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Catastrophic Thinking: A Lesson Learned From A Video Game

January 5, 2015 Becky Oberg

Sometimes, I suffer from catastrophic thinking. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but recently I fell for the old "one million Neopoints" scam. For those of you not familiar with Neopets.com, it's an addictive site in which you own a pet and play games with it. The "one million Neopoints" scam is against the site's Terms Of Service. As a result of my stupidity, my account of 10 years may be frozen, causing me to lose everything I worked for. And equally embarrassing to admit, this has caused me a great deal of stress. I've had nightmares about it. I even have a surgical procedure scheduled in February and the Neopets thing is stressing me out more. This is typical for my borderline personality disorder (BPD)--just about anything can seem like the end of the world, like a catastrophe.

Fortunately, I have enough time in BPD recovery to realize that this is not a reason for a mental health crisis. It is not a catastrophe. When one is faced with a stressful situation like this, there are three questions to ask: Is this worth my sobriety? Is this worth my freedom? How important is this?

Question One: Is This Worth My Sobriety?

Catastrophic thinking makes tiny problems feel huge. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to determine if something really is a catastrophe. The first question one should ask is, "Is this worth my sobriety?" Sobriety is more than not taking a drink or using a drug--there is emotional sobriety. Emotional sobriety is tempering one's reactions to stressful situations. Emotional sobriety is not losing control over your emotions due to stress. Emotional sobriety is staying calm, cool and collected.

In the grand scheme of things, emotional sobriety is one of the most important things I have. My alcohol sobriety is a close second. I've come to the conclusion that nothing is worth either my emotional sobriety or my alcohol sobriety. I think about it this way--how will it sound to a counselor if I say I'm upset over a video game? How will I feel if I relapse over something relatively minor and easy to fix? In the worst case scenario of my account being frozen, I can start over, chalking one up to experience. I don't have to relapse. It's not worth it.

Question Two: Is This Worth My Freedom?

The second question one should ask is "Is this worth my freedom?" Psychiatric wards are no fun. Before making a trip to one, ask, "Is this worth my freedom?"

I've come to the conclusion that no, a Neopets account is not worth my freedom. I have bigger fish to fry, such as the aforementioned surgery. Neopets is a great deal of fun, but it's not worth a trip to the hospital.

Other situations--not involving Neopets--can tempt one to criminal activity. For example, I used to have a neighbor with a hot temper who enjoyed cursing at people for no good reason. She cussed me out one time and I came close to slugging her--but I stopped and asked "Is this worth a trip to Marion County Jail?" And no, she was not worth it.

Your freedom is one of the greatest gifts you have. Be very sure it's worth it before you take actions that could cause you to lose it.

Question Three: How Important Is This "Catastrophe?"

We all have basic physical needs, such as food, clothes and shelter. Then we have basic emotional needs, such as love, fulfillment and hope. If one of these needs is not threatened, then more often than not it is not important.

In the grand scheme of things, how important is my Neopets account? It's a fun site, I enjoy it tremendously, but it's not worth my sobriety or my freedom. It's not one of my more important priorities. It's not a basic physical or emotional need. I should be more concerned about the surgical procedure than I am my Neopets account.

And there's a great freedom in realizing that. Try asking these questions in your situation. You may find that it's not a catastrophe.

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APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2015, January 5). Catastrophic Thinking: A Lesson Learned From A Video Game, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/01/its-not-a-catastrophe-lesson-learned-from-neopets



Author: Becky Oberg

Courtney
says:
January, 7 2015 at 9:53 am
This was helpful for me because I came very close to losing my job the other day because of a stupid prank my co worker pulled on me. I had a stressful morning before I came to work because I had to start my anti depressants again just that day, customers were being really rude, and then my co worker pulls that prank. Had I not been in a bad place I would have found it funny and shrugged it off, but I didn't and I came undone rather quickly. I did make that situation into a catastrophe but this is helping me think it through a little better because i'm still mad about it.

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