Home Opinion Overthinking: You’re not alone, here’s how to cope

Overthinking: You’re not alone, here’s how to cope

Credit: Alexa Cuevas, 42Fifty

Content warning: mentions of suicide, anxiety, and depression. 

On October 22, 2021, my best friend, who was a senior and a football player at Oswego East High School, Mark Chapas, died by suicide at the age of 18. I was in English, and I was going through Snapchat, and all of a sudden I saw a post saying he went missing. At that moment, I was shocked and worried. I tried texting his number and his Snapchat, but I never got an answer.

I told all of my friends, but the more I talked, the more I got worried. Eventually, this led me to have a breakdown and cry a lot. My friends kept telling me that he would be found and that he would come back alive. Later that day, when I got home from school, I saw a post saying he had passed away. I called my friend and told him the sad news. We were both in shock. We hoped it was a joke. We were all so hurt.

Giovanna Perkins (my best friend, who had moved to Florida) was Mark’s girlfriend and had no idea what was going on. It hurt more because none of us knew. Matthew Schofield and I talked to him two days before the incident, and Giovanna talked to him three hours before the incident. He never told us anything; we offered him help and told him he could reach out to us whenever he needed us. But he said everything was fine.

To this day, he is still in our hearts, and may he rest in peace. You might be wondering why I brought him up. Everyone told me he was going to be found and this is the result we got. We blame ourselves because we know we could have helped more or done something, but he refused and said everything was OK, and we believed it. 

Ever since this incident, my overthinking has been worse than ever.. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with spiraling thoughts.  Overthinking is dwelling on or worrying about the same thought repeatedly. For me, I think overthinking is believing the worst about a situation, even if the conclusions aren’t rational. People have different reactions when overthinking: some can stay calm and in control, while others may have anxiety attacks or breakdowns.

For example, when a friend or family member of mine doesn’t answer their phone and I don’t have their location or their phone is dead, so many assumptions or thoughts start going through my head: “Are they okay?” “What are they doing?” “What was the last thing that they were doing?” and so on. The questions get worse as time goes on: “Were they murdered?” “Did they get kidnapped?” “Did they forget their phone somewhere?” “Did they kill themselves?” “Were they in an accident?”

Then, the panic attacks begin, and tears stream down your cheeks. You might ask, “How did your overthinking start?” “Where did it come from?” To answer honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never really struggled with overthinking before Mark’s death, but when it started happening so often, I questioned it myself.

Others overthink because they think about traumatic events that have happened in the past and feel stress and anxiety in the present.

According to Forbes, 73% of 25-35-year-olds overthink, as well as 52% of 45-55-year-olds. This involves reflecting back on past or present events with a negative mindset. According to Please Live, it is also common in young teens and causes stress and anxiety. Overthinking, according to  Very Well Mind, can cause others to worry and be stressed all of the time. It can even make them feel less focused and less motivated, connecting with other mental issues like depression.

I find that it helps me to express all of my feelings in writing. Even if you jot something down, you can always tear the paper into pieces and throw it out, or burn it (with caution). You always have the option to keep what you write to yourself or to share it with those you trust and feel comfortable around. Additionally, it serves as a kind of self-distraction and an outlet for all of my thoughts and emotions.

There is also something called “cognitive distortions.” These are mental filters that can raise our misery, then increase our anxiety and make us feel bad about ourselves  (according to Harvard Health Publishing). This happens because our brain has so much information to process that it cuts down on our mental burden. Identifying how we are distorting our thoughts can sometimes stop overthinking. 

HealthLine gives 14 different ways to cope with overthinking. I recommend distracting yourself and looking at the bigger or better picture as a coping strategy. Looking at that picture helps because thinking about something that has never happened before or something that can happen can cause someone to worry, which can then turn into anxiety.

There are some ways to cope with this, no matter how difficult overthinking is. It is also a very common thing, so this is also a way to say that you’re not alone. Two coping strategies you could also use are recognizing automatic negative thoughts and staying present. It’s good to know why you’re overthinking and to stay focused so the anxiety and overthinking don’t get worse. 

Personally, overthinking is not a fun thing to deal with; it really affects my mental health and even my learning time when I’m at school. This article is to share my personal experiences and let others know that they’re not the only ones, and that it’s okay to have these feelings or thoughts.

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Hello, my name is Alexa Cuevas and I'm currently a junior in high school. This year, I am the president of L.A.S.O. which is a Hispanic club with all of my good friends. It's basically about learning about the Hispanic culture, and we do many different activities and plan different events to do throughout the year involving the Hispanic culture.


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