Don’t Tell Me to ‘Stop Spending So Much Time in My Own Head’

by Allie Burke

I know someone who recently had some regrets about what she chose to share on the internet (she called it impulsivity) and shared that with her friends on social media. On that thread, I found a comment that said something to the effect of

You think too much. Don’t spend so much time in your own head. It’s not good for you. Trust me, I know.

I find this statement to be particularly ridiculous when it comes to someone with a mental illness. First of all, impulsivity is a multifactorial disorder.  It’s like telling someone with depression to just be happy. Shut the fuck up. Don’t you think I would be happy if I could? Because people love being miserable, right?

Secondly, social anxiety is a common symptom for people with mild mental illnesses. Some people are born with it; some people develop it in reaction to the stigma they face in our society. If we jump from that to a debilitating illness such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety isn’t the half of it. Some of us have auditory hallucinations. Voices. Voices in our heads that only we can hear. It is very similar to that time Anderson Cooper decided to participate in a schizophrenia simulator for just one day. If you watch the video, you can see Mr. Cooper’s mood deteriorate as time goes on. Have you ever had someone follow you to tell you that you suck and that you’re worthless and you should kill yourself for years and years of your life? Do you have any idea how that feels? How hard it is to cope and to focus and to spend time with ‘normal’ people who have never experienced psychosis? How would you get out of your own head when all you can hear is the screams and all you can see is the monsters?

One commenter warned against sharing too much information on the internet.

I go through struggles too, but you don’t see me telling everybody about it.

Yo, the way you choose to live your life is cool, and I respect it, but that doesn’t make you better than me. The fact that I choose life as a writer and an advocate who holds nothing back in a place that will document everything I say forever does not make me less than you. People are impulsive. People have anxiety. That does not mean they are lower than your pedestal and spending time in their own head does not make them weak. It makes them unique with a talent with which, should they choose to use it, they can create awareness for something people have no grasp of.

And please don’t tell me you have a grasp of it because if you did, you would never, ever, tell someone with a schizotypal illness – or any other psychiatric illness, for that matter – to ‘stop spending time in their own head’. It’s not only offensive to people with self-confidence issues  that are a symptom of their illness, but it is stupid. We can’t, okay? We can’t. It’s like telling someone with terminal cancer to stop dying.

I would, but you know, I have fucking cancer.


A Bestselling Author, NPO VP, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.


10 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me to ‘Stop Spending So Much Time in My Own Head’”

  1. Another response popped into my head. “So, just whose head do you think I should be spending time in?” Allie, you’re so right. Telling anyone not to spend time “in their head” is just nonsense. With or without a mental illness, those moments when we escape our heads to just be entirely in the moment of experience are rare and precious unless you are some sort of master meditater. Great article – reblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been told several times that I “think too much”, only once by someone I respected (my therapist). But you’re right. It can’t be turned off, and I wouldn’t want to; it is integral to who I am.


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