My bipolar disorder causes me to experience something called racing thoughts. Actually, racing doesn’t even begin to define what my brain is doing every waking moment of every day of my life. Even when I say I’m going to lie down for a bit and rest or take a nap my mind is still racing. I have racing thoughts while I’m showering, while I’m cleaning, when I’m feeding the dogs even when I’m talking on the phone. My mind and thoughts are always racing and it gets to be pretty damned exhausting.
My racing thoughts make it hard for me to complete tasks despite how sincere my intentions are to finish them. I can’t even begin to count the number of projects and personal commitments I have on my plate right now that are only half done because of my racing thoughts. It doesn’t help that there are some things that I must do every day no matter what; record blood glucose readings, record what I eat, complete DBT diary cards, take my medication, I could go on but that’s enough to get an idea of what my day is like and to see how all of this contributes to my racing thought issues. Just having to do these things daily is enough to send me into a tailspin of racing thoughts and it would seem that this would be enough for me but it never is. In addition to the things I do daily I am always taking on more and more tasks to do, sadly many of them go unfinished. Right now I have a half-finished blanket I’ve crocheted, I have my first novel that I started editing sitting unfinished, without finishing my first novel I’ve already started on my second one, I’ve been working on a book of short stories that consists of two undone novellas, and so on and so on. I really do want to finish all of these things unfortunately my racing thoughts and mind only let me get to a certain point and then it seems that I just run out of steam.
It’s funny; you would think that a racing mind would be conducive to finishing things but, quite the opposite. My mind races so much and so often that when I try to do something the myriad of musings that bombard me constantly has me throwing up my hands in frustration rather than crossing the finish line over and over on a regular basis. Sometimes I just sit looking around in a stupor because I don’t know where to begin trying to tame and satisfy the constant buzzing in my brain. Now everyone gets a little overwhelmed from time to time having things to do but nothing compares to true racing thoughts. I have even tried using daily planners, hourly planners and setting alarms on my cell phone to try and make some sense and put some order to my racing thoughts but, often, this tends to have the opposite effect. I get so worked up trying to stay on task or being on edge knowing that one of my many alarms may be going off at any moment that I find myself abandoning one thing after another out of sheer anxiety. This just makes my racing thoughts move that much faster.
Racing thoughts are frustrating to me because they make me that much more distracted in general. Already battling against myself to stay focused, racing thoughts make staying on point a Herculean task. I have a hard time watching a movie or television program, reading, writing, holding a conversation to name only a few things that my racing thoughts interfere with. Life is hard enough with all that we are told to like, buy, do, see, acquire, listen to and such but pair this with chronic racing thoughts and the world is a rambling chasm of constant overstimulation. A lot of the time I wish I could just put my hands over my ears and close my eyes and make it all go away, unfortunately that wouldn’t help to calm my racing mind. I’ve only found a couple of things to help me with this; medication and working on mindfulness.
Since I take medication for my bipolar disorder I already have a tool available to me to help quell my racing mind. Another tool that I’ve learned I can have at my disposal, if I work at it, is mindfulness. Mindfulness includes a lot of different things such as meditation, focusing on the moment, experiencing my feelings without judgement and, most importantly, working with one thought at a time. This is not something that is a quick fix; I have to constantly work on being mindful so that I can gain some sort of control over my racing thoughts. Under my breath I’m constantly telling myself to focus, sit still, do one thing at a time, finish this first, stop moving around and the list goes on. At this moment, I’m trying to write, listen to a program on the National Geographic channel, absorb the smell coming from a fragrant candle, get ready for a visit from a longtime friend, drink a cup of hot chocolate and watch the birds eating bread outside my window; all this going on as a result of my racing thoughts. Needless to say my focus level is on the negative side right now but I’m pushing on ahead like I do all the time.
It has taken me a matter of hours to write a measly thousand words all because of my racing thoughts and what they do to me. Popping up and down like a jack-in-the-box and moving from one thing to another several times over these few hours has made getting this done pretty hard. Though my goal the whole time was to complete this I’ve been unable to just sit in one place and work from start to finish. Now that I can look back and see the progress I’m capable of it lets me see that even with this handicap I’m still quite a peach!