Does anyone have any advice on how to not think about a thing?

Going through some medical things and found out that I am claustrophobic. Well, maybe not all tight spaces but for sure MRI machines. I lived through the lumbar one which they put you in feet first. I was not at all happy about it and was tearing up and trembling when they pulled me out. Had to do thoracic on another occasion and for this they put you in head first. Nope. Could not. Couldn’t hear the music. The sides of the machine squeezed my shoulders. I was going to die or just. . . nope. They had to pull me out, a crying blubbering fool.

Found out I need a head MRI. It’ll be after Christmas, most likely. Probably next year. Just today I had a pelvic MRI and I completed it (again, this was feet first) and even with the .25mg of Xanax my doc prescribed, there were tears and anxiety. Now all I can think about is the head MRI. And the more I think about it, the more dread I feel. I would like to not think about it. Two months of ever heightening anxiety is not something I look forward to.

So, how do you get your brain to listen to you and STOP THINKING ABOUT A THING? Is it even possible?

  1. ???
  2. Profit
  3. Don’t think about said thing.

Seriously tho, is an open mri an option?

Maybe if I beg my insurance company? They don’t usually cover it. Also, doc says they’ll put my head in a plastic holdy thing. Nope and Nope. Nah. Nuh uh. Well, thanks. You’ve helped! Just not gonna do it. I’ve decided against it. Phew! Thank, Ambivalid!

Could you have an open MRI? I had a head MRI, but it was an open MRI and not bad at all.

Have you thought about the source of your fear? What is it that you are really afraid of? Sometimes taking on the fear head on (no pun intended) and learning to sit with it and accept it, is the only way to make it less intimidating. If you can’t go around it, you have to go through it. It sounds really scary, but in my experience, particularly for anxiety, it can be a valuable tool.*

Another trick I have is to ask myself “Is it useful?” Some fear has value - it can encourage you to do things you need to do to prevent scary outcome, or prevent you from taking a stupid risk. But sometimes just acknowledging that your fear has no purpose makes it easier to let it go.
*I know that not everyone can handle their fear on their own, and it’s always worthwhile to seek out a professional for advice and assistance. I’m not implying that people suffering from serious trauma should just try to accept it and move forward.

Insist and I mean INSIST on a big dose of Valium. They’ll do it. Unless you are allergic or something. You won’t care what they do to your head. If you’re lucky you can sleep thru it. I even take Valium for the dentist. I have a myriad of lovely phobias that decide to take me hostage on a whim.

They gave me a pill for mine. Just tell your doctor. Mine wrote a scrip for 2 pills: one to try the day before to familiarize myself with the effects, and one to take 30 min before the scan

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In the meantime, whenever it enters your brain, immediately start actively thinking about something else. My go2s are designing a knitting project, and flying dreams

The nurse at the MRI place told me point blank to take another Xanax when I told her what I took. But I don’t know nothing 'bout drugs and didn’t bring any more with me. Now I don’t trust drugs because this did not work AT All.

Seriously think the best thing is to not do it. Not gonna have a head scan. Nothing to worry about.

Do you see a therapist, or is that an option? Desensitization training with calming and breathing exercises would likely go a long way toward making you feel more in control of the situation and the bigass load o’valium will likely do the rest. NOT having the scan is NOT an option so start figuring out a solution ASAP. wags granny finger

I like to think about what it’s going to be like afterwards, and how whatever is happening is just for a moment. If I can deal with this just for a minute, or just another minute, just a couple more minutes, well then it’ll be over. When it’s over you don’t have to deal with what’s going on in the present but also you don’t have to deal with the anticipation of waiting for it to happen.

Somehow I managed to come to this relaxation method while dabbling in the martial art Hapkido. They do joint locks in Hapkido and it sucks. I didn’t even practice it for that long but it stuck with me that if I just with having my wrist or elbow twisted for a second it’ll all be over and you’ll be free of the pain. If you resist or don’t go with it, it’s going to hurt more.

Xanax is worthless. I’m telling you Valium will work. You may be a drooling idiot the rest of the day. But personally, I have no problem being like that. Just take a driver with you.

Yeah, Valium is the Cadillac of benzos. Take enough and it absolutely WILL knock your dick in the dirt to the point where you won’t twitch watching a speeding train coming at you while you’re laying across the tracks.

Yeah, I had the same issue with sliding my whole body head first into the MRI tube. I had never felt claustrophobic in my life but man, that did it for me. Who came up with that?

Yep, you just need the right pill.

Regarding the brace for the head, that is the only way they can do the head and make sure you stay absoLUTEly still. Sorry, a pill won’t change that factor (only how you feel about it.)

As for dealing with the two-month lead-up, as per the OP, try some guided-visualization/relaxation audio programs. There are a bunch out there, many of them free or almost so. Some may overlap into the self-hypnosis section of this Venn diagram, and that might be just the ticket. A little low-cost, DIY cognitive therapy that you can do at home. YMMV.

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Don’t know if this is of any help, but when I was having cavities drilled by the dentist (who often did NOT use any anesthesia,) I made myself ignore the pain by doing quick math problems. “Hurry, Velocity, what’s 56 times 7?” It wasn’t of much help, but was the only thing I could think of. Maybe ponder some important problem or question (unrelated to medicine or anything, maybe something philosophical) and dwell on that while you are in the tube.

P.S. – The idea behind the self-hypnosis/relaxation plan is: find/create your “happy place” in your mind, and train/teach yourself how to summon it up at will. After a fair amount of practice decades ago, I find that I can still quell stress/anxiety within 5 seconds when necessary. It’s a valuable skill, and not difficult to develop.

Whatever plan(s) you come up with, I wish you success.

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I’ve taken Valium twice in response to my needle phobia (a phobia that’s gotten me my only ambulance ride ever, because it thought the Flu Mist atomizer looked too much like a syringe). Both times I’ve ended up decidedly not dick-in-the-dirt, instead feeling the same level of anxiety plus some irritation like I’d drunk too much caffeine. Maybe I didn’t take enough. (My favorite was the doctor who offered, on hearing about my phobia, an injection of Valium before he broke out the serious needles. Fuck you, doc.)

What’s worked for me is Halcion, or Triazolam. It’s not so much a sedative as it is a straight-up tranquilizer: a dose of it makes me so sleepy that I don’t care about anything else, including whatever nasty needles are approaching me. That Wiki article makes it look like it’s used for MRIs as well. Maybe look into that?

The amount of Xanax you took was pitifully small and I’m not surprised it didn’t work. Please add my voice to the chorus telling you to have a serious talk with your doctor about how hard this is for you, and get some stronger medication.

When I ws being prepped for the full-body MRI, they suggested a Valium if I needed it – even said they could call the doctor’s office and get a prescription right away, and had a supply of pills there. I did without them.

Besides the music choices, they also allowed you to bring in your own CD of music. It helped me that they went through the timing so I knew that when I got to this movement in the music, it was half over, 3/4ths over, etc. Knowing that it was progressing helped keep me calm.

Another thing they offered was to let you come in a day or two before, and just sit there as observer, seeing other people go thru the process. Depending on you, that might help you quit worrying about it so much; or it could make your worries even worse.