The noise in my brain is drowning me into another plane, away from reality. Thousands of unrelated thoughts running around faster than I can interpret them. I can hear my heart beating. I am breathing, but It feels like I can’t. I can see people’s lips moving, I can hear them but nothing they say makes any sense. My brain is running its own marathon. My body is weighing itself down, as if the effect of gravity has doubled suddenly. Seconds feel like hours until I hear a voice. A voice that feels like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. How did this voice cross the violent meteor shower of my thoughts and reach me? It was the voice of my friend, Paul; who knew what was happening. It turns out that I phased out for a few minutes. Pretending like nothing happened, I quickly get back to the conversation.
I experience this almost every other day. I easily fade away into another dimension in my mind and I feel like I have no control over it. I remember feeling this way in school but back then, the drowning away wasn’t scary, or didn’t affect me enough for my parents to care about. It became worse when I started college and worsened even more during the COVID pandemic. I labelled myself “crazy in the head”, and would joke about it to my friends. I was told that I think too much, and I feel too much. I felt alone because even if I tried to explain, nobody understood me. The easiest fix was to “toughen up” and hide my feelings, because that’s what helped me during my childhood. This resulted in bottling up years of feelings until the bottle finally cracked.
The feelings spilled out all at once like the water rushing out from opened gates of a dam. I was a mess because no one taught me how to deal with feelings, and therapy was something “mentally sick” people would opt for in my family. I went into therapy as a way to save me from myself. And boy oh boy, it was hard. I had blocked so many memories starting from my childhood (a story I’ll save for later). Being in therapy helped me to understand myself. I wasn’t crazy in the head; I was just perceiving the environment more deeply and the emotional energies of the people around me were overwhelming. My brain was easily overstimulated and when things became too chaotic, I would phase out or “drown”.
I wanted to get better, and to find a way to swim out of these dark phase-outs. This self-help journey led me to find ways to cope up with my brain. I went back to the memories of my childhood to understand my language of expression. The first thing I remembered was that I loved drawing and I would spend hours, immersed in creating my own world on a piece of paper, while kids my age played outside. But growing in a house where anything apart from studying was a waste, this expression was wounded. I would draw in secrecy, and created a safe space to express myself. Later on, as a teenager, I started writing down my feeling until my diary was discovered, because personal space is myth in the “Great Indian Household”.
Anyhow, no body can stop me now (perks of being an adult). I started writing again, this time in a secure way, without fear of someone accessing it without my permission. I started drawing my emotions without the fear of being judged or to please anyone. I ventured out with my heart wide open for new experiences. My highly sensitive brain was no longer a curse. I felt as if someone had lifted the boulders of burden from my soul. I could finally be myself; I could finally express how I felt. Sharing my feeling and experiences released me from my own mental prison and helped me find people who understood me. I was no longer alone.
Things do get tough everyday, and the phasing out hasn’t vanished like magic. But, I have the coping mechanisms. I try to talk to someone, to guide me through my thoughts. If no one is around, I try to write every single thing that comes to my mind and question myself the “what’s, whys and the how’s”. I try to paint occasionally so that my bottle of feelings gets emptied frequently.
Here’s a quick list of things that helped me:
- Know your emotional language. Understand what your body is trying to tell you by writing your feelings down. Keep a diary and write a sentence for every 3 hours about how you feel. Increase your emotional vocabulary. Don’t use vague words like sad, angry, happy; instead use this wheel of emotions to pin point exactly what you feel and why you feel this way.
- Seek therapy. If you have access to a therapist, they can help you find the root of your issues and guide you how to cope up with your situations.
- Food affects your hormones, and in turn your mood. Know what makes you feel good and calm by writing how you feel after eating your meal. You don’t need to follow a crazy diet, just tweak your diet based on your own experience. Here’s a good read on Food and Mood.
- Use daily planners and organizers to jot down your tasks and empty your head. I started creating my own templates when I couldn’t find ones that I liked. You can download them for free here.
- Wear noise cancelling earphones/headphones. Listen to white noise and brown noise, or binaural waves. I don’t listen to music much, but when I finally invested in AirPods Pro by Apple, I was blown away with the noise cancelling feature. Also, I swear by the effect of the binaural beats or gamma waves. It has helped me get through many difficult days
- Take a break. When things feel out of control, wear your headphones and push yourself to get out of the room. Sit outside, take long breaths, go for a walk. Anything that changes your scenery.
- Talk to a friend. No matter how crazy anything sounds in your head, talking to someone you trust will help you make sense of what’s going on in your head.
Here’s a wonderful article that helped understand what I felt : Feeling Intensely: The Wounds of Being “Too Much