’t feel certain I can keep myself safe. I have been disassociating for days on end (I will do a post soon explaining exactly what that is because it is an important mental health topic I somehow haven’t discussed yet…FOR SHAME!), but basically it means that there are a lot of days where I am not really “present” and therefore I have a lot of blank spots in my memory. It is all so frustrating I could scream, yet I don’t think that would make any difference. All that would mean was I was scared and could hear myself screaming and I would rather have the former without the latter if I have to have the former at all.

Like I said before, I am worried that this post won’t make any sense as I am not sure I understand it either, but still I wanted to write about how this feels. To try and explain or raise awareness of this side of mental health problems, the side where your brain is so mixed up all over the place that you are frightened of it, just incase there is anyone else out there experiencing the same thing and feeling as scared and alone as I do right now. Sometimes my mental health problems involve being depressed, being suicidal, or self harming. A lot of the time they focus on being afraid of germs, being afraid of food, and now, apparently they involve being afraid of myself.

Take care everyone x

ScaryBrain

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10 thoughts on “Being Afraid Of Your Own Brain When You Have Mental Health Problems

  1. I’m really sorry you feel that way. While I was reading this I remembered one thing my therapist said to me. Like a few months ago I really struggled with fear of letting go my rituals as I was afraid (and still am) that if I don’t do this or that I will not have luck and something terrible will happen. My therapist said that it was just my brain telling me this, but it isn’t real and I can control my brain. Like your brain is supposed to take care of you (your organs and everything in your body to be precise) – so you’re breathing, your blood is still running etc. And your brain does a good job, because you’re still here. I mean if your brain would like to kill you, he could do that pretty easily. He doesn’t have to make up a difficult plan and hide it from you. Moreover, if your brain was so cruel and wanted to kill you, he would kill himself as well (so he wouldn’t have anything from it).

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    • Thank you so much for sharing that with me! It is really helpful to hear a nugget of rationality to this kind of situation whilst my brain is full on lost in the irrational side of things! Thank you, I hope you are well and know I am always here if you need xx

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  2. Oh Katie, this must be so horribly scary and terrifying for you. Please believe me when I tell you that you are not mad – you are experiencing psychosis, which is a fault in the brain, and can be managed with medication. You mention your psychologist – have you told your psychiatrist about your experiences? There are neurological drugs that can help to keep this at bay.

    Your brain is wonderful and it is what gives you the ability to write such insightful blog posts, and your witty nature. It is a little bit broken at the moment, but it can be fixed to a large extent.

    I’m very sorry that I haven’t been around commenting much – life is very busy and I work in mental health so sometimes when I come home from work I just want to have a break from it rather than reading more about it, but please know that I am here for you and you can contact me anytime xx

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    • Thank you so much Catherine. It is always reassuring to hear someone say that these things can be fixed when I feel that they are beyond repair! I have told my main psychiatrist about these things but to be honest he doesn’t seem to know what to do. Am considering talking to my other psychiatrist about it (he is the one that controls my CTO section but I only see him for renewal meetings every few months). Maybe I should do that. Actually screw the maybe, I WILL do that. Thank you for making me feel less crazy and please never apologise for not commenting on every post! I appreciate every time you comment very much but your needs and self care outside of work are more important! Hope you are treating yourself well and know that I am also here for you. Much love xxx

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  3. I can imagine how frightening this is for you and I am so sorry. My daughter has an autoimmune disease and felt that her body was attacking her and I guess it would seem so in this case. I offered another perspective. If you had diabetes you would not feel that you pancreas is attacking you, you would feel it, too, was assaulted and look for ways to treat it. In the case of the autoimmune disease, it is recognizing healthy tissue and cells as invaders and trying to stop them; however illogical that may be, her body believes it is helping by this over-reaction. Your brain isn’t attacking you (though I sympathize with how it must feel that way). It too is under attack and is misperceiving the world around it, which is very frightening. It isn’t trying to kill you, as was very well pointed out in another comment, because it could have done that quite easily. I would also point out that it isn’t a separate entity; it is part of Katie. The comment that while it may be broken, it can be fixed or at least repaired is very true. It is an unfortunate process of trial and error to bring all of our various parts back in sync, but all of the things you are experiencing can be managed. I know I have mentioned this before but I have seen promising success with OCD and dissociation using EMDR and equally promising success with anxiety and depression using acupuncture. I have used holistic therapies in addition to traditional medical interventions myself and found them quite helpful. I personally believe that they can co-exist….one does not have to supersede the other. I would always recommend that you talk it over with your current providers before doing something new though. I know you are afraid, but your brain isn’t trying to harm you. It is under attack from forces we just don’t understand. I know it is hard to hang on, but there is something that can help you; it isn’t over.

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    • Thank you so much for being so kind. My brain isn’t working today so I can’t say much but this was very comforting. As long as I know this isn’t the end and people think there is hope and chances then I feel better. I can’t find words today but thank you so much xxxx

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