vulnerability to harm schema

In my previous posts I have spoken about schema’s, what my main schemas are and how they effect my life.

The schema I’m focusing on today is the vulnerability to harm schema. This main symptoms of this schema include:

  • Constant feeling of dread / worry

  • Always thinking “what if”

  • Feelings of anxiety and tension

  • Feeling like the world is a very dangerous place

  • Constantly worrying that someone you love will die even though there is no evidence at all to support this

  • Always worrying about the bad things that happen in the world

This schema causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety. It’s every day, constantly feeling on edge. The main things for me being:

  • I will die or get terminally ill -

  • My mum will fall down the stairs or crash her car

  • Someone will break into my house and kill / hurt me or my family

  • Being attacked on public transport

  • A terrorist attack occurring when I am out going shopping / just doing daily routines

It’s normal for everyone to worry and to be cautious, but for me it has overstepped that line of just being careful and aware, to not being able to rest my mind at all because of the constant dread and stress. This schema is usually formed from having overprotective or fearful parents, however I didn’t. It’s likely that if your parents are always talking about or reminding you of the risks and the danger in the world as a result of this you’ll end up seeing almost anything as dangerous or a sign of risk.

The longer you have had the schema the more difficult it is to get rid of. Since I was a young girl I have always feared that someone will kidnap or kill me. I still now wake up in the middle of the night panicking, looking around my room to check that I am still at home, and nobody has taken me in my sleep. I think it started around the whole time of the Madeline McCan incident. It’s been many years of sleepless nights, worry and stress.

Through my therapy I have learned that the more that you feed into the schema the more that it keeps it alive. For example, the more times I text my mum before she goes to bed or goes to work ad say “be careful on your way up the stairs you may fall and crack your head open” the less I am helping myself overcome this schema. There really is no evidence that my mum will fall down the stairs and hurt herself, considering she’s been walking up and down stairs for 50 odd years and she’s been ok so far!

There is no evidence someone will break into my house and kill me or my family, considering I have slept safely in my house for almost 21 years with absolutely no disturbance from scary people. Of course, as I said, its good to be aware and alert and careful with certain choices and risks that you take in your life but when you think about it so much to the point that it takes over your life and prevents you from doing things, is when it becomes a problem for your wellbeing.

I recently was diagnosed with OCD. OCD is an extremely common diagnosis to have when you have the venerability to have schema. They kind of come hand in hand as we end up performing certain rituals to ward of any potential harm.

As mentioned, it’s really began to restrict my life, being too afraid to go outside, scared of flying, too anxious to sleep, waking up in a panic in the middle of the night, it has a massive health effect due to the lack of sleep because of the inability to control my thoughts.

My goal is to try and lower my estimations of the likeliness of catastrophe and raise my evaluation of my ability to cope. I have a lot of motivation to change, and I try to imagine a life without these thoughts and use that as a goal to keep pushing forward.

Since the age of 15 I have really struggled with my mental health, it can be really draining at times, and I can feel so hopeless. But each day I am learning new coping mechanisms, and growing as a person. Honestly, to anyone who is also suffering, know that you are loved and cared for, even if I don’t know you, I want this blog post to give you strength and to remind you you truly are not alone. Please reach out if you are in crisis, and I’m so sorry if you already have, and you haven’t got the response you needed, I really am so sorry. I know loads of people who have reached out for help and have been rejected, and that can really push people over the edge, but please don’t give up. I know its not exactly the best thing in the world but there are some great online support groups, and books and youtube videos that can be really helpful. I am sending so much love and support to you.

All my love,

Emma xx